More Than a Mission Statement
That’s how we’d describe our commitment to sustainability. Nestled in the shadows of the Adirondack hills, we owe so much of our adventurous spirit to our natural surroundings. We take our responsibility to preserve and protect our home seriously and it resonates in every aspect of campus life—from our campus buildings to dining to academic programming.
When you venture out into the world after graduation, you’ll make decisions with the wellness of our planet in mind.
At St. Lawrence, we believe your liberal arts education—no matter what you choose to study—holds the key to solving environmental questions that are at the heart of some of today's greatest shared challenges. That's why we've launched our brand-new Center for the Environment.
Combining our existing programs with innovative new initiatives, our Center for the Environment expands on decades of research, teaching, and experiential opportunities for students, and spans the globe—from our beautiful 1,000-acre green campus in the heart of the North Country to our living/learning compound in Nairobi, Kenya.
We pride ourselves on empowering students to think critically about complex problems so they're better equipped to solve them. That means doing our part to tackle some of today's most pressing issues and secure a more sustainable future for our community.
acres of our campus designated as “low-mow zones”
One of the nation's most environmentally-responsible colleges
(The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition)
As part of his Senior Year Experience, Jesse Vining ’20 designed an energy-efficient greenhouse, the first of its kind in the North Country. Students began construction on the greenhouse in fall of 2020.
REV Campus Challenge
We’re a proud member of this New York State initiative, which means we’re committed to advancing clean energy initiatives on campus and in our community.
Official Tree Campus
A student-faculty research project found that St. Lawrence's campus tree population is growing—with special emphasis on planting trees that are native to the North Country. The Arbor Foundation recognized our commitment to maintaining and growing green spaces by naming us a Tree Campus.
Kirk Douglas Hall
Kirk Douglas Hall, our newest residential building, is heated and cooled with geothermal energy.
Our environmental studies program is one of the oldest in the nation and largest among liberal arts colleges.
Launched in 2019, the cafe is an entirely student-run dining option featuring locally-sourced, sustainably-grown food.
How Scarlet and Brown Does Green
To minimize our environmental impact, we’re investing in efforts to be more efficient, preserve and protect natural habitats on campus, and support local food systems, while simultaneously fostering a passion for environmental stewardship in all Laurentians through our innovative academic offerings.
A graduation requirement for every student.
During your St. Lawrence experience, you will need to complete at least one unit that meets the learning goals of environmental literacy courses. The courses have primary learning goals that enable you to recognize the consequences of human activities on natural systems, build an awareness of the cultural, economic, and political forces that affect environmental policies, develop an understanding of natural systems as well as the impacts natural systems can have on the environment, human life, health, and welfare.
Investing in our future.
Since joining 600 other institutions of higher education in signing Second Nature’s carbon commitment, St. Lawrence has worked toward becoming climate neutral while conducting operations with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve also pursued education across our curriculum that empowers the next generation of climate advocates and problem-solvers.
To guide our efforts, our Campus Committee for Sustainability and Climate Neutrality published a Climate Action Plan. Every three to five years, we review our progress, evaluate our successes and identify improvements and new opportunities for innovation.
Sustainability is a part of our landscape.
Our Climate Action Plan is an integral part of our facilities' operations. It informs our choices when making upgrades and repairs and guides our efforts to make our campus a safe and clean place for our community. Below is a sample of some of our efforts:
- We install the most efficient equipment when replacing lighting, plumbing, and mechanical fixtures.
- We choose energy-efficient appliances when making replacements.
- Single-stream (i.e. zero-sort) recycling bins are placed throughout campus.
- Composting is available at the Sullivan Student Center, North Star Cafe, and in residence halls.
- Our facilities team uses a fleet of electric vehicles year-round to conduct operations.
- We have designated 80 acres of our campus as “low-mow zones.” They remain wild during the growing season in order to preserve natural habitats.
- When necessary, we use organic fertilizers to build healthy soils and decrease pollution.
- We compost organic waste, leaves, and other lawn debris.
