Green ‘Gate: Students and Faculty Honored or Work in Sustainability

Thirteen students, fac­ulty, and staff were honored April 1 at the first annual Green Summit Sustainability Awards in the Ho Science Cen­ter for their work at Colgate pertaining to sustainability.

“Students and faculty have been working tirelessly over the past few years to improve campus sustainability. How­ever, so many people have nev­er been formally thanked for their contribution, whether it was raising awareness or plan­ning events. We wanted to take this time to recognize them for their efforts,” event coordinator and senior Jackie Gerson said.

The selection committee, composed of faculty, students and Sustainability Coun­cil members, chose the win­ners from the 40 nomination letters that were submitted.

“In future years, we hope to set more specific standards and nar­row down the number of people awarded,” Program Assistant to the Environmental Studies Department and Sustainability Office Theresa Evans said. “This first year, we just wanted to raise awareness about how many people have contributed to improving sustainability at Colgate.”

First-year Sarah Baranes, a student honored for conduct­ing a waste audit in the dorms, said that she feels the awards are a great contribution to Colgate.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be at a place that takes the time to recog­nize student work in the environ­mental field. I think it definitely shows the university’s commitment to sustainability,” Baranes said.

Colgate has made huge strides in sustainability in the past few years, as Campus Sus­tainability Coordinator John Pumilio highlighted in his open­ing speech for the awards. For example, in 2008, Colgate was given the grade of a D+ by the College Sustainability Report Card, but received a B in 2011.

These improvements in Colgate’s sustainability have come from a variety of projects and initiatives, as shown by the diversity of the award winners.

Seniors Emily Sabo and Sta­cey Marion were awarded for their work in Colgate’s Com­munity Vegetable Garden that was implemented last summer.

The garden “helps students consider where their food comes from and helps promote a locally sustained lifestyle,” Sabo said.

Three students were awarded for their work in composting – junior Michael Michonski and senior Nicole Dennis for their work in the Composting Club, and senior Adam Costel­lo for his help implementing composting in Greek housing.

“I try wherever I am to bring en­thusiasm to sustainability and envi­ronmentalism. I think we could all do with a little more spirit at times in terms of raising environmental awareness at Colgate,” Costello said.

Sophomore Jennifer Taylor was awarded for her work in recycling as the co-leader of Students for Environ­mental Action (SEA). Senior Meghan Kiernan, a Sustainability Intern, was recognized for her work in starting the first Eco-Olympics and her work with the Green Living Program.

In addition to the eight stu­dents recognized at the awards ceremony, many faculty and staff were also honored for their work in sustainability.

Michael Sadero, the Chief Chef for Sodexo, was recognized for in­tegrating locally grown, sustainable food into the dining program. As­sistant Director of the Annual Fund Lindsay Hoham was honored for helping her department become more environmentally friendly in the Green Office Program.

“I have introduced recycling and basic sustainable practices to an office that really had never fo­cused on it. While they are small efforts on each person’s part, they will add up,” Hoham said.

Director of Document and Mail Services Bob Keats and his staff were acknowledged for improving sustainability at Colgate’s Print Shop. Both As­sociate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Beth Parks and As­sociate Dean of the Faculty and Chair of Russian Ian Helfant were awarded for their work on Colgate’s Climate Action Plan.

Those who organized the event hope that the Green Sum­mit Sustainability Awards will increase awareness about ini­tiatives being made on cam­pus, and hopefully encourage all students, faculty and staff to slightly alter their behavior.

“Sustainability is a decision-making framework that en­courages each of us to consider the impact our daily actions and decisions will have on oth­er people and on the environ­ment,” Pumilio said. “A take-home point of the awards was that we do not have to turn our lives upside-down. We can start small. If each of us changed one thing at a time – one day at a time – the cumulative result would be significant.”

The award ceremony also marked the end of the Eco- Olympics, a competition be­tween first-year dorms. Kier­nan, who organized the event, announced that the residents of 110 Broad won the competition with the most participation per person. The event also marked the beginning of Colgate’s Third Annual 13 Days of Green, a Colgate tradition to bring awareness about environmental efforts and issues.