State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Join us for Fall 2012 Sustainability Management Midterm Briefings

On Tuesday, October 23, students from Columbia’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program (MSSM) will be presenting their Midterm Briefings for the Capstone Workshop. The Midterm Briefings presentations are an opportunity for students to act as sustainability consultants by applying the sustainability management skills that they learn in the program to real world clients. Fellow students, faculty, staff, and interested guests are invited to learn more about this fall’s Workshop projects this Tuesday, October 23, from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Columbia University’s Faculty House – Garden Room 2. To RSVP to this event, please click here.

The Capstone Workshop is one of two required courses in the Sustainability Management program, serving as the culminating educational experience for students by enabling them to apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge learned through the Sustainability Management curriculum into an applied real world project. Students work in teams and undertake special analytic projects as consultants for public and nonprofit agencies, increasing their understanding of the real-world constraints under which sustainability managers operate. You can read more about this semester’s Workshop projects below.

Transforming NRDC Headquarters into a Net Zero Energy Facility

Client: Natural Resources Defense Council

Advisor: Kizzy Charles-Guzman

The project will involve the capstone team researching the facility’s operations and energy consumption in order to create a visionary plan to transform the NRDC headquarters into a cutting-edge consumer of net zero energy hopefully within the next 10 years. The plans will include recommendations to areas such as powering, heating, cooling, and lighting the building.

Business Plan for the Healthy Urban Tree Initiative in New York City

Client: The Nature Conservancy

Advisor: Bob Cook

The capstone team will develop a comprehensive business plan for the NYC Healthy Urban Tree Initiative. The plan should implement the national strategies of establishing coordinating partnerships, assessing urban forest health, developing information management, engaging public tree stewardship, and creating outreach programs to further raise public awareness.

Stormwater Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation

Client: New York State Department of Transportation

Advisor: Susanne DesRoches

The NYS DOT is seeking a compendium of best practices for reducing stormwater runoff in urban and sub-urban settings to assist transportation agencies and communities in making informed climate change adaptation decisions to reduce the impacts to infrastructure caused by extreme rainfall events. The capstone team will compile best practices taking into account relevant climate projections for New York State and urban and sub-urban case studies.

Assessment of the Potential to Divert Commercial Organic Waste from Landfills

Client: City of New York, Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability

Advisor: Louise Rosen

The capstone team will conduct an assessment of commercial organic waste generators and assess opportunities for diversion for each category of generator. They will develop policy recommendations and outline best practices by mapping food generation locations across the city and identifying the impacts of different diversion strategies.

Resilient Sustainable Communities: Integrating Hazard Mitigation and Sustainability in Local Planning

Client: Syracuse/Onondaga County Planning Agency

Advisor: George Sarrinikolaou

Working with the EPA and FEMA, the team will facilitate sustainable integration, such as green infrastructure, in the work of the Syracuse/Onondaga County Planning Agency to develop a methodology used in the plan review process and highlight opportunities to include hazard mitigation. Hazard mitigation can include reducing a community’s vulnerability to flooding and reinforcing the resilience of a power grid to outages.

The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Continuing Education, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. The M.S. in Sustainability Management program requires the successful completion of 36 credit points. Those credit points are divided among five comprehensive content areas: integrative sustainability management, economics and quantitative analysis, the physical dimensions of sustainability, the public policy environment of sustainability management, and general and financial management. Please visit our website to learn more about the program.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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