Case Study: New York University

In Beds, Blog, Recycle, Reuse, Wood is Good by Morgan Dix

NYU Dorm Furniture Summary: Advancing sustainability values in New York City and beyond is a big priority for NYU. DCI partnered with NYU to provide locally crafted, long lasting furniture built from FSC-certified wood that would endure for more than 25 years while forging innovative green reuse solutions.

Case Study: Sustainable NYU Dorm Furniture

Project Name: Brittany & Lipton Residence Halls

Project Location: New York City, New York

Project Size: 1200+

Building Type: Multi-Use Residence Halls

Project Team: NYU, Matiz Architecture & Design, Tishman Interiors Corporation, Napach Rothenberg Architects, DCI

Product List: Two-drawer Stackable, Bed Sets, Wardrobes, Chairs

Dates: 2013-2015


New York University was founded in 1831 as a non-sectarian “center of higher learning open to all, regardless of national origin, religious beliefs, or social background.”

Today, students travel from every state in the union and more than 130 foreign countries to attend this prestigious university.

NYU is currently the nation’s largest private research university with an operating budget of $11.945b and a $4b endowment.

Global Reach

Uniquely situated across 230 acres in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NYU’s campus in New York City includes more than 100 buildings in Manhattan, as well as several buildings in Brooklyn.

At the heart of NYU’s campus are the buildings surrounding Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

True to the cosmopolitan intentions of its founders, NYU maintains 11 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries with two degree-granting campuses at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

World Class

Enrollment clocks in at well over 50,000 students with 28,800 undergrads and 24,700 graduates and an average faculty to student ratio of 1 to 10.

NYU houses approximately 12,500 of its students in one of the largest university housing systems in the U.S.

The University’s standing nationally and internationally is impressive. It’s ranked #30 in National Universities by US News & World Reportand #29 among national research universities by Forbes.

Globally, NYU is 18th in the Center for World University Rankings.

Alumni and faculty include 38 Nobel Laureates, more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, tens of Academy Award winners, and hundreds of members of the National Academies of Sciences.

Commitment to Sustainability

NYU has a major footprint in New York City. It’s one of the city’s largest employers with over 19,000 employees. It also consumes a lot of energy. But NYU uses its prominence to leverage a robust sustainability mission and fight climate change while championing other environmental issues.

The school’s world-class commitment to sustainability spans six areas of focus: energy, water, waste, purchasing, transportation, built environment & landscaping.

Among many sustainability highlights, NYU is the largest university purchaser of wind energy in the U.S. since 2009.

When NYU accepted the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge in 2007 to reduce its emissions by 30% from 2006 levels by 2017, the University’s emissions were about 0.30% of New York City’s total. We reached our reduction goal in 2012, five years ahead of schedule! In 2015 we accepted the new Mayor’s Carbon Challenge: a massive 50% emissions reduction by the year 2025.

Process & Approach

DCI has always had a special affinity for NYU. Before founding the company, Henry Kober—DCI’s founder and president—completed his doctoral studies at NYU. But today, it’s NYU’s sustainability mission which makes NYU and DCI such a good fit.

In 2013, NYU reached out to DCI with a vision that included creating a new design standard for nyu dorm furniture and establishing a go-to vendor. DCI was awarded the contract after an in-depth competitive process with multiple furniture companies.

The selection process reflected NYU’s values. In terms of the competitive criteria, solid hardwood, price, design, sustainability, durability/longevity, and then customer service were all very important.

Since that time, we’ve partnered with NYU on a number of projects. The projects at Brittany and Lipton Halls were sizeable jobs and stand out for a number of reasons.

NYU Dorm Furniture: Locally Manufactured, FSC-Certified, and Solid Hardwood

In the first phase of our work on upgrading the furniture design standard, NYU’s decision making reflected their green values. They chose the greenest raw material for their residence hall furniture—solid hardwood.

All NYU dorm furniture is built out of FSC-certified Northern Red Oak. And FSC is the sustainability gold standard when it comes to wood furniture.

Also, NYU is committed to supporting local businesses and works with organizations who operate within 500 miles of the school. This is another reason why DCI—a family run New Hampshire-based business—is such a good match for NYU.

NYU’s Commitment To Long-Lasting Furniture

nyu dorm furnitureDurability and longevity are key aspects of sustainability. The longer you keep your furniture in use, the longer is stays out of the landfill. It’s also a sign of quality. That’s true for most products. This is one reason why NYU plans for their residence hall furniture to last a minimum of 25 years.

We want our partners to have total confidence in the quality and longevity of their furniture, so DCI performs a unique service for all of our partners. At no cost to the school, we offer a complete service inspection to ensure everything is functioning properly, and then we make any needed corrections. This “Tune-Up” is one way we follow through on our Guarantee.

Our goal is to make sure all our furniture is serviceable and reduces any burden on housing and facilities staff. This service includes: 100% inspection, leveling wardrobes, checking that all drawers operate smoothly and correct any issues, confirm all glides and levelers are in place and replace those missing, check all magnets and hinges on doors.

Because NYU is so committed to long-lasting furniture, this inspection service and our 25-Year Guarantee were important to the housing team at NYU. After our one year, we went through and inspected every drawer and piece of furniture.

After fixing minor cosmetic damage and a few sticky drawers, we gave them a report of our findings and what we fixed at the end of the visit.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Extending Furniture Life

On another project, the housing team at NYU developed an innovative vision for giving new life to some of their beds that were bound for the landfill.

In essence, NYU had bed springs that they wanted to reuse, but they didn’t have the headboards to fit them. So we crafted new headboards and bed ends for the existing inventory—approximately 400 beds—to give them new life and longevity.

This is a big deal because bedsprings are particularly bad for landfills. According to the University of Minnesota’s Natural Resources Research Institute:

Mostly, it’s the steel springs that landfill managers curse. The springy metal won’t crush. It bounces back, gets stuck in the bulldozers, and takes up a lot of precious space. “In landfills, it’s all about compaction,” says NRRI researcher Tim Hagen. “And bed springs just won’t compact. It’s a huge problem.”

NYU’s green values allowed us to keep their bed decks out of the landfill. As a result, the beds got a second life. And they were also able to bunk them with their existing beds.

Again, this fit with NYU’s commitment to longevity and sustainability.

Scheduling Flexibility

Scheduling flexibility was another key requirement for NYU. They needed to work with someone who could handle a short installation cycle.

In general, Manhattan presents challenging installation conditions. The city has strict truck routes and imposes size and parking limits on delivery trucks.

Navigating the city with a 48ft container is not easy.

More importantly, NYU needed a supplier who could handle delays. In the city, slips in building construction schedules are expected, so the ability to flex and compress was important.

For example, construction completion on one of the renovations finished about 3 weeks behind schedule. DCI helped accommodate this delay by providing storage at no additional cost and completing the installation in 2 weeks rather than the 3 scheduled weeks.

(Photos: Lars KiesowbsoistDiego DelsoPadraic RyanMatiz Architecture & Design)