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SUNY sets energy efficiency goal

Schools encouraged to foster research on green technology

The State University of New York strategic plan will attempt to make SUNY a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability and train its students to become green thinkers. Photo by NYSERDA.
April 19, 2010
The State University of New York's strategic plan for the next 10 years will reduce the institution's energy consumption, shrink its carbon footprint and attempt to make SUNY a leader in energy efficiency and sustainability both throughout the state and across the country.

The state university system is currently the second largest energy consumer in New York, according to Joe Fox, energy manager for Stony Brook University. But SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher believes that with certain initiatives included in her plan, SUNY can have an impact in changing the state's overdependence on fossil fuels and turning New York into a smarter energy efficient state.

"Many of our initiatives in this field are already the vanguard of research and discovery especially in renewable and energy storage systems," said Zimpher during the launch of the strategic plan in Albany last week. "Our actions have a big impact."

The strategic plan is made up of six big ideas; one of them concentrates on energy and sustainability. The plan sets a goal of reducing the institution's energy use by 30 percent over the next 10 years.

"By reducing our energy consumption by 30 percent and shrinking our carbon footprint, we would be able to show the world how a large scale system can turn the tide on energy use," said Zimpher.

According to the strategic plan, New York's energy costs have escalated to 50 percent above the national average, making the state's businesses less competitive and creating financial strains on households.

The plan includes ways SUNY can fully use its resources and partnerships to come up with new energy efficient research, and will use campuses as testbeds to implement new technologies.

According to the plan, one way SUNY will transform the current electricity grid into a cleaner, safer, more reliable and efficient system is by implementing a SUNY Smart Grid throughout the 64 campuses.

"Among other things, a smart grid accepts energy from virtually any fuel source, including solar and wind; allows consumers to tailor their energy consumption to individual preferences; senses system overloads and reroutes power to prevent outages; resists attacks and natural disasters; and slows the advance of global climate change," states the strategic plan.

Another way SUNY is looking to achieve its goal is by developing an integrated network of energy specialists from each campus, who will collect and keep track of new strategies.

Zimpher believes that by having students learn and live in Energy Smart campuses, 465,000 students could take the practices they have learned and bring them into their future careers and lifestyles.

"SUNY and New York can lead the way with our clean energy incubators and state-of-the-art classrooms and labs to train the workforce in green technologies," said Zimpher.

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