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Apply to be a garden intern!

By Sustainability Office on July 31, 2014

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Hours per Week: 6 hrs during fall semester

Job Description:
The Sustainability Office is offering a paid Garden Internship to a qualified student starting in late-August 2014 until November 2014 (the end of the growing season). The garden intern will help manage and promote the one-half acre vegetable/herb garden and greenhouse on campus. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding job. Work includes exposure to outdoor elements (e.g., heat, sun, rain, etc.). The student intern is expected to coordinate and organize volunteers and student work parties. The Garden Intern will report directly to our garden manager (Beth Roy) and work in close collaboration with another garden intern and other Colgate students, faculty, and staff. The student intern will gain life-long skills and knowledge in harvesting and maintaining a garden, organizing events, and supervising volunteer workers.

Required Skills and Experience

Key Responsibilities:

  • Work with garden manager (Beth Roy) to plan and manage the garden during the fall season. Specific tasks may include preparing soil, cultivating, planting, weeding, and harvesting.

  • Organize and supervise volunteer work parties.

  • Coordinate with Green Thumbs presidents to schedule a weekly time for volunteer work parties (usually for harvest, the day before pick-up), and be at the garden during those scheduled times to supervise those work parties.

  • Provide continuity for work on the garden throughout the 2013 growing season.

  • Prepare for and run a weekly Farm Stand to sell produce from the garden.

Recommended Qualifications and Skills:

  • Strong work ethic and self-motivated.

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.

  • Preference will be given to those with experience and firsthand knowledge in farming and/or gardening with vegetable crops; though previous garden experience is not required.

  • Experience organizing and supervising the work of others.

  • Tolerance for hard work and exposure to outdoor elements.

  • Excitement about promoting local farming and local food production

Work Requirements and Benefits
The garden internship position is rewarding but demanding work that involves physical exertion and exposure to the outdoor elements.

Starting Hourly Rate: Fall semester – $8.50/hour (estimated because Financial Aid determines pay rate)

Supervisor: Beth Roy, Garden Manager

Key Contacts: John Pumilio, Director of Sustainability; Christopher Henke, Associate Professor and faculty advisor to the garden; Beth Roy, Colgate Community Garden Consultant

To apply, send a resume and one page cover letter to the Garden Manager, Beth Roy (eroy@colgate.edu) and fill out an application on the Colgate Portal.

The application deadline is August 15. Employment will begin on or around August 25.

Ben Rich ’99 visits Colgate to recharge his motorcycle

By Sustainability Office on July 23, 2014

On Wednesday of last week, Ben Rich ’99, made a surprise return to Colgate. He was on his way home to New Jersey from Rochester, NY.  But that’s not all.  Ben was on the final leg of an extended road trip that took him south through the mountains of North Carolina, then out to St. Louis, Chicago, and Cleveland on an electric motorcycle!  Ben was on the road helping to promote a new movie featuring his 2013 cross country road trip called Kick Gas (click here to view the website and movie trailer).

Ben Rich '99 charging his electric motorcycle at Colgate.

Ben Rich ’99 charging his electric motorcycle at Colgate.

As Ben was planning his trip, he found Colgate’s recently installed electric vehicle charging station on Plugshare.com and decided to stop by to “refuel.”  This gave him about 90 minutes to have lunch with members of the Sustainability Office and explore campus.

When Ben is not riding his electric motorcycle to far away places, he teaches physics at the Montclair Kimberley Academy and is a semi-professional swing dancer.  Find Ben on Facebook to follow these and his other upcoming adventures (hint: Harley Davidson recently contacted Ben inviting him to test drive their new electric model!).

Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette Plus a Few Helpful Tips

By Sustainability Office on July 8, 2014

A new charging station for electric vehicles has been installed on Colgate’s Lally Lane.

In case you haven’t heard, Colgate just installed a new ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station on Lally Lane. Already, we have heard from a few individuals who went out and bought a new electric vehicle! I guess it is true, “build it and they will come!”

