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Energy to Lead Competition 2020


The REV Campus Challenge administered the final round of the Energy to Lead Competition in 2020. NYSERDA is awarding over $5 million to the colleges and universities below to support the implementation of projects that demonstrate cost-effective, deep, and impactful energy savings leading to decarbonization, while incorporating student engagement and sharing of best practices to encourage replication.  

Although the Energy to Lead competition is no longer accepting applications, New York State colleges and universities may apply to NYSERDA’s Commercial & Industrial Carbon Challenge, and Carbon Neutral (formerly Net Zero) for Economic Development.


NYSERDA is pleased to announce the four colleges and universities that have been selected as winners for the final round of the Energy to Lead competition. Collectively, these projects are expected to save a combined 4,604 metric tons of carbon annually, equivalent to removing almost 1,000 cars from the road each year. These projects were awarded based on their unique and high impact approaches to decarbonization and student and community engagement. The four winners are Vassar College, The City College of New York, Syracuse University, and New York Medical College.

Vassar College ($1.1M award) will construct a new, net zero emission building for the college’s Institute for the Liberal Arts. Vassar will develop a publicly available project dashboard to report construction and installation progress, as well as continuous reports from real-time data monitoring systems, demonstrating project impacts and outcomes. Vassar students will contribute to the project through research and analyzing building performance metrics against designs to verify savings achieved through net-zero construction. Throughout the project, Vassar will conduct a comprehensive education and outreach campaign including public tours and using the project as a living learning lab.

The City College of New York – Building Performance Lab ($1.4M award) will develop a controls-based, systematic process for facilities, staff, and operators to increase their ability to effectively manage major energy consuming systems and properly commission equipment on campus. The project will use existing market-recognized techniques to deploy, test and document a systematic process to engage mentored students with campus facilities staff in implementing building automation system-based procedures for on-going commissioning, predictive control and electric grid coordination. Beyond outcomes on the City College of New York campus, the project will produce materials and guidance that can be customized for other campuses to follow a similar pathway.

Syracuse University ($1.4M award) will conduct a Net Zero Energy Retrofit on an existing 8-unit campus dormitory building. Creative, cost-effective solutions will be developed, analyzed, and implemented to achieve Net Zero Energy. Project goals are to evaluate the impact of renewable energy sources, high efficiency systems, and occupant-centric smart building controls to develop learning and increase energy savings. Students will be engaged through energy modeling and simulation and working with campus departments to integrate project analysis and performance measurement into curriculum. This project will serve as an example for conducting Net Zero Energy Retrofits and measuring and verifying actual performance to provide a framework for replication across New York State. The project will also be promoted and shared with the local community through an exhibit at the Syracuse Museum of Science and Technology.

New York Medical College ($1.3M award) will design and implement a campus-wide, direct digital control building management system, that will combine existing control systems with new, advanced controls to create a single system for campus HVAC, pumping, and lighting control. Training sessions will be held to help facilities staff not only understand the system and functionality but offer the ability to adjust the system for optimized performance. In addition, a student intern will support the development of a campus climate action plan to inventory all greenhouse gas emissions, measure impact of the Energy to Lead project, and determine a plan for future campus emissions reduction.


Email [email protected] with any questions regarding the projects or NYSERDA funding opportunities for higher education.