Stony Brook University to Lead Climate Campus on New York City’s Governors Island

The New York Climate Exchange will be a climate solutions hub, research center, and public access campus led by Stony Brook University.
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Published on April 26, 2023
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  • Stony Brook University will be the anchoring institution and partner with local and nationwide higher education institutions and companies.
  • The Exchange will cost $700 million and begin construction in 2025 and open in 2028.
  • The campus will be 100% electrical and powered by solar energy. All non-potable water will be rainwater or treated wastewater.
  • Students will have the chance to study abroad, intern, and join fellowship programs at Governors Island.

Students at Stony Brook University will be able to focus on climate solutions and environmental justice "abroad" at the New York Climate Exchange on Governors Island.

This week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and The Trust for Governors Island selected Stony Brook to lead a massive climate solutions research center on the 172-acre island in New York Harbor that is technically within the borough of Manhattan.

The center is being billed by New York and Stony Brook leaders as an international hub for climate solution development that will provide job training for residents.

"We are honored, excited, and proud to lead this historic center that will cement New York City as the world leader on climate change, the most pressing issue of our time," said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. "Up until now, the development of climate solutions has been siloed, with world leaders separate from expert scientists separate from the on-the-ground green workforce."

The semester abroad program for undergrads will feature work in climate science, policy, and environmental justice. The Exchange will offer a graduate-level fellowship program, other internship and fellowship programs, and continuing education programs.

Stony Brook is partnering with the Simons Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, who pledged a combined $150 million of the total projected $700 million cost. Other core partners include Pratt Institute, Georgia Tech, and tech business IBM.

The Exchange will also serve as one of the country's first True Zero Waste institutions, diverting 95% of its waste from landfills. The HVAC will use geothermal energy to conserve 70% of energy typically used by facilities of this size.

"This great news is 22 years in the making," said Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. "Our administration opened a public school on the island and began building an extraordinary public park, but over time it became clear that the city needed greater control of its development."

Stony Brook University campus.
Image Credit: Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office

According to NYC Mayor Eric Adams' office, The Exchange will create 7,000 permanent jobs and $1 billion in economic impact. The campus is expected to serve 600 postsecondary students, 4,500 K-12 students, and 250 faculty and researchers.

The Exchange will also source and support new ideas, projects, and ventures for solving the climate crisis and training over 6,000 green job employees annually for communities disproportionately affected by climate change.

The laboratory will be 400,000 square feet of climate-resistant designed buildings raised 18 feet above the ground with no basements. The buildings include research labs, classrooms, exhibits, greenhouses, mitigation tech, and housing facilities.

The buildings will be electricity-powered entirely by solar energy, and 100% of non-potable water will be rainwater or treated wastewater.

All new and renovated buildings will be the first New York City commercial buildings to utilize mass timber and meet the Living Building Challenge, a sustainable structure adherence challenge.

The Exchange will have a citizens advisory council of local stakeholders to represent partners' and neighbors' voices as The Exchange implements new climate solutions.

The Exchange will begin construction in 2025 and is set to open in 2028.

"This first-of-its-kind project will make New York City a global leader in developing solutions for climate change while creating thousands of good-paying green jobs for New Yorkers and infusing $1 billion into our city's economy," Adams said. "Where some people see challenges, New Yorkers see opportunities, and this team and this project are leading the charge."