Inspired by a student movement in 1969, government officials recruited Denis Hayes, an activist, to kick off the first Earth Day in 1970 through campus teach-ins. In the tradition of honoring Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 of each year, and its roots in higher education, SUNY students, campus leadership, and faculty bring together the campus community on a variety of issues surrounding our planet. From climate change to recycling to planting trees, each SUNY school participates in efforts to honor Earth Day and a clean, sustainable world. Although Earth Day of last year and this year may look slightly different due to COVID-19, our campuses are still celebrating and educating the masses on important topics in many ways.
One of the more popular elements of renewable energy is making use of solar energy, and many SUNY schools are leading the way with their efforts: University at Buffalo has its GRow Home, a 1,100-square-foot solar structure; University at Albany is continuing construction on their 1.5MW rooftop solar photovoltaic project; and SUNY Sullivan offsets 75% of its electrical needs from the Sullivan Solar Garden.
Another element that is crucial to making the world a more sustainable place is through education the masses, something that SUNY excels at. Orange County Community College’s Dr. Neil Maher will give a talk entitled “Green New Deal Initiatives: The Civilian Climate Corps; Nassau Community College’s Department of Physical Sciences is presenting an Earth Day Eve talk to celebrate planet Earth and talk about building a biodiesel processor on campus, among other topics; and Farmingdale State College is hosting a virtual event to discuss topics such as as alternative transportation solutions, electric vehicles, horticulture, and photovoltaics.
Taking care of our campus communities also helps us show appreciation for our planet Earth. This year, SUNY Delhi is partnering with The Village of Delhi and Delaware Academy for a day of community service as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the village’s founding and SUNY Oswego is celebrating Earth Month with a week of daily campus cleanups.
At the system-level, Governor Cuomo tapped SUNY to assist with offshore wind efforts, resulting in the creation of New York’s new Offshore Wind Training Institute, which will expand the state’s offshore wind and renewable energy industries. To educate future workers in the offshore wind industry, Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook will establish the framework for the educational, training, and certification needs. The two schools will start offering classes in 2021, with plans to train at least 2,500 workers in the next five years, and other SUNY schools playing a role as well to help meet the additional needs of this long-term project.
While Earth Day occurs only once a year, we can all do our part to put the environmental needs of our planet first on a daily basis. From developing academic programs around sustainability, to creating and enacting clean energy master plans, to using compostable dining materials, there are a number of ways that SUNY schools are leading by example when it comes to environmental issues today, tomorrow, and for the unforeseeable future.
Take a look at some of the many other types of efforts that have been put into motion at our SUNY schools to build a cleaner, greener planet for all through a more sustainable SUNY.
Julie is a Communications Assistant at SUNY System Administration.