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BMCC Positioned for Sustainable and Energy Efficient Future

October 27, 2016

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) and the New York Power Authority will begin installing the largest solar array in Manhattan on its rooftop at 199 Chambers Street in Spring 2017.

Over 900 solar panels will be placed on the roof and the mechanical room facing West Street. The photovoltaic array will be capable of generating 312 kWh of electricity that will feed back into NYC's electrical grid. BMCC plans to install a battery storage system to capture and use the sun-charged electricity, potentially saving the college thousands of dollars on its power bill while simultaneously reducing the college’s carbon footprint. The batteries will help BMCC during emergencies by allowing critical functions to be powered including perimeter lights, limited telecommunication, Internet and HVAC systems.

The BMCC solar panel array is one of several capital projects that are transforming the 199 Chambers Street building into an innovative, more energy-efficient and sustainable campus.

“Designed in the 1970s when energy supplies were plentiful, prices low and before climate change was even in our daily vocabulary, the Chambers Street building was already under-designed when it opened in 1983. At that time, heat-generating computers, photocopiers, printers and video monitors weren’t as widely used and certainly there were no smartphones. BMCC was home then to 8,700 students and there were fewer internal offices and classrooms. Now, the electronics-filled college has more than 27,000 students and well over 2,500 faculty and staff. That constitutes an unprecedented demand for electricity and heat dissipation. These projects will help usher BMCC into the 22nd century,” said Scott Anderson, Vice President for Administration and Planning.

Other planned and ongoing capital investments include comprehensive bathroom renovations, the replacement of the main entrance ramp and plazas, a multi-million dollar HVAC upgrade to improve the heating and cooling of the Chambers Street building and the opening of BMCC's rebuilt swimming pool.

The pool renovation is expected to be completed in Spring 2017. The pool's upgrade will include new tiling, murals, seating, state of the art micro-filtration system and pool covers.

“With the new filtration system we don’t have to discharge as much pool water or use as many chemicals,” said Thomas Ching, Chief Superintendent for Buildings and Grounds.

New motorized vinyl sheathing will cover the pool when it is not in operation. ‘The covers prevent water and heat loss while reducing humidity and wear and tear on the HVAC systems. We expect to save over 4400 kW of electricity used by the pool’s HVAC system or an annual savings of $40,813 per year” according to Ching.

BMCC is using a $22 million federal government stimulus package grant to replace its three-decade-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning units to include new lab fume hoods, pumps and vents, as well as new chillers and steam generator.

“The project is expected to take 25 months with completion by late Spring 2017 and will introduce new energy-efficient equipment able to provide consistent temperatures electronically monitored through a centralized building management system,” said Ching.

With an emphasis on improved accessibility and efficiency, the college started extensive upgrades in Fall 2016 on 12 public bathrooms located on the north side of 199 Chambers Street. Within six months, work will begin on 14 bathroom facilities located on the south side of 199 Chambers. The upgrades will include new ceramic floors and wall tiles, stone counters and stainless steel fixtures.

“The bathrooms feature motion activated sensors on the faucets and toilets, and LED lights in reducing both water and energy use,” says Ching.

Beginning in Spring 2017, the entire Chambers Street ramp, third-floor plaza and various setbacks at the main building will be removed, then waterproofed and replaced with a solid concrete base.

"All of these vitally important improvements in our infrastructure were long overdue, these upgrades will bring the college up to today's standards and expectations. They represent our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of the entire BMCC community” noted VP Anderson.  




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  • Solar panels to be installed on the roof of the Chambers Street building beginning Spring 2017
  • BMCC's pool will open Spring semester 2017
  • BMCC will save more energy with new investments

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