Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Tricia Shimamura
Senior Project Coordinator
Govt & Community Affairs
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

In 2010, Columbia University’s senior administration sat on the NYC Green Codes Task Force, which developed 111 recommendations to a more sustainable, energy-efficient city. Since the Task Force released its original report, 52 of the recommendations have been incorporated into laws and practices, with many others in the pipeline. By 2030, the measures already implemented will reduce citywide carbon emissions by almost 5%.

Additionally, the University participates in a number of initiatives that are designed to address the sustainability objectives of the City and State, particularly with an eye towards reducing the campus’ energy consumption and carbon emissions. In 2016 and 2017, Columbia University was a participant in the “Car Free NYC” initiative, which sought to call attention to critical environmental issues facing New York, including concerns regarding sustainability, environmental justice, congestion, and urban planning.

In 2017, the University released the Columbia University Sustainability Plan, which spans from 2017 to 2020. Among its goals outlined in the Plan, the University aims to develop baseline metrics for select waste streams and calculate the University first water diversion rate, which will ultimately allow the University to identify water diversion and waste-to-landfill reduction goals. The University continues to work towards the long-term aspiration of aligning with NYC’s OneNYC waste-to-landfill goal by 2030. In accordance with the NYC Carbon Challenge for universities, Columbia University has reduced its carbon emissions intensity per square foot by 16.8 percent since the 2006 base year level.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Columbia University participates in both the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision Campus Challenge (REV). Along with 50+ other organizations we have pledged to implement clean energy projects and principles on campus and in our local community. The initiative is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.

Columbia also participants in the New York City Mayor's Carbon Challenge. We joined 17 of New York City's universities to accept the NYC Carbon Challenge, taking on a leadership role in the effort to fight global climate change. These universities have paved the way for others by exploring a variety of opportunities to reduce their energy use through energy efficiency and converting to cleaner energy sources. Altogether, the participating universities have achieved a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per square foot since 2007, saving millions of dollars. In addition, five institutions have already met the 30 percent goal.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

At the federal level, Columbia University advocates both Congress and the administration for federal funding and policies supporting researchers at the University, specifically general advocacy for sustainability research that promotes long-term goals regarding environmental stewardship. This is particularly true of competitive research grant funding as administered by the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These efforts are ongoing.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
No

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Through its various institutions and schools including the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Columbia University School of Public Health, the Earth Institute, and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University actively engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability and environmental stewardship through original research, public events, and community workshops.

Of note are the numerous research projects, educational initiatives, and public programming offered through the Columbia University Earth Institute, which oversees numerous Centers and Programs focused on international Climate Systems, Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Urban Development, Energy Research and Disaster Preparedness, among other sustainability-related topics.


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

Columbia University, as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is prohibited from participating or intervening in any political activity. Political intervention includes not only making financial contributions but also the publication or distribution of written or oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a particular candidate. There are no exceptions to this prohibition.

Nonetheless, the University is dedicated to the free expression of ideas. It encourages students, faculty, and other employees, in their individual capacities, to participate fully in the political process as long as they do not-either overtly or implicitly-involve the University.


A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

As a 501 (c) 3, non-for-profit institution, the University does not make political donations.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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