NYU named partner in Governors Island climate center project

Students and faculty will have access to classrooms, laboratories and other spaces at the newly announced New York Climate Exchange, set to open on Governors Island in 2028.


A rendering of the planned New York Climate Exchange, which is set to open in 2028. (Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Carmo Moniz, News Editor

NYU will partner with a new $700 million international climate research center on Governors Island, alongside several other universities across the country. Students, faculty and staff will have access to academic and research spaces at the center, known as the New York Climate Exchange, once it opens in 2028.

The facility will serve as a hub for climate research and education and is intended to create and implement solutions to the global climate crisis. Stony Brook University will serve as the anchor institution for the project, which was announced Monday afternoon at a ceremony featuring Mayor Eric Adams and representatives from The Trust for Governors Island, a nonprofit that oversees operations and development on the island.

“This is where we will meet the challenge of climate change head on,” Adams said at the ceremony. “This is where we will protect our city’s air and water, and this is where we will train thousands of students for the next wave of green jobs.”

At the end of a two-year-long city-organized competition that sought proposals for the center, the Stony Brook University-led submission was chosen over two other finalists — one headed by Northeastern University and another jointly submitted by the City University of New York and The New School.

NYU president Andrew Hamilton said that the university is proud to be joining the climate exchange, in a press release published Monday.

“As a university whose fate is inextricably tied to the city we are so pleased to call home, NYU takes its role and responsibility as a model of sustainability seriously, and looks forward to having our scholars and students contribute to this local innovative research and educational hub with a markedly global reach,” Hamilton said.

The Exchange will be a part of a larger Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island, which will also include a public laboratory that simulates an urban environment and spaces for environmental advocacy organizations to host events and conduct research. Construction is slated to begin in 2025, two years from now.

The planned 400,000-square-foot facility boasts a number of academic and public spaces, including classrooms, housing for students and faculty, exhibition spaces and auditoriums. Once fully operational, it is expected to create over 7,000 jobs.

NYU is an affiliate member of The Exchange, which comprises a number universities, environmental organizations, corporations such as IBM, philanthropists and government groups.

NYU’s faculty, researchers, students and staff will have access to the facilities and resources at The Exchange, according to Joseph Tirella, a spokesperson for the university. NYU will also help with fundraising and grant writing for the project. Tirella added that while the university will not operate buildings on the island, it has taught classes there in the past.

The Exchange will be funded in part by the Simons Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which have pledged gifts of $100 million and $50 million, respectively. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City and the namesake of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said that he had proposed creating a park and university campus on Governors Island as a candidate in the 2001 New York City mayoral election.

“Bloomberg Philanthropies is glad to join Jim and Marilyn Simons and others in supporting [The Exchange], as part of our global efforts to help cities lead the way in tackling climate change,” Bloomberg said, according to a press release. “This is a great day for the island, for New York City’s future, and for the fight against climate change.”

Bloomberg also said that in 2002, he had worked with President George W. Bush and former New York governor George Pataki to bring the entire island back under the ownership of the local government. The island had been transferred to the United States Coast Guard in 1966, and was gradually returned to the state in parts from 1996 to 2003, when the federal government relinquished the last 150 acres of the island still under its control for $1. In a 2010 agreement, the state government gave the city control of the island, with the possibility of an NYU campus being built there.

The university first showed an interest in having a presence in Governors Island in the ’90s, when it considered putting housing, athletic and academic spaces on the island. Plans to create a campus there were included in the university’s since-altered 2031 expansion plan, which proposed a 3 million-square-foot increase in university space. NYU president-designate Linda Mills has said that the university currently does not intend to proceed with the rest of the 2031 Plan.

Among various other projects in the original 2031 Plan, including the now-completed Paulson Center at 181 Mercer St., NYU had considered building a 1-million-square-foot campus on Governors Island, which would serve as the location for an urban studies institute.

Contact Carmo Moniz at [email protected].