Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletDecember 15, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Let Us Learn Sustainability from Our Sponsored Ministry by Sister Mary Lou Dolan, CSJ


Our 2013 Acts of Congregational Chapter urge us to partner with new eyes, joining "with others in working for systemic change that will enable all to live in right relationships." One of our longstanding relationships is with The College of Saint Rose. It's instructive to see the ways in which Saint Rose has been promoting sustainability!

Our "partner" has a widely based commitment to sustainability in principle but, more importantly, in practice. The following are some of the actions at Saint Rose; additional actions are listed at http://www.strose.edu/about_saint_rose/ourcommitmenttotheenviroment .

Saint Rose has signed onto the President's Climate Commitment and has begun ground work to establish a college-wide President's Sustainability Committee.

A wide range of academic programs and faculty is committed to the goals of climate neutrality and sustainability; several faculty members have active research programs focused on sustainability issues.

Facilities are an important focus for sustainability. As one of the region's greenest and most energy-efficient buildings, the Massry Center for the Arts is certified LEED Gold. Certification was received for energy use (geothermal heating), lighting, water and material use. Centennial Hall features a geothermal heat-pump system and a gas-fired, hot-water boiler that provides most heating and air-conditioning needs. Some campus-wide initiatives include using motion-sensor light switches in renovation projects, purchasing Energy Star products when possible, and phasing in conversion to mini-fluorescent lighting.

Transportation initiatives include partnering with CDTA to provide complimentary services throughout Albany and use of electric motorcars by facilities' personnel.

Information technology (IT) measures include reducing network power consumption, recycling equipment, converting to LCD monitors (which contain fewer heavy metals) and using timers that guarantee evening shut-down of equipment.

Dining services use biodegradable alternatives to Styrofoam, are trayless and are committed to buying as much local produce as possible.

Purchasing practices, document services and campus-wide, single-stream recycling also promote sustainability.

Equally important, institutional modeling encourages student involvement in such activities as Earth Day and the Sustainability Club. Meaghan Hurley, president of the club, reports some exciting recent activities. "We recently broke ground for a community garden here at the college! It's very exciting, and we hope to keep it up for years to come. So far, we have planted garlic before the ground freezes and are getting cold frames. We will be planting much more in the spring, of course. Also, we planted trees at our sports complex in Albany and will be collecting information on those trees to see the ways in which the trees will affect Albany in the future (temperature cooling, pollution absorbed, etc.). In addition, the club sponsors field trips. Recently we went to the Corning Bio Reserve and learned about organisms and plants in that area. We sponsor the Green Pageant, a fashion show for which students create outfits made from reusable materials. Do It in the Dark is another event we have which reminds people to conserve energy; we have games, crafts and food in nearly total darkness. And, of course, we sponsor events for Earth Week in April. Last year we had a film called Tapped which is about bottled water, and we distributed free BPA free water bottles to those who came to view the film."

Student-residence actions include using special cleaners for housekeeping, using CFL bulbs wherever possible, and as renovation work is completed in bathrooms, installing low-flow toilets, sinks, showers, and humidity-driven fans. Also, two recycling bins are placed in each dorm room at the beginningt of the academic year as part of the student's room furnishings.

It is a diverse array, indeed, attesting to commitment in action! Let's learn from it!