The St. Lawrence University Environmental Action Plan

In 2006 the St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees “…approved, with great enthusiasm, a resolution to adopt a commitment to the environment as a core University value….”1 The SLU Environmental Resolution, a document developed by students2 and brought forth by Thelmo, provides a foundation from which we must now explore how, in practical terms, this commitment will unfold.

The SLU Environmental Action Plan is designed to provide the St. Lawrence University community with a description of the ecological challenges that face the University and a set of actions the University can take to address the issues. The intention of the document is to encourage a University-wide dialogue in relation to the SLU Environmental Resolution and its implications.

The Environmental Action Plan is designed to bring together the various environmental initiatives that are currently in the works (composting, improvements to the recycling plan, rideboards, sustainability indicators, green energy, etc.) and to provide a mechanism to bring together the organizations and individuals that have been working on them.

The drafting of the Plan is currently under way and an online collaborative writing environment (via the SLU Greenpages) has been created to facilitate its development. The initial drafts for each issue area have been written and over one hundred students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members have contributed to Plan’s development . Please contact Louise Gava or Eric Williams-Bergen if you are interested in participating.

In April 2007, Thelmo passed a resolution in support of the Plan. A presentation of the Environmental Action Plan was made to the Board of Trustees on May 18, 2007.

1Memo to the St. Lawrence University community from President Daniel F. Sullivan
2Jason DeRosa ’06, and Kira Krumhansl ’06


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science center The Goal: Design, create, update, and maintain buildings and facilities with the aim of reducing their impact on the environment. Ultimately, this initiative will lead to the creation of buildings and facilities that are healthy, energy and resource efficient, and consistent with their surroundings.

The Problem: Buildings and facilities are huge consumers of energy and resources. Existing buildings tend to be energy inefficient and difficult to maintain. In many cases, new buildings and facilities are designed and constructed to address present needs with little thought given to their long term impact on the environment, human health, and user productivity.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:
St. Lawrence has demonstrated its commitment to the principles of green design with the planning and construction of the Johnson Hall of Science and the Wachtmeister Field Station. The University has a responsibility to continue to reduce its impact on the environment. Creating efficient, healthy, and thoughtfully planned buildings and facilities is one way to accomplish this task.

New construction:

Existing buildings and facilities:


Buildings-Facilities - Appendix

Model Programs:

Allegheny: LEED certified North Village townhouse complex at Allegheny .

Connecticut College: This is a link to a document explaining Connecticut College's commitment to green building . Connecticut College has developed a "green building policy". The policy states how the college will work towards green buildings and who will implement this policy.

Denison University: Built in 1893, Barney Hall is one of the oldest buildings on Denison's campus and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. As such, the Barney green renovation project attempted to simultaneously balance historical and environmental goals, which ultimately complement each other.


SLU Success Stories:

  • The Johnson Hall of Science and Wachtmeister Field Station exemplify St. Lawrence's commitment to sustainability. A sampling of sustainability features for the Johnson Hall of Science includes:

    • Air-conditioning chillers will be high efficiency evaporative cooling design - will save $25,000 per year operating energy and offer a pay back period of four to five years.
    • Lab casework wood finish will be a flat line finish process - no VOC.
    • Dry wall joint compound will have no silicates.
    • Carpet has 40% recycled component and is 100% recyclable - will never end up in a land fill.
    • Stone masonry is of manufactured stone - better properties, less labor.
    • Dimmable fluorescent lighting with occupancy monitors
    • Room air exchanges monitored according to occupancy and time of day and the week. Adjusted to minimum during times when no one is in the room.
    • Gravity drainage of water and waste instead of ejector pumps that are expensive in maintenance and operation.
    • Electric elevator instead of hydraulic piston type - no future hazardous waste factor with hydraulic fluids.
    • Intelligent fume hoods with variable flow controls - not on full blast when not in use - will reduce heating /cooling loads.
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  • A sampling of sustainabiligy features for the Wachtmeister Field Station includes such innovations as:
    • Passive solar design
    • In-floor heating
    • Super-insulated windows
    • Super-insulated walls




