Sustainability-Related Projects

Collaborative Projects

ACTS Program Oswego City Community Garden
Removing Invasive Plant Species The Power Of Two Wheels
Sustainable Filmmaking Bio-Conversion With Black Soldier Flies

ACTS Banner

The ACTS program was designed and envisioned as an opportunity to collaborate with students, faculty, staff and members of the Oswego City School District to create real-life solutions to sustainability problems in the community. Through the identification, planning and solving of these problems, the students of the Oswego City School District would be directly involved, able to witness the solutions and, more importantly, help identify the problems in the community and raise their awareness of how sustainability can be a part of their every day lives.

The program, funded by SUNY, succeed in all of it's goals; and so much more. The response from the college and OCSD population was immediate and extraordinary, developing from four small groups with big ideas into six large groups with HUGE ideas, all of which are being realized.

 Back to Top

Removing Invasive Plant Species

Lisa Glidden, the Coordinator of the Sustainability Minor (read more here (link)) collaborated with Zachary Meyer and Rebecca Witkin, the Student AssemblyPresident, to create a team of college and high-school student volunteers. The team selected a location on campus w

here the Glimmerglass Lagoon empties into Lake Ontario. Working in a specified area, they identified and removed invasive plant species, replacing and replanting native species of plants. While the work may not seem glamorous, the area of the replanting is expected to have over a 150 year impact on the environment. 

Invasive species of plants are not edible to native animals and instincts. As a result, they grow exponentially, drowning out native plants, leaving native animals to forage elsewhere and upsetting the ecological balance of the area in which they grow. Pollinating and 
spreading wildly and without a natural predator, they spread quickly and have a massive impact. 
They took this lesson to the classroom, in a flip-book informational piece for a fourth grade classroom. The students were fascinated and had dozens of questions about plants, bugs, worms and all of the fun stuff in the dirt kids love. Most importantly, they have an understanding about what native and non-native means, and how we can work together to keep our eco system balanced.

For more information on invasive species and this project, contact Lisa Glidden at

Invasive Species 1

Invasive Species 2

Back to Top

Sustainable Filmmaking

Sustainability has a very comfortable place in the sciences, but it can and should be practiced everywhere... especially in our most wasteful industries.

Sustainable Filmmaking 1

Sustainable Filmmaking 2

The Cinema and Screen Studies program allows students to get in front of and behind a camera, make narrative film, documentary, animation and everything in between. The students of our CSS program come out uniquely prepared for the real world of the Film Industry.

And that industry could be considered in the top ten of the most wasteful industries in the United States. Knowing that, Professor Joshua Adams complied two teams of students from the program and gave them a challenge: utilizing the same script, these students were to do everything in their power to waste the least consumable goods, electric power, gasoline and processing requirements to make a movie. The only difference: one team would shoot on traditional film and the other on a digital medium.

The teams took the challenge very much to heart. They both utilized public transportation and ride sharing to locations, chose locations that were close enough to walk to. They used natural light and bounce boards to light their scenes - or made use of natural dimness to ‘set a tone'. They brought and made lunches on set rather than ordering, borrowed from unlikely sources rather than purchasing (a wheelchair used as a dolly and chains found in a basement made for very artistic choices!). Instead of story-boarding they used a whiteboard and a camera to document scenes. Rather than printed pages for every crew member, the producer held and shared a single copy. Script changes were made on that copy rather than reprinted and call sheets were sent out electronically.

Still it seemed one team had an advantage. Aesthetic dispute aside, digital filmmaking is far cleaner than traditional film, which has to be shipped, chemically processed, color-corrected and then shipped back to the filmmaker. How does one overcome such a clearly non-sustainable conundrum?
By finding and utilizing a hand crank film camera! While the cost - both financially and environmentally - remained on the side of digital, the use of the hand crank camera allowed for the removal of battery needs in traditional film making. It also allowed the director to manipulate the film aspect ratio and frames per second. In laymans terms, he was able to slow the film down and speed it up by hand, a process normally corrected chemically. He was also able to change the amount of light let into the lens, reducing a similar chemical need in processing.

The films screened to mass appeal at the Oswego High School, the Cinema and Screen Studies Ozcar Awards and at QUEST. And we have students getting ready to enter a high-visibility, high-energy, challenging industry with a greater skill set at reducing their consumption, and the consumption of those on set with them.

Back to Top

Oswego City Community Garden

Let's be honest. Did you even know there was one??
The Community Garden is located on Schuyler and East 9th and runs several blocks along the north of Schuyler. Designed for the whole community, the garden is open to all, with plots designated for families, school or community groups and senior citizens.

Run by a small but dedicated group of community members, the garden is incredibly popular, well loved and well used - but under financed and in need of the simple things that gardening requires. 
Not the least of which was a larger and more accessible compost sight.

Composting the green waste of gardens is one of the most simple and yet often overlooked ways of utilizing natural sustainability at it's best. Green waste decomposes and creates ideal fertilizer for future gardens. Sounds easy, right?

