$700K Grant for Sustainability Institute at Onondaga

A $700,000 grant to the College, which will be administered by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), will be used to help fund the Sustainability Institute at Onondaga Community College. The College was one of only three community colleges in New York State to receive the grant, which was secured by State Senator John DeFrancisco.

“Central New York is on the cusp of becoming a leader in several cutting-edge industries, including renewable energy and environmental systems,” said New York State Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-I-C-WF, Syracuse). “This initiative will help to keep our talented young people in Central New York by preparing them for the rapidly growing opportunities in these high technology fields. It will also propel our economy forward and reinforce our efforts to develop a high-tech, cutting-edge cluster Upstate.”

Earlier this year, OCC President Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D., joined with leaders from nearly 300 other public and private colleges and universities across the country in signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Through this commitment, Onondaga will work to reduce and eventually eliminate emissions, and to accelerate the educational efforts to equip society to restabilize the earth’s climate. These goals will be accomplished through a comprehensive institutional action plan to begin to move the campus toward climate neutrality in part through the efforts of the Sustainability Institute. The Institute will be led by David Wall, director of Corporate and Public Partnerships at OCC.

One key focus of the Institute involves designing an interdisciplinary curriculum that will include the following proposed programs: 1) Energy and Environmental Systems A.A.S. degree (with concentration options in Architectural/ Construction, Renewable Energy Technology, and Geoscience/Environmental Technology) and 2) Energy and Environmental Systems A.S. degree (designed for students planning to transfer to four-year institutions.) Plans also include a new Automotive Technology: Emissions Monitoring and Testing A.A.S degree. As the auto industry converts vehicles to alternative forms of fuel, there will be an increased demand for highly trained technicians skilled in the diagnostics and repair of those vehicles.

A second focus is the review of campus operations in support of a sustainable environment. These efforts build on Onondaga’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and renewable energy as outlined in the 2008-13 Facilities Master Plan.

The third goal is to review such items as: physical plant operations, conservation of natural resources, energy usage, consumption of water resources, food service operations, recycling initiatives and transportation systems. Recently, a Transportation Task Force, made up of faculty, staff and student representatives provided recommendations to improve public transportation services for students and to encourage the campus community to be more energy conscious in considering their commuting options.

Did you know?

The College has installed “flex pave” at the entrances to Mawhinney Hall and several parking lot islands. Flex pave is an alternative to asphalt made of epoxy and re-used tires. It is porous, allowing rainwater and snowmelt to return to the soil rather than overtax the public sewer systems.

The College is saving an estimated 45,000 gallons of water per year for each of the 21 water-efficient facilities recently installed in the renovated men’s and women’s restrooms of Mawhinney Hall.