Princeton Review names New Paltz environmentally-responsible college
New Paltz has been selected as one of the country’s most environmentally-responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review, an education services company, and has been included in a new guidebook titled, “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges.”
Developed by The Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” focused solely on institutions of higher education who have demonstrated an above-average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.
From solar panel study rooms to the percentage of budget spent on local/organic food, the guidebook looks at an institution’s commitment to building certification using USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program; environmental literacy programs; formal sustainability committees; use of renewable energy resources; recycling and conservation programs, and much more.
New Paltz made the list for a variety of green initiatives, including signing the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2008; integrating sustainable construction practices in campus building projects; developing several new environmental programs in the curriculum; its strong campus-wide participation in recycling; and its student and faculty-run environmental organizations.
“The Princeton Review designation clearly confirms the campus dedication to creating and maintaining an environmentally sensitive living and workplace,” said Jacqueline DiStefano, vice president for Administration and Finance. “It has been achieved as a result of the tireless efforts of many members of our campus community and we are pleased that these efforts and the New Paltz green commitment have been recognized.”
President’s Climate Commitment
In August 2008, New Paltz President Steven G. Poskanzer signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate.
Building on the growing momentum for leadership and action on climate change, the President’s Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral. The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.
At New Paltz, there are several prominent construction projects that either comply with LEED certification or integrate sustainable building design. The complete renovation of the Old Main Building, the oldest building on campus, is one of the most environmentally friendly projects the campus has undertaken. It will be the first LEED-certified project on the campus. The restoration incorporates high-tech classrooms, more and modern faculty offices, electrical upgrades, central air-conditioning and beautifully restored and gracious finishes.
The construction of the Student Union addition, or the “Aerie,” is designed to reduce energy consumption and provide a healthy and enlightened interior environment through the utilization of a glass enclosure to harvest daylight and cut down on solar gain, reducing lighting requirements by optic controls and employing radiant heating and cooling to temper the common space.
“Beyond the cost savings to an institution, even the simplest aspects of a green campus, such as increased use of natural light, have been found to improve student learning and quality of life,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Green facilities make colleges more attractive to students and can dramatically reduce energy costs. Higher education is a top priority market segment for USGBC because graduates of green colleges become incredible drivers of change when they call for similar surroundings in their jobs and communities.”
Environmental Programs in the Curriculum
The Princeton Review Guide also provides important information on schools that have dedicated environmental studies curriculums. New Paltz offers several such environmental programs in the School of Science and Engineering. The Environmental Geochemical Sciences major is a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science. This interdisciplinary degree provides students with a working knowledge of the scientific background required to address many environmental problems.
The School also offers two minors, one in Environmental Sciences and another in Environmental Studies. These minors target students with a primary interest in the physical sciences and an inclination to learn about environmental issues. The Environmental Studies program is an interdisciplinary program that gives an overview of the causes and consequences of current environmental problems and provides basic tools and understanding students will need to become active participants in the solutions.
“By many accounts, there are going to be a lot of job opportunities related to the environment and sustainability,” commented Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher at Princeton Review. “For those who are interested in working in this growing sector, the Guide highlights the schools that are doing an especially good job in preparing and placing the next generation of green professionals.”
New Paltz also has a strong recycling program led collaboratively by students from the New Paltz Recycling Club and Brian Pine, the College’s director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance and the Sustainability Coordinator which oversees the President’s Climate Commitment. For the last two years, the campus has participated in RecycleMania, a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.
The College also supports other environmental organizations such as the Environmental Task Force, the Solar Car Club, Students for Sustainable Agriculture and New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). The Environmental Task Force was created in 2005 by faculty, students and staff members concerned about the serious environmental problems in the world today.
Students for Sustainable Agriculture is a New Paltz student group that works to promote a sustainable food system that is healthy for consumers, farmworkers and the environment. The organization works with local farmers to protect the region's farmland, the local agricultural economy, and the health of the community and the planet. The group also encourages students to become more aware of current-day food politics.
Members of the Solar Car Club have successfully built a solar car and raced it in national and international competitions. Besides engineers, the group has students from other majors such as marketing, accounting/finance and physics.
Franek said, “Students and their parents are becoming more and more interested in learning about and attending colleges and universities that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility. According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it. We created this Guide to help them evaluate how institutions like New Paltz focus on environmental responsibility so that they can make informed decisions as they move through the college assessment and application process.”
For more information about New Paltz’s Green initiative, visit the New Paltz Is Green Web site.