Sustainability efforts increase on campus

"Environmental sustainability is a phrase that might have sounded foreign 100 years ago. Today, however, it is one of the largest issues facing the world.

"As fossil fuel sources decline and the risk of environmental threats loom, sustainable living is becoming necessary to keep the planet running effectively.

"Although this issue faces people on a global scale, the best way to combat it is to focus on the local community. Doing just that, Oswego State has been working towards creating a sustainable campus.

"In 2007 President Deborah Stanley signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, dedicating SUNY Oswego to the cause of sustainable living. With that commitment, making the changes needed to create a more sustainable Oswego State have been possible.

"Starting in Fall 2010, Oswego State signed up to be a charter member of the STARS program (Sustainability and Tracking Assessment Rating System). This program tracks the progress of higher education institutions in their efforts to achieve sustainability goals, Oswego State’s sustainability coordinator John Moore said. STARS has several categories that it uses to evaluate institutions such as education, research, operations, and administration.

""It gives you a benchmark," Moore said."Then it allows you to look at these other institutions to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it."

"Oswego State is also becoming more sustainable by building new construction LEED gold is certification a building can earn by meeting criteria that make it more sustainable. These criteria include: location of the project, how it is constructed, energy and water conservation and air quality.

""According to state mandate we have to be building everything to be LEED silver certifiable and we have always done that," Moore said. "Now we are taking it a step further and saying ‘nah, we’re going to go gold.’"

"Fairly recent projects, such the Campus Center, are eligible to be LEED silver certified and the Village townhouses are LEED gold. Future projects will also be LEED gold certified. This includes the new science complex which will utilize geothermal energy.

"According to Moore there will soon be a plan to work with residence halls to create programs that save electric power. Residence halls are ready for those programs.

""Hart Hall would be very open to making Oswego more sustainable," said Kaela Schimpf, Vice President of Hart Hall’s Student Council. "We will do anything we can to work towards making Hart Hall a better and more responsible environment."

"Educationally, Oswego State is providing ways that students can learn about sustainability. Starting in Fall 2010 a course called Environmental Sustainability (Geology 115) began being offered. This course teaches students the science behind sustainability.

""Most people, even the people that have an appreciation for the natural environment, don’t understand the science behind the environment," said Dave Valentino, professor of geology and instructor of Environmental Sustainability. "I would like to see more people graduate with that scientific background."

"According to Moore, there is also a sustainability minor in its final stages of development that should be available by fall.

"Making Oswego State more sustainable is a great cause that also comes with challenges.

""Part of our carbon footprint has to do with all the cars that drive around campus," Moore said. "Fact is it’s not a city where you have a lot of public transportation that people can take advantage of; and between November and March you can’t really ride a bike either."

"Oswego State has shown that it is ready to fight global environmental problems on a local scale.

""We want to be leaders in sustainability," Moore said. "Not that we are going to be carbon neutral by tomorrow night, but we want to be leaders in understanding it and helping our students gain that knowledge so that they can carry that to wherever they go."