History of BPL

The Building Performance Lab (BPL) was generated out of two years of university-wide research and collaboration with workforce representatives undertaken by the CUNY Sustainable Building Initiative (CUNY-SBI), which began in 2004. At the end of this period, a NYSERDA seed grant made the creation of BPL possible.

CUNY-SBI’s intent was to explore existing CUNY resources. Objectives included:

  • Identify expert CUNY faculty in the field
  • Survey existing courses, training opportunities and programs
  • Cultivate relationships between industries
  • Develop structures to enable ongoing collaboration between CUNY and Industry
  • Survey business and industry’s education and training needs in the field
  • Identify credit and non-credit educational programs, training workshops, and professional development
  • Form new programs, workshops and other development vehicles

CUNY-SBI received assistance from Urban Agenda, located at the Queens College Labor Resource Center, to identify opportunities to collaborate with labor unions. The Initiative’s collaboration with Local 94, the Operating Engineers’ Union, enabled their programs to become accredited by CUNY and to explore the co-development of programming on retrocommissioning. Over time, the mission of CUNY-SBI was developed and focused into what is now the CUNY BPL.

BPL’s parent organization is the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems (CIUS), a university-wide institute led by Dr. Robert “Buz” Paaswell, distinguished professor of civil engineering in the Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York and a nationally-recognized infrastructure expert. Michael Bobker, an energy engineer with three decades of experience, was appointed BPL Director.

BPL received a two-year seed grant from NYSERDA, which was followed by additional NYSERDA support for specific initiatives, and significant leveraged funding from local, regional, and federal sources.

The initial two-year proposal for BPL outlined a pathway to create a “permanent institutional base for the study and promotion of building performance and enhanced operations within New York City.” In that endeavor, as well as in all sub-goals laid out in the proposal, BPL has been successful. We have built a specialized training and research institute that not only has played a part in reducing the energy use in NYC buildings and educating more than a thousand building professionals in NYC, but has an increasingly national impact as we leverage additional federal funding for curriculum development and research.

Until 2014, BPL’s office was located in the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College; in summer 2014, we moved to two offices: one is located at the City College of New York and the other is at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, symbolic of our growing partnership with the school.