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Archive for October, 2007

Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun

Not wanting to handcuff myself to the president’s toilet, I’ve decided to write a column for The Sun — a hygienic approach to advocacy.

My concern is for the environment, and specifically, Cornell’s impact on it. Lake Source Cooling, parking lots and carbon emissions are a few of the issues that inevitably come to mind. Since these pertain to Cornell’s immediate impact on the environment, they continually spark debate here on the pages of The Sun and throughout the University.

The student group KyotoNow! has been particularly successful at bringing the University’s own energy consumption into the limelight. Last winter they worked together with President Skorton to implement a plan for Carbon Neutrality.

Since then, we have excitedly watched as photovoltaics were installed on Day Hall, green roofs appeared on West Campus and energy improvements were made across the University.

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Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun

In yet another step toward making the campus more sustainable, the University has begun examining ways to permanently reduce its ‘agricultural footprint,’ or the amount land necessary to support human diets.

Christian Peters, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’07, a Cornell postdoctoral associate in crop and soil sciences, is currently working on research about the agricultural footprint. His research is dismissing the formerly held view that a vegetarian diet uses the least amount of land in New York. The benefit of this diet is that the land can sustain more people.

“The goal of our research was to improve understanding of how consumption of meat and fat influences a population’s requirements for agricultural land. We found that while adding meat to the diet generally increased the amount of land used to produce food, vegetarian diets did not always support more people. The reason for this apparent paradox is that livestock can produce edible food from resources that are inedible to humans, namely byproduct feeds, hay and pasture,” Peters said.

According to Peters, his research did not set out to find this ideal diet, but instead hoped to produce such answers for this area.

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Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun

When eating in a dining hall, there is over a 20 percent probability that the food on the plate is locally produced. Last year, Cornell Dining purchased 23 percent of its foods locally and is looking to increase this percentage.

According to Anthony Kveragas, senior executive chef for retail operations, since last year, all of Cornell’s dining facilities have been directed to buy at least 20 percent of their food locally. The actual percentage of local food reached 23 percent last year, and Cornell Dining is in the process of calculating the figure for this year.

“We are working on tracking the actual number of cases of each product … but I know the percentage [of local food] has in­creased,” said Douglas Lockwood, office manager for Cornell Dining.

Cornell Dining is seeking to further incorporate local foods into dining here at Cornell in order to contribute to the sustainability of local agriculture and also to provide a better dining experience.

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From TheIthacanOnline, Oct. 25th

PowerShift Ithaca College Participants

Thousands of students, including 31 from Ithaca College, will rally on the steps of Capitol Hill next week to demand positive action for climate control at the Power Shift 2007 conference.The youth summit, sponsored by the Energy Action Coalition, will be held from Nov. 2 to 5 at the University of Maryland College Park campus. An estimated 5,000 students from all 50 states and Canada are expected to attend.

Junior Sarah Brylinsky, a double major in communication management and design (CMD) and environmental studies, said she plans to attend the conference to make a difference.

“It’s going to be the movement of our generation,” she said. (more…)

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Adopted from the Yale Daily News

Many students may think Yale is the only school in the country with a separate office devoted entirely to sustainability — but they are mistaken.

Harvard has had a program devoted to sustainability since 2001, and Stanford’s first executive director of sustainability and energy management will begin his job on Nov. 7.

An increasing number of universities across the country are taking steps to improve campus sustainability, a goal Yale has embraced since the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Management in 2001. But while many top-ranked universities, like Yale, stress the importance of sustainable development and ongoing dialogue between students and administrators, schools attempt to make their campuses environmentally friendly in different ways.

Following the April 2007 creation of the Ivy Plus Sustainability Working Group, the University now pools plans and resources with other institutions in the Ivy League and beyond. The working group — which includes the eight Ivy League schools, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago — is intended to encourage the adoption of best practices by member schools.

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Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun:

The Sustainable Endowments Institute released the 2008 College Sustainability Report Card on Wednesday, assessing the sustainability of 200 of the nation’s wealthiest universities. Cornell received an overall grade of a B, an improvement from the 2007 Report Card, which gave the University a B-.

The Report Card is considered to be “the only independent sustainability evaluation of campus operations and endowment investments.” It evaluates sustainability in eight categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement. The universities surveyed all have endowments ranging from $230 million to $35 billion.

According to Mark Orlowski, founder and executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, the 2008 Report Card surveyed twice as many universities as last year’s. It also assessed universities on a greater number of “indicators,” levels of activity within each general category. The most noticeable difference, however, was the inclusion of the transportation category, which was absent from the first report.

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Adopted from the Cornell Daily Sun

Boasting numerous environmentally friendly eateries and even an organic clothing store, Ithaca remains an ecologically conscious community. It should come as no surprise then, that students, faculty and other members of the community have followed in this grain and are pursuing many environmentally conscious endeavors right here on Cornell’s campus. Campus Sustainability Day, sponsored by The Sustainability Hub, served as a forum and display for the various Cornell clubs and community organizations that are committed to sustainability. Everything from advocacy groups, including KyotoNow! and the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, to local Ithacan food vendors was showcased on Ho Plaza yesterday afternoon, offering information on posters and fliers and even organic food samples.

According to its website, the Sustainability Hub is “a student organization that works to outreach about campus sustainability, reduce Cornell’s impact on the environment, and unite other campus organizations and collaborate on different projects.”

Efforts to increase sustainability also extend off campus to the larger Ithaca community.

“People are really excited about the concept of sustainability,” said Autumn Newell, founder and owner of local clothing store Tuff Soul, located on State Street in the Commons. Newell, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Tech­nology in New York, founded the store this year with the intent of integrating “green” practices such as the use of biodegradable soap and organic cotton in order to promote environmental consciousness.

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