SUNY Sullivan County Community College
Sustainability is at the heart of Sullivan County Community College. The college’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility informs everything from campus operations to the academic curriculum. The student-run composting program teaches students and community how to adapt to climate change. The food grown in the organic community garden is used by campus dining services and the Culinary Arts program. A “Power Up” Ceremony launched solar gardens across campus, and the college is forming partnerships with local sustainable businesses in order to achieve carbon neutrality.
The SUNY Sullivan campus operates as a living sustainability laboratory, and provides sustainable educational opportunities across campus. The Green Building Maintenance program is offered on campus and now entirely online through OPEN SUNY, as well as through the Hudson Valley Educational Consortium, which includes Orange, Ulster, Rockland and Sullivan County Community Colleges and allows students to take the program through their home campuses.
SUNY Sullivan will have a Farm-to-Table Chef/Culinary Arts instructor, grounded in sustainable food practices, in place for the fall 2015 semester. The chef will teach students to integrate locally grown and produced food into private and professional menus to offer creative, nutritious and healthful eating options that make thoughtful connections between farm production, food processing, artisanal products and cuisine. This chef will teach courses in the Professional Chef, Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs, as well as many of the culinary components of a proposed new Nourishment Arts program, slated to launch spring 2016.
This past year the college hosted and was a partner in Sullivan County’s Health Summit. With Sullivan County ranked the second unhealthiest (61 out of 62) county in New York State, the college and other major healthcare providers brought partners together to drive local change, to showcase what works in other communities across the nation, what is working in Sullivan County, and to take action to implement SUNY Sullivan’s Community Health Improvement Plan with evidence based initiatives to create stronger partnerships and leverage resources.
A new and effective project to teach students and the community how to adapt to climate changes is a student-run composting facility. Each semester students in any major are invited to compete for employment opportunities, which are paid through a scholarship fund administered by the SUNY Sullivan Foundation. Both college waste, Culinary Arts program scraps and bi-products from Chartwells, the campus dining service, are composted.
The college also operates a Community Garden, which is tended to by students, faculty and staff. Tools and garden supplies are stored in a student-built straw bale structure. The college’s Culinary Arts program, as well as Chartwells dining service, make use of vegetables harvested from the garden.
The college’s Director of Sustainability frequently leads community and middle-school tours that highlight the various sustainability features, which also include a campus-wide geo-thermal heating and college system, a wind turbine and more. A Bike Share Program kicked off this past year, which has proved extremely popular with students, faculty and staff. More than a dozen bikes were purchased through a combination of grant and private funding.
Each new endeavor leads SUNY Sullivan closer to carbon neutrality, and solidifies SUNY Sullivan’s presence within their community as a model for sustainable actions. The college can truly say that it is living out its college mission, which in part states they “model sustainable actions and promote socially, environmentally, and economically responsible citizenship through an overarching culture of excellence.”
On Earth Day 2015 SUNY Sullivan hosted a “Power Up” Ceremony to officially launch a 12-acre (7,000 panel) 2 megawatt solar garden on campus. This array is owned and operated by Sullivan Solar Garden, LLC (not the college), works in conjunction with NYSEG (New York State Energy and Gas) and was partially funded by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and will provide approximately 50% of the electricity needed to run the campus.
The SUNY Sullivan Board of Trustees has officially authorized the development of a Healthy World Studies and Tech Transfer Institute, a new campus building that will house new academic programs, allow for the expansion of existing programs, will provide internship opportunities for students resulting from public and private partnerships working toward healthy people, healthy food, healthy watershed and a healthy economy. The Institute also has the backing of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development and has secured 50% of the necessary funding ($10.5 million) through a SUNY matching capital projects grant.
SUNY Sullivan is an approved START-UP NY location – an initiative of Governor Cuomo – focused on bringing new jobs to New York. SUNY Sullivan’s plan seeks to establish partnerships with those businesses whose focus resides in one of three areas: green technologies and innovation, software development, and food and beverage manufacturing that assists local producers move from farm to market. Businesses currently interested in locating on campus include a healthy juice manufacturer, a dairy and a plastics-to-energy manufacturing facility.