NEW YORK, December 3, 2009—The NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate has launched a new Center for the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE@NYU Schack) to support increased research and education about improved, “evidence-based” industry practices in the area of sustainable real estate development and investment. The Schack Institute, within the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, has been for 40 years NYU’s home for graduate and continuing education and applied research in the fields of real estate and construction management.
“The new Center for the Sustainable Built Environment will directly impact the practice of real estate development, financing, and construction, and broaden the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate’s role as a leader of industry discussion, innovation, and action in this critical area.”
This initiative coalesces several efforts by the Institute to address the issue of sustainability: the newly available professional Certificate in Sustainable Design, Construction, and Development, to educate architects, engineers, and other real estate practitioners on LEED standards and applications; the appointment of faculty with particular expertise in sustainable development and technologies; and curricular changes throughout the graduate real estate and construction management programs, to name just a few.
“Real estate development has a significant impact on energy and material resources, environmental quality, social equity and neighborhood stability, and the health, well-being, and productivity of building occupants,” says Clinical Assistant Professor Constantine Kontokosta, the new director of the SBE@ NYU Schack. “Growing concern about these issues has catalyzed developers toward sustainable practices, but there remains a large gap between theory and practice.” In addition to teaching, Kontokosta co-owns a New York City-based “green” development firm and is vice chairman of the Suffolk County (NY) Planning Commission.
To date, much of that theory comes from research conducted in academic areas such as environmental science and engineering or from the technology industry, explains Kontokosta. “To bridge the gap and actually affect the way the real estate industry performs, we need to define and identify best practices, effective measurement tools, and better ways to facilitate ongoing innovation,” he says. “The Schack Institute’s particular focus on practice-based education, and connecting academia and industry, positions us well to take on this challenge.”
The SBE@NYU Schack will be active on several fronts. Initially, the Center aims to connect the Institute with other programs at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and New York University, as well as academic, government, and industry-based entities elsewhere, to create a multi-disciplined research agenda. This agenda will support original applied research, working papers, and case studies that examine practices and emerging sustainability technologies.
The SBE@NYU Schack also envisions starting a peer-reviewed journal, sponsored by the Schack Institute, and hosting a regular program of conferences, workshops, lecture series, and podcasts to disseminate the growing body of knowledge. Further, the Center is planning for a competition in 2010 for sustainable development business plans submitted by graduate students nationwide, to be judged by a panel of sustainability experts and real estate industry leaders.
Within the Schack Institute, the SBE@NYU Schack will guide further expansion of an integrated sustainable development curriculum in the graduate and noncredit programs and develop new courses and seminars for industry practitioners.