April 6, 2010

Sustainability Month Kicks Off for 2nd Year

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Cornell’s second annual Sustainability Month, themed “Climate Action and U,” kicked off last Thursday with a series of events aimed at reinforcing the University’s commitment to an economically and environmentally sustainable future.Lectures planned in the next few weeks include such prominent speakers as Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; Steven Koonin, undersecretary of science for U.S. Department of Energy; Daniel Hanock, vice president of global engineering at General Motors; and Patrick Hale, manager of operations and administration at Cheveron Engery Solutions.K.C. Alvey ‘12, president of Cornell Sustainability Hub, is organizing the Earth Day Celebration on Apr. 22. Twenty to 30 student groups will participate in this event by showing off interactive displays on Ho Plaza.“Our goal is to promote lifestyle changes in terms of sustainability and reducing individuals’ carbon footprint,” Alvey said. “[The event] highlights simple things we can do every day.”In addition to these efforts, Sustainability Hub is also supporting the Collegetown ART contest. The competition asks participants to create art out of trash. Winners will have their submissions displayed on new trash receptacles that will be placed around the Collegetown area.Sponsorship for the contest comes from various local businesses, and a concert is planned for Apr. 23 to provide additional funding. The concert will be held at the Nines, featuring Neutron Warriors and Awesome Awesome.Other notable events, such as the Systems Engineering Forum and ILR’s Union Days, also adopted “green” themes this year. For example, when Trumka appears this Friday as part of Union Days, he is expected to speak about “green collar” jobs. These collaborative efforts are coordinated by Cornell Sustainable Campus, a University project group that works to reduce the carbon footprint for facilities, and Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, an organization created by the provost’s office that seeks to stimulate sustainability research and activities on campus.According to Mark Lawrence, web and communications manager for CCSF, the theme this year is a response to the Climate Action Plan that the University announced in September.“Cornell is in a unique position for sustainability research and implementation,” Lawerence said. “Bringing a higher visibility to these events helps develop the breadth and depth of these efforts across Cornell.”CCSF works with 185 faculty across campus, spanning across nine schools and 53 departments. Recently, they finalized their third round of applications for the Academic Venture Fund — a seed-funding program targeted to help professors with startup sustainability projects, which helps them to apply for more external funding in the future.Prof. Terry Jordan, director of graduate studies for the field of geological sciences, said that CCSF luncheons brought her together with faculty who shared similar interests and expertise. She cited these events as “hubs” for professors to coordinate each other’s efforts, so they can be more productive in their specific fields.“There was some recent excitement about Marcellus Shale gas as a source of natural energy,” Jordan said. “[The lunch] was an easy way to call together a group of faculty who were interested in the same research. As individuals it’s very difficult to pull together the expertise to take on this broader issue.”Jordan further explained that she joined the Faculty Advisory Committee for CCSF because she wants to be a part of these discussions. When asked about Sustainability Month, she said, “Sustainability is part of my research all year round. My focus is much longer term and [these events] are helpful connecting me to others who are interested in the same topics.”

Original Author: Andrew Hu