If you are a new electric vehicle owner, congratulations! Here are a few tips and basic rules of etiquette that we expect you to follow:

  • Internal combustion cars (the old technology!) should never be parked in one of our electric vehicle spots. Never! If you need a charge and the spot is occupied by an internal combustion engine, leave a firm but otherwise nice note. Inform the occupier what they did (sometimes it is an honest mistake). Write down the make, model, and license plate of their car and give to Campus Safety. Let the car owner know that you did this and let them know that their car may be towed if it happens again.
  • Charge only when necessary. If your battery is nearly full and you only have to drive five miles to get home after work, then leave the spot open for someone who may be in more desperate need. This best practice will likely benefit you someday.
  • Charge up and move on! It is bad practice to occupy a charging spot after your car is fully charged. Once your battery is full (or you have enough charge to confidently reach home) then unplug and move your car as soon as possible. FYI – most electric vehicles will add about 25 miles of range per hour of charging. Download the ChargePoint app. It will notify you by text or email once your charging session is completed. Now that’s cool. As a reminder, it costs $1.50 per hour to charge at Colgate.
  • Never unplug another car. Never! Unless, of course, you know the owner and have their permission.
  • Treat the ChargePoint charging station with a little tender loving care! Carefully and neatly replace the cord when finished charging. Neatly move the cord out of the way and tuck it in so people will not trip on any excess length, or drive over it.
  • Here are a few tips and a short video that explains easy charging.

Read more. Do you have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Birds and Beans

By John Pumilio on July 1, 2014

Chances are you or someone close to you enjoys watching birds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an estimated 47 million American’s birdwatch (making it one of the most popular pastime activities in the country). Take a walk through the Colgate forest on any given spring or summer day and you will notice that our trees are alive with some of North America’s most beautiful songbirds: warblers, thrushes, grosbeaks, tanagers, indigo buntings, orioles, and many others.

Chances are you or someone close to you enjoys drinking coffee. According to the National Coffee Association, over 600 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year making coffee the most popular beverage in the world. Take a walk through Colgate’s offices on any given day and you may notice the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Students in Prof. Chris Henke’s Fall 2012 Community-Based Study of Environmental Issues (ENST 390) conservatively estimated that we (students, faculty, and staff) consume around 350,000 cups of coffee each year at Colgate. That’s a lot of coffee.

At this point, you may be asking: what do birds have to do with coffee? The answer: plenty! The songbirds breeding in our forest often winter in Latin America, the same region where most of our coffee comes from. In recent decades, millions of acres of tropical forestlands have been converted to industrial coffee plantations. These huge monocultures provide us with the inexpensive coffee found in our homes, offices, and restaurants but they have destroyed millions of acres of tropical bird habitat in the process. This is one of the reasons why many songbird populations are in decline.

In the mid-1990s, I participated in a long-term field study in the West Indies where we compared the biodiversity between industrial “sun” coffee plantations vs. more traditionally grown “shade” coffee plantations. We discovered that while shade coffee plantations produce about 30 percent less coffee (making shade coffee slightly more expensive), they contained about 90 percent more bird species when compared to sun coffee plantations. The coffee plant grows naturally under the canopy of native trees. As a result, shade coffee plantations can mimic an intact, ecologically functional forest that supports numerous plants and animals. I was amazed at the vast number of “our” songbirds that spent their winter in shade coffee plantations. Some of the individual birds we were tracking had returned to the same shade coffee plantation for nine consecutive winters!

The American Redstart breeds in the Colgate forest and winters in Latin American coffee farms.

The American Redstart breeds in the Colgate forest and winters in Latin American coffee farms.

Since those days, shade-grown coffee has become more popular and thousands of acres of coffee plantations have been reverted back to the more traditional method of growing coffee under the canopy of other trees. This is not only good for birds, but produces a higher quality coffee without all the chemical applications necessary in a monoculture.
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So, if you want to support bird conservation while also enjoying your morning cup of joe, there is something we can do. Buy shade-grown coffee! You can purchase shade-grown coffee from many outlets including your local grocery store including Hamilton Whole Foods, Roger’s Environmental Education Center here in Sherburne, or order online from Birds & Beans. Look for the “Bird Friendly®” seal of approval from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to help assure that the coffee you choose meets Smithsonian’s rigorous certification standards. And, if your office has a Keurig machine, you have the option of purchasing a reusable “My K-Cup” and filling it with your favorite shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee.

Hope you always enjoy the songbirds in our forests and the coffee in your mug!

Applications now open for 2014-15 Sustainability Office interns!

By Sustainability Office on June 10, 2014

The Sustainability Office is pleased to announce four paid positions for qualified students to implement and manage Colgate’s Green Living Program. This is an exciting opportunity for Colgate students to get hands-on experience putting sustainability and green living practices into action.

Qualified interns will work up to 12 hours per week, during both fall (2014) and spring (2015) semesters. Official start date is August 25, 2014 with arrival/move-in on August 22nd. Orientation is mandatory and will begin the morning of August 25th.  Weekly work schedule is flexible, however, we will have mandatory team meetings once every week.

Read more

Let the gardening begin!

