SUNY logo Apply to SUNY
Blog of The State University of New York
Energy Smart New York

A Gold Star for Going Green

SUNY Cortland student life center building.

As a system, SUNY has been committed to sustainability and green practices on all of its campuses for many, many years. In fact, last year the EPA stated that SUNY could be the “greenest” higher education system in the United States. One of the leaders in the effort towards green status is SUNY Cortland, who last week earned a coveted gold rating in a national program that tracks environmental sustainability efforts on college campuses, adding to an already impressive list of environmental and energy achievements.

SUNY Cortland is one of only 77 campuses nationwide to win a gold rating in the assessment, a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. No other SUNY campuses have scored that well, and only one school in the United States — Colorado State — has done better by achieving a platinum designation.

“It is impressive to think how far we have come in such a short period of time,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “When it comes to our sustainability mission, this program illustrates how truly committed the College is to reducing its carbon footprint, using all its resources effectively and raising awareness of environmental issues among our students and in our community.”

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, also known as STARS, is a self-reported assessment that collects a wide range of sustainability information on College initiatives, capital improvements, academic programs and other issues. Once completed, it serves as a baseline for measuring progress on a campus’s environmental goals. It must be upgraded every three years.

In 2012, SUNY Cortland earned a silver rating in STARS.

Since then, it has completed several major sustainability initiatives and earned some notable recognition. Over the last three years, the College:

  • Became the first SUNY campus to fill all of its electrical needs with renewable energy, primarily by purchasing renewable energy credits. Improved efficiency and conservation efforts helped make this possible.
  • Built a residence hall with the highest possible rating under the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system, earning distinction as the first college residential building in New York state to win a “platinum” rating.
  • Established a unique master’s program in sustainable energy systems. Aimed at preparing people for high-paying “green collar” jobs in New York, the program combines advanced training in the physics of renewable energy with economics and communications classes geared toward building practical professional skills.
  • Established more than 3,600 new solar panels on campus — enough to produce 6 percent of the College’s electricity — by becoming the first public campus to make a long-term power agreement with a private solar firm under the NY-Sun program. The $3 million project — the first of its kind in the SUNY system — won both the Innovation and Excellence in Energy Management Award and the People’s Choice Award from the New York State Power Authority during the authority’s inaugural BuildSmart NY Innovators Summit.
  • Shut down its inefficient, natural-gas-fired central steam heating plant and installed individual, high-efficiency boilers in every building. The move reduced natural gas consumption by 30 percent.
  • Expanded its annual “Sustainability Week” into a month-long celebration of environmental activities, lectures, tours and events known as “Green Days.”
  • Implemented a high-tech system of measuring food waste that led to changes responsible for dramatically reducing unused and uneaten food generated on campus. All food waste is composted by a local farmer who uses it on his fields. Used fryer oil is converted into biofuel for farm equipment.
  • Earned membership into the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club, becoming the first SUNY campus to do so.
SUNY Cortland

Written by SUNY Cortland

Tags: , ,



Join the Conversation:


There are 0 comments

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SUNY - Be Part of Something Bigger