More Resources and FAQs





Students taking Introduction to Environmental Science get to partake in Professor Peter Bower's award-winning Brownfield Action curriculum!

Read the Initial Barnard Sustainability Report, written by Barnard students Amanda Rook '08 and Alison Powell '09, and professor Jason Smerdon. The report was commissioned in the summer of 2006 by Stephanie Pfirman and Martin Stute, co-chairs of the Barnard Environmental Science Department, as a source of information for the community and the incoming Environmental Program Manager, Angelica Patterson.

The College Emissions Inventory represents work by Barnard College to complete phase one of the New York City Mayoral Challenge – completion of an emissions inventory. It includes estimates of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from College buildings and vehicle fleets. Due to data availability, our inventory is based on year 2005. This data will provide a baseline against which we will be able to compare future performance, enabling us to demonstrate progress in reducing emissions.

In response to our commitment to Mayor Bloomberg’s “30 in 10” challenge, Barnard conducted a Technical Energy and Water Savings Audit to document goals, analyze energy use, and develop short and long term plans for upgrading facilities. Furthermore, the self-audit provided turnkey projects that include long term performance measurement to ensure the goals are met and the results are sustainable.

See what our neighbors across the street are doing: Columbia Environmental Stewardship and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Bulletin is a great way to stay up-to-date on what campuses are doing around sustainability and to learn about new resources and opportunities.

ACUHO - I is the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International. ACUHO-I members believe in developing exceptional residential experiences at colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions around the world.

The National Association of Independent Schools Education (NAIS) is the national voice of independent schools and the center for collective action on their behalf.

The Society for College and University Planning is a network of professionals dedicated to excellence in planning for higher education and has a section devoted to sustainability.

The University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) helps to build and strengthen institutional capacity to develop ecologically sound policies and practices, and to make sustainability a major focus at higher education institutions worldwide.



Barnard accepts ALL categories of plastic for recycling. Learn about the different types of plastic.

New York City has some tips on electronics recycling. Remember, Barnard Recycling Centers accept e-waste.

Find out what happens to municipally collected recyclables in New York City.

Read A Brief History of Recycling in New York City.



Watch LIQUID ASSETS - a public media and outreach initiative from Penn University that seeks to inform the nation about the critical role that our water infrastructure plays in protecting public health and promoting economic prosperity.

Read the Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report and learn more about New York City Drinking Water

They're Drinking it Up in New York - Los Angeles Times

City Council Shuns Bottles in Favor of Water From Tap - New York Times

NYC Places 2nd in Tap Water Taste Test - Gothamist



The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) is the largest, oldest, and most comprehensive technical body dealing with the technology and implementation of renewable energy.

EnergyHub is a technology start-up that provides consumers the ability to monitor and control their home energy use, reduce their electricity consumption, and save money.

Con Edison The Power of Green: Tips to Help You Go Green and Save Some Green.

Calculate your Carbon Footprint.

Lower your energy use by purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs.CFLs are available in a wide variety of shades of white light so you can choose what bulb is best for your needs.



Winter Sun Farms offers a winter farm share for those interested in a CSA subscription in the off season.

Roxbury Farms services the Morningside Heights area with Community Supported Agriculture.

Just Food is a not-for-profit organization conencted New Yorkers with sustainable food options.

Barnard Dining Services has launched a sustainable food campaign Eat Green at Barnard.

CORE foods is the student-run food co-op on Columbia's campus. NOM^3 is a student-run sustainable foods not-for-profit catering company at Columbia University and in the Upper West Side 

Students can also get involved in The Columbia University Food Sustainability Project.


New York City and State

On Earth Day 2007, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, released PlanNYC 2030, a comprehensive sustainability plan for the City’s future. PlaNYC puts forth a strategy to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas footprint, while also accommodating a population growth of nearly one million, and improving our infrastructure and environment. Recognizing the importance to reduce global carbon emissions, and the value of leading by example, New York has set the goal of reducing its citywide carbon emissions by 30% below 2005 levels. The annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory will track progress towards our goal.

The NYC Energy Conservation Steering Committee’s plan for reducing municipal emissions.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) features project information sorted by region, calendar of events, press releases, and employment information.

The New York State Public Service Commission's Consumer Website has a lot of information for New York state residents about renewable energy.

New Homes for Old Stuff is a resource for New Yorkers to donate or sell their used items in good condition to help those in need or provide a source of revenue for charitable organizations.

New York City legally mandates recycling. Read the laws and directives governing recycling and waste management.

