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ESF Receives Prestigious Climate Leadership Award

College honored for innovation, leadership in sustainability

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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has been selected to receive a 2013 Climate Leadership Award by Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education.

The awards are presented annually to signatory institutions of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that demonstrate innovative and advanced leadership in education for sustainability and climate mitigation and adaptation.

ESF is a winner in the doctoral-granting institution category. ESF is one of only 10 colleges and universities nationally to receive the award.

"These exemplary institutions have shown us that bold action on climate is not only possible but pragmatic," said David Hales, president of Second Nature. "Their operational, educational, and community initiatives are fueling the thought behind what is both necessary and achievable in addressing climate change, and the labors of these leading institutions will benefit all of society."

This year, the award program's fourth, drew the most competitive pool of nominations to date. The winners were among 20 finalists chosen by Second Nature's board and represent the diversity of higher education institutions across the United States.

"We at ESF are very pleased to be recognized by the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment and Second Nature for our efforts to reduce our institutional carbon footprint," said ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. "Our faculty, staff and students are committed to leading the way in reducing humankind's impact on our climate."

Michael Kelleher, executive director of energy and sustainability at ESF, said the award is a credit to the ESF students who focus on sustainability.

"We have established a program where our sustainability coordinator position is filled by a graduate student as part of his or her studies," Kelleher said. "The first in the program, Andrea Webster, deserves a lot of credit for helping the college achieve this national recognition."

ESF signed the ACUPCC Jan. 19, 2007.

ESF was selected as a finalist in the competition based on the college's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2015, its incorporation of sustainability into the accreditation process and technological innovation, particularly in the construction of the new Gateway Center, and the expansion of its academic programs to increase the college's focus on sustainability. A centerpiece of the college's Climate Action Plan is the new Gateway Center, which features a biomass combined-heat-and-power plant that will save 65,000 gigajoules of fossil fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 2,700 tons annually. It will heat five campus buildings and provide more than 20 percent of the campus' electrical needs.

In addition, ESF has expanded its academic offerings to include a Sustainable Energy Management major and Renewable Energy minor. Outside the classroom, students are encouraged to take initiative in launching sustainability projects. ESF also manages its forest property to maximize carbon sequestration and cultivates relationships with industry and community partners to improve sustainability on and off campus.

The only other college in New York state that was honored with a Climate Leadership Award was Pratt Institute in New York City, in the special-focus institution category.