Green Week Focuses the Campus

Christine Hebert

On February 3, Colgate’s second annual “13 Days of Green” began. Events promoting sustainability are scheduled everyday until February 12, when Colgate will hold the Green Summit, a collaborative environmental Think Tank open to Colgate students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrators and community members.

Although the “13 Days of Green” was not created specifically for the Green Summit, the timing of the two events corresponded exceedingly well.

“Green Summit provides an excellent means by which students can take the knowledge and tips learned during the 13 Days and put them to use in helping create environmental initiatives around campus,” Senior Amanda Fernley said.

Events during the “13 Days of Green” include a First Year Think Tank, an environmental debate, Carbon Offset Valentines, Demonstrations by Roots and Shoots, Green Careers Forum, film screenings, visits to the Country Recycling Facility and Wind Park and an art exhibition.

According to Fernley, who is the inspiration behind the “13 Days of Green,” student groups and leaders around campus have come together to organize the events. Due to support from the Environmental Studies department, The Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (The COVE), Sigma Chi, Residential life, the Pre-Law Society and Career Services and impassioned support from students and groups, the entire event was made possible, Colgate’s first Sustainability Coordinator John Pumilio said.

“Last year I decided that Colgate needed a campus wide event that reached out to all students and faculty (as well as the Hamilton community) and raised environmental awareness as well as provided tips and avenues for sustainable living. I want to encourage people to expand their minds on environmental issues–both at a local, individual level, and at a global scale. Each person can make a difference. It’s just showing them how and encouraging them to make the change,” Fernley said.

According to Pumilio, raising awareness has proved extremely beneficial. Over the past three years, Colgate’s College Sustainability report card has gone from a D+ to a B-. In years to come, Pumilio hopes to see Colgate University become a “widely recognized leader of sustainability throughout higher education.”

Students have been very receptive to the events of the “13 Days” that have already taken place this year. According to Fernley, a huge crowd of students and other members of the community attended the Geology Lunch and Lecture titled Hydrogeology of the Marcellus Shale Gas Play in New York State.

“Ideas have been pouring in [from students], and interest is definitely up,” Fernley said.

Colgate’s campus as a whole has been able to drastically move forward with regards to sustainability and environmental awareness over the past few years. Since Colgate hired its first Sustainability Coordinator, Pumilio, all the environmental groups on campus have had a central contact, and change is starting to occur with his help, Fernley said.

According to Pumilio, Colgate is working on a plan to achieve carbon neutrality. Campus-wide lighting upgrades are being implemented. By switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, Colgate will save $36,000 and reduce its carbon footprint by nearly 50 tons.

The amount of non-recycled paper purchased on campus has been drastically reduced, as recycled paper now costs less than non-recycled. Colgate was able to reduce its landfill waste by more than 230,000 pounds by recycling at home sporting events last year. Experimentation with renewable energy is in progress and according to Pumilio, Colgate has recently started a Green Office and Green Living Program.

Colgate is also currently participating in RecycleMania, a sustainability competition between U.S. colleges and universities. Between January 17 and March 27, Colgate will be measuring its trash and recyclables, attempting to win the national competition in the category of Waste Minimization, Fernley said.

This week, Fernley plans to speak to campus groups about her proposal for a Green Spring Party Weekend. To make SPW more “green,” she plans to have more recycling bins at the concert and to use electricity more effectively.

In the future, there are hopes of having a community vegetable garden on campus, which has already gained a lot of momentum. Within the next few years, Colgate also hopes to have its first LEED certified “green” building, Pumilio said.

“Obviously, we have much to be proud of and projects to look forward to. Nevertheless, the road to a sustainable future is a long, arduous, and exciting journey and we have a long way to go. This is the beauty of the 13 Days of Green and the Green Summit: it gives all community members the opportunity to contribute their ideas and energy to make Colgate an even more exciting place and the best small liberal arts college in America,” Pumilio said.