Group created to help environment

The University has recently decided to take a significant part in the battle to save the planet with the creation of a new environmental group on campus, called the St. John’s Sustainability Initiative (SJSI).

The group will work with administration, staff, faculty, and students and will provide them knowledge, skills, and motivation, to help them incorporate sustainability responsibilities into the construction of new facilities and the operation of already-existing facilities, said Thomas Goldsmith, director of Energy and Environmental Conservation.

According to Goldsmith, within the next month, SJSI will place hundreds of metal recycling containers in various academic buildings.

The old containers will be moved to the Residential Village.

This will enable them to recycle plastics, metal, glass and paper on a
large scale.

They also plan to start a campus-wide campaign soon to conserve water, copy paper, and energy.

Goldsmith stated that over the past two weeks, SJSI is surveying for additional recycling stations in the Residential Village and conserving electricity by turning off lampposts during the day.
The group has many goals for the next year.

“The SJSI are working towards lowering our carbon footprint, conserving natural resources water, trees and energy, and reduction of the use of paper and increased recycling,” Goldsmith said.

SJSI has high hopes for the future and what they can do to achieve these goals, although he noted that making progress will always be a “work in progress.”

He said that measurable efforts are tied to how much they can lower the impact on the environment, as well as making sure that individuals are educated in ways to make the world more sustainable.

The group began when President Rev. Donald J. Harrington signed the “Mayoral Challenge for 30 in 10” in the fall of 2007.
By January 2008, the University had instituted an office of sustainability within the Department of Facilities Services.

“On Feb. 29, 2008, St. John’s became the first university in New York City to present a plan to meet and exceed the Mayoral Challenge to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent for all campuses,” Goldsmith said.
“And the plan shows the reduction in half the time allotted.”

According to Goldsmith, on March 12, the Office of Facilities Services hired seven student workers for the Queens campus with the goal of having 10 Sustainability Coordinators.

They are also trying to recruit sustainability coordinators from the Manhattan and Staten Island campuses.
Two other environmental groups on campus are the Earth Club and the new Environmental Learning Community in the Resident Village.

“I have been involved with both groups, acting as a liaison to our Facilities Services Department,” said Colleen Greaney, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

“We have offered our services to [Thomas] Goldsmith, hoping to act as a pilot-test study for the Resident Village recycling program.”