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FALL 2010
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Short Reports

CALS Is Walking the Energy-Saving Walk

By Stacey Shackford

CALS Green

When it comes to walking the walk, CALS staff, faculty, and students are putting one foot firmly in front of the other to achieve energy conservation.

Administrators have been talking the talk since the release of Cornell’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan last year, and professors have been chalking the chalk in ecology, natural resources, and atmospheric science lectures for much longer.

On October 20, Campus Sustainability Day, the college launched CALS Green, an energy conservation and sustainability initiative to promote environmentally conscientious behavior among students, faculty, and staff.

“Our goal is not only to help Cornell achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but to also help all of us adopt a culture of sustainability at work and in how we live day to day,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It is really inspiring to see the many partners who have come together to ensure the success of this initiative. We hope this will be a model for the rest of Cornell and well beyond.”

With 370 faculty, many of whom conduct research in growth chambers, greenhouses, and laboratories, and more than 4,000 students occupying classroom space, it is perhaps no surprise that CALS has the highest energy consumption of any college at the university.

The college hopes to reduce its energy consumption by as much as 5 percent, by making lots of little changes and stirring up a bit of friendly competition.

The one-year pilot will start in six buildings: Comstock, Bradfield, Morrison, Plant Science, and Wing on the Ithaca campus and the Barton Lab in Geneva. The occupants of each will be challenged to compete for maximum participation and minimum energy consumption, and the winning team will be rewarded with a party.

Individuals also will be asked to register online at to make commitments to actions such as turning off lights and closing unused fume hood sashes, which could save a whopping $3,000 a year and reduce CO2 emissions by 34,000 lbs.—the equivalent of 10 cross-country road trips made by the average car in the U.S., which emits 1 lb. of CO2 for every mile it travels.

The effort will draw upon expertise across CALS, including units such as Utilities and Energy Management, Information Technology, and the Communication department, which is investigating how social networks and Internet resources can promote sustainability.

As part of that project, CALS Green participants will get weekly email reminders of their commitments, as well as have their progress tracked and announced on social networking sites such as Facebook.