A SUNY Big Idea
SUNY Oswego aims to be a model of sustainable living and working for the 21st century, supporting SUNY's effort to be the No. 1 resource for the state in energy-smart research, education and community partnerships.
Oswego is a founding signatory of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, a nationwide network of colleges and universities focused on combating global warming by reducing greenhouse gases generated by carbon-based fuels. President Deborah F. Stanley signed on in 2007, and the college continues to advance toward the goal of carbon neutrality — on campus, in the community and in the world.
Climate action planning steps
- In spring 2011, the college established a President's Climate Commitment and Environmental Sustainability Team to guide the college's environmental actions.
- The college signed on for charter membership in an evaluation system designed to help higher education institutions measure energy use and other sustainability goals.
- We achieved a silver rating in the first evaluation. Among the accomplishments: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,800 metric tons, in part by using locally grown produce and consuming less energy on shipping food and other purchased items.
Saving campus energy
New York mandates that new construction conform to the U.S. Green Building Council's silver standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and Oswego is aiming a step higher: gold.
- After the U.S. Green Building Council certified the 68 units of Oswego’s new residential community as meeting the LEED gold rating, the Village continued to pick up awards for energy-efficiency and other green features throughout 2011.
- Geothermal wells are part of the new Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor. Drilling began in summer 2011. The geothermal well field and heat exchangers will use energy created by temperature differentials to help heat and cool the new science facility and serve as a living laboratory on this alternative energy source.
- Campus Technology Services completed migration of the college's email system to Google Apps for Education as the college's primary email and online collaboration system at the start of the fall 2010 semester. Not only did the switch from a campus-based system to "the cloud" save $130,000 per year in hardware and maintenance costs, but it also increased reliability of college email, reduced energy consumption and dramatically reduced the need for hard-copy communications and documents.
Reducing gasoline consumption
One of the first discoveries revealed by the Climate Commitment was that the top reason for energy expenditure in college operations was transportation — commuting students, faculty and staff traveling from their homes to campus or off-site location for class and work. The college has countered by increasing online instruction and experimenting with shared vehicles.
- Oswego's new online MBA program enables students from Central New York and around the world to obtain their master's degrees in business administration.
- Nearly 80 percent of courses offered during WinterSession in January 2011 were entirely online, enrolling Oswego students who were home for the holidays and other students from anywhere.
- Around 120 students use the two Zipcars — a Toyota Matrix and a Toyota Prius — that the college provides as a convenience to students who forego owning a personal vehicle, or bringing it with them to college.
Educating for a cleaner Earth
One of the goals of the Presidents' Climate Commitment is to work at changing people's climate-disrupting habits and practices through education.
- A major initiative at Oswego that reached hundreds of young people around the world was the first GENIUS Olympiad science and art competition, which encouraged original work by secondary school students aimed at drawing attention to and mitigating environmental problems.
- At the 2011 Sustainability Fair held in conjunction with Quest, fairgoers from campus and the community saw and learned about green technologies from wind power to alternative fuel vehicles.
- Tying in with the Sustainability Fair was Quest's guest speaker, a biofuels advocate who discussed the environmental, health and economic price of modern society's addiction to oil.