By Sustainability Office on June 10, 2014

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Colgate’s Community Garden has officially changed locations this summer and is looking forward to the growing season! The new garden is now located on Broad Street, just South of the Colgate townhouses and Community Hospital.  Colgate Community Garden interns Alex Schaff ‘16 and Quincy Pierce ‘16 are starting from the ground up, forming rows, building a compost bin, planting seedlings, and adapting to the new site.  Long-time friend of the garden, Sam Stradling from the Hamilton Food Cupboard, recently dropped off a plentiful load of plants ready to be planted in the garden.  This is the second year in a row Sam and the Food Cupboard have donated seedlings in exchange for produce to be harvested and donated by the Community Garden later in the season.


We hope to hold events in the near future, and can’t wait to have visitors..stop by and have a look at all the work being done.  Or even better, come on down and get your hands dirty by helping out!  See you soon!

Colgate Installs First Electric Vehicle Charging Station

By Sustainability Office on June 1, 2014
Electric vehicle charging station

This project was made possible with the support of Facilities and Colgate’s trade shops. Special thanks to Hoyt Kelly (Electric Shop), Dan McCoach (Associate Director of Facilities), Jim Hall (Electric Shop) and Lenny Zielasko (Mason).

You may have noticed a growing number of all-electric vehicles cruising around campus. Besides a few Colgate-owned vehicles, proud owners include faculty, staff, and an increasing number of alumni and parents of current students. As the popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow, Colgate decided it was time to further support this emerging technology.

On May 22, we installed our first electric vehicle charging station on Lally Lane (adjacent to the Zipcar parking spots) near Donovan’s Pub. The dual arm Level 2 ChargePoint station has the capacity to charge two cars at once. The cost to charge is $1.50 per hour and it will take anywhere from 3-6 hours to get a full charge (depending on the make and model of the car). The ChargePoint station will connect to any make and model of electric vehicle (though Tesla owners will need to use their adapter). The station is also user-friendly and networked permitting owners to check availability and/or status of their vehicle through a smartphone app.

Over 10 percent of Colgate’s campus carbon footprint is due to commuter emissions and our vehicle fleet. By providing infrastructure to support electric vehicles we are helping car owners overcome one of the key barriers to purchasing electric vehicles: range anxiety. Even though current models of electric vehicles, such as the Nissan LEAF®, can typically travel over 80 miles on a single charge, a lot depends on speed, topography, load, and accessory use which can drive down battery life. Even if your driving habits reduce the range to 60 miles per full charge, this is still well within range of most all faculty and staff commuters. Despite this, having a charging station on campus can help to reduce anxiety. And for those who just can’t get over range anxiety, advanced designs like the Chevy Volt, offer the best of both worlds. An onboard gasoline powered generator can provide electricity only when the battery is depleted.

An electric vehicle is much greener and cheaper to own than gasoline-powered cars. Assuming the typical electric vehicle owner charges their car at home overnight, it would cost about 50¢ to drive 40 miles on Hamilton electric rates or about $1.20 at NYSEG rates. Because most of our power is produced by hydroelectric energy, the carbon footprint of driving an electric vehicle in Central New York is near zero. Moreover, since almost all of our electricity is generated here in New York, switching from gasoline-powered to electric-powered vehicles can help to support our state economy while reducing dependence on imported oil.

For these reasons, we anticipate seeing more electric vehicles on the Colgate campus.

Smooth Air and Blue Skies, Paul Fick

By John Pumilio on May 30, 2014

Today, the Office of Sustainability is saying farewell to a good friend and colleague. Paul Fick, Associate VP for Facilities, is retiring after eight years at Colgate.

Paul has been my direct supervisor since I started in 2009. Under Paul’s leadership, we built and renovated our first LEED certified buildings, we installed our first solar energy project, purchased our first hybrid vehicles, installed our first electric vehicle charging station, and completed a major upgrade of our central utility plant. We approved our Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and we were able to reduce our campus-wide energy, water, landfill waste, and paper consumption. Taken together, this amounted to cost savings for the university and a 20 percent reduction off our campus carbon footprint since 2009. Paul will be the first to tell you, however, that these accomplishments are secondary to the Colgate people he shared his journey with.

Personally, I will miss Paul’s good-natured and friendly personality. I will miss our lengthy conversations that sometimes strayed way beyond the proximate issues in front of us. I will miss Paul’s engineering mind and intellectual curiosity. He once made me wait while he calculated the molecular formulas for greenhouse gas emissions. He could not reconcile how emissions factors could be greater than the sum of individual molecules. Only when he worked out the formulas to his satisfaction were we able to move forward with our conversation. It took about 10 minutes.

