SUNY Cortland has once again been lauded as one of the most environmentally sustainable colleges in the nation, according to the Sierra Club’s 2017 “Cool Schools” rankings, which were released last week.
Cortland is the only SUNY comprehensive college to make the Sierra Club’s list of the top 100 campuses for successfully integrating “green” practices at all levels of college life. Three of SUNY’s university centers at Albany, Buffalo and Binghamton made the list, as did SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.
“Our school colors are red and white, but our campus culture is green,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “This recognition by the nation’s largest and most influential environmental organization is deeply gratifying and a tribute to all of the dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni of SUNY Cortland.”
The Sierra Club based its rankings on an assessment of 64 different factors that included energy and water consumption, waste reduction, green educational initiatives and local food sourcing. SUNY Cortland first made the list in 2016, the first year the Sierra Club published its rankings.
SUNY Cortland is one of only a few dozen colleges across the country to earn a “gold” rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Cortland was the first SUNY campus to reach that milestone. At the time, only one school in the United States — Colorado State — had done better by achieving a platinum designation.
In 2015, SUNY Cortland was named one of the greenest campuses in the country by BestColleges.com. The College was the first SUNY campus to fill all of its electrical needs with renewable sources like wind and solar, build a residence hall with the highest possible certification under the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system, and earn membership into the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club. Three years ago, SUNY Cortland threw the switch on 3,600 new solar panels. It was the first school in the nation to offer a professional master’s degree in sustainable energy systems.
National organizations have recognized that the SUNY Cortland campus is also literally green. Its well-tended, 50-species urban forest earned the College designation as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation and its integration of natural habitats into the campus landscape helped SUNY Cortland become the only New York college identified as a “pollinator friendly” Bee Campus USA.
“With all that our students, staff, and faculty do to make Cortland a more sustainable campus, it is great to see we are being recognized as the ‘cool’ school that we are,” said Beth Klein, SUNY Cortland’s sustainability coordinator and a professor in the Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department.