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Stony Brook University Selected as Anchor Institution by NYC for World-leading Climate Center on Governors Island

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Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis speaks alongside New York City Mayor Eric Adams (left) at the press conference announcing that Stony Brook University will lead the New York Climate Exchange. Photo by John Griffin.

Leading New York Philanthropies Simons Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies Pledge $150 Million in Combined Support for Stony Brook-Led “The New York Climate Exchange”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and The Trust for Governors Island today announced that Stony Brook University will serve as the anchor institution for the development of a world-leading climate solutions center on Governors Island in the city’s harbor. “The New York Climate Exchange” (“The Exchange”) will be a first-of-its kind international center for developing and deploying dynamic solutions to our global climate crisis, while also acting as a hub for New Yorkers to benefit from the rapidly evolving green economy.  

The Exchange will bring together the voices of all stakeholders so that solutions to our climate crisis are not just academic or theoretical, but social and practical — including research that becomes commercially viable and ideas that lead to immediate action on the local and global levels. Its Core Partners include University of Washington, BCG, Pratt Institute, Pace University, Georgia Tech, IBM, and GOLES.  Affiliate Partners include Duke University, NYU, University of Oxford, RIT, SUNY Maritime College, CUNY, and Moody’s, and Advisory Partners include Brookhaven National Laboratory and URBS. There are also over twenty local non-profit and community partners that will serve on community advisory councils and inform the work of The Exchange.

The design and operations of The Exchange — conceived by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in collaboration with MNLA, Buro Happold, and Langan Engineering — will also serve as a model for sustainability with a net zero center that complements the natural landscape of Governors Island and the urban landscape of New York City.

“We are honored, excited, and proud to lead this historic center that will cement New York City as the world leader on climate change, the most pressing issue of our time,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “Up until now, the development of climate solutions has been siloed, with world leaders separate from expert scientists separate from the on-the-ground green workforce. As an international leader on climate and as the leading public research institution in New York, Stony Brook University will bring stakeholders together from the academic, government and business communities to make The Exchange the center of research, innovation, education and collaboration to address this global crisis. With such eminent partners as the Simons Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies by our side, we have a remarkable foundation from which to grow.”

The Simons Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, two of the country’s leading philanthropic organizations, each announced transformational gifts to support the development of The New York Climate Exchange and related research and teaching already underway at Stony Brook.

The Simons Foundation, together with Simons Foundation International, have pledged a total of $100 million as matching gift support for The Exchange – the largest gift to date under Simons Foundation President David Spergel’s leadership and the second-largest in Stony Brook’s history. The gift is the latest expression of these foundations’ dedication to higher education and to advancing the frontiers of research in the basic sciences.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $50 million contribution to the project, continuing the philanthropy’s commitment to New York City, the fight against climate change, and improving higher education in New York and beyond. 

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President McInnis and two renderings of the New York Climate Exchange on Governors Island. Photo by John Griffin.

“We are honored to partner with Stony Brook and The Exchange,” said Simons Foundation President David Spergel. “Our partnership with Stony Brook goes back many years and together we’ve made great progress in both basic and health sciences. This enduring relationship is a source of great pride for all of us at the Simons Foundation. Stony Brook has catapulted to the forefront of higher education through its remarkable strength as a research institution and its unequaled focus on equity and access. I cannot think of a more qualified institution to lead this historic fight against climate change — a fight that must be met with innovation, intellect and tenacity.”

“This great news is 22 years in the making,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP. “As a candidate for mayor in 2001, I proposed transforming Governors Island into a park and university campus, and the next year Governor Pataki and I worked with President Bush to return the island to city and state for $1. Our administration opened a public school on the island and began building an extraordinary public park, but over time it became clear that the city needed greater control of its development. In 2010, we worked with Governor Paterson to cede the island to the city, which allowed us to lay the foundation for fulfilling our original vision of a year-round destination with a university presence that would bring new life and jobs. Now, thanks to Mayor Adams’ leadership, that vision is being fulfilled through a groundbreaking partnership with Stony Brook University that holds so much potential, The New York Climate Exchange. Bloomberg Philanthropies is glad to join Jim and Marilyn Simons and others in supporting it, as part of our global efforts to help cities lead the way in tackling climate change. This is a great day for the island, for New York City’s future, and for the fight against climate change.”

Stony Brook University will host a special Town Hall at 12 pm Tuesday, April 25, at the Charles B. Wang Center Theatre. President McInnis will lead a Q&A session about The Exchange, followed by a celebration at 1 pm at three campus locations.

Solving the Climate Crisis

“It is becoming clear year-after-year in New York, and around the world, that the impacts of climate change are real and are here,” said Kevin Reed, associate dean for research and associate professor, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University. “By partnering with communities, industries, governments, and universities, The Exchange will help to accelerate the implementation of urban solutions to these climate impacts through an interactive research ecosystem where community engagement is paramount. As a climate scientist, I recognize that New Yorkers need solutions to the climate crisis now, and The Exchange will help to make that a reality.”

“It is a tremendous honor to design a new kind of campus: one that not only sets the stage for our post-carbon world, but also centers a compelling new public realm for all New Yorkers,” said Colin Koop, design partner, SOM. “Our design embodies this stewardship by weaving sinuous mass timber pavilions through the rolling landscape of the park and reusing the historic building fabric of Governors Island. Together, these spaces will cultivate advances in climate research and pilot new technologies that can be deployed across the city, and eventually the world. We look forward to working with the Governors Island Trust, Stony Brook University, and our team of design and engineering collaborators to bring this important project to life.”

