Memorandum of Understanding Establishes Strategic Partnership Between the State and Private Colleges to Increase Investment in Clean Energy

December 10, 2019

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), a statewide association representing the public policy interests of more than 100 Independent colleges and universities across the state, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to enhance collaboration on and support increased investments in clean energy and energy efficiency at CICU member institutions throughout New York. This agreement recognizes a shared interest in improving New York’s economy and environment and supports Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal – the most aggressive climate change program in the nation, putting the state on path to economy-wide carbon-neutrality.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “This MOU is another major step forward in Governor Cuomo’s steadfast commitment to decarbonizing the grid and bringing clean energy solutions for all New Yorkers. Our collaborative partnership will help New York State remain at the forefront of the battle against climate change and ensure all colleges and universities and their students across the state have the opportunity to benefit from the energy transition.”

“Private colleges in New York are already at the forefront of research and development related to climate change and energy efficiency so we are excited to bring our expertise together with NYSERDA’s in this unique partnership. There is no issue of greater urgency or magnitude facing our state and our nation than climate change. It is only by bringing public and private resources together to collaborate that we will make progress toward sustainable solutions,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Under the agreement, the strategic partnership will focus on exchanging expertise and knowledge while developing programs that will help both organizations achieve their clean energy goals and objectives more efficiently, impactfully, and cost-effectively.

Among others, NYSERDA and CICU will collaborate on the following key priorities:

  • Formulating an Energy Committee comprised of volunteer CICU member colleges and universities and other relevant member organizations to identify and address emerging energy issues and opportunities for its member institutions.
  • Undertaking an inventory of CICU’s own carbon emissions with the goal of finding where gaps may exist and where NYSERDA may assist CICU in reducing emissions.
  • Developing and releasing a webinar series for the CICU membership using a NYSERDA platform. The Introductory Webinar to Key Decisionmakers is being planned for Winter 2019, with a goal of providing four subsequent webinars a year, in order to provide specific NYSERDA program information or training to CICU members.
  • Promoting NYSERDA workforce development and training programs to mobilize college educated talent specializing in clean energy solutions into the New York State job market, focusing on targeted placement, fostering knowledge economy enrichment and retention, and facilitating economic growth.
  • Developing and piloting new clean energy and energy efficiency programs targeted at the Higher Education sector as well as exchanging ideas and expertise on ways to modify and improve existing programs in a manner that can support increased investments in clean energy.
  • Navigating applicable clean energy programs and services available from NYSERDA and utilities and prioritizing investment options through a concierge service NYSERDA offers to provide one-on-one assistance.

New York State recognizes the higher education sector and its institutions as a critical part of the State’s overall decarbonization strategy. NYSERDA supports New York’s colleges and universities through its REV Campus Challenge initiative, a multi-tiered approach that offers technical and financial support, opportunities for recognition and promotion of clean energy projects, and a platform for peer connectivity and best practice sharing.

The partnership announced today represents deepening ties between the State and Independent colleges and universities to accelerate New York’s transition to a clean energy future, and will directly support Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading Green New Deal to grow the state’s economy and combat climate change.

Cecil Scheib, Chief Sustainability Officer, New York University said, “The strategic partnership will deepen and extend the critical support that NYSERDA has given to New York University's progress on carbon reductions, and deep transformation of its building and energy systems, for more than a decade. New York State funding is an important external validation of new approaches and technologies, and NYU’s experience has in turn helped inform NYSERDA’s program development. Institutions of higher education have a key role as market movers and climate mitigation leaders, and by working even more closely together, CICU and NYSERDA will expand their contribution towards State goals.”

New York State's Green New Deal

Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, putting the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy and establishing a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind by 2024, and 1,700 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012.

The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates the Green New Deal's national leading clean energy targets: nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025, and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030, while calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy. The CLCPA also directs New York State agencies and authorities to collaborate with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and aim to invest 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency program resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit or follow us on TwitterLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., FacebookLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTubeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or InstagramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

About The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York

Founded in 1956, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer 50% of bachelor’s degrees, 73% of master’s degrees, and 78% of doctoral and first-professional degrees earned in New York state. To learn more about CICU, visit