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SUNY's Clean Energy Initiatives

Stock image of solar panels with windmills in the background

As technology continues to develop in our society, it is imperative that as a global community we invest in clean energy to ensure prosperity for generations to come. New York State has taken a major step in executing the nation’s largest offshore wind agreement and single largest renewable energy procurement by any state in United States history. New York State, with the support of Vice President Al Gore, has selected two wind projects that will supply power to over a million homes. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has also signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which is a comprehensive package of legislation that places the state at the forefront of environmental policy.

The State University of New York, as a world class institution of public higher education, has an obligation to be a leader in the field of sustainability. Lead by a staunch sustainability activist and dedicated advocate on various environmentally-friendly efforts, Chancellor Kristina Johnson has launched SUNY’s clean energy roadmap to provide for the framework geared towards achieving system and statewide environmental sustainability. "By working with our partners in state government, SUNY has developed a blueprint for creating a clean, intelligent, and distributed energy ecosystem across all 64 SUNY campuses," explained SUNY Chancellor Johnson. Goals include developing clean energy master plans, establishing a network of community resilience, and leading with the most environmentally friendly buildings, amongst other targets. The framework outlines a total of six clean energy goals and 17 initiatives. These initiatives include efforts on SUNY campuses such as providing space for electric vehicle charging stations, using energy efficient LED lighting, demand-controlled ventilation, as well as renewable resource development such as on-site solar generation.

Four main focus areas of SUNYs strategic energy plan have been identified as: physical improvements, operational tactics, workforce development, and research. This plan can be used by individual campuses, students, and the system as a whole to promote and engage in the actions that will yield resilient campus communities. Improvement of buildings across campuses to incorporate efficiency standards, developing local campus strategic energy plans, and enhancing the skills of on-site staff to leverage technology available, enables SUNY to be a nationwide leader in sustainability. Expanding partnerships to grow the research opportunities for students positions SUNY as the center for development of new clean energy technology. 

While this framework provides an overarching outline across the SUNY system students can utilize the elements identified to engage key stakeholders and local government leaders to ensure the success of these goals. Encouraging conversations around these plans and tailoring them to local campus initiatives can aid in bringing this plan to fruition. While there is always more in the fight for environmental justice, this is the first step in unifying all 64 SUNY campuses through common goals and an elaborate and detailed plan for measurable progress.

Written by Brad Hershenson, SUNY Student Assembly Director of Legislative Affairs, University at Albany

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