  • Cameron Bruns '09
  • Matt Caliendo '07
  • Jon Cardinal '08
  • Reed Carr '10
  • Brian Chamberlain '08
  • Julia Collins '10
  • Katrina DeVore '10
  • Michael Dio '08
  • Jose Domingos '09
  • Erik Donohoe '08
  • Amanda Dox '07
  • Katheryn Durki '07
  • Taylor Fargo '10
  • Siobhan Fitzgerald-Cushing '10
  • Jessica Fuller '10
  • Louise Gava '07
  • Kelly Goonan '07
  • Erin Griffin '09
  • Amanda Gurgul '07
  • Jordon Hack '08
  • Will Hackett '07
  • Erin Hanafin '09
  • Jordan Hensley '10
  • Mackenzie Hollis '08
  • Liz Holt '08
  • Frank Izaguiree '08
  • Rachael Jaffe '10
  • Jacob Keszey '09
  • Allyssa Kilanowski '10
  • John Kmetz '10
  • Andrew Kraus '09
  • Eloise Lachance '10
  • Angela Lathwell '08
  • Alice Lenanyokie '07
  • Jake Levenson '08
  • Johanna Mackenzie '09
  • Peterson Maina '10
  • Erin Mann '09
  • Shelly Martin '08
  • Becky McCluskey '09
  • Jed Mickle '08
  • Ryan Moore '09
  • Michael Moreau '09
  • Dennis Morreale II '07
  • Lauren O'Connell '07
  • Kate Olsen '08
  • Katie Powers '10
  • Caitie Quinn '09
  • Alissa Rafferty '09
  • Brendan Reed '10
  • Lisa Romas '08
  • Emily Rooney '08
  • Renee Rubin '08
  • Danielle Sagor '09
  • Katya Samoteskul '09
  • Katie Spring '09
  • Ben Sears '07
  • Caitlin Sullivan '10
  • Nave' Strauss '08
  • Courtney Tennant '10
  • Peter Tucker '08
  • Colby Walker '07
  • Skye Waterson '10
  • Caroline Webster '10
  • Benn Whitney '09
  • Cory Yawger '08
  • Lou Zeppieri '07


  • Matt Brown '97 (NYSERDA)
  • Jason DeRosa '06
  • Melissa Fellows '01
  • Andrea Freeman '91
  • Kira Krumhansl '06
  • Relani Prudhomme '90


  • Mike Alzo
  • Brad Baldwin
  • Erika Barthelmess
  • T. Budd
  • Diane Burns
  • Jeff Chiarenzelli
  • John Collins
  • Tom Greene
  • Baylor Johnson
  • Chris Monz
  • Jon Rosales
  • Al Scwhartz
  • Eric Williams-Bergen


  • Nancy Alessi
  • Cindy Atkins
  • Sister Bethany
  • Melissa Burchard
  • Neal Burdick
  • Sarah Councell
  • Jane Eaton
  • Bill Olsen
  • Ruta Ozols
  • Dan Seaman
  • Rick Scott
  • Marcus Sherburne
  • Robert Washo

Community Members:

  • Ann Heidenreich (Community Energy Services)
  • Phil Harnden (GardenShare)
  • David Katz (Environmental Management Council - St. Lawrence County)
  • Katherine Lang (GardenShare)
  • Jon Montan (St. Lawrence County Planning Office)
  • Scott Shipley (Community Energy Services)


Education - Community

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Adirondack Semester

The Goal: To provide students with the foundation to understand and embrace environmental sustainability so that they personally and professionally may meet the needs of their own families, communities and career responsibilities without compromising the ability of the environment to provide for future generations. 1

The Problem:

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in the community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate...the land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

-Aldo Leopold. The Land Ethic

This statement by Aldo Leopold calls attention to the idea that we are members of an ecological community. As such, our existence and success depend on living in ways that recognize responsibilities to the rest of this ecological community. Education at St. Lawrence must acquaint students with this dependency on the ecological community and the responsibilities it entails.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

As members of the St. Lawrence community and the surrounding environment, students should graduate with a certain level of ecological literacy and a sense of the environmental community.

Appendix - Education - Community

1 from the SLU Environmental Resolution

Model Programs:

Dickinson College: Dickinson College has incorporated education, information, and exposure to renewable energy sources into the college’s new student orientation .

Oberlin: Here is a link to an article about a monitoring system set up at Oberlin college that displays energy and water use in dorms.

