State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

MS Student Presents Sustainable Solutions for NYC Public High School

MS in Sustainability Management Student Sarah Bacon

Prior to completing the MS in Sustainability Management program in December 2011, Sarah Bacon conducted a sustainability assessment of a public school in New York City for her independent capstone thesis. Sarah used the CO2 conversion factors of PlaNYC, the agenda created by Mayor Bloomberg to create a greener New York City and in doing so; improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Sarah set out to help P.S. 60, The East Side Community High School, to bridge the gap between its Portfolio Manager Energy Performance Rating of 2 out of 100 and the Mayor’s mandate that all NYC schools reduce emissions 30% by 2017.  Using PlaNYC’s CO2 conversion factors, Sarah’s evaluation focused on the school’s waste output and energy usage.

Once her data collection was complete, Sarah was able to recommend that the school administration and the Department of Education use low cost physical and behavioral carbon reduction strategies. Some of Sarah’s suggestions included authorizing the school’s Sustainability Coordinators to direct IT; Custodial and School Food in sustainability initiatives; the implementation of composting, flip-tap-stack and/or bagasse tray programs; energy-saving mechanisms such as Whole Computer power management programs and lighting sensors, as well as active design behavioral uptake strategies such as point-of-decision prompts and deploying student enforcement teams.

“Before I joined the MS in Sustainability Management program, I designed multimedia campaigns around humanitarian, environmental, cultural, and public health issues for a communications agency,” Sarah says. “I would like to apply that advocacy experience to sustainable initiatives in cities, like the work I did for my Capstone Project, to frame the high stakes of our lifestyles in relation to climate change and to catalyze sustainable behavior change.”

You can read Sarah’s independent capstone project here.

The 36 credit Master of Science in Sustainability Management program, jointly offered by the Earth Institute and the School of Continuing Education, is designed to meet the growing demand for sustainability managers and train leaders to bridge the gap between the principle of sustainable development and its practice. Please visit the program’s website to learn more, or contact Alyssa Dubov, Program Coordinator.

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