The Bronx Economic Development Corp. awarded Bronx Community College a $1 million grant to develop a hub that will house multiple sustainability initiatives, including composting campus waste, creating a rain garden and offering green workforce training.
All 12 colleges in the Bronx were invited to apply for the award, funded by the New York Power Authority. Seven applied, submitting proposals on how they would increase sustainability and reduce their campus’s carbon footprint. A panel of experts judged the proposals.
Rob Walsh, president of the Bronx Economic Development Corp., presented the award and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson was on hand for the event.
“It means that we are looking to the future,” Gibson said of the college’s winning proposal. “We are looking at creative and innovative approaches to addressing climate change.”
New York City has committed to decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. A study released by the Center for an Urban Future in 2022 found that since 2014, of the 117 buildings tracked in city data, CUNY buildings citywide registered a 15% increase in CO2 emissions per square foot, the largest increase of any entity with three or more buildings in the dataset.
Milton Santiago, interim president of Bronx Community College, said the school’s proposal centered around a sustainability hub that will serve as an umbrella to house multiple initiatives. They include: a sustainable landscape rain garden to address flooding and a new solar roof demonstration.
The plan also will involve the college developing a sustainability-focused curriculum and a green workforce training program, as well as providing solar and wind turbine training for BCC/CUNY students and Bronx residents.
“BCC’s integration of advanced technologies combined with our existing international partnerships, will make BCC a pivotal player in advancing sustainability and generating awareness in the Bronx,” Santiago said.
According to the New York Power Authority, other elements of BCC’s plan are expected to save an estimated 2 million gallons of water annually by installing low-flush toilets, composting almost 900,000 pounds of food waste, and keeping approximately 180,000 plastic utensils out of landfills, just through initiatives implemented on their own campus.
“We represent some of the highest rates of asthma, heart disease, obesity, all of these disparities that are preventable,” said Gibson. “Through this green action challenge, the Bronx will finally lead in something good for a change.”
The New York Power Authority funds the award through its Environmental Justice program that supports under-served communities.