SUNY New Paltz releases Sustainability Plan; opens Office of Campus Sustainability

NEW PALTZ – President Donald Christian of the State University of New York at New Paltz has officially submitted the Campus Sustainability Plan to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). To support the plan, the College has hired a full-time sustainability coordinator and a part-time energy coordinator who will staff the College’s new Office of Campus Sustainability.

The completed plan continues New Paltz’s commitment to the ACUPCC program, which the college signed in 2008. The ACUPCC is a national program that facilitates the expansion of environmental education, research, and environmental performance on college campuses. The plan can be accessed on the ACUPCC webpage at

Christian expressed pride in New Paltz’s continued commitment to a greener campus environment. “Even at a time when we must pick and choose our priorities wisely, colleges and universities must be leaders in adopting sustainable methods and models. I am pleased with the high level of support for these goals that I see among students, faculty, and staff.

The SUNY New Paltz Campus Sustainability Plan uses 2010 as a baseline year for most measures and is designed to achieve full sustainability in 50 years. The plan provides an overview of four major areas, including energy, environmental education, land use, and solid waste/purchasing. Based on current projections, the college expects that by 2030 emissions directly related to campus operations could be reduced by as much as 80% from 2008 levels.

While the implementation of conservation efforts and efficient energy systems to decrease carbon footprint is a crucial step toward achieving ecological sustainability, the plan acknowledges the important role that higher education institutions have in addressing the deepening global environmental crisis, and education remains a major component of the plan’s outline to encourage sustainable lifestyles. SUNY New Paltz acknowledges that colleges and universities have a responsibility to increase educational opportunities in environmental fields to meet growing demand, to supply the expertise and labor needed to contend with intensifying environmental problems, and to educate students in sustainable living and citizenship. The college has plans to advance sustainability education by increasing enrollment in academic programs focused on environmental issues, by infusing the curriculum with sustainability themes, facilitating access to environmentally related internships and by maintaining a high level of extracurricular programming addressing sustainability issues.

New Paltz ranks No. 2 among the 12 university colleges and in the top 5 among the 27 four-year campuses on understanding environmental and sustainability issues, according to SUNY’s Student Opinion Survey, administered by SUNY every three years.

KT Tobin, chair of the Campus Sustainability Committee states, “We not only educate our students on environmental issues, but we seek to make the campus a model of ecological sustainability. The finalization and submission of our Campus Sustainability Plan is an important and exciting step in our continued efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and to prepare citizens and workers for the 21st century.”

College opens sustainability office; hires sustainability coordinator and energy coordinator
The College has created an Office of Campus Sustainability, which will spearhead sustainability efforts on campus under the supervision of John Shupe, assistant vice president for facilities management. Responsibilities to be handled by this office will include implementing the priorities outlined in the Campus Sustainability Plan; partnering with the Campus Sustainability Committee; working with and educating the campus community; assisting in identifying and implementing sustainable capital initiatives; improving recycling efforts and reducing campus energy use; assisting faculty and staff in implementing sustainability initiatives; overseeing the campus energy audit; and seeking sustainability grant and rebate opportunities.

Lisa Mitten has been hired as the New Paltz Campus Sustainability Coordinator. Mitten has a diverse sustainability background and most recently served with the firm of Project Management Services Inc. in McLean, Virginia, where she led many sustainability initiatives and projects. She holds a B.A. in Government and Politics and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Education from Hofstra University. She is a certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Associate. Mitten will begin her duties at New Paltz on May 1.

In addition, Brian Pine will return to the New Paltz staff as a part-time Campus Energy Coordinator in the Office of Campus Sustainability. Pine was the Director of Facilities Operations & Maintenance on campus until his retirement a few months ago. His duties in this new position, which is funded by non-state-based sources, include initiating energy grants, working with campus constituencies to lower our energy usage on campus and implementing strategies to lower the campus’s carbon footprint.