Sustainability Support

The Clarkson Institute for a Sustainable Environment provides a home for environmentally related academic programs, student activities and interdisciplinary research . Students work on a variety of campus, community and international sustainability projects and have received national accolades for projects ranging from electric snowmobiles to a high-tech campus greenhouse.

Susan E. Powers, PhD, PE, a professor or Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Jean '79 and Robert '79 Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems is the current Associate Director for Sustainability. She works closely with a team of colleagues and students to support, plan and implement Clarkson's sustainability initiatives. 

Alex French, Sustainability Coordinator, holds an M.S. in Environmental Policy (EPG) from Clarkson University and has a background in cultural anthropology and nonprofit work.

Sustainability Policies and Goals

Clarkson has been working on campus sustainability initiatives since the early 2000's. While the initial efforts focused primarily on facilities and academic degree programs, recent efforts have redoubled our efforts to "integrate sustainability into everything we do on campus." (President Anthony G. Collins, June, 2010).

Some highlights of our current policies and goals include:

  • No zero emissions of green house gases by 2025
  • Sustainability integrated into Clarkson's core mission, vision and values
  • Over 200 acres of forests and wetlands preserved as a FOREVER WILD section of campus
  • New building construction to meet at least LEED silver criteria
  • No Styrofoam
  • Pesticide use limited to a few key athletic and residence areas that comprise less than 10% of our managed grounds
  • ONLY ENERGY STAR and EPEAT ALLOWED! All new appliances purchased by the University are Energy Star qualified and electronics EPEAT certified

Our Sustainability Plan

In 2014 President Tony Collins signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment and extended that commitment when he was one of the first university presidents to sign the updated Climate Leadership Commitment. As part of the commitment, we developed a Climate Action Plan for mitigating greenhouse gases and are creating a Climate Resilience Plan as we adapt to climate change.

Clarkson's Race to Zero Climate Action Plan strives for climate neutrality by 2025. Approving this aspirational plan helps us set priorities and criteria for many construction and energy projects to assure that we select options that reduce our electricity and heating fuel use through efficient mechanical equipment, smart control systems and human behavior that values conservation. Recent and current renovation projects and the installation of additional electric meters are already moving our campus in the direction needed to meet the Race to Zero goals. The human element of this plan will require all of us to consider sustainability within our jobs and campus life as we travel, turn unused equipment off or choose the goods that we purchase. Concurrent efforts on sustainability plans for solid waste and grounds are underdevelopment.

Tips to Be Green

Rethink Waste

If you don't use materials (think paper, disposable containers,) we do not need to worry about recycling or disposal

  • Carry your own: Coffee mug, water bottle and canvas shopping bags all help to reduce solid waste and save you money!
  • Swap and share: Greencycle, Take it or leave it, and the annual campus garage sale all provide venues for keeping material goods in use
  • Recycle all you can: Zero-sort recycling - it (almost) goes all into one bin

Value our Resources

Our campus' built, natural and human capital are priceless! Take time to enjoy and respect our setting and those you work or live with

Be Efficient with Energy

  • Power Down: Put your computer to sleep when not in use and turn it off when you go home for the day. See how-to-tips.
  • Cut your driving miles: Combine your travels with healthy living - walk to bike to or around campus. Carpool when you can.
  • Manage your building heat: Save energy in the summer months by closing blinds, turning off non-essential lighting, and using fans. Closing shades or blinds at night in the winter will reduce radiant losses.
  • Switch bulbs: Consider installing compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs in your home, office, or dorm.

Watch What you Eat

Your food choices effect how much carbon is needed to feed our community. Try a vegetarian or vegan diet for one of to days a week and focus on locally grown or fair-trade food to really reduce your ecological impact.

Sustainability Pays

Do you have ideas for projects or activities that would help to integrate sustainability principles and practices into everything we do at Clarkson?  An annual opportunity is available to share your ideas and willingness to implement them. The $25,000/year fund enables members of our community to engage in the process of making our campus more environmentally, socially and fiscally sustainable.

Past Sustainability Fund projects have made a real difference on campus. Among the changes made as a result of these projects, we have -

  • Created a campus vegetable garden
  • Piloted new waste bin receptacles that include a separate section for food waste
  • Constructed boardwalks to access the beaver pond observation tower in the Clarkson Woods
  • Installed water bottle refill stations at several locations around campus
  • Educated students in off-campus housing about energy conservation and efficiency measures
  • Increased food waste collection for the anaerobic digester
  • Increased awareness about recycling opportunities
  • Initiated KnightRider – a bike lending program operated through Campus Safety & Security
  • Developed a partnership in Uganda to increase tree planting for carbon sequestration

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