Long weighs in on sustainability

The Sustainability Commission met on Wednesday Feb. 26 to determine the tone and direction of sustainability on the Geneseo campus for the last 18 months of Interim President Carol Long’s term. The Sustainability Commission holds meetings in which Geneseo faculty members and students gather to discuss previous achievements, current projects and goals for the future.

At the meeting, Long discussed her four-part sustainability plan for her coming months in Geneseo. She began by apologizing that she did not follow the standard procedure of giving the yearly commission to the Sustainability Commission. As an interim president, she expressed that she does not want to change policy too drastically just to have it changed again by the next president.

“I’ve been figuring out how to talk to legislators and things like that which has occupied a lot of my time, so I’ve been slower in giving directives,” Long said. She quickly moved, however, from addressing the change in traditional operating methods to plans for the future, laying out four focus points for discussion.

Long explained that plans are being developed for a six-goal “bridge” plan, to prepare for the incoming president, which will be made public soon. One of the goals is the strengthening of sustainability practices and facilities on campus. She was also concerned with how to incorporate sustainability in the changing curriculum for the School of Education.

Long continued by mentioning the first of two further-reaching goals involving sustainability, one plan being to further integrate Geneseo with the local agricultural industry.

Geneseo is looking into purchasing local property, such as a four-and-a-half acre plot of farmland with a historic barn on it, an old knitting mill in Warsaw, N.Y. and an industrial park south of Mt. Morris. These locations would be used for incorporating government programs such as NY SUNY 2020 and START-UP NY, which both help business growth in New York State.

Lastly she mentioned her involvement and interest in the United Nations Global Compact. This program is an initiative for businesses to implement sustainable and socially responsible practices. Long would like to apply and implement this pact for the Geneseo campus.

The Sustainability Commission also discussed approval for funding Earth Week programming, which is run by Geneseo Environmental Organization.

Regarding the proposed program for this year, GEO Treasurer and sophomore Nick LaVigne said, “We decided to model it the same this year as last year with five themes, [one] for each day of the week, but we’ve definitely broadened our themes and packed more events into each day.”

The commission approved GEO’s budget request, while expressing thanks for the dedication of GEO and EcoHouse for their hard work in promoting sustainability and conservation on campus.

Supervising janitor Laura Canfield presented many promising innovations to sustainability in the custodial department. Through the purchase of new oscillating equipment, many cleaning services, including those of floors and bathrooms, now use 70 percent less water and chemical waste. Additional benefits of the technology include fewer injuries on the job and quicker overall cleaning times.

Not only have there been new equipment purchases but the custodial staff has also begun using ionized water to clean windows. This ionized water usage eliminates the need for chemical cleaners and reduces the amount of fresh water use by 50 percent.

Further, a brief discussion with the representative from Campus Auxiliary Service hinted at the arrival of a direct trade coffee from small-scale organic growers. CAS also indicated that it will be looking into methods to more efficiently cut candy wrapper waste.

Overall, there are many sustainability initiatives at play on campus, and Long is seeking to further expand Geneseo’s commitment to a more environmentally friendly atmosphere.