With a long-standing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint while creating a sustainable and healthy campus environment, St. John’s University was recently awarded $1,792,750 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to support several projects focused on reducing energy use and carbon emissions over the next three years. The nearly $1.8 million NYSERDA award will be used to help fund two specific decarbonization projects—chilled water generation for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning, and domestic hot water generation—at the Queens, NY, campus.
The funds to support these carbon-reducing projects were included in nearly $14.5 million distributed to the third-round winners of the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Carbon Challenge as part of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative Consolidated Funding Application Round XI Awards announced by New York Governor Kathy Hochul in late December.
“These equipment upgrades support an energy master plan for St. John’s first developed in 2017 with a goal to achieve a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” stated Thomas M. Goldsmith, Director of Environmental and Energy Conservation, Department of Facilities Services.
“Like many institutions, our roadmap for lowering carbon emissions takes long-term planning and commitment at the highest level. St. John’s appreciates the NYSERDA award and knows there is still an enormous amount of work to be done.”
According to NYSERDA, commercial and industrial buildings account for 33 percent of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. The winning proposals demonstrate the highest potential for cost effectively implementing carbon-reducing clean energy actions.
Some boilers at the Queens campus currently rely on fossil fuels to generate heat; with the funding, existing steam-fired domestic hot water (DHW) generators will be converted to electric heat pump-based DHW generators in multiple buildings. Two existing absorption chiller plants at Montgoris Dining Hall and the School of Law will also be converted to work on eliminating natural gas use during the summer months on campus.
Launched in May 2018 and administered by NYSERDA, the C&I Carbon Challenge is a competitive program that provides funding to large commercial and industrial energy users such as manufacturers, colleges, health-care facilities, and office building owners in New York State to develop various cost-effective clean energy projects that reduce carbon emissions. With many large energy users located in disadvantaged communities, projects that help these companies reduce emissions help improve local air quality and provide local environmental benefits.