Monday, August 6, 2012

Early History of Sustainability at Queens College

Queens College began many of their sustainability initiatives during the three years between 2004 through 2007. They began participation in the peak load management program with Con Ed. They decreased their power use on certain summer days of peak demand of electricity and reduced energy load on our buildings. They have purchased only Energy Star rated air conditioners. They began replacing inefficient window units with split air conditioning systems. In the 1990s, they had installed light sensors in all of our offices and classrooms. We continued to maintain those sensors and they are operational. Beginning in 2005, we purchased electric utility vehicles for use on campus. By 2007, they had purchased 10 electric vehicles.

They are used for a variety of campus purposes, including security patrols, transportation of mail and maintenance equipment, and performance of grounds work. Over the years, the percentage of products that were “green” has steadily increased. Their custodial staff began using “green” cleaning products and paper products in 2004.

In 2004, they began replacing worn carpeting with carpeting containing recycled product and sustainable materials. This carpet can be recycled when it needs to be replaced. The paint that they use is water soluble and the dyes are green-certified. They started recycling their cooking oil, computers, and yard waste. They developed a program to encourage electronic communication by standardizing on one email system, creating a campus electronic announcement system called “QC mailer”, and installing plasma screens across the campus for announcements.

As a college, their faculty engaged in research to understand the processes in the environment and to recognize the impact we have on it. Examples include studying the impact of the World Trade Center clean-up on worker health and examining the effect of increased CO2 concentration on plant growths.

They also created academic courses of study geared towards the environment. Their Center for the Biology of Natural Systems focuses on urban environmental problems. Their School for Earth and Environmental Studies prepares students for careers in environmental science.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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