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Purchase College Sees Savings Through Energy Efficiency

SUNY Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz discusses energy saving initiatives that the school has taken to reduce costs and waste.
SUNY Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz discusses energy saving initiatives that the school has taken to reduce costs and waste. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

PURCHASE, N.Y. – SUNY Purchase College and the New York Power Authority are working to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs as part of the Build Smart NY program.

The goal of the program is to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020, and Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz said that the campus has been working toward that goal. By partnering with NYPA, the college has instituted a number of projects that reduce costs and energy, saving about $3.5 million per year.

One of the biggest is the new HVAC system at Purchase’s Neuberger Museum of Art. Scwarz said that the new system works more efficiently than the 40 year-old system it replaced, and maintains temperatures to protect more than $1 billion worth of art in the museum. New HVAC systems at other campus buildings save close to $500,000 a year. A new ice storage system provides air conditioning to campus buildings and saves more than $400,000 per year.

NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones said that a study showed SUNY campuses represent more than 40 percent of the state’s energy consumption.

“Success in SUNY will be absolutely critical to success in the overall Build Smart program, and based on what’s happening at Purchase and other SUNY campuses, I have every confidence we will succeed,” Quiniones said. “The energy efficiency projects undertaken at Purchase are also models of what can be accomplished at other public and private facilities across the state.”

Richard Kauffman, the chair of the New York Energy Research and Development Authority, said that there was a lot to celebrate, but challenged the SUNY schools and other state facilities to do more.

“Someday, I hope that we won’t need to celebrate energy efficiency. It will be so commonplace in our management and investment decisions that it won’t be worth celebrating. It will be like not needing to celebrate repainting a new building,” Kauffman said. “We’re not there yet.”

Kauffman said that in order for Build Smart NY to succeed, state entities need to understand what motivates buyers of energy efficiency systems. State buildings need to demonstrate the savings and efficiencies that can be attained by adopting energy efficiency, as well as engage more with the community.

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