Survey Comments

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Comment: I am new to the college and not entirely sure of all the efforts.

Response: There are two college websites that give an indication of what those efforts are:

http://www.sunyjcc.edu/about/sustainability
http://www.sunyjcc.edu/student-life/housing-dining/residence-life-green-...

C: Across from the nurses' office in Jamestown, there is a little monitor telling people how to be sustainable. What an oxymoron. It's using electricity - most of the time when nobody is looking - to tell us to use less. Please get rid of that.

R: Thank you for noticing it! We would call it a paradox since the act of communicating the need to conserve uses the very resource you are trying to limit. The same would apply to the science used to study climate change or the implementation of energy conservation measures to reduce energy consumption. That display consumes 8 watts of power. If it only touches one person per week, we think that is a valid tradeoff. However, we will try harder to make the display relevant and informative.

C: I cannot believe that Lessings uses styrofoam!! Such an easy issue to address. And why must sandwiches be placed in paper and then a boat - why not one or the other? And, we should be using metal utensils in the cafe - not plastic. Invest in a dishwasher and reduce the amount of plastic we put in the trash by 90%. Also, we should limit the number of copies that staff and faculty make. With all these smart rooms, there is no need for as much copying as I witness every day.

R: We agree that expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) should be eliminated from the cafeteria because it may release harmful chemicals into the food, it is made from a non-renewable resource, and if not disposed of properly, it can cause much environmental harm. Even though it is considered a recyclable product, Casella does not accept it in this area because they have no market for the material. It can only be put in the trash and buried in a landfill.

Replacing disposable with durable tableware is not as ‘green’ as you would imagine. When considering the lifecycle costs starting with the manufacture, transportation, energy used for cleaning, and disposal, the benefits of multi-use tableware is marginal. A 1994 study by Professor Hocking at the University of Victoria (http://sustainability.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/Comparativelifecyclec...) indicates that variables such as the efficiency of the dishwashing machine can make disposables more earth friendly in some cases.

Yes, we do encourage staff and faculty to not use so much paper and to utilize digital media.

C: The plastic that is thrown away in the cafe is criminal. We need to use biodegradable utensils plates, cups etc.

R: Biodegradable is great if you have a place to biodegrade it. Most products, even biodegradable ones, do not decompose in a landfill. The landfills in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties are constructed to be anaerobic and most items do not break down once buried. In fact, recovered newspapers are used in landfill research to date materials uncovered. Even if landfills did allow materials to decompose, many ‘compostable’ tableware products require a commercial composter to break them down. Just putting it into your backyard compost pile won’t work either. Heat, on the order of 140 degrees for several days is required to totally ‘compost’ the material. The college is continuing to study the rather complex issue of waste and will make improvements where practicable.

C: I am new to staff and I am still learning about JCC's sustainability initiatives.

R: See above.

C: The college still uses way too much paper; we need to increase efforts to use less paper, more tech.

R: Yes, we agree. Paper consumes trees, requires energy to produce, and creates waste. All the paper used by JCC emits 52.3 tons CO2 annually.

C: I think that we are making an effort. We need to help our students understand that sustainability is going to affect all of our lifestyles.

R: Thank you. Creating an awareness of the many issues of sustainability is one of our key objectives. However, I think the students may know more than we give them credit for. This September students were surveyed on sustainability awareness and asked the question, “JCC has committed to reduce carbon emissions to zero by the year 2030. Do you think this is important?" Of the 98 responses, 72% selected: “Yes, it is very important for the college to do everything it can to reach the goal.”

C: What about sustaining the adjuncts.....cut the hours due to Obama, but expect us to do the same work for 1/3 the pay....let's talk about that!!!

R: That topic is much beyond our scope of duties. Sustainability can only be possible when social justice and economic equality combine with and support environmental stewardship.  We empathize with everyone struggling to earn a living wage and obtain affordable healthcare.

C: Question 4 is poorly constructed. The emphasis on "JCC" in the question is not reasonably reflected in the responses. My response is what I think about climate change in general and has nothing to do with its impact on JCC. ALSO, I have complained about our use of plastic and non-recyclable "lunch plates, cups, etc." for a long time. We continue to use them. Also, we use a TON of non-climate-friendly things in the cafeteria. It's hard to say we are green when we continue to use these products.

R: We apologize for the confusion. However, if the predictions for climate change are accurate, then the impact on JCC could be considerable. Any disruptions from weather, severe storms, or drought would affect the staff and students even if it only were to disrupt the transportation to and from the college. Severe climate change, should it occur, could have serious economic repercussions and that too, would affect the college. We have 450 resident students; how would a storm like Sandy or Irene affect them, and our responsibilities to them, should one occur here? Too often we think of climate change as distant threat in either time or place; we are asking “if the forecasts are true, do we need to consider the implications for the college?” We think we do.

C: If the sustainability effort were solution (abundance) based - instead of fear restrictive) based, I would be more interested. Right now it just looks like Y2K crap - people that have determined that others need to be scared and spend time and money on it.

R: We agree to an extent. Too often we concentrate on the negative impacts, however severe they could be, and not focus on the need for positive change. Before you can work on a problem, you have to first acknowledge there is one. That was one purpose for both the staff and student surveys. The results show that the majority of both staff and students understand that climate change is real and will affect them. Now that we know this, we can work on introducing adaptation skills and strategies to better prepare us and the students for the changes that are coming.

C: We need to all make more of an effort toward sustainability, not just at work but at home. I learn from what we do here, to what I want to be doing at home and encourage others to do.

R: We could not agree more.

