Conservation Council

Conservation Council Minutes

Thursday, Feb 11, 2010

Conservation Council Meeting - minutes

Present: Amanda Lavigne, Matthias Nevins, Catherine Boulatoff, Brad Baldwin, Rick Scott, Louise Gava, Marcus Sherburne, Mary Kohnstamm, Andrew Skaggs, Molly Parren

Absent: Lindsay Guerin

3.10 p.m. Amanda started the meeting by describing the objectives and functions of the Conservation Council. Objective of today's meeting: to discuss "ground policy."

Louise asked Marcus to talk about the campus use plan and SLU priorities in terms of ground policy (landscaping, pressure from different groups, different uses...)

3.15. Marcus explained that for in the past 10 years, SLU has reached a nice "plateau"; with the current fiscal crisis and the attempt to attain sustainability, the Ground Department is going to meet new challenges. There is a need to reduce cost, while at the same time be more sustainable (which, often, means more costly). He addressed several points:

1) First goal (in next 5 years): "be pesticide free" (excluding sport athletic facilities)

            Currently, use of Round Up, unless the area has a major problem (for example, invasion of Japanese beetles).

            To get rid of weeds (for improved aesthetics) without using Round Up, without increasing cost.


            Cutting cost: decrease in labor hours (in summer, ½ students working for the Dept)

            SLu has not purchased any new vehicle for the past 10 years. On any given day, at least 2 vehicles broken down on campus.

2) Use Plan:   

* No mows (ties into Johnson Hall). No mow areas save a considerable amount of money.

* Need to have a "regular campus" (campus needs to look consistent)

Hopefully, this will tie in cost saving/ sustainability and a walking campus. Note: Having a walking campus is associated with major fund issue. Roads need to be diverted for example.

3) Role within landscaping:

  • maintain (not go backwards)
  • Special occasion (Alumni week-end, graduation...)

For SLU, since the level of maintenance all year round is high already, there is no major change for special occasions

Mark works with Tom Greene (studies pattern uses of students for example), and landscape architects, to develop the new master plan for the university (the last one developed in 1988). The new plan includes more "no mow areas" and represents a more conservationist approach to landscaping.

As of now, very little contracting; in house snow removal, mulch bed maintenance, mowing, pruning, vehicle maintenance...

5) Other ideas/topics:

* Birdhouses. Already some in place. Note: importance to identify an area that will not be used.

* Use of wildflowers to attract butterflies - started

* Beebox - upcoming?

* Joint compost with canton village - to start in a few years, to be applied on campus

* Asphalt - in summer, will start removing it when/where not needed. At the same time, need to add more in parking lots.

* biodiesel - currently not enough of a supply. Regulations require that to have a tank (>2000 gallons) one needs to have fire suppressants on site (and these are very costly); therefore SLU needs to find a source of supply on a regular basis (instead of stocking up).

* Fertilizers (synthetic and organic) - upcoming, the use of synthetic fertilizer will be decreased by 20%. Some areas will not be fertilized. The Psdt's House will receive organic fertilizer (liquid, through the irrigation system).

* Water use - upcoming - decrease use by 50%.

* Littering: takes one hour on Friday mornings to pick up by crew.

* Tree maintenance: 2 years ago, SLU went to an "all NY made trees" (lots of what is growing in Ontario can also be found in this area). Have an arboretum on campus.

* Electric push mowers (wish), but more expensive.

3.40 p.m. Amanda asked how the Conservation Council could best help/ contribute.


* Mark: pesticide free: it would be great to find 5 different "pesticide free" universities to talk to (learn from)- note: really pesticide free, not lip service.

* Brad: encourage students not to throw litter ("drunk walk").

* Mark: stricter policies for vendors and fac. Operators. (keep off the lawn)

* Molly: students' interest in growing own food (already, Dana has herb garden), such as raspberry or blueberry bushes. It would have to be on the outskirt of campus.

* Brad: to post on the Green pages a catching one line story ( "did you know that every Friday morning, .....?)

After thanking Mark for coming and explaining to the council what his work entailed in such an interesting manner, Amanda adjourned the meeting (4 p.m. or so).

