Student Sustainability Highlights for the 2016-2017 Academic Year

Students play an integral role in defining and shaping sustainability culture at Cornell...


Cynthia Bensburg '17 ,Student Sustainability Coordinator, 6/27/17

Students play an integral role in defining and shaping sustainability culture at Cornell. Through partnerships between various departments and environmental student groups on campus, collaboration on initiatives and campaigns allows for greater campus engagement and sustainable behavioral change.

During the Fall 2016 energy conservation competition Energy Smackdown: Every Drop Counts, students serving as RAs within campus residential communities were integral in engaging students living on campus to follow water and energy conservation measures. Through support from Student and Campus Life and RA Programming surrounding education on conservation measures, sustainable behavior change made by Cornell students helped contribute to the 20% of water usage reduction achieved during the drought.

In hopes of strengthening the relationship between the Cornell Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) and the student organization Cornell Environmental Collaborative (ECO), a student liaison position was created to increase communication and collaboration between the two. The CSO-ECO Liaison splits their time serving on ECO’s elected board and working in the CSO on events such as ECOfest during new-student orientation, the annual ECO Leadership Summit, and Springfest.

During the Fall 2016 semester, the Student Assembly passed a resolution in support of the Options for Achieving a Carbon Neutral Campus by 2035 report. This report presents and evaluates multiple options for how Cornell can pursue a carbon neutral future following an innovative quadruple bottom-line analysis decision-making determination.

For the 2017 Recyclemania competition, the Cornell Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) partnered with Cornell’s student organization Environmental Collaborative (ECO) in order to co-facilitate a Recyclemania Steering Committee. This committee was comprised of delegates from active student groups on campus who were interested in helping to put on events and campaigns related to themes found within the Recyclemania competition such as increasing campus awareness surrounding waste generation and proper disposal and recycling. Each week of the competition was championed by a different student group on campus who organized waste-orientated events or campaigns.

Through a partnership between the student organization Bike Red Bikes, Cornell’s Transportation Services, and Zagster, a national provider of bike-share programs, Cornell re-launched their bike-sharing program on April 14th. The revamp of the program now features a fleet of 32 bicycles and 5 pick-up/drop-off bike-rack stations on campus. To start the program, the student organization Big Red Bikes received funding from the Student Assembly and Cornell Transportation Services. The Big Red Bikes program is an Innovation goal within Cornell’s Climate Action Plan.

A collaboration between Cornell Dining, the SA Environmental Committee’s subgroup CU Reuse, and the SA Dining Committee’s Sustainability Team resulted in the successful launch of a reusable to-go container system in Okenshields Dining Hall. Starting Fall 2015, CU Reuse worked with Cornell Dining to poll dining hall users if there would be student interest in supporting a reusable container system on campus. CU Reuse additionally conducted research determining the optimal container brand and type to utilize and how to financially support such a system at Cornell. During the Spring 2017 semester, the SA Dining Committee’s Sustainability Team began working with Cornell Dining to implement the system at Cornell, which began on April 17th.

In an effort to increase student decision-making involving institutionalized sustainability, all of the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee teams nominated student co-chairs to help led each focus team.

The Cornell Environmental Collaborative (ECO) put on and co-facilitated many educational and student engagement events this past year in addition to funding multiple student organizations under their umbrella. The timeline shown above provides a list of the events ECO was involved with for the 2016-2017 Academic Year.

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