For Immediate Release
May 5, 2022
ALBANY, NY – United University Professions, the nation’s largest public higher education union, today held a press conference urging Gov. Kathy Hochul and state leaders to commit to a sustainable future for SUNY campuses.
UUP President Frederick E. Kowal joined Sen. Robert Jackson, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Assemblymember Dr. Anna Kelles, UUP members, and environmental advocates to advocate for environmental sustainability bills set to be introduced this year. If approved, the initiatives would improve sustainability practices across all SUNY colleges and universities, supporting the collective effort to lower energy use, limit the amount of pollution and carbon gases released into the atmosphere, and contribute to a greener economy.
“UUP is committed to fighting for a more sustainable SUNY and New York for this generation and generations to come, and State support is crucial to making real, lasting change throughout the system,” said Frederick E. Kowal, UUP President. “Climate change is real, and its effects are being felt more strongly each year. We are hopeful that under Gov. Hochul’s leadership, New York will enact smart climate legislation with real impacts. We must take action and protect and preserve our environment, and that starts with a greener SUNY.”
UUP members are advocating for 5 key sustainability measures, including:
- A Zero Waste bill that would commit SUNY to develop an action plan, both system-wide and for each campus, to have zero waste by 2030;
- A Green Revolving Fund that would create and provide start-up monies for a fund that finances sustainability projects at campuses;
- A Surplus Property Management System Reconfiguration that would create campus ‘marketplaces,’ where surplus property could be reused on campus or donated instead of put in a landfill;
- A SUNY Administration Sustainability Director to provide guidance to campuses on SUNY's sustainability and climate goals. This position was previously open and never filled; and
- Campus sustainability positions, establishing three areas of sustainability work (waste management, energy management, and education and outreach) and criteria for campus size and type for the number of hires at each campus.
Sen. Robert Jackson said, “As a proud alum of SUNY and a staunch advocate for climate justice, I have no doubt that SUNY is well-positioned to serve as a leading model in making New York greener. As such, I will be introducing legislation that would require SUNY to hire an Environmental Sustainability Director, who will play an integral role in communicating and guiding campuses in meeting climate action goals and allowing them to be part of the work to address the climate crisis. I thank UUP for their strong partnership in furthering New York’s climate goals and for pushing an agenda that proactively protects the environment. Together, we will achieve a Greener SUNY and a Greener New York.”
“SUNY has long been on the forefront of New York State’s fight against climate change from day one. I’m proud to introduce legislation that will help to divert surplus equipment on campuses away from landfills and allow for equipment to be donated directly to on-campus organizations and non-profits. Reducing our waste output, especially when it comes to heavy equipment or other materials, is critical in our long-term climate action strategy, and will encourage more sustainable practices on our SUNY campuses across New York State,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.
“Achieving our sustainability goals cannot happen without qualified and dedicated staff to implement and guide our state’s climate goals. With 40% of the state’s buildings sited on its campuses, SUNY is well positioned to be a strong partner in our fight to create a more sustainable New York. We simply cannot reach our climate goals without the active participation of higher ed. I am proud to join with UUP to work toward a Greener SUNY,” said Assemblymember Anna Kelles.
“Our institutions of higher learning must model best practices for the students who will go on to shape our world. Enacting strong sustainability requirements across SUNY campuses is a wonderful way to send a message that climate change is real, important, and requires swift action. I am thrilled to introduce the SUNY Zero Waste bill, which would require the university system to go zero waste by 2030. The waste sector represents a significant portion of statewide emissions, and it's imperative that we take a stand on our campuses. I am grateful for the UUP President Kowal and his members for pushing these efforts forward, which will benefit our students and state for years to come,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman.
“SUNY shapes the future, in order to create a sustainable future, it is only right to create a more sustainable SUNY. SUNY is also a microcosm of New York and can serve as a proving ground on how to reach our climate goals by fully electrifying and zeroing out waste. I am proud to stand with the United University Professions calling for a more sustainable SUNY system,” said Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY.
“The Nature Conservancy commends United University Professions (UUP) and New York State legislators for their commitment to creating a sustainable future for SUNY campuses where almost half a million students learn and nearly 100,000 people work. As the nation’s largest higher education union, UUP and SUNY’s sustainability efforts are an important contribution in helping New York reduce carbon pollution and build a clean energy economy, said Jessica Ottney Mahar, The Nature Conservancy’s New York Policy and Strategy Director.
To date, the SUNY system has been strongly committed to combating the effects of changing climate. All 64 colleges and universities pledged support to make a collective effort to lower energy use and limit the amount of pollution and carbon gasses released into the atmosphere. SUNY aims to have 100% carbon-free electricity across the system by 2040, carbon-neutral buildings and transportation, and 6,000 megawatts of solar energy deployment by 2025.