College factions working together to become carbon neutral

In an ongoing effort to become a carbon neutral institution, Geneseo has taken several steps this semester to reduce its impact on the natural environment.

The Environmental Impact and Sustainability Task Force is preparing to work with the administration to develop specific methods by which the campus can meet this ambitious goal.

In June 2007, President Christopher Dahl signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

"As a result of this commitment, the task force has worked on calculating a greenhouse gas inventory for the campus and an action plan for achieving carbon neutrality," said biology professor Kristina Hannam, co-chair of the task force.

"The action plan will have our emissions to date, a general plan to reduce them and specifics which have to be discussed with administration to help us reach whatever date is set as our goal in the plan," said junior Hallie Miller, a student intern with the task force.

Though not yet carbon neutral, the college has implemented several successful sustainability initiatives.

For example, Seneca Hall was constructed to meet qualifications set by the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, while the Integrated Science Center was designed to be 20 percent more efficient than the energy code requires.

According to Miller, this year's freshman picnic was organized to be a waste-free, "compostable picnic" to go along with the eco-friendly changes.

"The picnic this year showed freshmen what is important to us," said Becky Stewart, marketing coordinator of Campus Auxiliary Services.

Other areas and organizations around campus are also trying to become as "green" as possible. Computing & Information Technology announced over the summer that it had changed the default setting on all on-campus printers to "double-sided" in an effort to reduce paper waste. The SUNY Geneseo Federal Credit Union, located in the basement of the College Union, has gone paperless as well.

CAS has also pitched in efforts to help the college "go green."

"A very small change can cause a very large difference," Stewart said. She said that by changing all of the washing machines in residence halls to more energy- and water-efficient front-loading machines, the college saves over 1.4 million gallons of water per year.

CAS is also working with Assistant Director of Grounds and Landscaping Bill McDevitt to increase composting on campus.

Other CAS initiatives include trayless dining, the closure of the on-campus warehouse, the use of new napkin dispensers and a shift to using just one food vendor in order to reduce freight to and from the college.

"We've taken into consideration how this would affect food prices and so we worked out an agreement to keep prices competitive even though we buy from one vendor," Stewart said.

According to Miller, the college intends to set a concrete date, sometime in January, at which it hopes to be carbon neutral.