Conservation Council Britia Grant Proposal

This grant proposal was submitted to "Brita's Filter for Good EcoChallenge."  The goal was to use grant monies to develop a semester long bicycle rental program to supplement the University's existing Green Bikes Program.  While this grant was not accepted, we thank Wesley Norton for his hard work as the student lead on the grant. 

Conservation Council Memo to RRPTG

The purpose of this memo, prepared by the Conservation Council and Carbon Neutrality Working Group, is to provide information on the financial savings and revenue generating potential of environmental initiatives including carbon reduction efforts.

This memo was prepared for The Recession Response and Planning Task Group (RRPTG).  This group was appointed by the President with the goal of determining possible actions to bring our University budget to equilibrium during a time of economic downfall and budget deficit.  Departments across campus were asked to look critically at their operations for ways they could help with this deficit.   

Conservation Council Minutes

Conservation Council Meeting Notes 12/7

During the last meeting of the semester, Amanda asked for feedback from the group to help shape the agenda for the next semester.

All 4 student representatives will be replaced next semester, due to students traveling abroad. 

It was suggested that more time be spent drafting policies and less time on coordinating activities like the 350 day wood sawing.

Hopefully the Brita Filter for Good grant will be awarded, and the expansion of the Green Bikes program can be the Council focus for next semester.

The chair thanked the Council members for a productive semester, and agreed to keep the student representatives who would be traveling abroad in the spring on the mailing list to keep them up to date on Council activities and progress throughout next semester.

Meeting adjourned - 1:45

Conservation Council Minutes

Conservation Council Meeting Notes 11/30

After discovering that the brief for the RRPTG was due 11/30 (today), Amanda and Louise created the brief over Thanksgiving Break, distributed a draft for review yesterday, and the Council spent the meeting editing/reviewing/providing feedback on the draft.

Notes and comments will be incorporated by Louise and Amanda, and will be sent to the RRPTG chair Erika Barthelmess by 4:30 today.

Conservation Council Minutes

Conservation Council Meeting Notes Monday 11/16/09

Meeting Attendees: Brad Baldwin, Catherine Boulatoff, Wes Norton, Alle Wingerter, Chloe Whalen, Amanda Lavigne

The meeting began with a brief Member's Time discussion surrounding how to better communicate environmentally oriented activities, etc. on campus.

Suggestions by the group:

1.      Using the White Board in the Student Center

2.      Passing on word to profs who teach Intro classes

3.      Using a more focused email chain and asking participants to pass it on to toher groups they are associated with

Next, attention turned to a discussion relating the draft policies we have on the table (anti-idling and grounds) to a request made by the Recession Task Force (RTF) for information from the Climate Neutrality Working Group (CNWG).

During the CNWG meeting, the rep from the RTF expressed that the submission of a "brief", outlining some suggestions to reduce the working budget for the University that were also in line with carbon reduction, would be a good way to keep climate planning "on the radar" during budget adjustments over the short term. 

The CNWG suggested that the existing draft of the short-term Work Plan associated with the CAP could be used as a basis for this "brief".  Louise, Amanda, Brad, and Rick volunteered as members of the CNWG to tighten up the Work Plan, and in doing so create the "brief" to be submitted to the RTF.  As all 4 volunteers are members of CC, and because CC is currently working on the language for policy proposals that would be very relevant to both documents, it was decided that this issue would be brought to the CC meeting for discussion.

The "brief" represents the closest deadline for submission, and so became the focus of discussion.

