College’s initial sustainability self-study rates a silver

After a yearlong study, SUNY Oswego has attained a silver rating in the STARS higher education sustainability tracking system, laying out achievements to date and a road map for improvements in “green” initiatives across the institution.

At the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in August in Denver, the ACS Syracuse section received two awards — the first-ever Chemluminary Award for Outstanding Sustainability Activities and a Chemluminary Award for Best Program for Stimulating Membership Involvement — in recognition of the success of the Sustainability Fairs, above, held on campus.

This summer Oswego joined 114 colleges and universities, including only two other SUNYs in SUNY-ESF and Fredonia, that have completed the extensive inventory set out by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, or STARS. Another 150 institutions have registered to complete a STARS rating assessment in the next year.

John Moore, the college’s director of facilities engineering and sustainability, relied on student power and the cooperation and assistance of departments college-wide to complete the detailed sustainability status report that resulted in a self-assigned score of 55.73, at the silver rating level. This leaves plenty of room for improvements to reach the gold (22 institutions so far) and, ultimately, platinum level of sustainable practices.

“The next step is to celebrate where we are, because I think we have done a really good job as an institution moving forward on the Presidents’ Climate Commitment,” Moore said.

Maria Johnson, second from right, owner of C’s Farm Market of Oswego, talks with Pathfinder Dining Hall kitchen workers as they prepare locally grown produce. From left are salad specialist Eva Hernandez and student workers Marlon Vassell ’13 and Bethany “Annie” Palmer ’13. “Living off the land” and consuming less energy on shipping food and other purchased items are just two of the standards laid out in the STARS sustainability rating system.

President Deborah F. Stanley signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, joining a nationwide network of more than 1,500 institutions to develop plans for and move toward carbon neutrality by 2050.

The college will need to update the STARS report every three years under the auspices of the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education. Review the full report here.

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