SLU Success Stories:

The Environmental Studies program at SLU is one of the oldest programs in the nation (created in 1974). It provides a wide range of opportunities for student research in the region. Students also have the option to combine environmental studies with ten other majors. This field of study offered at SLU provides students with a broad understanding of the environmental issues that we face today. The Environmental Studies ESL (Ecological Sustainability Landscape) is a beautiful 110-acre tract of land including fields, forests, wetlands, and steams complete with a three-story house and outbuildings. Certainly the largest laboratory at St. Lawrence University, the land is used for a variety of class projects especially sustainable agriculture and agroecology. Students have the opportunity to apply textbook concepts to hands-on projects including growing organic crops and experimenting with natural pest controls including integrated pest management. An ongoing acid rain sampling program is monitored by environmental studies students.

Following the model of study abroad in another culture, the Adirondack Semester offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves full-time in the natural world. Participating students have the chance to reflect critically upon their conceptions of nature, modern culture, and the most desirable relation between them.


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The Goal: To make energy conservation and energy efficiency a keystone for all activities at St. Lawrence. To significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to promote the use of energy from renewable sources. To educate the University community so that all can fully participate in this endeavor.

solar panels The Problem: Activities to fulfill our educational mission have led to increased demand for energy on campus. Increased energy consumption has substantial economic as well as environmental costs. Energy produced from fossil fuels contributes to environmental pollution. Missed opportunities for conservation and efficiency waste money that could better be used for other purposes. 

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

The time to develop an energy strategy based on renewable energy is now. Developing relationships with providers and reconfiguring our energy infrastructure takes time and has the greatest potential for success if done incrementally. Saving energy is the responsibility of individuals as well as the institution and St. Lawrence should foster energy savings in both.
















Appendix - Energy

Model Programs:

Bates: An article about purchasing green power.

Bucknell: Bucknell purchases wind power to supplement their cogeneration plant fueled by natural gas, which was also replaced from an older coal burning plant. They purchase approximately half their energy through wind power, which amounts to 1 million kilowatt hours a year.

Colby: is planning to purchase all its energy from renewable, more environmentally friendly sources in Maine .

Connecticut College: - This is a link to Connecticut College’s Renewable Energy Policy . This policy was established by the student body, the administration and the board of trustees together.

Connecticut College: This link is to Conn. College’s proposal to create the energy conservation and efficiency fund or ECEF . The purpose of the ECEF is to provide the capital necessary to make improvements in energy efficiency and to run effective energy conservation efforts.

Connecticut College: Connecticut College’s “Light Bulb Exchange Program” . The document describes the light bulb program in which energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, CFLs, were inexpensively purchased and provided to students in exchange for incandescent light bulbs removed from use.

Middlebury College and Energy

- This link is about how Middlebury set a goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 8 percent below the 1990 level by 2012. It lists steps Middlebury has taken and some of the challenges, like keeping the momentum going. It tells some of the steps taken, like going to each dorm and changing lights and changing from diesel fuel to biodiesel.

Middlebury College and Energy

- This link talks about how Middlebury College changed from diesel fuel to biodiesel. It has a graph that shows the progress from 1990 to 2000. It also states some short term and long-term goals and tells about challenges to getting started and finding support.


SLU's Energy Success Stories:

  • In 2003 the St Lawrence University Campus had a campus wide energy audit conducted by LKPB (Minnesota).
  • The purchase of a Hybrid Toyota Prius.
  • The purchase of 2 Hybrid Toyota Highlanders.
  • Over the past few years SLU has spent over $800,000 on Steam line replacements in order to decrease heat loss.
  • SLU has installed fluorescent lighting, motion sensors, water savers, variable speed air circulation and new energy management in many of our dorms, academic buildings and offices.
  • Windows have been replaced in several buildings in order to conserve heat and energy.
  • A few buildings have high efficiency boilers.
  • St. Lawrence was one of the first colleges in the country to install a Co-Generation Unit. This unit produces electricity by using the steam that is made to heat campus and then running it through a steam turbine. Now, with the campus getting bigger we are considering increasing SLU's generation capacity.

Johnson Science Hall

St. Lawrence's newest building is on track to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification. Innovations in the building include maximized use of daylight, a biological filter system for water runoff, high effeciency windows, waterless urinals, and numerous other energy conserving design features.


Food Systems

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The Goal: To eat foods produced sustainably.

