Conservation Council

SLU Reduced-Idling Policy

In keeping with the ideal that University programming and operations should explore and model progressive and/or alternative behaviors, as a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, in light of the Board of Trustees approval of the Environmental Resolution, and our overall desire for a safe and healthy community, St. Lawrence University has adopted a reduced-idling policy for all vehicles on the University campus.   

This policy was initiated by the Conservation Council.

Draft Space Heater and AC Policy

This draft University Policy has the goal of addressing under and over-heating issues on camps.  This policy makes clear that the heating plant should make all decisions about use of space heaters and air conditioners on campus and that employees and students should always report heating and cooling issues to the central heating plant instead of taking action into their own hands.

SLU Arboretum Proposal

This innovation grant, funded in Spring 2011 has the goal of St. Lawrence University becoming an arboretum, a place that honors the diversity and beauty of trees by giving select trees identifying signs and creating a tour of campus based on viewing these selected trees.  Creating and maintaining the campus grounds as an arboretum will provide educational opportunities for St. Lawrence and other local students and community members as well as becoming a point of interest as the only arboretum in the North Country and one of very few in a Liberal Arts College setting.  As an arboretum the campus would showcase the diversity of tree species native to the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada.

Permaculture Innovation Grant

This innovation grant proposal, which was funded in Spring 2011 presents an edible, self-sustaining permaculture landscape, composed of fruit trees (apple, pear, plum), perennial herbs and flowers, and other fruit bushes.  Designed as a haven for students and faculty to visit and enjoy an environmentally beneficial landscape, rather than a simple mowed lawn.  A long-lasting asset to our campus grounds, and a step toward making our space more environmentally sustainable, productive, and inviting this will be the first permaculture design on the St. Lawrence Campus.

St. Lawrence University Climate Action Plan

The St. Lawrence University Climate Action Plan (CAP) was drafted in response to St. Lawrence University President William L. Fox and President Emeritus Daniel F. Sullivan signing the American Colleges and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). As a signatory of this initiative, SLU committed to climate neutrality (zero-net greenhouse gas emissions 1), and the development of a climate action plan (CAP).

The drafting of the SLU CAP was assigned to a working group which drew its membership, as proposed by Faculty Council, from a broad cross-section of the campus community, as well as members of the Canton community.

1) Where GHG emissions directly from our operations or indirectly from our activities are reduced to zero and/or offsets bought or generated to cover our emissions totals.

Climate Action Plan Comments

The Conservation Council has been working hard over the last few weeks to solicit comment on SLU's Draft climate Action Plan.  These comments have come both via e-mail and through attendance at four open discussion forums held on campus.

While all comments posted below are anonymous, permission has been granted by the authors to share their thoughts.

"This appears to be a feasible and implementable push towards a sustainable SLU! Hope it goes through!" Student

"The goal of carbon neutrality is very important to me and I think it is important that it is a key focus for the university now and in future years. As an educational institution it is essential to teach students about the importance of the environment and how to work with the environment instead of against it. To change the way people feel about the environment it is essential to lead by example. If the university shows that the environment is important the students and the rest of the community will follow. The university has already made steps to reaching carbon neutrality though the building of the Johnson hall of science, the student center, and the development of dashboard, and students have noticed it. This progress must be maintained in order to gain the attention of incoming classes, sustainability is becoming an increasingly more important issue as we realize the repercussions from our excessive and caviler consumption in the past. The goal of carbon neutrality will initially take an enormous investment, but in the long run, the payoff for the university will be monumental. I sincerely hope that the university continues towards its goal of obtaining carbon neutrality by 2040." Student

"It is important that St. Lawrence University follow through on saying that it is environmentally conscious. Otherwise we lose all credibility." Student

"I am in my last semester at St. Lawrence as a Conservation Biology major. Next year I want to be proud of my alma matter for the progressive work it is doing to reduce its impact on the climate. In the field of Conservation Biology, I have been trained at St. Lawrence to understand that climate change is real and serious. If we continue our current trends of energy consumption and carbon emission, irreversible climate change will have devastating effects on many species including our own. Knowing this threat, we must be among the first higher education institutions to take a stand against climate change. We Laurentians can be proud of our University for pioneering and taking direct steps to reduce our emissions to zero by 2040. If the CAP is passed, we may be recognized as among the brightest of institutions for needed progress. Let's have the foresight to be proactive and move our University towards carbon neutrality in 2040. With educated personal decision making, greater efficiency throughout the campus, use of renewable energy and as a last resort, carbon offsets, we can be a leader in this campaign to combat human-induced climate change. Let us take the actions that allow us to be proud Laurentians we are. Thank you for this step in the right direction." Student

