Incorporating Sustainability Into The Campus CommunityIncorporating Sustainability Into The Campus CommunityIncorporating Sustainability Into The Campus CommunityAs communities across the globe work to address climate change by finding sustainable ways to reduce their carbon footprints, Elmira College has put this topic front and center by making it a mission to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the campus.

The vision is to position Elmira College as a leader in sustainability in the Southern Tier, serving as a model of how to identify, develop, and implement sustainability best practices. In 2021, the College began this work by introducing a Sustainability minor in collaboration with Dr. Meg Lowman, a renowned conservationist, National Geographic Explorer, and Elmira, New York native.

While building an academic program is an important step, the College also recognizes it can do more to reduce its carbon footprint and many in the campus community have embraced this mission and are eager to help.

A group of energetic leaders comprised of faculty, staff, and students formed a Sustainability Committee. The Committee members serve as advisors to the campus and will provide feedback and support as the College moves forward with its sustainability initiatives.

Committee's Initial Achievements:

  • Reviewed the College's energy portfolio and began to identify changes the campus can make in the short and long term. The committee has helped identify greener technologies to adopt over time and is investigating grant opportunities to help fund these significant investments.
  • Identified opportunities for incorporating environmental awareness and sustainability in the curriculum. For example:
    • With the help of a $3,000 grant, the College set aside space for use as a community garden, and several faculty leveraged it as a teaching aid in their Spring 2022 Term III courses. The garden played an essential role for the first-year students who chose to be part of the Sustainable Living and Environmental Justice Learning Living Community (LLC). This is an optional experience where first-year students with similar interests live on the same floor in a residence hall and are encouraged to attend events and activities together.
    • In November, Corning Incorporated Foundation granted Elmira College $25,000 to purchase equipment that will enhance the College's Environmental Science program.
  • Coordinated the College's participation in the March 30 Worldwide Climate Teach-In along with hundreds of colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and faith organizations. More than 400 EC students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members attended panel sessions on various sustainability-related topics, including an evening panel with the College's senior leadership. Attendees could also rummage through clothing and other items left by previous students during the Upcycle Flea Market. The Flea Market helped extend the life of the items otherwise slated for the landfill and raised money for EC's Environmental Club.
  • Launched the Sustainability Scholarship program where students can apply to become an Elmira College Sustainability Leader. There will be one leader per class year and the leader receives a $1,000 award applied to their annual tuition. In exchange, the students must plan and execute a sustainable initiative on campus and also research how to best incorporate sustainability into building renovations, using a designated building as a practice area for those renovations.

"The past academic year brought several milestones for Elmira College's commitment to sustainability: a highly successful Climate Teach-In that we hope to make an annual tradition, the creation of a presidential committee of faculty, staff, and students to help guide our mission toward regional leadership in sustainability, and new academic programs in Environmental Science and Sustainability to prepare students for new careers and areas of advocacy," said Dr. Doc Billingsley, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and member of the Sustainability Committee. "This century promises to be defined by humanity's response to a changing environment, and the Elmira College community is stepping forward to meet these challenges and forge new opportunities for our students and our region."

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