Farmer The Problem: Most of our food travels thousands of miles from farm to plate: lettuce from California, soybeans from Brazil, tomatoes from Mexico. While we provide students, faculty and staff with an abundance of choice year round, it is based on agricultural and transportation systems that are not sustainable.

By purchasing foods from the North Country Grown Cooperative, Dining Services has introduced a foundation for change. However, we still rely heavily on a purchasing model focused on cost and convenience. Questions of food miles, support for local farmers, and sustainable farming practices have not been our primary concern. Ironically, although situated in a region with a rich agricultural heritage, we purchase very little of our food from the farms of the St. Lawrence Valley.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

Nothing beats locally grown food for freshness and flavor. And buying local food is a great way to strengthen the local economy by supporting our farming neighbors.

Appendix-Food Systems


1Lovins, Hunter. 2005 Pesek Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture: Energy and Sustainable Agriculture .


Model Programs:

Allegheny: Dining services: Local Foods Dinner – Every year the school hosts a local foods dinner, educating the students about the sources of their food.

Bucknell: On campus organic gardens .

Dickinson College: Dickinson College has a student run organic garden . This link discusses the organic garden and its history.

Dickinson College: Dickinson has announced a plan for the opening or a working organic farm at the College.

Current Initiatives and SLU Success Stories:

  • In the spring of 2006 an organic herb garden was planted outside Dana. There are 6 "boxes" in a row in which we grow herbs for use in our recipes. It has been very successful with the staff and heavily used by them.
  • Purchase many local items. Year round we purchase items from the North Country Co-op such as maple syrup, honey, bison burgers, and other items that are available. We meet with them when the farmers are planning their crops and then in the fall purchase the available items.
  • Our milk and eggs are purchased from local businesses.
  • We purchase items from Potsdam Coop, Purple Rice and the Potsdam Bagelry to sell in the Northstar Cafe
  • We have also asked our Prime Vender, Sysco, to purchase local - NY state items and they have assured us that they do. We purchase already chopped vegies and lettuces, to decrease the amounts of waste, water and labor involved with cleaning and processing the vegetables.
  • A few years ago we purchased golf carts for transportation during the warm months. We also use a Gator for small deliveries instead of the larger vehicles.
  • For several years we have given each first year student a mug or Nalgene bottle for them to use instead of paper. We are not sure how successful this is. We also provide a discount to anyone who brings their own mug to use in the cafe.
  • Exhaust fans are on timers.
  • Lights get turned off when rooms are not in use as much as possible. We even turn the lights down in Dana between meals.


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little riverThe Goal: To extend the actions and principles of sustainability to the land owned and managed by SLU. To be a leader and source of sustainable land use practices as a responsible member of the North Country community.

The Problem: The SLU campus and other University-owned lands span the range from highly developed to virtually untouched landscapes. Sustainable stewardship practices should be applied to all of these landscapes in order to ensure the health and safety of all inhabitants -- both human and non-human. A specific zoning strategy, identifying a range of appropriate uses such as current and future intensive human use, developed natural, primitive use and bioreserve and associated stewardship commitments, need to be developed. Specific indicators and standards of the health and quality of each of these areas should accompany land use and preservation goals.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

University land presents many opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, and the North Country community.


Appendix for Land

Model Programs:

Bucknell: Uses integrated pest management (IPM) techniques in landscaping its grounds, resulting in a reduction in the quantity of herbicides and insecticides required.

Connecticut College: Connecticut College has made a commitment to remove all the invasive plant species on their campus and use local plants in their landscaping.

SLU Success Stories:

  • St. Lawrence updated its integrated pest management plan in 2006 with the environmental resolution in mind. The updated plan aims to minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides as well as increase the use of biological controls.
  • The Johnson Hall of Science includes a sustainable landscape.   The selection of trees, shrubs and ground covers by the landscape architect were for the purpose of minimizing the use of mowers, fresh water irrigation, and herbicides and pesticides.  A rain garden captures storm water runoff.
  • 20 acres of no-mow zones have been created in places on campus with low human traffic.  The goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels needed to maintain campus and thus reduce the carbon footprint of grounds maintenance at SLU.     


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The Goal: Develop innovative alternatives to car-based commuting.parking lot

The Problem:

Travel by individuals in cars is expensive, inefficient and contributes to traffic congestion.

