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Sustainability Goals

ESF's Sustainability Division has a multitude of ongoing projects and initiatives. Visit our Current Focus Areas for more information about buildings and operations, carbon management, materials (waste) management, energy, environmental & social justice, transportation, sustainable property control, purchasing, research and events.

ESF has set key energy and materials management goals. The College reports progress toward achieving these goals annually.

Energy (ESF Goals)

ESF has committed to reducing its Energy Use Intensity (EUI), or energy use per square foot of building space, 20% by 2025. This goal is based upon a 2011 baseline. We have also set a goal of purchasing 100% of grid electricity from renewable sources.

ESF is a New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA) REV Campus Challenge member. This program, "promotes clean energy efforts by recognizing and supporting colleges and universities in New York State that implement clean energy projects and principles on campus, in the classroom, and in surrounding communities."

Energy (NYS Policies, Plans and Laws)

The College is also subject to NYS mandates and SUNY system directives associated with energy and carbon reduction targets, which include the following:

SUNY's Clean Energy Roadmap (PDF) outlines a multitude of system wide goals and actions

New Efficiency New York: Achieve 185 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) of cumulative site energy savings statewide by 2025.

SUNY Construction Fund Directive 1B-2 (PDF): Created to define goals and assist SUNY in achieving deep energy retrofits of existing buildings and net zero carbon new buildings.

NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA): Requires NYS to achieve a carbon free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by 95% by 2050 (based upon 1990 baseline). ESF has set a goal of purchasing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

Materials Management (ESF Goals)

ESF has set the following materials management goals:

  • Reduce the "waste" that the College sends to landfill and/or incineration by 90% (by weight) by 2025

  • Achieve a diversion rate of 90% by 2025 (recycle and/or compost 90% of the items that we use on campus)

  • Implement and uphold the Post Landfill Action Network's Break Free From Plastic Pledge, which ESF signed in January 2020

    • These goals are based upon a 2018/2019 baseline. "Waste" includes items that can not be reduced at the source, reused, recycled or composted. The College places a heavy emphasis on source reduction and is in the process of systematically identifying single use, non-essential items on campus for removal or replacement. It is also working to identify opportunities to more effectively reuse or donate surplus equipment and furniture. At its heart, our Path to Zero Waste program seeks to recognize value in the materials that we bring to and use on campus and to spark members of the campus community to rethink what they truly need to live and enjoy their lives both on and off campus.

Materials Management (NYS Policies, Plans and Laws)

New York State has created and enacted many materials management policies to help lead the state (and country) in reducing the amount of material that New Yorkers send to landfills and incinerators.

The Bag Waste Reduction Law went into effect on March 1, 2020 and the DEC began enforcing the law and regulations on October 19, 2020. This Law bans plastic carryout bags (other than an exempt bag) from distribution by anyone required to collect NYS sales tax.

In 2020, NYS adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts. These bans have an effective date of January 1, 2022.

NYS passed the Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law in 2019. The Law is effective January 1, 2022 and stipulates that businesses that generate an annual average of at least 2 tons of wasted food per week must donate excess edible food and recycle (compost) all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler.

NYS created its Beyond Waste Plan in 2010. This Plan shifted the focus from "end-of-the-pipe" waste management techniques to looking more "upstream" and more comprehensively at how materials that would otherwise becomes waste can be more sustainably managed. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently updating this plan.

Executive Order No. 4 established the State green procurement and Office of General Services sustainability program. It created a number of green procurement specifications that state agencies (including ESF) must follow. EO 4's goals are to reduce risks from toxic substances, minimize pollutant discharges, minimize volume and toxicity of packaging, maximize the use of recycled content and provide other environmental benefits. Explore Sustainable Purchasing for more information about sustainable purchasing requirements on campus.

Executive Order No. 18 was issued in 2009 and eliminates New York State's purchase and use of bottled water in state facilities. Bottled water is costlier than tap water and is not necessarily safer. State funds should never be used to purchase plastic water bottles and members of the campus community should avoid providing them (and all single use bottles) at events, meetings and conferences to the greatest extent possible. Individuals should also prioritize use of reusable water bottles in their day to day activities on campus