Green Map illustrates sustainability efforts

The Office of Sustainability is developing a “Green Map” in order to highlight different forms of environmentally-friendly efforts on campus and in the surrounding area. The office hopes to have it accessible on the Geneseo website by summer 2015.

A geography major and environmental studies minor, senior Tom Silva has been leading this project since January. After a conversation with Director of Sustainability Dan DeZarn, they collaborated to design it as an internship with the office.

The program will be an interactive online map that highlights the environmental and sustainability accomplishments of Geneseo and the surrounding area.

“It tries to give a comprehensive overview of sustainability things that the school is doing,” Silva said. “People can get a better feel for the things happening at Geneseo that are sustainability-oriented.”

This includes initiatives at Campus Auxiliary Services dining halls, nature walks on and off campus, the Geneseo Farmers’ Market and sustainable buildings. It also includes environmentally-based curricula, clubs and organizations.

“Anything that can be easily displayed on a map will be on there,” Silva said. The plan is that, in the future, the map will also display green space and environmental efforts on a regional level.

The project, however, currently remains in its developmental stages. Silva has devoted much of the semester to research, hoping to set a solid foundation for the interns that will replace him when he graduates.

“The main focus for this semester—at least right now—is just getting it off the ground for as many things as possible within the confines of the campus and then to hopefully develop more of a regional focus as the school pushes for more of these initiatives,” Silva said.

The information will be presented in this interactive format as an alternative to a simple list to make it more dynamic and accessible to those viewing it. In the future, each plot point on the map will ideally include a clickable link to a webpage displaying additional information on that location.

The Green Map uses ArcGIS, which is, according to Silva, “basically a computer format for visualizing spatial data.” Widely used by the geography department, the program looks similar to Google Maps, but can be programmed to include various markers, layers and links on a designated area.

Silva explained that he is currently working on a manual for future interns to continue the project in later years. Because it started so recently, there is still space for change in layout and design of the website.

“The online format of this particular program gives a lot of freedom to whoever is working on it,” he said. “Continuity is one of the hardest things on these kinds of projects … unless you have somebody like Dan [DeZarn] who works constantly to keep these things happening.”

This project connects with other efforts the Office of Sustainability has been making in the Geneseo community and Livingston County, including building connections with the Livingston County Planning Department.

“There are a lot of things happening with sustainability,” Silva said. “I think having [The Office of Sustainability] makes it a lot easier for them to exist and also highlights student accomplishments.”