New Paltz Completes First Sustainability Plan

The SUNY New Paltz Sustainability Committee recently completed its first Campus Sustainability Plan. The plan is designed to fulfill the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which SUNY New Paltz signed in 2008.

The proposal “provides detailed information on the state of environmental performance at the college and offers a plan for the coming years and decades to meet the terms of the ACUPCC,” according to a Nov. 5 email sent to all students from Kathleen Tobin, assistant director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach and the committee’s current chair.

The committee was created in 2009 in order to “bring focus” to the college’s sustainability efforts, according to the email. Tobin said the committee is made up of a faculty representative from each school as well as student and administration representatives.

Chair of the Sociology department Brian Obach, the former committee chair from 2010-12 and current Liberal Arts & Sciences representative, said the college will hire a sustainability coordinator with “expertise in energy systems,” who would be a full time consultant for the committee.

Over the course of two years, committee members gathered relevant information and met regularly to work on the plan, Tobin said. She said the committee also worked with an outside consultant on quantifying the school’s emissions and coming up with a plan to reduce them.

Tobin said the proposal focuses heavily on reducing CO2 emissions, but also covers concerns such as environmental education, land use and purchasing. Many of the recommendations in the land use section  come from the Facilities Master Plan, which also makes a commitment to sustainability. Tobin said the plan will be revised continually because of persistent developments in technology.

“Things were happening even as we were writing it that we had to integrate,” she said.

Obach said many of the recommendations are in areas that fall under the administration’s responsibility and that President Donald Christian is currently reviewing the plan. Obach expects much of the plan to be taken into consideration by the administration.

“We expect that effort will be made in all areas, but some measures can be implemented more readily than others, that will take a bit longer,” he said. “Recommendations made in regard to buildings and infrastructure will certainly be taken into consideration as campus renovations move forward. In many ways, the actions called for the plan are already being implemented. The college has made a strong commitment to green building design.”

Obach said given the college’s current resources, it has the potential to be a leader in sustainability among American colleges.

“We have all of the ingredients…and we have an administration that has demonstrated support for this cause,” he said. “I think we’re in a good position and we’re poised to do even better.”

Students can find a copy of the plan linked in Tobin’s email. Tobin will be accepting student comments, which will be taken into consideration by President Donald Christian, via email until Nov. 15.