Submitted on February 5, 2013; last updated on February 5, 2013
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SUNY New Paltz intends to implement a phased approach to reduce carbon emissions over the next twenty years. The initial five-year step will consist of several energy conservation strategies and upgrades of the existing campus-wide energy management system. Next, the college will begin to invest in new energy efficient equipment over the following three years. In the final phase, the college will seek to implement cost-effective renewable energy projects. Based on current projections, the college expects that by the year 2030 Scope 1 and 2 emissions could be reduced by as much as 80% from 2008 levels.
Conservation, including lighting, heating and cooling controls, and reduced building use is an approach the campus believes can go a significant distance toward the goal of reducing the campus carbon footprint. Before embarking on other approaches, the college will exert significant effort over the next five years to conserve as much energy as possible. In order to achieve further reductions in CO2 emissions, it will be necessary to begin replacing existing equipment to take advantage of newer technologies and the increased efficiency they provide. This will be done through the purchase and implementation of advanced equipment during routine capital planning, as well as through the proposed installation of a supplemental biomass boiler for the central plant. In order to achieve further reductions in CO2, the college will consider expanding the use of more energy efficient technologies and the implementation of on-site renewable energy. Based on current technologies the best additional energy development would be to expand the use of biomass at the central plant and to increase the amount of electrical energy generated by solar photo-voltaic panels.
In 2013, the college will hire a full-time Sustainability Coordinator who will be responsible for keeping our campus CO2 emission reduction goals on track.
SUNY New Paltz acknowledges that colleges and universities have a responsibility to increase educational opportunities in environmental fields to meet growing demand, to supply the expertise and labor needed to contend with intensifying environmental problems, and to educate students in sustainable living and citizenship. The college has plans to advance sustainability education by increasing enrollment in academic programs focused on environmental issues, by infusing the curriculum with sustainability themes, facilitating access to environmentally related internships and by maintaining a high level of extracurricular programming addressing sustainability issues.
The college has created two environmental programs in the last ten years. In 2003, an interdisciplinary Environmental Geochemical Science major was added, followed in 2006 by an Environmental Studies minor. Through greater outreach and the allocation of resources to these programs (hiring faculty to teach needed courses, release time for program coordinators, staff support etc.) we will expand the number of students majoring and minoring in these programs.
A number of faculty in a wide range of disciplines infuse sustainability themes in courses not specifically focused on the environment such as graphic design, English composition, and education. The college will expand such offerings by providing incentives to faculty to develop more of these courses. Local resources such as an off campus educational organic farm, a nearby nature preserve and a campus garden provide opportunities for faculty to develop environmental linkages to class material. Greater outreach to faculty regarding about the availability of these resources will further facilitate the incorporation of sustainability themes in the curriculum.
The college currently has a great deal of environmentally related extra-curricular programming. There is a high level of interest in environmental issues among students and faculty and a number of campus organizations regularly screen films, sponsor lectures, host conferences and offer other environmentally themed programming.
SUNY New Paltz faculty are engaged scholars actively conducting research in their respective disciplines. A number of faculty conduct research in environmentally related areas. In some cases students are also engaged in such research activities either as research assistants working on faculty directed projects or as part of their class work or independent study projects. On occasion faculty and staff also secure grants to fund environmentally related research. In recent years, faculty have received external funding to study such topics as renewable energy, water resources and sustainable agriculture. The Office of Sponsored Programs provides support for faculty by identifying relevant funding opportunities and aiding in proposal development. However, faculty research is primarily driven by the independent research agendas of individual faculty members and that is directly tied to the areas in which they were hired to teach. As more faculty are hired to serve in environmental education roles, we are likely to see more self-assembly of faculty into cross-disciplinary research groups and overall, more environmentally related research undertaken at the college. In addition, as the number of faculty with environmental expertise increases along with the number of environmentally themed courses, the opportunities for students to engage in independent or class-based sustainability related research projects will increase.
The college is also home to the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO). CRREO has sponsored a number of sustainability related research projects focused on the Hudson Valley region of New York State. The center is dedicated to studying salient issues affecting communities in the Hudson Valley, thus further research on environmental issues is planned.
SUNY New Paltz’s communications office issues news releases, publishes the bi-weekly campus electronic newsletter, News Pulse, and otherwise manages communications with the public. In recent years, a number of news releases and articles have focused on environmental achievements on campus, including developments in solar energy research, energy saving features incorporated into buildings, and recognition received from external organizations for environmental achievements. The college regularly features environmentally related news and events on the main page of the college website. Often these developments receive coverage in the local and statewide media.
Organizations sponsoring on-campus environmental events often have them listed in local media outlets and on various listservs. At some events, members of the public make up a large portion of the audience. The college also maintains a “New Paltz Is Green” webpage dedicated to describing environmental practices on campus and provides links to various environmental resources.
The college plans to increase relevant media coverage of environmental events and developments and to institutionalize a regular environmental column in the campus newspaper and other student run media. A “Green New Paltz” logo will be developed to reinforce our environmental commitment and branding. In order to inform the community about our campus energy use, we will publicly post energy use data online once we have a sub-metering system established.
SUNY New Paltz is a member of the regional Environmental Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and faculty regularly participates in their conferences. In a 2010 survey of New Paltz faculty and staff about community engagement, 22 percent reported either belonging to or volunteering time with an environmental group, such as a global warming task force. Multiple faculty and staff members served on the working groups and governing consortium for the New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) funded Mid-Hudson Sustainability Planning process.
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