BCC recipient of inaugural Bronx Green Action Challenge’s $1M award for environmental sustainability

BCC front entrance
One of the entrances to Bronx Community College.
Photo ET Rodriguez

On Tuesday, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and the Bronx Economic Development Corporation announced Bronx Community College (BCC) CUNY as the winner of the inaugural Bronx Green Action Challenge, a first-of-its-kind environmental sustainability challenge.

As a result, BCC will receive a $1 million award, funded by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to develop and implement a plan to improve the University Heights campus’ sustainability and reduce the institution’s environmental footprint. 

BCC will use the funding to launch the BCC Sustainability Hub, which will address environmental issues on campus and create a green workforce training program. Specifically, the funding will be used to save an estimated two million gallons of water annually by installing low-flush toilets, create rain gardens to address flooding and erosion and compost nearly 900,000 pounds of food waste, keeping it out of the sanitation removal system.

The funding will further keep approximately 180,000 plastic utensils out of landfills and develop a solar roof demonstration and provide solar and wind turbine training certificate classes for students and Bronx residents. The amount of solar capacity converted from rooftops at BCC equates to the annual electricity needs of more than 100 typical New York City households, while potentially offsetting nearly 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — the equivalent of taking about 40 gasoline-powered cars off the road. 

“CUNY is committed to making our campuses more sustainable and reducing our University’s environmental footprint while also preparing our students to participate in the emerging green workforce,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez.

The Bronx Economic Development Corporation (BXEDC) developed the challenge as a creative way to enhance and further economic development in the borough. The selection process involved evaluating each application based on specific criteria to identify projects demonstrating feasibility, positive environmental impact, long-term sustainability, and campus and community engagement.

“Higher education is one of the Bronx’s strongest and fastest growing industries full of creative and intelligent young people with forward-looking climate ideas,” said Rob Walsh, BXEDC president. “We are honored to have received so many amazing proposals from schools from across the borough and congratulate BCC on winning the first Bronx Green Action Challenge. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas come to fruition.” 

Seven colleges and universities submitted proposals for the Green Action Challenge. Proposals focused on one or more of the following areas: energy production, waste management, food sourcing, green space, transportation and water.

“Congratulations to Bronx Community College on winning the Bronx Green Action Challenge,” said Gibson. “The effects of climate change are being felt all around us and we must all do our part to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”

The Power Authority is funding the award as part of its Environmental Justice Program that supports the underserved communities located near NYPA’s statewide operations.

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