“I’d like to thank the committee for their thoughtful work and point out three things worth considering. First, if the CAP is accepted as a University document the Sustainability Coordinator will need to be returned to a fulltime position. The document suggests this position will have an increase in workload to fulfill the CAP requirements and I think they cannot accomplish such tasks with a halftime position. Second, I am concerned about the scope of the tripartite committee that will replace the current Conservation Council. Climate change is not the only environmental problem and the work of the committee that replaces the Conservation Council should be addressing all environmental issues, including those of habitat fragmentation and landscape ecology. Finally, I would like to remind us all of the position of privilege that we hold, on a global scale, as a an institution of higher education. Given this position of privilege we must take the lead in addressing issues of climate change.” Faculty

"I believe that as a small liberal arts college we not only have a responsibility to the progress and preservation of our college but also to our local community and global impact. As a college the Climate Action Plan can be incredibly effective in bringing our university a long standing position in the competition and perpetuation within the private university realm. As public schools increase their academic standing and more and more students look to go to an affordable school, St. Lawrence need to be conscientious about drawing in proactive, engaged students. "Green" is a popular concept among many college bound students looking into the liberal arts, and similar schools are enacting similar resolutions. Not only is the Climate Action Plan going to move our school toward a more sustainable future as far as admissions, but as well as financially. It is no coincidence that sustainability is tied tightly to economics. We secure ourselves in the long run by implementing our future now, and switching to a more long term financially stable way of operating day to day functions.

In addition to action on a University level, we have commitments to our surrounding community. St. Lawrence County is the poorest county in New York State, and a recent study reported that St. Lawrence University has a

$275 million influence on the surrounding area. Many in the North Country are moving towards sustainability; be it by organic growing techniques, working on conservation projects, or simply living a more sustainable lifestyle. By passing the Climate Action Plan we connect ourselves to the local area and become more closely tied and connected to what we impact so strongly. We set an example and can encourage and uplift our community through using our own means to make the area more sustainable.

On an even larger scale it is obvious that something needs to be done about global climate change. But many of our leaders are hesitant to commit to environmentally friendly policies, unsure that they can fulfill that promise. Institutions need to set the example and lead the way in climate change actions, showing national leaders that action is POSSIBLE and HAPPENING. The decisions of private institutions are crucial to the success of the environmental movement.

As college students we discover that our lives are built upon the consequences and outcomes of our decisions and our priorities. As a university, St. Lawrence is what it decides to be. I believe to be the most successful university we can, we need to make our environmental impact a priority. Many Students feel similarly to myself. Our environmental club has one of the longest email lists on campus, new majors are being created related to Environmental Studies because that is where student interest lies.  We cannot delay or denounce the importance of sustainable action and progress or we are at risk as a university, a north country leader, and a global participant." Student


"Definitely a great idea. I love my school. My school needs this." Student


"I was impressed with the climate neutrality action plan. Good job on the part of all involved. Now as an alum, I am glad that the efforts to address climate change have continued to grow stronger and become more specific. I am glad to see a specific year (2040) selected as well as the decision to review the action plan every 2-5 years or so. That will allow all SLU classes continue to contribute on almost an annual basis. The goal is a courageous one and I wish SLU success. My annual giving to SLU will go to the sustainability matters and I am glad that there is already an option to direct the gift to sustainability initiatives. If it has not already been created, maybe it would be a good idea to create a "Green Fund" or something named in a very specific way. This way they could invite the alumni and others to give money specifically to this fund. Information on the donations and their use could be reported separately in the information bulletins on SLU gift giving. Overall, great job and I am looking forward to the first plan by the end of FY 2011." Alumna


"I think that it is imperative that the climate action plan gets passed. One of the main reasons I came to St. Lawrence was its commitment to sustainability, and I want to make sure that it is upheld. I think that if we pass the CAP and start initiating projects to become carbon neutral this will be beneficial for the students and the environment, and also be very appealing to prospective students." Student


"I first became interested in St. Lawrence because I had heard about the Adirondack Semester and the environmental studies department. I then learned about the ACUPCC and became very excited about the school's commitment to the environment. The CAP is an essential step to addressing St. Lawrence's unsustainable practices. This is an opportunity for the school to act upon what it has voiced. I would be very disappointed if the school could not uphold its commitment to sustainability." Student


"Coming to SLU in 2009 from Toronto, ON, sustainability was a big part of my life. In 2001 the city assembled a Waste Diversion Task Force with the goal of 100% waste diversion by 2010. This goal was largely achieved through implementation of the Green Bin Program, in which ALL organic waste (yes, even meat, bones, soiled paper, etc.) is collected from all households each week and turned into compost. As of June 2009 the city established a ban on plastic bags, forcing retailers to charge 5 cents per bag. Toronto is always looking to expand its number of bicycle lanes throughout the city, and has started planning a Light Rail Transit system to improve its current subway system and to make public transportation more accessible and efficient.

