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The Big Three
Three key documents promulgated in the past two years are milestones in the University’s recent progress toward sustainability.

By Louise Gava ’07

As the timeline in this issue of St. Lawrence (page xx) shows, interest in sustainability is not new at the University; however, the intensity of our focus on sustainability has increased dramatically in the last few years.  The starting point of this recent “greening” activity can be thought of as the Board of Trustees approval of the Environmental Resolution in May of 2006.  Crafted by students Jason DeRosa ’06 and Kira Krumhansl ’06 and advanced by Thelmo, this resolution adopted “a commitment to the environment as a core University value.”  The resolution addresses the importance of environmental sustainability in the curriculum, in our daily operations and in the culture of the St. Lawrence community.

How will we know when there are elements of sustainability in the culture of St. Lawrence?  The drafting of the Environmental Action Plan in the spring of 2007 provided some supporting evidence that these elements already exist.  The dynamic Web system used to create this document allowed any person with a St. Lawrence account to participate in discussions concerning several areas of sustainability focus.  The fact that over 100 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members used this Web-based forum housed on the “Green Pages” ( to contribute their knowledge and ideas to the creation of the document is a testament to the culture of sustainability present at SLU. 

The goal in writing this plan was to determine collectively the problems, goals and opportunities of eight focus areas: buildings/facilities, education/community, energy, food systems, land, transportation, waste stream and water.  Each has its success stories and, thanks to the efforts of two environmental studies classes, a data-rich appendix. 

By last spring, this document was more than a collaboratively written data-rich plan with quantifiable goals. It contained the evidence that President Daniel F. Sullivan needed to take the next step in our commitment to sustainability. With the March 2007 signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, President Sullivan committed St. Lawrence to climate neutrality through zero net greenhouse gas emissions. 

There is no question that this path will be a difficult and expensive one, but we have already met some requirements of the commitment and are well on our way to achieving others.  In mid-November, our first report on our progress was publicly released; it stated that the Conservation Council--the tripartite committee responsible for overseeing conservation and sustainability initiatives on campus--would also serve as the institutional structure devoted to developing plans related to the Presidents Climate Commitment. 

The report also outlined the two tangible actions the University has pledged to accomplish in the next two years:

*Purchase or produce 15% of our electricity from renewable sources (St. Lawrence today purchases around 10% of its electricity from renewable sources, hydroelectric power produced in New York State amounting to half of the electricity needs of the Student Center and nationally produced wind power accounting for half of the electricity needs of Johnson Hall of Science);

*Purchase only those products labeled ENERGY STAR, when such an option exists. (We have become an ENERGY STAR partner, which connects us to resources that are helping us “make a fundamental commitment to protect the environment though the continuous improvement of our energy performance,” according to the partnership agreement.)

To view these three documents in depth and learn more about the tangible impacts they are having on the education, operations and culture of St. Lawrence, visit the Green Pages at
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