- Our integrated pest management strategy reduces the amount of toxic chemical herbicide/pesticides to an absolute minimum.
- We manage stormwater through an underground system and a constructed wetland. Stormwater undergoes natural processes to improve its quality before ultimately emptying into the Grasse River.
Reducing, reusing, and thinking local.
Our Dining Services team works closely with our students and departments across campus on solutions that prioritize sustainability in all eateries, including:
- Offering trayless service and effectively reducing food waste by 23 tons and water waste by 100,000 gallons annually.
- Preparing meals with local produce.
- Partnering with local businesses and producers to feature their food on our menus.
- Instating a reusable container exchange program and offering discounts to those who use reusable containers like coffee mugs.
- Serving fair trade, organic coffee sourced from New England.
- Providing biodegradable utensils and napkins.
- Using food preparation techniques that include pre-consumer composting.
The building blocks of sustainability on campus.
We know that campus buildings are some of the biggest contributors to our environmental footprint, which is why we’ve chosen to prioritize energy and resource efficiency in all recent and future construction. As part of our commitment to climate neutrality, all new builds will meet the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver Certification.
Getting places more efficiently.
We’re a pedestrian and bike-friendly campus and encourage students to choose low-impact modes of transportation through our Green Bikes rental program. Our campus was recognized as a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists.
We also encourage ride sharing, offer shuttles to popular nearby destinations, maintain a fleet of hybrid vehicles for official University use, and host two electric vehicle charging stations.
Student activity and advocacy on and off campus.
The following organizations, departments, and programs work together and in partnership with others across campus to help advance the University’s sustainability goals.
- Adirondack Semester
- Campus Committee on Sustainability and Neutrality
- Conservation Biology
- Divest SLU
- Environmental Action Organization (EAO)
- Environmental Conservation Committee, Thelomathesian Society
- Environmental Studies
- Environmental Science
- The Greenhouse
- Nature Up North
- Outdoor Program
- Outdoor Studies
- Seed to Table
It’s one of the oldest programs in the country. Harness your passion for the environment in research, coursework, volunteer work, and professional opportunities that emphasize stewardship and empower you to make a positive impact.
Environmental Science is a cutting-edge field where you can use science and other data-driven techniques to diagnose and solve local and global problems in environmental and public health. Combine your environmental studies major with biology, chemistry, geology, psychology, and math.
Gain the tools you’ll need to protect biological diversity as you study the effects of issues like climate change and investigate solutions.
Our outdoor studies minor helps you foster a lifelong appreciation for the natural world through classes, professional opportunities on and off campus, and immersive experiences that will take you on outdoor adventures of all kinds.
Located on 110 acres behind our main campus, classes use our solar-electric-powered living lab to grow fruits and vegetables, keep bees, observe amphibians in nearby wetlands, shear sheep for fleece, and so much more.
Nature Up North
A community-based organization based at St. Lawrence, Nature Up North’s goal is to foster a deeper sense of appreciation for, and connection to, the North Country environment and in doing so to create a bioregionally literate community that is committed to protecting the wild things and wild places that define this place we call home.
You have a place to cultivate permaculture right on campus. The garden’s goal is to produce food while sustaining ecosystem values and provide an opportunity for learning and educating the St. Lawrence community about permaculture.
Our Green Bikes Program provides a carbon-neutral way for you to get around campus, town, and to explore the many bike-friendly trails in St. Lawrence County. Bikes are loaned out through the Launders Science Library.
Sustainability News and Stories
A generous gift from Class of 1964 alum Harvey Meer has tripled the number of electric vehicle charging stations on campus, supports St. Lawrence’s sustainability goals, and furthers the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
For nearly a decade, Nature Up North has connected people to the environment through citizen scientist projects and outdoor adventures. By engaging in hands-on activities and research, the community-based program, funded by support from Laurentians and foundations, has helped many discover the importance of protecting the wild things and places that call the North Country, "home."
Immediately following Commencement in May, St. Lawrence University will begin a $30 million investment in facilities, with a priority on renovating residence halls and other student spaces to enhance the living-learning experience for students.