Each spring, the president’s Sustainability Council honors one member of the FIT community with the Changemaker Award for lifetime contributions to sustainability at the college, through community engagement, educational advancement, and reduction in the campus carbon footprint. This year, in a ceremony on Earth Day, the honor goes to Albert Palmaccio, assistant director of engineering and sustainability.
Palmaccio joined FIT in 1995 as a director of engineering for Ogden, which then held the college’s Buildings and Grounds contract. In 2005, he was promoted to director of the physical plant, and in 2019, when UG2 took over as the college’s Buildings and Grounds contractor, he became assistant director of engineering and sustainability.
Everyone has a part to play in reducing FIT’s carbon footprint by turning off lights and computers when not in use. But Palmaccio has played perhaps the largest role. By managing energy-efficient equipment upgrades to FIT’s facilities—steam-powered heating and cooling, LED lights, and water-saving washing machines, for example—he has overseen a 58 percent reduction in the college’s carbon emissions since 2007, when FIT began participating in the New York City Mayor’s Carbon Challenge.
He has worked with the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to help fund these upgrades, by participating in their retrofit and demand response programs. For this work and more, DCAS named him a 2017 Energy Champion.
He has also helped the college achieve recognition for outstanding performance in the demand response program from the New York Independent System Operators and New York Power Authority. On hot summer days, when electricity use is at its peak, he manually shuts down chillers and reduces fan speed to minimize the college’s consumption, thereby easing strain on the grid.
“Al is a true champion of the team effort that is required move the FIT community toward a more sustainable future,” says Karen Pearson, chair of the Sustainability Council and FIT’s Science and Math Department. “His work to push engineering projects forward with an eye toward reduction of the campus carbon footprint is notable. However, what is more is his commitment to help students and faculty use these campus investments as a living laboratory that can become a part of the FIT student experience.”