April 23, 2004

Earth Day Celebrations Take Place on Campus

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Yesterday, a wide spectrum of campus organizations held events in honor of Earth Day, including the Cornell Greens’ clean-up of Redbud Woods, the Solar Decathalon Team’s 2004 Earth Day symposium and the Earth Day 5k Run at the Cornell Plantations. Other events throughout day included EcoHouse’s Earth Day poster contest, Earthrise’s endangered species Arts Quad graveyard and a screening of the critically acclaimed film Baraka: a World Beyond.

In recognition of Earth Day, Kyoto NOW! set up a table in Ho Plaza to inform the Cornell community of their progress over the year.

“We’re trying to publicize how well Cornell has been doing in energy conservation,” said Lindsey A. Trachtenberg ’06, recruitment chair for Kyoto NOW! “The Kyoto Task Team saves Cornell over $7 million a year in energy conservation initiatives ranging from lake source cooling to retrofitting laboratory ventilation systems to reduce energy load when not in use.”

Kyoto NOW! members contrasted their achievements at Cornell with the failures of the Bush administration.

“The Bush administration has reneged on its promise to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and has frighteningly relaxed environmental laws and regulations under the guise of pro-environmental initiatives such as the Clear Skies Act,” Trachtenberg said. “Today [in front of the Kyoto NOW! table] someone dressed-up in a Bush mask boxed the Earth. Bush induced much harm, but the Earth eventually won.”

Kyoto NOW! members discussed with passersby the initiatives undertaken to help Cornell conserve energy.

“In the process of lake source cooling, cold water from Cayuga Lake is used to decrease the temperature of Cornell facilities’ water, which is then used to provide cool air conditioning to the campus, said Andrew B. Schatz ’05, student representative to the Kyoto Task Team. “In the process of retrofitting, Cornell Utilities goes back into buildings and improves general operations.”

As a part of retrofitting, the Kyoto task team has placed occupancy sensors in laboratories that regulate excess air flow when not in use to conserve energy.

“In Olin Hall, the retrofitting of the labs saves $300,000 a year. The Veterinary Medical Center and Duffield Hall are other places on campus where we’ve significantly reduced the energy load,” Schatz said. “It’s amazing how innovative the Kyoto Task Team is in its ability to find unique and cost conscious energy saving measures.”

The Cornell Greens, one of the many environmental stewardship organizations on campus, cleaned up near the Redbud Woods area.

“It’s the largest uninterrupted track of forest within the city limits. And a resident on University Avenue organized the cleanup because apparently people living on University Avenue have been dumping trash back there for decades,” Rakow said. “It’s a good way for environmental activists who spend a lot of time doing policy work on campus to make a physical difference.”

“Cornell Greens focus on policy changes both on the university scale and the national and global scale,” Rakow added.

According to Greens member Joseph T. Notaro “07, there were old T.V.’s, refrigerator doors, rusted old metal cans, shards of glass and scraps of metal.

“The source was pretty much indiscernible,” Notaro said. “It was pretty filthy. There was one giant scrap of metal that was about six feet long by three feet wide. Nobody knew where it was from.”

“It went great just because it was nice to get out there and do something to actively clean up the Earth,” Notaro added.

Also on Earth Day, the Cornell University Solar Decathalon Team showcased a solar powered house which they have been working on this past year.

During the showcase, Mayor Carolyn Peterson and New York Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton (D-125th District) spoke. The event was sponsored by Serendipity Catering, Wegmans, the Cornell GPSAFC, the Johnson School Student Budget Committee, the Energy Club and the High Tech Club.

“The Solar Decathalon Team’s mission is to first build an 800 square foot solar powered house for the competition in the 2005 Solar Decathalon,” said project leader Tim D. Fu ’05. “Additionally, we want to educate Cornell students and the local community about energy efficient design and sustainable living.”

The team combines the efforts of 75 students from various colleges within Cornell, such as the College of Engineering, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and the Johnson Graduate School of Management.

“We’re using a lot of new and more efficient technologies. We’re also studying the way people live and designing with our research in mind,” said project leader Ted Robertson grad. “One of the coolest things about our house is the integration of the exterior environment with the interior space.”

Robertson continued on to say that because the home is designed to be modular, the costs of building it will be significantly reduced.

There are six subteams including Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning, E-Power, Appliances, Business/Public Relations, Architecture, and Educational Outreach.

Another event on Earth Day, the Earth Day 5K Run, raised between $700 and $900 for the Finger Lakes Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the finger lakes region. The event was sponsored by the SAFC and Roots & Shoots. 75 people participated.

“It was the second annual one we’ve had,” said participant Julia F. B. Raybould ’06. “We continued the race because people enjoyed incorporating athletics with the Earth.”

“I think everyone liked it,” she said.

“It was a beautiful day to run and I think everyone had a great time and we helped a good cause,” said runner Anubhav Jain ’06.

Archived article by Amanda Chawla
Sun Contributor