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NYU Turns to Community in Effort to Make Campus Greener

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A screenshot of the new Sustainability at NYU forum.

A screenshot of the new Sustainability at NYU forum.

via nyu.edu

via nyu.edu

A screenshot of the new Sustainability at NYU forum.

By Darcey Pittman, Staff Writer

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The Office of Sustainability has launched a new online forum for students to share their ideas on how to make NYU’s New York Campus greener.

The platform, created and distributed by Sustainability at NYU on April 5, allows students to propose and vote on ideas for change under four topics: Classes & Research; Working and Learning Programs; Food; Waste and Purchasing; and Climate and Health. It also has an open forum for more general comments.

Assistant Vice President for Sustainability Cecil Scheib informed the NYU community of this new project in an email. Scheib, who assumed his position in January, said that by 2025, the university hopes to decrease carbon emissions by 50 percent. NYU met its previous 30 percent carbon reduction commitment in 2012.

“The Office of Sustainability has many ideas on how to get there and what to do next, but we believe there are even more good ideas out there waiting to be heard,” Scheib wrote in his email.“That’s why we’re reaching out to the entire NYU community, asking you to log on to the Sustainability at NYU portal and share your ideas and exchange comments on how to make NYU more sustainable.”

The online platform was chosen as a way to engage students at the core of the discussion on campus sustainability.

“These days, online is an equalizing platform that allows us to get input from across the globe and on respondents’ schedules, not ours,” Scheib said in an email to WSN. “It also allows for discussion and voting on ideas without having to get 70,000 people in the same room.”

“The Office of Sustainability has many ideas on how to get there and what to do next, but we believe there are even more good ideas out there waiting to be heard,” Scheib wrote in his email.“That’s why we’re reaching out to the entire NYU community, asking you to log on to the Sustainability at NYU portal and share your ideas and exchange comments on how to make NYU more sustainable.”

Scheib shared that the Sustainability Advisory Group, composed of students and faculty members from across NYU, will be tasked with the implementation of ideas shared online. Solutions will be put into action at different rates, but all ideas will be taken into consideration.

CAS senior Aryn Aiken, who is President of Earth Matters at NYU and an employee at the NYU Office of Sustainability, said she is excited about this new forum. She believes this platform is a way for the NYU community to share all their ideas before the latest Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions is drafted.

“Students can be the source of the most idealistic ideas, they can really push the Climate Action Plan as far as possible,” Aiken said.

Aiken emphasized the importance of evolving and adopting new ideas.

“We should change the system,” she said. “Not just try and improve the system that we already have.”

Christopher Schlottmann, clinical associate professor, associate chair, director of Undergraduate Studies and Global Curriculum coordinator in the Department of Environmental Studies, believes the new initiative is both noteworthy and ambitious.

Schlottman wrote in an email to WSN that the online forum will be a way to propose sustainability ideas that would be beneficial to the larger NYU community.

“The university should consider multiple paths towards sustainability, including scope three emissions, efforts like divestment and communicating the university’s plans toward being one of the greenest universities,” Schlottman said.

While Scheib is hard at work planning more initiatives to help reach the goal of being a more environmentally friendly campus, he also emphasized the importance of individuals taking simple actions to create change.

“There are so many things we all can do — from our daily life to our engagement with the academic mission of the university — that don’t need any approvals or institutional commitments to get started. All it takes is our willingness to change and to take action,” Scheib said in his email.

It is unclear what the university intends to do with data gathered from the forum or how long the survey will be open. The forum is only accessible with an NYU Net ID.

Email Darcey Pittman at [email protected]

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