The New York City Compost Project has information on how to compost in New York City. It's easier than you think!



The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction. The USGBC is the developer of the LEED building rating system.

The NYC Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) Office of Sustainable Design established contract specifications for different types of green buildings.

This NYC Wastele$$ page has information about green building in New York City, including legal information, municipal resources, and images and video of many green buildings in New York.



The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development is dedicated to improving the well being of present and future generations through the promotion of sustainable development.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. The Council provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices, and to advocate business positions on these issues in a variety of forums, working with governments, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is e-waste?

E-waste or electronics waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, cell phones and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these can be reused, refurbished, or recycled, to help reduce use of our resources in making them, and keep tons of material out of landfills. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that electronic waste accounts for about 70 percent of the heavy metals found in municipal landfills — including lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium — that can leach into water supplies. E-waste is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream, with New York City producing close to 25,000 tons of e-waste a year. Find out more about Electronics Recycling.

What is the surplus reuse program?

The surplus reuse program is a joint venture in which Facilities, the Provost’s office, Purchasing, Residential Life, and Administrative Services work with departments to maximize the use of furniture and equipment. Items that are no longer needed by a department or area are removed and stored for future use. Stock is checked before any new furniture is ordered to see if an item can be reused. More often than not, we find a new home for our inventory. Any furniture that is no longer going to be used by the College, and is still in good condition, is donated to an appropriate organization.

What do all these T's mean?

Barnard College has adopted policies that limit purchases and upgrades of lighting systems to energy-efficient equipment. Almost all of our buildings use fluorescent lighting because of their high efficiency in converting electrical energy to light. The T-8 and T-5 fluorescent lamps have been adopted by Barnard as its standard for fluorescent lighting, replacing the T-12 lamp. Lamps come in hundreds of different lengths and widths, with the T-8 and the T-5 being two of the most energy-efficient. The "T" in lamp nomenclature represents the shape of the lamp, tubular. The number following the "T" usually represents the diameter of the lamp in eighths of an inch (1 inch equals 2.5 centimeters).When compared to the past standard T-12 lamps, the new standard T-8’s and T-5’s use less energy, have the same lamp life and level of illumination.

Why does Barnard use a sole vendor program?

It allows Barnard to establish a standard for the entire campus so that all of the furniture is the same in every location and can be interchanged as needed.  It also saves the College a lot of work and staff time on searching for a different vendor each time a piece of furniture needs to be purchased or repaired.

There are a number of reasons why the College currently works with one vendor to supply residence hall bedroom furniture. They use lumber suppliers who are recognized for implementing environmentally supported harvesting controls and green programs to perpetuate a better environment. 95% of their lumber is harvested within a 50 mile radius of their manufacturing facility.  Finally, the furniture is manufactured within a few hours drive from campus, drastically cutting down on use of resources to ship. Learn more about our vendor and their environmental policy.

What is "low-e" glass?

Low-emissivity glass is coated with a microscopically thin layer of material that reflects a significant amount of radiant heat, thus lowering the total heat flow through the window.  The Window Replacement Savings calculated from Plimpton Hall are a model of the typical savings for campus buildings.

What is Retro-commissioning?

Retro-commissioning is a systematic process that identifies and implements operational and maintenance improvements that can be made in existing buildings to optimize their energy performance. As part of our commitment to sustainability, Barnard has begun to make a series of upgrades to our mechanical plant – boilers, HVAC systems, and other building systems – to make them more efficient in how much energy they consume and how they work.

What are low VOC paints?

Paints low in VOC, or volatile organic compounds, do not significantly off-gas, or vaporize at normal temperatures, releasing potentially hazardous chemical compounds into the atmosphere.

The most common VOC is methane, a greenhouse gas. Common artificial VOCs include paint thinners, dry cleaning solvents, semiconductor cleaner, and some constituents of petroleum fuels (eg. gasoline and natural gas).

VOCs are considered a factor in indoor air quality issues such as sick building syndrome and are generated by photocopiers, carpets, furnishings and finishes as they are used or when components oxidize.

What is VCT flooring and why is linoleum better?

VCT, or vinyl composition tile, is a finished flooring material that is made from vinyl. While it is durable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain, VCT is not ecologically friendly as it is a completely manufactured compound that does not degrade. Linoleum tile, on the other hand, is almost entirely a natural product, and is easily broken down by the environment. Linseed oil is combined with cork dust or wood flour and backed by burlap or canvas to make the tile.