Of course, the St. Lawrence University community is significantly smaller than that of Toronto. Yet even upon first setting foot on campus I could not help but notice flaws in the way of environmental stewardship. Most of my concerns are related to waste--the poor trash/recycling system on campus, lack of a composting system, disregard for use of plastic materials in the Northstar Cafe including water bottles and bags. Yet I also think the university could make some major improvements in terms of energy use overall--for example, many students complain about overheated dorm rooms and classrooms.

To be fair, St. Lawrence is not far off the grid. We do pretty well for a small school, especially considering an alarmingly large percentage of the student body really have no concern for the environment. I have extremely high hopes for the Climate Action Plan. I think its implementation will not only create physical changes in the school, but mental changes in its faculty and students as well. We have something to work toward here, and I have faith that this endeavor will unite Laurentians for the better." Student


"Pass the Climate Action Plan! We need to become more sustainable and passing this is a very important step to reach that goal." Student


"As the Climate Action plan clearly describes, continued operation for all facilities, especially those run by organizations and individuals who are supposed to serve an example, must move towards sustainability: continued burning and abuse of oil will lead to catastrophic consequences on a global level. This is a massive step in the right direction It will prove beneficial both for the university's applicant pool (it deserves, and will draw, attention) and, fiscally, it will save money because oil prices can only continue to rise. My fear is that, because the effects of global warming are not readily apparent, after this is signed it will fall by the wayside. Please, prove my fears wrong and show that St. Lawrence is an institution driven, not necessarily for the immediate betterment of itself, but for the overall benefit of all people by being a leader in this revolutionary campaign for sustainable living." Student 


"I was curious as to why university air travel but not university travel by other means was part of the measured GHG emissions. We all submit expense reports which detail travel for the university by other methods, so the information would be available. It seems that given our distance from an airport, travel by car to carry out university business would contribute more significantly to GHG emissions that other methods of university travel. Thanks to the committee for all their work on this project. It was well done!" Staff


"Please pass the Climate Action Plan! This is an important initiative that we need to move forward with as soon as possible. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to reach our goal of climate neutrality by 2040."Student


"As a liberal art institution, if we care at all about implementing that which we teach and if we care about our integrity then it is crucial to pass this Climate Action Plan. I am a former environmental studies major, but more importantly, I am a current a citizen of the world. As such, I have a responsibility to frustrate climate change, and frustrate humanity’s persistent accommodation of climate change. Climate change and human rights are linked. This is a good step in the right direction." Student


"This is incredibly important for the earth, and for our reputation as a green community. Pass the CAP!" Student


"Great job to all those involved in writing this proposal! I hope this proposal gets passed; so many other ideas proposed by student groups have been shut down over concern of a loss of economic progress. It is time for our university to step up, clean up, and make real strides to become more environmentally mindful campus, rather than participating in pseudo-'green' activities. The University can only benefit from climate neutrality: Pass the Cap!" Student


“Considering the proposed change of the tripartite committee that will replace the Conservation Council I’d like to voice my concern that we must not only focus on issues of climate. The charge of this committee should be broad enough to address all types of environmental issues and to encourage students to remain interested and involved. What stakeholder could be more important than the student?” Student


“Overall I recognize this as a well written plan of attack. I appreciate that specific players are identified and given clearly defined roles, that the importance of communication and education are noted and that a clear date has been set. I wonder if the lack of a definition of sustainability is an issue? Alternatively greenhouse gas emissions are clearly defined. It may make sense to mention the EPA and DEC when changing legislation is discussed. When renaming and recharging the Conservation Council it is important that the charge address issues other than climate, including water quality, integrated pest management and wildlife. It seems there should be a feedback loop created to prevent the committee from falling behind on its work. The Environmental Compliance Officer should be an additional resource person for this new tripartite committee. Regular meetings between this position and the Sustainability Coordinator should be held so that environmental health and regulation issues are considered during planning.” Suna Stone-McMasters, Staff


"I would love to see the Climate Action Plan be passed. This could be a significant step in raising environmental awareness and action, and contribute to a movement of making a big difference both on campus as well what our impact is off campus." Student

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