Stony Brook University hosts climate exchange town hall

Stony Brook University hosts climate exchange town hall

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis, center, was among the panelists at the Charles B. Wang Center discussing the creation of the New York Climate Exchange. Photo by Daniel Febrizio

Stony Brook University students and faculty gathered Tuesday, April 25, at the Charles B. Wang Center for a special town hall meeting that marked the creation of the New York Climate Exchange on Governors Island in New York City. The event was free and open to the public.

The panelists included Maurie McInnis, SBU president; Jed Shivers, senior vice president for finance and administration; Kevin Reed, associate dean for Research in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences; and Keith O’Connor, principal at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which has been developing this project.

The event was moderated by Craig Allen, chief meteorologist for WCBS-880 and a former Stony Brook University graduate.

McInnis spoke on her excitement regarding this opportunity for Stony Brook to be the anchor institution for the climate exchange.

“Setting ambitious goals, responding to society’s greatest needs and propelling our university to even higher levels of excellence … this is the Stony Brook way, and it’s why we’re here today,” McInnis said. She added that SBU is going to “bring together the world’s most innovative organizations across sectors to problem solve and turn solutions into action.”

Shivers explained that “the climate exchange is a separate and distinct charitable organization” from the university and that “no Stony Brook University funds shall be utilized as part of the capital that needs to be raised to do the design or the construction work or support the initial operating expenses.”

Reed followed by noting that while SBU will not be making financial investments, “what Stony Brook is going to get to invest is our ideas and, as the president already mentioned, our problem-solving skills.”

O’Connor spoke on how “all of the energy will be generated on-site” because it is going to be a “100% electric campus.” He added that “one of the objectives is the buildings, the landscape and the systems all coming together to demonstrate how you build a sustainable long-term campus.”

After the conclusion of the town hall, which included a brief Q&A that allowed some members of the audience to speak, TBR spoke to some attendees to get their reactions to this announcement.

Sergio Perez, a professor from the Marine Engineering Department of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, expressed excitement at the promise and potential of this project since hundreds of millions of dollars will go into it. “We can do a vast improvement to Governors Island,” Perez said. “At the very worst it’s going to create lots of jobs. But at the very best it will have an effect on climate change.” 

Sky Freeman, a student studying journalism and political science, said he believes “it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for Stony Brook to combat climate change.”

“I think if I had the opportunity to get involved, it would definitely be something I would seriously consider,” Freeman said. “I think the design of the building is very unique, very cool — it’ll create a great atmosphere on the island.”

He added that he does not think that most students are aware of the plans for the climate exchange, but that he knows there is a lot of excitement from the administration and from faculty.

Paul Shepson, dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at SBU, said that he anticipates his school being a “contributor to the success of the exchange.”

“Our faculty will be involved in many ways in developing programs and engaging in some of the research that goes on there,” Shepson said. “I love that Stony Brook is leading in the creation of this exchange where we’re going to be a convener of the best minds in the world in identifying and implementing solutions to the climate crisis.”

While there is still more planning and development to be done, McInnis said it is anticipated that ground will be broken on the project in 2025 for completion by 2028.