Sustainable Energy Experts Discuss Climate Change Solutions at NYC Future Energy Conference— Dr. Marta Gutman

by Sofia Canonge

Sustainable energy is an essential approach to climate change, reducing environmental degradation and promoting awareness in communities worldwide. To address this, the first session of City College’s NYC Future Energy Conference focused on “Energy in a Changing Climate.” Chaired by Dr. Marta Gutman, dean of the Spitzer School of Architecture, the session focused on exploring innovative approaches and collaborative efforts in sustainable energy and climate resilience.

Dr. Marta Gutman. Photo: CCNY.

Gutman shared insights into the intersection of her role as dean and conference chair.

“As an educator, I’m very concerned about climate change and its impact on the built environment, livable cities and, basically, the future of our planet,” Gutman said. “I’m also very interested, as dean, in advancing collaboration, particularly with engineering, to tackle the multifaceted challenges climate change causes.”

Session panelists included Dr. Damon Bolhassani from the Spitzer School of Architecture, Tria Case from the CUNY Office of Sustainability and Energy Conservation and Jane Atkinson Gajwani from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Each speaker brought unique expertise and perspectives to the discussion, improving attendees’ understanding of the complexity surrounding the energy transition and climate resilience.

Bolhassani is an assistant professor of structural design in the architecture department and the director of the Advanced Building Construction Lab at CCNY.

Bolhassani’s key focus areas included advancing the use of recycled materials, such as recycled brick, to reduce embodied energy in construction. By exploring alternative materials and construction methods, he aims to promote sustainability in the built environment while maintaining structural integrity and safety.

Dr. Gutman chairing session one of the conference. Photo: Joann Huang.

Case was another speaker at the session. She brought her ten years of expertise as the university executive director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation and administrator of Sustainable CUNY. Her work centers on energy efficiency practices and clean technology innovations in NYC and CUNY’s campuses.

In addition, Case provided insight on program management, considering her experience in securing and managing multi-millions in funding, including the Sustainable Investment Revolving Loan Fund, which funds CUNY energy savings projects.

Gajwani, the final speaker, serves as the director of the Office of Energy and Resource Recovery Programs and as the agency chief decarbonization officer for the NYC DEP. Her discussion revolved around her experience in carbon and energy neutrality work as well as insight into her leadership role at a city agency that plays a crucial role in advancing climate change mitigation in NYC.

Attendees during the conference session. Photo: Joann Huang.

Gutman emphasized the importance of collaboration and the positive outcomes of having diverse and expert voices address climate change issues and strive for sustainable energy to help combat them.

“I hope people come away from the session thinking about collaboration, the possibility of collaboration, of working together to solve these kinds of problems,” Gutman said. “When we talk about the different solutions to climate change, it’s not one or the other discipline that can help. It’s together. We have to work together.”

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