NYU School of Engineering Names Noted Green-Tech Expert Pat Sapinsley Head of Cleantech Initiatives

Pat Sapinsley

In a major move to strengthen its entrepreneurial and environmental missions, the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering this week appointed Pat Sapinsley, a noted figure in New York City's green-tech community, to head the school’s sustainability-focused incubator and related initiatives.

As Managing Director of Cleantech Initiatives, Sapinsley will oversee the NYU School of Engineering’s Urban Future Lab (UFL), which was founded in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and which focuses on innovations in energy, sustainable urban infrastructure, water, transportation, waste, and air quality. The UFL houses the New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy (NYC ACRE), which helps clean-technology companies in New York City grow and which will now also come under Sapinsley's purview. Additionally, she will be instrumental in NYU's role in PowerBridgeNY, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-sponsored proof-of-concept center, which leverages clean-energy innovations emerging from university and institutional research labs to create more and stronger businesses in New York State.

“This is a very exciting moment in the energy sector in New York,” Sapinsley says. “There is a very strong market pull created by the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative that was recently implemented to reform New York State’s energy industry and regulatory practices. The Urban Future Lab and NYC ACRE—with our focus on Smart Cities, Smart Grid, and energy efficiency—will be well situated to address these issues, surrounded as it is, by the deep bench of engineering, business, legal and software talent from NYU.”

In her new role, Sapinsley reports to Dr. Kurt Becker. Becker, the School of Engineering’s vice dean for research, innovation and entrepreneurship, is charged with increasing private-sector collaboration and developing a closer relationship between the incubators’ entrepreneurs and the faculty and students in the NYU community.

“The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering’s incubator system has long been one of the most vibrant and forward-thinking in the country,” he says. “It continually provides irrefutable proof that public, private, and educational partnerships can foster incredible heights of innovation and entrepreneurship, and I welcome Pat Sapinsley as an ally in that mission.”

“Pat Sapinsley will make an excellent addition to NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, which houses a NYSERDA-supported clean-energy incubator and a proof-of-concept center to help move clean-energy innovations from the idea-stage to commercialization,” said John B. Rhodes, the CEO of NYSERDA.

“The Urban Future Lab is a cornerstone of our partnership with the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, and the flagship in our citywide network of 17 incubators,” said David Gilford, Director of Urban Innovation & Sustainability at the NYCEDC. “In the year since its launch, UFL has supported over 15 startups in sectors ranging from transportation to smart grids, which are now moving well beyond the incubation phase. We welcome Pat Sapinsley and are sure that her leadership will continue to make UFL the premier resource for the next generation of New York City’s entrepreneurs."

Sapinsley is a LEED AP architect who is Co-Chair of the Committee on the Environment of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. (LEED, for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green-building certification program.) She is also a member of the Board of Building Energy Exchange, which provides support to the building industry to achieve Mayor’s 80x50 energy efficiency goals. She is a frequent lecturer and industry panelist, and has been an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council and Urban Green. Sapinsley has been working in the environmental/energy efficiency field for over 15 years.

Sapinsley was the founder of Build Efficiently, a consulting firm that worked with young companies to develop buildings-related energy-efficiency technologies. Through her former company, Watt Not, she had experience working with real estate owners to decrease their lighting energy consumption. She is also a former Venture Partner of Good Energies, one of the largest independent investors in renewable energy and investments, with investments in 35 portfolio companies. She brings to the new job years of experience connecting start-ups to sources of funding, customers, and business mentors.

Sapinsley holds a Master’s in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has served on their Alumni Council. She has held faculty appointments at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Parsons School of Design, and Pratt Institute. From 1982-1993, she was principal of Sapinsley Architecture, where she was named one of the Emerging Voices by the Architectural League (1988).

The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.