Press Release

Vassar Wins $1.17-Million Award from New York State for Clean Energy Initiatives

Photos Frederick Fisher and Partners

Vassar College has been named a winner for New York State’s Energy to Lead program, with $1.17 million awarded to implement clean energy initiatives including educational programs for the local community and energy-saving equipment and technology for The Vassar Institute for the Liberal Arts. Vassar is one of four colleges to receive approximately $5 million under the Program along with The City College of New York, New York Medical College and Syracuse University.

Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley said, “From the project’s inception, our mission for the Institute for the Liberal Arts has been to create a space that fosters path-breaking collaborations between Vassar, our region, and the globe. We are honored to be selected as a winner of the Energy to Lead Competition and look forward to bringing this project to fruition.”

In addition to providing resources to build Vassar’s Institute for the Liberal Arts as a net-zero-emission facility, the award will support educational programs and resources, including summer programs and a dashboard that reports construction and installation progress. The dashboard will feature real-time data monitoring to demonstrate project impacts and outcomes. Vassar students will contribute to the project through research and by analyzing building performance metrics to verify savings achieved through net-zero construction.

The Energy to Lead Competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and supports colleges and universities that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic and community goals through clean energy solutions. It supports New York State’s nation-leading climate and clean energy agenda including an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as highlighted in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "We are proud to support Vassar College’s leadership on climate and clean energy action to lower carbon emissions on campus while providing educational opportunities for the community and clean energy career pathway information to young people. This initiative shows how a comprehensive approach to advancing clean energy initiatives can do more than provide immediate, energy-saving results—it can foster long-lasting awareness of and commitment to clean energy efforts and careers that deliver meaningful benefits for individuals, communities and the environment.”

The first program supported by this award launched this summer as part of the Vassar Education Collaboration’s Exploring College Summer Intensive. Local high school students participated in a free three-week-long summer program on climate change, sustainability, and the built environment. The program connected participants with the resources needed to prepare them for college and jobs in the emerging green economy.

Other items funded by this award include:

  • Net-zero-emissions building systems such as geothermal heating and cooling, solar-thermal water heating, rooftop photovoltaic solar panels, and an all-electric commercial kitchen
  • A real-time public energy dashboard with detailed information on building system performance
  • A suite of educational programs, including:
    • A second summer learning institute in 2022 for local high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to promote career opportunities in green construction
    • A public symposium on green building technology and funding opportunities for individuals and small businesses
    • Outreach and public tours for local high school and college students to see the construction process in-person
    • A free massive open online course (MOOC) about sustainability and the built environment
    • Summer research internships analyzing data gathered from building systems

Micah Kenfield, Vassar College Director of Sustainability, shared their enthusiasm for the project. “This project is a noteworthy step towards Vassar’s commitment to carbon neutrality. Through our educational and outreach programs, the impact of the project will extend far beyond the campus,” they remarked.

The Vassar Institute for the Liberal Arts, anticipated to begin construction in the fall, will offer guests the unique intersection of hospitality, dining and academia set amid the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley. Inspired by the Hudson Valley landscape, Poughkeepsie area and Vassar College, the property is a multi-functional space where guests and community members can convene, rest, and recharge. The facility will be Vassar’s first net-zero-emission facility, and one of the first such buildings of its type in the Hudson Valley. Completely combustion-free, the building utilizes geothermal heating and cooling, state-of-the-art energy efficiency systems, electric vehicle charging stations and an all-electric kitchen.

Vassar College is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Contact: Larry Hertz, (845) 518-3098 (Vassar College)

PHOTO: Download high-resolution images from the Vassar College Media Relations’ Flickr site.

August 9, 2021
Vassar Institute