Oswego's school colors have traditionally been green and gold, but recently the campus committed to being even greener.
President Deborah F. Stanley is a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and she has charged the college with making a positive change in the environment. During "Focus the Nation," college officials and professors shared with the community some of Oswego's climate initiatives.
"Our goal is becoming a zero emissions institution," said Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Jerry DeSantis. "It's a pretty daunting task. We use a lot of energy."
DeSantis said the college is now taking steps to measure what its greenhouse gas emissions are, and then will act to reduce direct fuel use, indirect fuel use (such as electrical use and heating buildings) and the indirect impact the college community has (such as driving by faculty and staff, events held on campus and materials the institution purchases).
"Reversal of global warming is the defining challenge of the 21st century," DeSantis said. "As an educational institution, we need to be all about that."
Already the college has switched from #6 fuel oil, which is thicker and dirtier, to #2 oil, reducing the campus output of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. As the institution's major infrastructure systems become more energy efficient, the college then will monitor energy use on a building-by-building basis. Finally, the campus will aim to use more renewable energy, including wind, he said.
Assistant Director of Operations Mary DePentu focused on the college's effort to reduce the amount of waste it generates. Last year 1,700 tons of waste left campus. DePentu said the Residence Life and Housing Department was leading the way in efforts to recycle more. Angel Rosa '06, the assistant director of Oneida Hall, started a recycling cart, which roams the halls and picks up students' recyclables. The difference has been dramatic: In spring 2007, hall residents returned $53 in recyclable cans and bottles. When the cart was instituted in fall 2007, that amount rose to $362.75.
DePentu urged college employees to have a discussion with their co-workers about ways to incorporate creative ways to recycle into their work lives.
Eric Foertch, director of environmental health and safety, spoke about the college's efforts to reduce hazardous waste. He noted that in 2006 the college generated four tons of hazardous waste and by 2007 had reduced that to two tons. Practices by the biology and chemistry departments aided the reduction, he said, including conducting experiments in microscale and switching to substances that are not hazardous. He also outlined ways to reduce substances like pesticides, electrical waste and batteries.
Technology Education Professor Thomas Kubicki is passionate about ways to inject messages of sustainability into classrooms. He is trying to build basic literacy in sustainability and promote it "so that it exponentially grows when students graduate and enter the world."
Director of Facilities Design and Construction Tom Simmonds ’84, M ’88 outlined the college's efforts to build green buildings and obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for new and renovated construction.
Craig Traub, director of Resident Dining, outlined the college's efforts to make the dining operation greener.
All the main dining halls forgo disposable utensils, and use china, glass and silverware, with most of the dishes coming from nearby Syracuse China. In the snack bars and other cash operations on campus, Auxiliary Services has gone to all green paper products.
Auxiliary Services regularly recycles all tin, glass, plastic and cardboard. "We are trying to be good stewards of the earth," Traub explained. They switched to trans-fat free frying oil and reduced the amount used by 500 gallons from last year to this.
To conserve transportation resources and support local farmers, Auxiliary Services purchases food from area farms from July to October, using 750 units of fresh produce. Even during the winter months, all apples, onions and potatoes come from Oswego County sources.
In October all dining halls serve fresh cider, "all you care to drink," from Ontario Orchards, a local farm market owned by June Ouelette '79. Ontario Orchards uses ultra-ray pasteurization, maintaining safety and high quality and delivers the cider fresh daily to the dining halls.
All milk used in the dining halls comes from Upstate Farms, a local dairy co-op.
Traub, who says he has a special place in his heart for farms, says local farmers work so hard, he is committed to help them while helping the college be better stewards of the environment.
— Michele Reed
Jen Zimmer, a graduate student in psychology, receives a soft drink in a clear cup made from corn in Palates in the Campus Center food court. Serving is Kara Boice '08, a student employee of Auxiliary Services.
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