When it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, one school is backing up concerns about climate change. Tamara Lindstrom tells us how SUNY Cortland is making major strides in going green.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The summer foliage will soon fade away, but this fall, the SUNY Cortland campus will be greener than ever. President Erik Bitterbaum announced the campus is making the switch to 100 percent renewable energy.
"The electricity will be purchased from wind, solar and hydro," Bitterbaum said. "Now in the case of solar, something rather interesting is occurring on campus."
Using a $3 million state grant, the university will install more than 700 solar panels on campus, including an entire field dedicated to collecting solar energy.
"When it snows, we dust them off. Because on snowy days, the sun will come out," Bitterbaum explained.
The switch to renewable energy is just one part to the university's multi-pronged approach at lessening its impact on the environment. Initiatives like using geothermal wells for heating and cooling to purchasing independent boilers for each building has cut down energy use on campus.
"Even in our cafeteria, where we take the oils that we use to fry things and turn it into bio fuels that can be used by local farmers," Bitterbaum said. "So it's really a comprehensive approach to the future of sustainability here at the college."
Even with the grant, purchasing green energy comes with a cost. It's about $75,000 more annually. That is, until the solar panels start to pay off in about a year and a half.
"There is a premium in doing this, but it's very important that someone get the ball rolling. So I'm really pleased that we were the first to do it," Bitterbaum said.
Another big step forward in the school's quest to become carbon neutral.
SUNY Cortland will welcome the first students to its new sustainable energy systems program this semester. This new program focuses on business and practical applications of renewable energy technology and is unique within SUNY.