“Climate change represents an existential challenge, and SUNY is at the forefront of the sustainability, research, and workforce development solutions that will change the world for the better,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. “Under the leadership of President Maurie McInnis, Stony Brook University is the natural choice to lead the NY Climate Exchange and is perfectly positioned to seize this moment for New York and the nation. Our thanks to Mayor Eric Adams, the Trust for Governors Island, the Simons Foundation, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for supporting this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

“In the New York Climate Exchange, Stony Brook University will bring together academic, corporate, philanthropic, and community partners to pioneer an innovative, collaborative approach to devising actionable climate solutions,” said Kevin S. Law, chairman, Stony Brook University’s Stony Brook Council; and chair, board of directors, Empire State Development. “The Exchange will incorporate cutting-edge research, critical input from affected communities, and the practical experience of committed corporate partners to bring these solutions to market, demonstrating that addressing our energy and climate challenges can generate economic development opportunities.”

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Aerial view of The Exchange, showing the iconic forms designed to evoke the dramatic landscapes and hills of Governors Island Credit: © SOM | Miysis

Key Elements of The New York Climate Exchange

  • An engaging and interactive living laboratory with 400,000 square feet of green-designed building space, including research labs, classroom space, exhibits, greenhouses, mitigation technologies, and housing facilities, including:
    • All-electric buildings for the entire campus with on-site solar electrical generation and battery storage meeting 100% of energy demand with net-positive capability to serve the local grid
    • 100% of non-potable water demand met with rainwater or treated wastewater
    • 95% of waste will be diverted from landfills, making this one of the first sites in the U.S. to achieve True Zero Waste certification
    • Climate-resilient design including new buildings raised to 18 feet, no basements, living shorelines
    • All new and renovated buildings will meet Living Building Challenge standards, and will be the first buildings in NYC to achieve this certificatio
  • A Research and Technology Accelerator that will source and nurture ideas, projects, and new ventures dedicated to solving the climate crisis.
  • Workforce development opportunities for communities disproportionately affected by climate change — with over 6,000 green job trainees annually once fully operational — ensuring New Yorkers most affected by climate change are well-positioned for new green economy jobs.
  • Partnerships and collaborative grant opportunities with community-based organizations already working to mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • A Citizens Advisory Council, composed of key local stakeholders to ensure that partners’ and neighbors’ voices are heard and amplified as we jointly develop and implement new climate solutions, including those that affect low-income communities of color
  • A self-sufficient development that goes “beyond zero” toward net positive sustainability.
  • Academic and community programs that prepare students at every level for careers focused on climate change solutions and environmental justice with hands-on learning, including a semester “abroad” on Governors Island, fellowship and internship programs, and continuing education.

Stony Brook, a flagship of the SUNY system, has formed international partnerships with a wide range of academic partners outside of New York City, research foundations and social justice organizations to create The New York Climate Exchange. In addition to the local partnerships previously mentioned, partner institutions include Georgia Tech, University of Washington, Duke University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University of Oxford. Also partners of The Exchange are the Simons Foundation, one of the largest charitable organizations in the United States; social justice and local advocacy groups such as GOLES, The Point, and WeACT for Justice; treasured New York institutions including the American Museum of Natural History; and research and business leaders such as Boston Consulting Group and Moody’s.

Read what The Exchange partners have to say about this historic venture.

See a full list of all partners.

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Public walkway and landscape between the new mass timber academic and research buildings. Credit: © SOM | Brick Visual

An Innovative History

Stony Brook University has a deep history of innovation around climate science. Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) has been a leader in severe storm research, weather prediction, climate change research and mitigation efforts, educational and research efforts to restore and protect the water quality of Long Island Sound, Shinnecock Bay, New York Harbor, and other bodies of water on Long Island.

By partnering with local organizations and community advocates, SoMAS has undertaken a range of initiatives to improve water quality and restore aquatic habitats. For example, SoMAS conducted research on the causes of harmful algae blooms and developed methods to mitigate their impact on the environment. SoMAS also successfully worked to restore native oyster populations in Shinnecock Bay; oysters serve as natural water filters and improve overall water quality. The school has also promoted sustainable aquaculture practices, work that not only is important for the local ecosystem but also contributes to our understanding of how to protect and restore aquatic environments around the world.

In addition, SoMAS conducts broader sustainability-related and atmospheric research with the goal to improve predictability about weather-related risks, and to build resilience against severe storms, storm surge and coastal flooding and erosion problems. Research has uncovered sources of pollution related to groundwater, and SoMAS faculty have developed innovative technologies to reduce nutrient runoff and dangerous contaminants such as nitrogen from groundwater. Atmospheric research includes investigations of storm patterns and computer modeling of storms, results of which indicate that storms now often produce more water and intensity that leads to more predicted damage.

Other atmospheric research includes the use of high-tech airplanes and radar technologies to better understand and predict air quality, and how the human health impacts of air pollution will be reduced in concert with mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.  

For more information about the Center for Climate Solutions, visit Climate Solutions | Governors Island (en-US) (


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