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September 22, 2011

First SUNY Sustainability Officers’ Conference Sept. 19 and 20 at SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Sept. 21, 2011)  A total of 85 participants – SUNY sustainability officers, and representatives from other state agencies and the private sector – gathered at SUNY Empire State College for the first-ever systemwide conference for SUNY sustainability officers Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 19-20.

Thirty-two SUNY colleges were represented at the conference. (A list of the participants appears at the bottom of this release.)

 “We think we are pretty sustainable because we don’t have many of the activities that a traditional campus has, plus our modes of delivery to part-time learners leave a much smaller footprint,” said SUNY Empire State College President Alan R. Davis in welcoming the attendees to the conference.

Students at Empire State College study independently at 35 locations across the state or online through its Center for Distance Learning. However, Davis added that, “we travel and we print, so we are always looking to do better for the state and for SUNY and to meet our own targets for sustainability.”

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President Alan Davis welcomes participants.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Cornelius B. Murphy Jr. delivered the keynote, highlighting areas in which his institution has sought to lower that campus’s carbon footprint. He showcased some of the “student-driven” measures ESF is undertaking, including a diesel fuel reclamation program, the heating and energy system for the campus portal building and the campus’s work with its forest acreage to sequester carbon monoxide.

Speaking of climate change, he said that this generation has a moral commitment to make the investment in a green future, for the sake of future generations. “I have eight grandchildren and it is my grandchildren whose lives will substantially change. Their children may never see a sugar maple turn color, there will be reduced availability of water resources in their lifetime, and increased cost and reduced availability of agriculture.”

Both presidents have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Initiative.

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SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Neil Murphy talks with Kirsten Gabrielsen of SUNY Orange.

Hosted by SUNY Empire State College, the conference was organized by a committee representing different SUNY campuses and SUNY Central Administration. The committee members were: Joseph Fox, SUNY Central Administration, Mary Ellen Mallia, University at Albany, Joseph Tripodi, Purchase College, Sean Vormwald, Onondaga Community College and SUNY Empire State College Director of Environmental Sustainability Sadie Ross.

 “Overall,” said Ross, “what struck me was the power of SUNY. I was absolutely amazed at what was going on in SUNY in terms of sustainability efforts, and our capacity to make a difference. SUNY really impacts New York state, so when we make a difference in SUNY we make a difference across the state.”

Ross said what she took away from the conference was that SUNY schools need to partner with one another and with their communities to work on “green” initiatives. Student involvement also is the key, as students are often the most enthusiastic advocates for sustainability in all aspects of life.

The conference sessions were: Energy Panel: Financing and Performance Contracts; Curriculum and Training; Energy Conservation Measures; Engaging the Campus Community; Measuring Success: Finding Common Ground; and Getting the State of New York to Do What You Want: A Historic and Current Review of Options.

Sandy DeJohn, utilities manager, gives a presentation about the energy conservation efforts at the University of Binghampton. Sitting beside her is Joe Fox, System Adminstration.

Pictures from the conference are available online.

SUNY Colleges in Attendance
Binghamton University, Cornell University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Herkimer County Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, Jefferson Community College, Monroe Community College, Onondaga Community College, Purchase College, Stony Brook University, Sullivan County Community College, SUNY Adirondack, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, SUNY Empire State College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Old Westbury, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Orange, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Upstate Medical University; SUNYIT; University at Albany and the University at Buffalo.

About SUNY Empire State College
SUNY Empire State College, celebrating its 40th year throughout 2011, was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies. Learners also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 63,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, not-for-profit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, and more.

For additional information, visit www.esc.edu. More information about the college’s 40th anniversary is available on the college’s 40th anniversary web page.