Bulletin News

SUNY Cortland Wins Energy Innovation Awards


SUNY Cortland this week was honored as one of New York State government’s most innovative leaders in making public facilities more energy efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels.

The College Wednesday received two of nine awards given to SUNY entities by the New York State Power Authority through BuildSmart NY, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to promote energy efficiency and sustainable practices in state-owned properties.

Cortland’s 3,600-panel solar project — the first of its kind in the SUNY system — won both the Innovation and Excellence in Energy Management Award and the People’s Choice Award during the first-ever BuildSmart NY Innovators Summit.  

“SUNY Cortland is very proud to be recognized for this project, which represents the central role that environmental and financial sustainability plays at our College,” President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “By taking an innovative approach with creative partners in business and government, SUNY Cortland installed thousands of solar panels on campus, creating a highly visible symbol of our commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity.”

Cortland became the first public campus in the state to use NY-Sun, a program run by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority to assist solar energy projects, to fund a partnership with a private company to build three photovoltaic arrays on campus.

The $3 million project was built by SolarCity, a private solar energy company, under a unique arrangement that allows the College to pay for the solar infrastructure through a long-term power purchasing agreement. The installations — which sprawl across fields near Route 281 on the west side of campus and dot the roofs of Park Center and the soon-to-be-completed student life center — produce 1.5 million kilowatt hours of clean solar electricity: enough to power about 130 homes.

In 2013, SUNY Cortland became the first SUNY Campus to commit to filling all of its electrical needs with renewable energy. It was one of a long series of sustainability innovations undertaken by the College in recent years that have led to numerous awards and accolades.

The recent recognition by BuildSmart NY further establishes SUNY Cortland as a leader among its peers and an example of the sustainable course the SUNY system has set for all 64 of its campuses.

SUNY accounted for four of the nine BuildSmart NY awards. In addition to SUNY Cortland, SUNY Albany was recognized for a residence hall that uses geothermal energy and innovative monitoring systems and Karren Bee-Donohoe, executive director of the SUNY Office for Capital Facilities, was honored for energy management and leadership

“SUNY’s infrastructure represents 40 percent of all state-owned buildings in New York, and we are deeply committed to maintaining highly energy-efficient and sustainable facilities for generations to come,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “SUNY is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo to bring the BuildSmart NY initiative to scale across our campuses as we work collectively to reduce New York’s carbon footprint.”