Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $520 million initiative to upgrade lighting and HVAC systems across 19 CUNY campuses as part of his larger goal to reduce energy consumption statewide. The initiative intends to reduce CUNY’s carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020, according to a post on CUNY Newswire.
The initiative would impact 300 buildings across the CUNY system, which consists of 25 individual schools. With the implementation of this program, Cuomo hopes to reduce the money spent on utilities and instead invest into other initiatives for CUNY students. In addition to upgrading lighting and HVAC systems, the initiative would include “upgrades to electronic and digital controls that enable more precise operations than mechanical predecessors” and “replacement of forced-draft cooling towers with induced draft towers, which reduces energy consumption by fan motors and can exchange heat more efficiently.”
CUNY Newswire reports that “the program is working to fulfill the goals of BuildSmartNY, a comprehensive statewide initiative to increase energy efficiency in public buildings.” Earlier, Cuomo also issued out the Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, which aims to create a more affordable energy system for New Yorkers. The plan aims to reduce gas emissions in New York State by 40 percent by 2030.
Cuomo’s CUNY-wide initiative helps establish New York State as a pioneer of positive environmental change. While striving to reduce New York's carbon footprint is a noble effort, the state should prioritize more important initiatives before introducing new ones.
A year ago, The Ticker reported that the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY agreed on a contract with the state that would retroactively increase the professors’ wages. However, since the announcement, professors complained that they still did not receive the money they were promised.
PSC-CUNY also sent out a press release which included photographs of the many things that are broken on CUNY campuses, including toilets, leaking roofs and holes in the walls.
While reducing carbon emissions is a noble goal that needs to be shared by more organizations, there are basic issues within the CUNY system that still need to be fixed. Instead of starting new initiatives and spending millions of dollars to achieve its goals, the additional money should be spent to provide a higher wage to professors, hire more staff or take care of the issues within CUNY facilities. After all, these initiatives will not mean much if the basic goal of CUNY is not accomplished to its full potential—giving students a quality education.