Commitment to Sustainability

“…we're proud as an institution to join in a shared commitment to a more sustainable environment in our local community and across the globe."

-President Lee C. Bollinger

Columbia University is taking action to reduce our carbon footprint.  If we lead by example, we will improve the sense of responsibility felt by our community for their actions through both education and demonstration.  Ranging from energy conservation efforts, to award-winning reuse programs and recycling efforts, Columbia is fully dedicated toward creating a greener, more sustainable planet for all.  

At Columbia, we recognize that to be truly sustainable is to take a multi-faceted and multi-tiered approach.  We are looking to tackle these issues through world-renowned research occurring right here on our campus, engaging staff leadership and individual participation.

Columbia Sustainability Planning - April 2016 Presentation Video from Afterimaging on Vimeo.


University Sustainability Principles

Columbia University has adopted a set of Sustainability Principles to set forth a high level vision for sustainability for its campus communities in New York and across the globe. The Principles were developed through a partnership between University Facilities and Operations and the Earth Institute faculty.

Community Input to University Sustainability Principles

The Earth Institute hosted three town-halls, at which members of the Morningside, Lamont-Doherty and Medical Center campuses had the opportunity to weigh in on and ask questions about these principles. Environmental Stewardship also invited community members to send us their feedback and comments on the prinicples via email. 

Presidential Endorsement of Sustainability Principles

On September 12, 2016, President Lee C. Bollinger formally announced his support for the University Sustainability Principles. Bollinger also announced the formation of the Sustainable Columbia Leaders Network, a resource being created to uphold the principles, and facilitate communication among students, staff and faculty across all of Columbia's schools. 

Sustainability Strategic Planning Process

To ensure these principles are met, the University has organized focus teams around key sustainability impact areas (transportation, waste and energy/greenhouse gas emissions) to draft a high level strategic plan. This plan is to be released in Spring 2017.  These teams are comprised of students, faculty and staff from across the University.  Proposed goals and strategies will ultimately be reviewed by the Senior Sustainability Advisory Committee.  
                      Photos: Eileen M. Barroso

The sustainability governance model relies heavily on the strategic work of the focus teams. These teams, with input where needed from strategic University partners / subject-matter experts, will report up to the Senior Sustainability Advisory Committee with proposals for implementation. 


                           Photo: Eileen M. Barroso

The Focus Teams are comprised of strategic operations, faculty and student stakeholders from around the University. Additionally, each team has at least one representative from Columbia University Medical Center*, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory**. 


Mike Pagan (Chair) - Executive Director, Administrative Services

Dan Allalemdjian - Director, Transportation Demand Management, Environmental Stewardship 

Jose Rosa - Executive Director, Director of Operations, Administrative Services

Erich Ely - Director, Athletics

Al Becker - Director of Planning & Administration, Public Safety

Jimmy Lai - Manager of Planning & Administration, Public Safety

David Dewhurst - Director, University Facilities

Patrick O'Reilly - Assistant Director, Facilities & Engineering, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory**

Steve Archuleta - Director of Campus Services, Columbia University Medical Center*

Eliot Sclar - Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)

Toby Hyde - Student Representative, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Jonathan Young - Student Representative, Columbia College

Jessica Prata - Assistant Vice President, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator)

Allie Schwartz - Planning & Outreach Manager, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator) 


Greenhouse Gas / Energy:

George Pecovic (Chair) - Assistant Vice President, Plant Engineering and Utilities

Tak Eng (Assistant Chair)- Senior Engineer, University Facilities

Jason Smerdon - Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology Department

Justin Gundlach - Associate Research Scholar, Columbia Law School

Joyce Jackson - Executive Director, Housing

Maria Alba - Assistant Director, Housing

Jennifer Kearney - Director of Energy Programs, University Facilities

Dominic Chirico - Director, University Facilities

Dave Carlson - Director, University Facilities

Harris Schaer - Assistant Director, Columbia University Medical Center *

Mort O'Sullivan - Facilities Engineer, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory **

Alex Beecher - Student Representative, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)

Saloni Jain - Student Representative, Columbia College

Sophia Hill - Student Representative, Columbia College

Jessica Prata - Assistant Vice President, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator)

Allie Schwartz - Planning & Outreach Manager, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator) 



Chris Pettinato (Chair) - Executive Director, Environmental Health & Safety

Keith Bottum (Assistant Chair) - Senior Hazardous Materials Specialist and Lab Sustainability Coordinator, Environmental Health & Safety

Ed McArthur - Interim Vice President, Capital Projects Management

Keith George - Project Manager, Capital Projects Management

Joe Ricciutti - Executive Director, Events Management

Mark Kerman - Executive Director, University Apartment Housing

Don Schlosser - Assistant Vice President, University Facilities

Dita Sali - Director, University Facilities

Helen Bielak - Operations Manager, Environmental Stewardship

Ruth DeFries - Professor, Ecology, Evolution and Biology Department

Ahmed Nassef - Assistant Director, Housing

Vicki Dunn - Executive Director, Dining

Frank Molina - Manager, University Facilities

Howie Matza - Manager, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory**

Noel Pagan - Director of Campus Operations, Columbia University Medical Center*

Charles Harper - Student Representative, Columbia College

Jakob Brounstein - Student Representative, General Studies

Jesse Thorson - Student Representative, Columbia College 

Jessica Prata - Assistant Vice President, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator)

Allie Schwartz - Planning & Outreach Manager, Environmental Stewardship (Facilitator) 

The Columbia Senior Sustainability Advisory Committee was created in the Fall 2015 to provide strategic guidance and leadership during the ongoing sustainability planning process that began in the Spring 2016.

The Advisory Committee meets three times annually.  In 2016-17, it will review recommendations from the Sustainability Focus Teams, created to facilitate university-wide best practice sharing and goal setting.  The Advisory Committee maintains the authority to review, guide and approve proposed goals and initiatives for eventual inclusion in the University’s first sustainability plan.  Once the three-year sustainability plan is approved, the Focus Teams will continue to report progress to the Advisory Committee three times annually.  

The Senior Sustainability Advisory Committee is led by the University Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations, David Greenberg, and the Chair of the Earth Institute Faculty and Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Michael Gerrard.  The Committee members include Vice President of Facilities Operations Frank Martino, Vice President of Campus Services Scott Wright, Vice President of Facilities Management and Campus Services for Columbia University Medical Center Amador Centeno, and the Thomas Alva Edison/Con Edison Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Director of the Center for Climate and Life, and Arts & Sciences Dean of Science, Peter De Menocal.