One of Paul’s true passions is flying. And soon after he received his pilot’s license he took me for a memorable flight over the Chenango Valley. I observed that Paul’s approach to flying was the same for work: at once balancing seriousness with pure enjoyment and attention to detail with an appreciation for the bigger picture.

Paul Fick poses with his plane

Click Image for full slideshow

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Facilities directors and sustainability directors sometimes have strained relationships. But Paul has been a great friend and colleague since the first day I stepped foot on campus. He always made me feel welcome and he always gave my ideas serious attention. As I think about our time together at Colgate, my hope is that someone thinks as highly of me on my final day at Colgate as I think of Paul. Paul has been a great pleasure to work with.

While our professional relationship is coming to a close, I know that we will remain friends. We already have intentions to fly again over the beautiful Colgate campus. So, instead of goodbye, I will hope for smooth air and blue skies so Paul may enjoy many good days of flying (and perhaps take me along for a few of them!).

Enjoy retirement, Paul!

The vitality of a sustainability-related education

By Sustainability Office on April 25, 2014

By Sara Reese ’16

As Colgate students and faculty, we are challenged to meet “The 13 Goals of a Colgate Education,” goals that embody the true meaning of a liberal arts education – 1) Conduct interdisciplinary inquiry, 2) See ourselves critically and honestly within a global and historical perspective, 3) Be engaged citizens and strive for a just society, and 4) Respect nature and the diversity of life on earth, just to name a few.  As an Environmental Studies major and intern in the Colgate Office of Sustainability, I believe that integrating sustainability more deeply into the curriculum will help students accomplish these goals and will produce more globally minded students.

Read more

Willful Ignorance? Not at Colgate

By Sustainability Office on March 19, 2014

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), America’s premier scientific society, warned the world is at growing risk of “abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes” because of a warming climate.  As a scientific body, the AAAS rarely intervenes on policy issues.  However, in their new report, What We Know, they stated, “We consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.

Click here to get the facts from AAAS.

Originally published on March 3, 2014

Last month, Pew Research Center released its latest poll results of American viewpoints on climate change. The results are worrying.  According to the poll, 67% of Americans believe that there is solid evidence of global warming while only 44% believe that human activities are responsible. On the contrary, 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming over the past century is due primarily to human activities. Clearly, the public is far behind the science on this issue.

Consensus Gap

Understanding climate change is not only about climate modeling and predicting the future. It is also about historic data and recent trends. Since the 1970s, the rate of global warming has tripled. The 2000s were warmer than the 1990s and the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s. Moreover, nine of the top ten warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. And 2013 was the 37th year in a row with above average global temperatures.

But what about this winter? Polar vortex became part of our vernacular and below freezing temperatures have been common and sustained. But if you look across the country and the globe, the warming trend has continued. At the same time we were experiencing -15 degree temperatures in central New York, regions in Alaska were recording temperatures above 60 degrees. That is unheard of. Also, California has been in a record drought, the Northwest has experienced above average temperatures, Sochi hosted one of the warmest Winter Olympics on record, Australia experienced temperatures over 120 degrees, and the U.K. suffered through unprecedented flooding. In fact, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies just reported that January 2014 was the 3rd warmest January on record going back to 1880.

This warming trend has not been benign. Over the past three years, 80% of U.S. counties have been severely impacted by weather-related events and the burden to U.S. taxpayers is taking its toll. Superstorm Sandy, for example, cost us over $60 billion. In 2013, there were over 41 weather events that cost $1 billion or more in damage. That is an all-time high breaking the record from 2010. The National Flood Insurance Program is currently $25 billion in debt (it is a $30 billion program) and on the brink of insolvency. The Crop Insurance Program is generally a $3-$4 billion per year program. However, in 2013, tax payers shelled out over $11 billion.  This was due in large part to severe droughts in the mid-West which also drove up corn and food prices across the country. Despite all of this, the American public remains complacent on climate change. Out of 20 public policy issues tested in the Pew poll, climate change ranked 19th in the order of importance among Americans.

Until the American public catches up with the science, we may lack the resolve to adequately address climate change. We need to get past climate denial and start aggressively working to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, we also need to adapt to climate change that has already been locked into the system due to past emissions.

Here at Colgate, we are taking action on climate change. Since 2009, we have reduced our emissions by over 20% and our recently approved Campus Master Plan recommends significant climate-adaptation strategies to overcome flooding and changing weather patterns. These actions will better prepare us to thrive in a changing world.