C: Colleges and universities must lead the way in educating students with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the future, both locally and globally. These things cover all disciplines because they involve making informed and wise choices in all areas of human behavior and endeavor.

R: Thank you for voicing that sentiment better than we ever could.

C: The sustainability committee needs to start focusing on reducing the college’s paper consumption. The tools to measure copying/printing usage by department and the impact copying and printing has on our carbon footprint are in place. When the suggestion to focus on reducing copying/printing has been made multiple times in the past, it has been dismissed. Yes, this means instructors and employees may have to change how they do things, but that is what you are asking everyone to do. We have ANGEL and other electronic means of communications and students want to use them. Just because it will be difficult for us as employees to change how we do business doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Why isn’t ANGEL being used in EVERY course? For example, with the new Course Syllabus Project that was initiated this year, every instructor must to submit their syllabus to their assistant Dean. Why not require that it must also be posted in ANGEL so students can access it at any time without the faculty member having to print out additional copies?

R: Yes, we agree.

C: We need recycling containers in all of the classrooms.

R: We’ve considered that but it would put a considerable burden on the custodial staff.

C: Commuting is clearly the biggest contributor, but changing people's habits, especially students, will be difficult. A ride share program might work for some, but may fall apart quickly with schedule changes, bad weather, unreliable passengers, etc. One way to offset that carbon footprint might be to charge a carbon tax for parking spaces. Another option, especially since we are so close to LSS, would be to work with CARTS to see if they could add routes to outlying areas or add more runs to existing routes. The remaining choices in question 3 also don't quite hit the mark. Obsolete building design that causes so much electricity and gas to be used. High ceilings, wide open spaces, row upon row of overhead lights. Right now there are over 40  fluorescent light fixtures just in the hall of this floor. These are on all day every day, possibly even at night. This isn't counting fixtures in the labs and classroom that are on most of the day. Are there grants to apply for replacement LED lighting? Is there a way to put clear covers at the bottom of skylights, especially in winter?

R: Thank you. These are all good ideas, keep them coming, our e-mail is sustainability@mail.sunyjcc.edu. We are looking at a ride share program, have considered a van pool program, and looked into the potential impact of a fee for parking to provide ‘incentive’ for ride sharing at the college. We have spoken with CARTS about additional routes. All of these ideas are actively being considered. It is encouraging that tackling our largest source of emissions requires no construction, large investments, or technological breakthroughs; it only requires a change in behavior.

Concerning building design, we must both learn from and live with the mistakes of the past while we prepare for the future. Modifications to building envelopes and mechanical systems are quite expensive. Our building and grounds staff is continually applying energy conservations measures, such as replacing older fluorescent fixtures with newer highly efficient ones or installing occupancy sensors on lighting systems. The work progresses as funding permits. New construction on campus, such as the residence halls and science building, are being built to high energy efficiency and sustainability standards.

You are correct that commuting is the largest contributor to our GHG emissions, here are the numbers:

  • Commuting by Students: 38%
  • Purchased Electricity: 20%
  • Natural Gas for Heating: 20%
  • Commuting by Faculty/Staff: 11%
  • Solid Waste: 6%
  • Everything Else: 5%

The complete results of the past two greenhouse gas inventories are available on the website www.sunyjcc.edu/sustainability.

C: I think JCC does make a strong effort toward education, training, awareness and activity toward sustainability, and I think we need to strengthen it as a part of our culture.

R: Thank you, that is what we are here for.

C: I am very familiar with the science of climate change and have spend a large part of my life studying this topic. So I know as a fact carbon dioxide is a very minor contributor to the earth's current climate variations. There are 18 primary drivers of climate change and carbon dioxide is a very minor contributor. Unfortunately I need to spend class time so students are aware of the truth and not believe that global warming has just turned into a way for lying progressive politicians to control all phases of citizens' life and make unbelievable amounts of money on a non-existent problem. Again, it is a just a very expensive hoax with no real science backing.

R: We would welcome the opportunity to see the data behind your conclusions; however, we would ask that they be limited to the scientific studies and be separated from the political views. The objective of science is to observe and understand the natural world. If a phenomena is discovered that could have harmful effects, that phenomena should be studied and understood more thoroughly. The technique for accomplishing that, the scientific method, is to acquire new knowledge based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. This includes integrating or correcting previous knowledge of the phenomena. This new knowledge is then added to the general body of knowledge on a particular subject and exposed to critical peer review. Climate science is incredibly complex and covers disciplines as diverse as biology and meteorology. The vast majority of published and peer reviewed science from many disciplines from all over the world support the body of knowledge that the current changes in our climate are real, pose a significant threat, and are caused predominately by human activities. The policy implications of how to deal or not deal with global climate change, is in the political realm, not science.

C: The sustainability position should be made full-time and more visible. Our college needs to show leadership in working towards a more sustainable world, and it needs to go WAY beyond the work of the Sustainability Coordinator and Sustainability Committee! Thank you for this survey asking for feedback concerning this critical issue.

R: Thank you. We want more feedback from everyone to help guide our efforts.

C: Not enough recycling in the student housing or in the cafe.

R: We’d extend that comment to include most of society. We don’t have hard data to back it up but do believe that the amount of recycling on our campus, including the cafeteria and resident housing is reflective of, and perhaps better than, society in general. Several small studies of waste and recycling on the Jamestown campus suggest that about 30% of the waste is composed of recycled material. The Resident Directors continue to work diligently to educate and promote recycling efforts and the students are listening. We feel more needs to be done in all areas of the college. What we need are ideas on how to effect greater participation.