St. Lawrence University's rural location provides beautiful scenery and quick access to wilderness but also long drive times to many services and the University itself. Students going home for break, employees commuting to work and sports teams traveling to away games accumulate thousands of driving hours.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

Based on research provided by SLU students, the University has added a Toyota Prius to the University's fleet. This has proven to be an excellent first step in developing a vehicle fleet that is more fuel efficient and less polluting. In addition, the University contracts with a private bus company to provide reasonably priced one-way and round-trip transportation to major Northeast cities for students during holiday breaks.


Appendix - Transportation

  • 1United States, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management, United States, Federal Highway Administration, and Office of Highway Policy Information. Highway statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 2005. Available online from table VM-2
  • 2Banker, Claude. 2003. E-mail regarding cost of parking lot construction at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY.
  • 3United States. National Household Travel Survey. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 2004.

Model Programs:

Middlebury College and Transportation

- This link is about Middlebury College and how they lease electric vehicles from a local company. It states a few challenges with the vehicles such as not being able to go as far. The departments that use the vehicles provided funding for this.

SLU Success Stories:

  • The University has purchased a Toyota Prius hybrid for the St. Lawrence fleet and two hybrid Toyota Highlanders for the University coaching staff.
  • Facilities/ Operations has implemented a no idle policy for its vehicles. When workers leave a vehicle it must be shut off.
  • The University has instituted a Green bikes program. The Green Bikes Program at SLU allows for students, faculty and staff to take a bike out on loan to use for a day. This provides an alternative form of transportation to using a car on campus reducing CO2 emissions while also providing an incentive to exercise.



Waste Stream

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LandfillThe Goal: To become a minimum-waste University.

The Problem: During the past four decades, the U.S. has witnessed an extraordinary growth in its waste stream. In 1960, we produced 88 million tons of waste (or 2.68 pounds per person per day). In 2005, we produced 245.7 million tons (4.5 pounds per person per day). 1

Building, operating, and maintaining waste disposal infrastructure costs billions of dollars.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

From 2001 to 2005, SLU recycled approximately 21 to 26% of its total waste stream, saving disposal costs of about $28,000 annually (Recycling Data - access restricted to on campus). Had this recyclable material been disposed of as trash, it would have required an additional 1600 cubic yards of landfill space, roughly equivalent to our football field covered with a one foot layer of trash.

Appendix - Waste Stream

Model Programs:

Allegheny: This is a report regarding the $100,000 composter Allegheny obtained through a grant.

Dickinson College: This is an article written by a Dickinson student from the class of ’07. The article discusses the expansion of Dickinson’s composting program and the success and benefits composting has brought to the school, the community and the environment.

Colorado College (Other): Colorado College instituted a successful composting facility . Colorado College worked with Green Mountain Technologies in order to create a composting process that fit in with the other duties of the school’s food provider, Sodexho. Colorado College instituted an Earth Tub behind their dining hall for easy composting and therefore waste reduction.

Ithaca College (Other): Ithaca College's aerated static-pile composting facility is located at the physical plant, and has been in operation since 1993. The college composts food waste from all of the dining halls. The link explains the composting project at Ithaca.

Connecticut College: Connecticut College has a policy to reduce the use of paper on campus. This document discusses various strategies that the college uses to reduce paper us.


SLU Success Stories:

  • The SLU Reuse program gives an alternative to people for getting rid of their old furniture, appliances, computers, etc. Rather than throwing these items away and having them end up in a land fill, one can bring these items to the SLU Reuse trailer for donation.
  • A campus recycling program recycles approximately 25% of all waste.



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water researchGoal: Minimize water waste and pollution on campus.

The Problem: We can't live without access to a clean and plentiful supply of water and yet water in many parts of the world, including the U.S., is contaminated. Water contamination from municipal, industrial, and agricultural sources threatens the health of not just humans but the entire ecosystem.

Inefficient showerheads, leaky faucets, aging water mains, improperly timed watering of grounds - all waste water (electricity and SLU funds) and are problems faced by many college campuses.

Opportunities for St. Lawrence University:

The development of a wetland to capture and treat stormwater runoff from the Johnson Hall of Science demonstrates St. Lawrence's commitment to minimizing our impact on the Little River watershed .

Appendix - Water

SLU Success Stories:

The Johnson Hall of Science employs a rain garden to manage storm water runoff before it enters the Little River.