Strategic plan to guide SUNY into future

During today’s tough economic times, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has taken action against energy depletion.

Chancellor Zimpher has released "The Power of SUNY," a strategic plan for 2010 and the upcoming decade. The release, approximately 20 pages in length, details SUNY’s efforts in multiple areas to contribute to the economy and revive employment across New York State.

"We will leverage our size and strength to become the go-to destination for critical basic and applied research in areas like energy, health sciences and nanotechnology," Zimpher said in the release.

Oswego State President Deborah Stanley supports Zimpher’s actions to begin empowering SUNY more.

"People kind of attach to campuses, and she [Zimpher] recognized that we need to collect all these energy and quality experiences around goals that we can measure that will help us bring New York back because our destinies are intertwined," Stanley said. "It’s a way of making SUNY better; it’s a way of making SUNY more recognized for how great it already is."

John Moore, Oswego State’s Interim Director of Sustainability and Director of Facilities, Design and Construction, also supports Zimpher’s leadership action.

I think it’s great the chancellor is taking the leadership role to say we need to get behind this," Moore said. "This was a…big step. We’ve signed a statement saying we’re going to meet these goals."

The strategic planning process began in June 2009, when Chancellor Zimpher began her tenure at SUNY, said Casey Vattimo of the SUNY Office of Communications.

"In her first 100 days of work, Zimpher toured the SUNY campuses, gathering data and talking with each of the campus communities and area stakeholders about the direction they saw SUNY taking in the next five to 10 years," Vattimo said.

One clause of the plan focuses on sustainability and reducing SUNY’s negative environmental impacts. To do this, SUNY will implement various conservation methods throughout the years, including the SUNY Smart Grid.

"The alarms have been sounded again and again on the consequences of climate change and overdependence on fossil fuels," the release said. "Meanwhile, New York State’s energy costs have escalated to 50 percent above the national average."

The Smart Grid "transforms the current ‘electricity grid’ into one that is cleaner, safer and more reliable and efficient," the release said. "Among other things, a Smart Grid accepts energy from virtually any fuel source…and slows the advance of global climate change. A Smart Grid will help drive down New York’s excessively high energy costs while creating jobs in our state."

A founding member of the New York State Smart Grid Consortium, SUNY colleges and universities will implement fuel sources that will lower climate change. The campuses will "help invent, test, commercialize, train and educate" energy adjustments.

Moore says the Smart Grid plan will be effective with energy conservation. "[It] will drive down New York’s high energy costs while creating jobs," he said. "If you can start to decrease your energy use…you spend less, you consume less and then the grid will become more reliable."

Oswego State will have a large influence over the success of this plan as the campus has already begun implementing conservation strategies.
"This is more of a reinforcement of where we’re already trying to go as a campus," Moore said. "There may be certain items and initiatives that’ll come out of these working groups [the strategic plan], and I would expect that they’ll be right in line with what we’re trying to do as a campus already."

To work toward a "greener tomorrow," Oswego State is following environmentally-friendly guidelines with new projects. The Village, as well as the future science complex, will both meet gold standards in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. There will also be geothermal wells in the Snygg parking lot, wind power will be implemented and the school is exploring lake cooling, which recycles lake water to cool the buildings, Stanley said. Moore added that student involvement is increasing, with websites dedicated to tracking energy output and residence halls incorporating community involvement activities.

Zimpher’s strategic plan will serve as the road map for SUNY over the next five years in environmental sustainability, and guide its development for the next ten, Vattimo said. With everyone watching, SUNY students, faculty and staff are preparing to move into a new environment.