April 1, 2005

Lehman Speaks on Sustainability at C.U.

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The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Cornell branch of Net Impact began the third annual month-long symposium entitled “Sustainable Enterprise: An Agenda for Innovation” yesterday evening in Sage Hall Atrium. President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 was the keynote speaker.

According to the center’s website, sustainability can be defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In his speech, Lehman acknowledged the challenges the world faces concerning sustainability as well as those faced by Cornell itself. Reiterating what he said in his State of the University Address in October, Lehman identified the idea of sustainability as one of “the three great challenges of our world.” He also went on the explain Cornell’s commitment to bettering environmental conditions.

“Cornell as an institution has worked to erase environmental footprints,” Lehman said. As evidence of this, he presented different ways in which Cornell has endeavored to be environmentally responsible. One such initiative was the Lake Source Cooling project.

Lehman described the project, which involves taking water from the bottom of Lake Cayuga in order to cool the buildings around campus and in the community.

“We have reduced by 90%, Cornell’s dependence on fossil fuels,” he said, “and we have used 250 million less kilowatt-hours per year.”

Lehman called upon the “spirit of multidisciplinary aspects of the University” as the reason for the success.

“I can’t think of another university where it is easier for people to collaborate,” he said.

Stuart Hart, Samuel C. Johnson Professor of Sustainable Global Enterprise and author of the book Capitalism at the Crossroads called the symposium a way to bring people from all around campus, outside NGOs and companies to Cornell in order to “engage the world” on the subject of sustainability.

“The symposium is one act in a stream that we’re trying to put out there,” Hart said. “We’re building momentum and developing a community.”

Hart’s book tackles the problems of sustainability and helps large companies identify products that will help them grow and help to solve crucial social problems as well. He shows how to bring technology together to form solutions that can have the effect of reducing poverty and protecting the environment simultaneously.

“The fact that corporations are leading the effort to solve most problems that affect the earth, like the environment or poverty, is what interests me,” said Christian Proano grad. “Normally, corporations are criticized for being the source of this destruction.”

On its website, Cornell Sustainable Campus notes the milestones achieved by Cornell concerning sustainability. According to the website, Cornell is committed to reducing green house gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012 and recycles 2,000 tons of materials per year.

The symposium will have its first workshops tomorrow. It will run through April with a Student Sustainability Summit on Earth Day, April 22, ending on April 28 with a lecture by Gro Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway.

Archived article by EMILY GORDON
Sun Staff Writer