Students sitting in a parklet on the Long Island campus.

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Building a Sustainable Student Experience

April 25, 2022

From repurposing existing spaces to implementing green solutions in new campus projects, New York Tech’s newly developed sustainability action plan prioritizes the student experience.

As featured in “Building a Sustainable Experience” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Tech is focusing on meeting sustainability goals, rethinking campus buildings to prioritize outdoor space and nature, and fulfilling student needs for more lounge and leisure space.  

“In the big picture, we’re interested in meeting sustainability goals in many ways; decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels, requiring less artificial lighting and reducing water use, increasing our use of solar energy, and engaging more in the outdoors,” says Suzanne Musho, AIA, NCARB, vice president for real estate development and sustainable capital planning and chief architect. “And, at the same time, improve facilities and resources for our students in ways that are most meaningful to them.”

As part of the overall sustainability action plan, Musho says any major renovation project is now looked at through the lens of sustainability as well as student experience.

One of the biggest projects for the university will commence this fall: a new, approximately 20,000-square-foot Biomedical Research and Innovation Center (BRIC), which will employ the university’s first geothermal heating and cooling system. Aspiring to achieve LEED Gold certification, the modern building design features large-scale windows on all sides and will be situated to take advantage of natural light. The building will make use of gray water from a new water treatment plant, also expected to break ground later this year. In addition to its conservation impact, the facility will include a Bioengineering Research and Training Lab, providing an onsite research facility for students and faculty with a long history of expertise in this area.

“This combined project will educate and help prepare students for a world in which resources are increasingly scarce and broadens the positive ecological and environmental impact students can have on the community and the world,” says Musho.

Multiple buildings on the New York campuses have already been renovated for new uses, using sustainability guidelines for energy-efficient lighting, HVAC that provides high-quality indoor air, and flooring, and other materials, using high recycled content.

Among the COVID-19 pandemic’s many outcomes was increasing the awareness of the importance of outdoor space and the communion with nature. New York Tech worked with student groups and all departments within the university to determine priorities and focused on upgrading outdoor spaces, including installing powerful outdoor wireless and creating “parklets” throughout campus to provide outdoor seating in any existing green or natural clearing.

Living in concert with the planet and not against it is the underlying theme of the new sustainability action plan. Grassroots initiatives driven by New York Tech students include a bike share program, enhanced recycling and composting efforts, exploring the removal of single-use plastics on campus, and a Sustainability Town Hall to discuss and prioritize other ideas.

“This generation of students is completely aware that climate change has transformed the way we all need to live our lives and for them, sustainability is like air,” says Musho. “So, when we talk about enhancing the student experience, these types of initiatives aren’t an option, they’re a necessity.”

Read the full article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This story is part of an initiative in which New York Tech has partnered with Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education to offer strategic insights on key topics in higher education. This article is one of seven featured articles planned to run this spring.

Prior sponsored content articles include:

  • Behind the Scenes of a Digital Transformation,” in Inside Higher Edfeatured an exclusive interview with New York Tech’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer on the multiple projects, increased personalization, and improved student experience that are the key pieces of New York Tech’s ongoing digital transformation.
  • The Power of Partnerships,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, details how New York Tech is enhancing student experiences and outcomes through unique collaborations with industry partners.
  • Training Healthcare Professionals for a Diverse World,” in Inside Higher Ed, focuses on strategic approaches in medical and health education that are inclusive of race, ethnicity, sexual and gender identity, and differing abilities.
  • Space for Innovation,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, focuses on the agreement between New York Tech and NASA to provide real-world experiences for students to work on technology prototypes.
  • Reinventing Teaching,” in Inside Higher Ed, highlights ways New York Tech professors use unconventional teaching methods, including improvisation, video games, and popular culture.