#DisruptClimateInjustice: Walking the Walk on Campus

By Molly Craft Johnson and Erik Eibert

February 26 - March 2, 2018: The New School will disrupt regular curriculum across the University in order to learn about climate change and its implications, particularly the unequal and devastating impacts on the most vulnerable and least responsible communities around the globe. This disruption is an opportunity to come together to take concrete action toward fighting climate change and supporting climate justice.Students, faculty, and staff will all be engaged in a week of critical dialogue, reflection, and action through special activities occurring in classes, through a series of workshops and events on campus, and on social media. Simultaneously, it is important that we take this opportunity to reflect on our own actions as a community and do what we can to stand in solidarity with communities impacted by climate change. During the week, we will take a series of steps to reduce the carbon footprint of many New School buildings. You may encounter:

Cooler Classrooms - In 2017, natural gas and fuel oil accounted for 45% of the university’s total energy consumption. By turning down the thermostat a few degrees below our usual temperature settings, we will decrease the natural gas and fuel oil used to heat our buildings while maintaining them at a comfortable temperature.

Dimmed Lights - In 2017 electricity was responsible for 66% of CO2 emissions The New School is responsible for. Some lobbies and other public spaces with access to natural light will dim their lights in order to decrease electricity use. You can help us further decrease our electricity use by dimming lights when possible.

Reduced Elevator Service - in the University Center, elevator service will be slightly reduced in order to save additional electricity. This is an action The New School also takes during demand response events on the hottest days of the summer.* You can help avoid elevator traffic jams by taking the stairs if you are going between just one or two floors, and using the elevators just for longer trips.

How much impact will these actions have? It’s difficult to quantify precise energy savings in just one week’s time, but these actions all add up. Adjusting the thermostat down in the winter or up in the summer just a couple degrees reduces fuel use. Dressing appropriately for the season by wearing warmer clothes in the winter and lighter-weight clothes in the summer helps optimize the temperature at which our buildings can be maintained. The New School has reduced electricity use by installing LED lights and occupancy controls, but we can still save more energy by keeping lights off when we don’t need them. Reduced elevator service is possible in the University Center because the stairs are large and accessible. By taking the stairs in any building, you help reduce electricity used by elevators.Since 2015 The New School has reduced energy use by 10.1% and carbon emissions by 7.7%. The week of the curriculum disruption will be a time for students, faculty, and staff to consider the impacts of their daily actions, and to make small behavior changes that help further decrease the university’s carbon footprint. To learn more about your personal carbon footprint, check out these carbon footprint calculators from the Global Footprint Network and The Nature Conservancy. To learn more about how we are advancing sustainability in our buildings and facilities, check out the 2017 Buildings Sustainability Report and The New School’s Climate Action Plan.Share the actions you are taking and other ways you are participating in the curriculum disruption on social media with #DisruptClimateInjustice. *The New School participates in Con Edison’s Demand Response program during summer months, helping to reduce electricity consumption and strain on the NYC electricity grid when called upon.  

Molly Craft Johnson is the University Sustainability Associate at the Tishman Environment and Design Center. Molly holds an MS in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a Specialization in Finance from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School, and a BA in Environmental Ethics and Policy from the University of Portland.

Erik Eibert is the Assistant Director for Sustainable Initiatives at New School Buildings. Erik is a mechanical engineer with an environmental background in agriculture, transportation, and the built environment. He is an advocate of developing new ways to fairly price carbon into our economy as a method to reduce emissions.