Columbia University receives Environmental Excellence Award from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
by Shane Son, Hazardous Materials Specialist

Columbia University continually strives to be a leader in environmental performance. It recently received the first LEED-ND Platinum certification in New York City - the first Platinum certification for a university campus plan nationally - , for our Manhattanville campus, and the EPA Environmental Quality Award for the University’s Clean + Go Green program, the highest recognition presented to the public by the EPA. Columbia’s pioneering spirit is evident.

On January 14, 2015, this tradition of excellence continued as William Hichak, Director of Laboratories, Department of Dermatopathology, along with Columbia EH&S’ Shane Son and Nicholas Craig, Hazardous Materials Specialists, and Chris Pettinato, Executive Director, accepted the Environmental Excellence Award from the New York Stage Department of Environmental Conservation at the DEC’s 11th Annual awards ceremony in Albany, NY.

Columbia University was honored for its solvent recycling program at the Medical Center and Morningside campuses. Solvent recycling launched in early 2001 after months of research focused on creating an environmentally sustainable program to reduce chemical waste, as well as annual expenses. The Department of Dermatopathology and Pathology, the largest chemical waste generators at CUMC, use alcohol and xylene in a variety of tissue-processing and staining procedures, which support critical patient care functions. After a pilot project to confirm that reuse of purified, recycled solvent would not have any impact on the quality of tissue processing activities, both laboratories went fully operational with recycling and have been doing so ever since.  With the success of the program at CUMC, EH&S launched two more solvent recyclers at the Morningside campus in 2008 and 2011, to accommodate the Chemistry Department, as well as the Biological and Engineering Departments.

After successfully implementing solvent recycling 14 years ago, the benefits are clear: tens of thousands of gallons of solvents have been recycled and millions of dollars have been saved in traditional purchase and disposal cost. The Environmental Excellence Award is just icing on the cake!

To read more, please visit:

NYSDEC Environmental Excellence Award: and
LEED-ND Platinum Certification:
EPA Environmental Quality Award:

NYSDEC award

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