Amanda outlined some different possibilities for document organization to make the types of suggestions/recommendations, etc. that should be included in this submission more clear:

1.      The Work Plan is broken down by "strategy", and these could be used to organize our suggestions:

a.       Conservation

b.      Efficiency

c.       Re-Sourcing

d.      Off-setting

2.      Another way to ensure that we will get a broad spectrum of ideas on the table is to break them down by economic category, which might be more appropriate for this document:

a.       Upfront capital cost with an estimated payback period

                                                  i.      Energy use monitoring system (Existing report, Thelmo resolution, and data available - Louise)

                                                ii.      Biomass boiler (Work Plan, report, $ - Louise)

b.      No upfront cost

                                                  i.      Policy change w/ estimated savings ($ and carbon)

1.      Upfront cost w/payback period

a.       Vehicle purchasing: alternative "fuel" (Jordan G. SYE research project - data available - Amanda)

2.      No upfront cost

a.       Vehicle purchasing: more efficient fossil fuel (Jordan G. SYE research project - data available - Amanda)

                                                ii.      Policy creation with estimated savings

1.      Upfront cost w/payback period

a.       Grounds: perennials vs annuals (policy language CC)

2.      No upfront cost

a.       Anti-idling (policy language CC)

c.       Following through on existing investments:

                                                  i.      Continuing the conversation about the biomass boiler (and geothermal systems?) b/c we already spent $ on the assessment, if we don't it will be $ "lost" (Work Plan draft, report, data, $ - Louise, Ben D.)

                                                ii.      Actually budgeting for the renovations suggested by the ESCO energy audit - otherwise the $ spent on the audit will be $ "lost" (Work Plan draft, report, data, $ - Louise, Ben D.)

**These types of ideas will already be mentioned by AdminOps, but perhaps we want to reinforce their importance from a climate neutrality perspective, too?

d.      Revenue generating

                                                  i.      Creating a directed giving initiative for "sustainability" projects - if we can find some data to show that this will actually draw ADDITIONAL givers/investor into the mix, while still keeping things very flexible (because sustainability is a very vague word and can really be applied to almost any project) (No current info)

                                                ii.      Finding some data to show that carbon planning will draw tuition-paying students to the university if we actually DO what we say (i.e. honor our commitments) and not Greenwash (No current info)

                                              iii.      "Polluter" Pays

1.      Pay for laundry

2.      Pay for parking

                                              iv.      Directed student tuition hike w/ caveats relating the expenditure on sustainability to include economic benefits as well (Paul Smith's model?) i.e. students buy 3 electric "gators" and a charging station that can be operated using "human power" and these vehicles get charged by exercise machines at the gym, displacing x gallons of fuel per year, x $ paid out, and x tons of carbon released

**This is not a good example - other suggestions?

e.       BIG picture - reduce energy use, reduce carbon, reduce $ spent

                                                  i.      4 day work week (Louise baseline data? - Amanda quick calculations)

                                                ii.      Longer winter break (Louise baseline data? - Amanda quick calculations)

Audience: Recession Task Force - they will review and incorporate into their report to the Pres.


1.      We need input and comments from everyone on this framework for the "brief" - have we captured everything in a clear, logical way?  Are we leaving things out that should be in there?


2.      We need other suggestions on specific examples for some of these categories of suggestions


3.      We need to gather all of the information that we already have and do the best we can with it - time is very short

a.       Reports (biomass boiler, geothermal, ESCO prelim estimates, CAP Work Plan draft/summary from ‘08/'09, Jordan G. SYE, energy monitoring system Thelmo res + report + online reports w/data, ...???)

b.      Policy drafts:

                                                              i.      Anti-idling

                                                            ii.      Grounds

                                                          iii.      Others???

c.       Environmental Action Plan (Green Pages)

d.      Idea Connect info for justification

e.       Statement of Principles (CAP?)

f.       Research on directed giving for sustainability initiatives

g.      Research on attracting tuition-paying students with a comprehensive sustainability/climate action plan in place


4.      We need to volunteer to take the lead on individual "sections" of the brief as outlined above - we will all be sharing info, but someone needs to pull each section together so we have a draft that the entire group can review

Amanda will write up notes, try to collect info in a common spot for all to access, will coordinate work on different sections by volunteers, and will assign sections if no one volunteers. 

By next meeting 11/30 - the day we get back from break - we should have a solid framework, all of the info, and a sense of who will tackle what.  This leaves us approximately one week to write (approx .5 pages each) and 1 week to condense, edit, and vet to the CNWG before submission.

Our time line is very short (Dec 10? - Amanda is confirming due date with the RTF), so we get what we get, but with a little bit of work we should be able to pull something together.

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