That waste needs a place to decompose, and ventilation to do so properly. Tucker Scholtz, the President of Enactus on campus, teamed up with Andy Picco, former Professor and key community member of the Community Garden. Together they determined the most pressing needs to keep this gem of sustainability alive and thriving in Oswego. Working with The Outdoor Club and volunteers from the Oswego High School, Andy and Tucker designed a two-sided compost bin, vented in the middle with wire, to allow green waste to be turned and cycled over a two year period - the ideal amount of time to fully compost material - with no risk of overheating or combusting.

With the funds they were allocated in the grant, they also have plans to built a small shed where community members can store larger gardening equipment and prevent rust and weather damage. The official build, utilizing college students, faculty members, high school student volunteers and community members is scheduled to take place September 14th from 1pm to 5pm. Snacks and drinks will be provided, so if you're interested in helping increase the abilities of our community garden, contact Jamie Adams, Sustainability Program Coordinator, at

Community Gardens 1

Community Gardens 2

Back to Top

The Power of Two Wheels

How much energy do you use every day? Forget that. How much energy do you use lighting up just one lightbulb?
Hard to know, right? Well, Joe Lorafice, a graduate student in the Technology Education department figured it might just be a pretty good thing to know.

He teamed up with Dan Tryon of Tech Ed, Mark Hardy, Chair of Tech Ed and Mike Lotito of Facilities Design and Construction to design a stationary bicycle that would measure the amount of energy our bodies create - in a visible way.
The bike will be tied into three sets of light bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs, compact florescent bulbs and LED bulbs. As you pedal, the amount of energy you're expending will light up the bulbs and show you exactly how much power you use with one light bulb. Additionally, but switching between the traditional, CFF and LED bulbs you can see how much energy you can save when switching out old bulbs for new, higher technology bulbs.

The bicycles will also be equipped to charge cellular phones, Ipads and laptop computers, as well as have a digital readout, tracking the amount of energy the rider is producing and relating it to every day items: the power used by a television set, by an air conditioning unit, by a hair dryer. This display can be used in classroom displays to show students what their energy use is, in a very tangible manner.

The Energy Bikes will be constructed in the Tech Ed department with hands-on participation through the Mentor-Scholar program. Middle school students will take part in examining the prototype, taking it apart and re-building it, as well as helping to build the second and third bikes. The bicycles themselves will be living laboratories from the wheels up.
And the classroom is exactly where these bicycles will be housed. One will take up permanent residence at the Oswego City Middle School and be used in regular classroom discussions and activities. Another will be used throughout the community as a tool to teach members about energy conservation. The third will reside in the Campus Center where students can learn, teach; and charge their phones in a pinch.

The first prototype of the Energy Bike is scheduled to be completed in October 2013. If you have any questions or want to be a part of this exciting program, please contact Jamie Adams, Sustainability Program Coordinator, at

Bike Share 1

Bike Share 2

Back to Top

Bio-Conversion with Black Soldier Flies

Get ready to fall in love with a fly.

Worms 1

Worms 2

Most of us hate flies, can't stand them. They're pests that fly around our houses, some of them bite and all of them are annoying. Plus they have the ugliest babies in the world. Well, we can't say that Black Soldier Flies have cute kids, but they are so useful we're willing to overlook it. Black Soldier fly ‘babies' consume organic waste - such as compost - at such a rate that there is no odor of decomposition. Seriously, these guys can demolish a whole watermelon in under four hours. No odor means no other pests attracted to the waste, plus the ‘babies' give off a pheromone that drives away other insects!

When they grow up, they fly away, disliking being human contact or spaces. They live for a mere five days, can't bite, and come back only to leave their babies behind to continue to eat our trash.

About that trash - BSF babies eat everything organic. Traditional vegetable food scraps, but also dairy, meat and grease. They'll even eat pet waste! They over-winter well with a little insulation and consume at such a ratio that less than 5% of what they've consumed is left behind as compost. For example, a family of four only needs to collect the compost left behind once every four years. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Back to Top

Composting all of our kitchen waste in a system that requires no power, is self-perpetuating and requires little to no upkeep? Well, that's what we thought when Patricia Waters of the Mentor-Scholar program, Stephanie Chytalo, Assistant Sustainability Program Coordinator, Jamie Adams,

Sustainability Program Coordinator, Lisa Glidden, Sustainability Minor Coordinator Catherine Celeste and Robyn Proud, of the Oswego City Middle School got together to try these guys out at home. For a full year, these volunteers will keep, feed and document the activities of the Black Soldier Fly colony they will keep at their homes.

Black Soldier Fly Compost Bin

  • Does it really not smell at all?
  • Are there any other pests attracted to the colony?
  • How much do they really eat?
  • How many ‘babies' do I need?
  • Can they really survive an Oswego winter?

Beginning this fall, they will document by journal, photo and video, the realities of using Black Soldier Flies to compost all of their kitchen waste. If they can be kept, housed and fed with minimal gross-factor, the Black Soldier Fly may be the answer SUNY Oswego has been looking for to compost on campus.

Back to Top