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Towards a Greener NYU Tandon

NYU Tandon has launched numerous green initiatives recently, and in celebration of Earth Day, you can read on to learn more about just a few of them.

Off the Scrap Heap

From small items like thumbdrives and cell phones to large pieces of lab equipment, high-tech devices are ubiquitous at Tandon. But what happens when those items need to be discarded? E-waste is becoming an increasingly troublesome problem because electronic equipment often contains toxic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury that can contaminate the environment and have adverse effects on human health. Simply throwing such equipment in the trash to be taken to landfills is far from a sustainable solution.

To address the issue, the school has installed large “technoscrap” bins that can be used to dispose of old cell phones, USB drives, cables, wiring, digital cameras, MP3 players, and other such items. Look for the brown bins, which feature an unmistakable orange “TECHNOSCRAP” label, in the main lobby of all Tandon buildings.

Additionally, over the winter break, Tandon switched to a system of mixed recycling, which allows all recyclables to be placed in the same bin, thereby making compliance easier and increasing the amount of material that can be diverted from landfills. (Additional bins were added throughout the school, making it a snap to get rid of any old newspaper or water bottles in one fell swoop.)

Building on Our Progress

Tandon is committed to prioritizing sustainable and energy-efficient design and to reducing energy consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Many classrooms now feature occupancy-controlled lighting, for example, and ultra-efficient hand dryers and water heaters can be found in restrooms. Additionally, the dining space at Rogers Hall now features a system that optimizes natural light, supplementing it with electric light only as needed, and energy-efficient LED lighting is in use throughout the Othmer Residence Hall.

The major renovation of 370 Jay Street also has several green features being incorporated, with the goal of reducing the building’s historical energy footprint and demand on the local utilities grid. This project is compliant with the LEED Silver certification program and involves installing new high-efficiency windows as well as an HVAC system with heat recovery and other features that will cut utility usage significantly. The new floor plans have been designed to allow daylight penetration into a greater number of work spaces and new one-megawatt microturbines will be used as a source of local high-efficiency and low-waste electricity. Those features, along with the green roofing being installed, are expected to result in a reduction in annual energy consumption of almost 40 percent and a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 20 percent.

Student Power

Student-run clubs are at the forefront of the sustainability issue, and several have hosted panels, discussions, and competitions to promote green initiatives and green technology. Last fall, for example, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) hosted an “energy challenge” that resulted in two student projects winning grants: the Anaerobic Pyrolysis Generator (APG), which aims to convert food waste to energy, and Sustainable Energy Efficiency Designs (SEED), which has developed waterless urinals that produce energy when the urine reacts with electrolytic cells.

Finally, if you’re looking for a way to stay green while burning some calories, last fall the NYU BikeShare program was expanded to Brooklyn, so Tandon students (as well as faculty and staff members) can now borrow bikes located at Othmer Residence Hall for free from 10 am to 10 pm each day.

Have a Sustainable and Happy Earth Day

Tandon’s Department of Technology, Culture and Society (TCS) is hosting events on both Thursday, April 21 (learn about composting and green walls with GrowNYC) and Friday, April 22 (the NYU Group Bike Tour from Brooklyn to Washington Square for NYC Car Free Day).  


Lathika Chandra Mouli
New York University Shanghai
B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Class of 2017