The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a leading art and design school in New York City, has made impressive strides to reduce its energy and carbon footprints. By implementing an energy efficiency master plan and integrating it into the college’s broader capital planning process, FIT has reduced energy use by 50% and carbon emissions by 55% over the last twelve years, yielding more than $3.1 million in annual savings.


Since adopting their Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2007, FIT has completed a wide array of energy efficiency measures. These include upgrades to the school’s heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, as well as domestic hot water, lighting, controls, and building envelope. FIT has prioritized measures based on their projected energy, carbon, and cost savings (analyzed in the CAP), as well as their alignment with other scheduled capital projects, such as major space renovations. FIT’s adherence to this long-term master plan has enabled them to dramatically and cost-effectively reduce energy use. Funding from NYC DCAS Energy Management, leadership from the college’s administration, and a strong campus culture of sustainability have been essential to FIT’s success.

Facts about the building

Project Type
Energy Efficiency Master Plan

Manhattan, NY

Year Project Completed

Year Base Buildings Completed

Project Size
1.8 million sf; 9 buildings

Building Type
Campus– Residential & Mixed Academic

Existing Conditions

Prior to adopting the CAP in 2007, FIT had taken a more reactive, ad hoc approach to physical plant upgrades, often repairing or replacing equipment only after it had failed. Capital planning at that time typically did not account for energy efficiency as an asset.

Design Conditions

FIT’s campus occupies one and a half blocks in New York City’s Garment District. It includes nine buildings built between 1956 and 1988: five mixed-use academic buildings with classroom, laboratory, museum, library, and office space; and four residence halls that house approximately 2,300 students.

As a college in the State University of New York system, FIT’s academic buildings are owned by the City of New York, with utility bills paid by DCAS DEM. FIT owns the residence halls and pays for utilities in those buildings. This dual ownership structure has created an incentive for both FIT and DCAS DEM to reduce the school’s energy use.

In 2007, FIT began to undertake a number of efficiency upgrades with support from DCAS DEM. This included phasing out old refrigerants in the campus chiller plant, reducing steam consumption for summer cooling, and upgrading fluorescent lighting fixtures. With much of the college’s major mechanical equipment also approaching end-ofuseful-life around this time, FIT and DCAS DEM decided that the time was right to invest in more comprehensive energy upgrades.

Green Features

A. Heating, Cooling, & Ventilation
Refurbished three existing steam turbine chillers and replaced one electric chiller with a more efficient model; upgraded cooling tower; installed CO2 sensors and variable frequency drives (VFDs) on fan motors to reduce ventilation energy use.

B. Domestic Hot Water (DHW)
Replaced old DHW heaters with instantaneous heaters; refurbished steam condensate recovery units and installed heat exchangers.

C. Lighting
Converted more than 20,000 fluorescent lighting fixtures to high-efficiency LEDs; installed occupancy and daylight sensors.

D. Controls
Upgraded elevator, escalator, HVAC, and chiller plant controls. Upgraded the BMS and integrated it with new sensors and controls.

E. Envelope
Installed highly insulated windows in one dorm; installed 17,000 sf of vegetated green roof; painted 10,000 sf of roof with white reflective paint.

F. Additional measures
FIT participates in a demand response program to reduce the school’s energy load at times of peak demand on the electric grid.



Project Team

Project Owners
FIT Administration & NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ Division of Energy Management (DCAS DEM)

Oversight, Energy Management, & Planning Services
FIT Facilities; ABM; Kallen & Lemelson

Grant Funding Provider



Cumulatively, the measures implemented under FIT’s CAP have cut the college’s energy use by 50% (compared to 2005 levels) and reduced utility and operating expenses by $3.1 million each year. CAP efficiency upgrades have also reduced the college’s carbon footprint by 55%, making FIT a leader in the fight against climate change and an example to other institutions.

Additional benefits include:

  • Improved heating, cooling, and lighting efficiency
  • Reduced total energy consumption with significant peak demand reductions
  • Reduced utility & operating costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Eligibility for competitive funding through NYC DCAS DEM
  • Improved ability to coordinate, schedule, and budget for projects using multiyear strategic plan

Lessons Learned

Quality Planning
Developing a comprehensive, long-term plan (and sticking to it) has been essential to FIT’s success. FIT has deviated very little from the CAP as it was originally laid out in 2007, which speaks both to the plan’s robustness and to the school’s commitment to its sustainability goals.

Commissioning and Training
FIT Facilities has learned that simply upgrading equipment is not enough to guarantee energy savings. Equipment must also be properly commissioned and maintained to achieve the performance outcomes anticipated.

Monitoring and Data Collection
As Facilities has integrated more sensors and equipment with the BMS, their ability to maximize operational efficiency and identify preventative maintenance measures has also improved.

Community Engagement
Generating buy-in from FIT’s community of students, staff, and faculty has been essential to maintaining momentum for the college’s energy efficiency efforts.


FIT remains committed to its long-term CAP and has a number of new efficiency projects in the pipeline. Recently, DCAS DEM awarded FIT funding for an additional electric chiller that will serve a new 100,000 square foot academic building currently under construction. FIT is developing a master plan for the chiller plant to ensure that new and existing equipment are properly integrated, optimized, and able to meet the heating and cooling demands of an expanded campus. The new academic building will incorporate many other green features, including a green roof and sophisticated daylighting controls.

The FIT Administration has a deep commitment to sustainability that filters through to all levels of the institution. All Facilities conversations are conversations about energy. George Jefremow, PE, Executive Director, FIT Facilities

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