College Moves Forward on Sustainability Programming; Launches “Go.Green@sunyorange” Web Site

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Students, faculty and staff at SUNY Orange now have a structured method for sharing or locating rides and reducing transportation costs thanks to the College’s recent partnership with NuRide, an online ridesharing community coordinated by MetroPool, the commuter services agency operated by the state transportation departments of New York and Connecticut.

PHOTO: Go.Green@sunyorange logoThe NuRide web site, among MetroPool’s array of employer and commuter transportation programs, allows registered users to search for possible ridesharing opportunities with people from their geographic area or organization. Once registered, SUNY Orange employees and students will be able to locate other members of the College community interested in sharing rides to and from the College’s campuses. But, because NuRide is open to all residents within the Hudson Valley, those from the College could share rides with neighbors to areas close to campus, or even collaborate on trips to other locations not related to SUNY Orange.

In addition to reducing their impact on the environment and saving money on commuting costs, those who register with NuRide earn rewards points for each “trip saved.” Rewards points can be earned for carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting, taking other mass transportation, biking or walking.

“As a College, a lot of work has been done to assess where we are, and in what directions we need to go with regard to sustainability and reducing our environmental impact,” says Dr. Joseph Zurovchak, a biology professor and chair of the College’s Sustainability Committee. “But the one area where we thought we could make a significant difference was transportation. Because all of our students commute, the College’s effect on the environment, in terms of carbon dioxide production, is remarkable. If we can reduce those numbers by even 1 percent, we will have made a drastic improvement, and that’s why we are excited to be associated with MetroPool and NuRide.”

College officials expect that the structured online community offered by NuRide will greatly benefit students and employees who, until now, could only coordinate ride sharing through word of mouth or paper flyers posted on bulletin boards across the campuses.

Estimates suggest that SUNY Orange students, faculty and staff commuted 12.2 million miles and used 556,000 gallons of gasoline in 2008, generating more than 4.84 million kilograms of carbon dioxide. Reducing SUNY Orange’s overall commuting by 10 percent could lower the CO2 production by more than 218,000 kilograms, save 25,000 gallons of fuel and trim approximately 500,000 miles annually. At the current price of $2.75 per gallon, that would help the College community save $68,750 in commuting costs each year.

Its new affiliation with MetroPool and NuRide is just the latest project to come from the College’s growing sustainability program, which received a significant boost in December 2008 when SUNY Orange’s Board of Trustees approved sustainability as one of five priorities in the College’s new Strategic Plan 2009-2014.

Since then, SUNY Orange has developed a Sustainability Master Plan that will guide its efforts over the next three to five years and elevated its ad-hoc sustainability committee to a standing committee within the College’s shared governance system. Officials will soon complete a greenhouse gas report and have already begun a comprehensive College-wide sustainability assessment as part of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Ratings System (STARS) administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS is a self-reporting program for colleges and universities to implement as they gauge their progress toward sustainability. It is designed to provide a framework for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education while also allowing colleges and universities to monitor their current and future progress. Members of the STARS program will be able to share information about sustainable practices and performance, while also building stronger and more diverse sustainability awareness on their own campuses.

Upon completion of their reporting, colleges and universities may be issued one of four Sustainability ratings by the STARS program: bronze, silver, gold or platinum. SUNY Orange is a charter member of STARS, which now boasts more than 120 member colleges and universities. The College is also a member of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which includes more than 650 higher education institutions that have pledged to reduce their environmental impacts and to foster sustainable operational and educational practices.

Information on all of SUNY Orange’s sustainability efforts can be found on the College’s new “Go.Green@sunyorange” sustainability web site. The newly launched site includes ridesharing links to NuRide and other MetroPool programs, as well as information relative to the College’s sustainability progress, links to helpful resources, faculty-based educational resources and a calendar of sustainability events at the College.

In addition, SUNY Orange has established a e-mail address where people may direct questions, requests, tips and feedback. Kirsten Gabrielsen is the College’s administrator for the NuRide program. She can be reached at (845) 341-4166.

Additional information on NuRide
NuRide is the nation’s largest rewards program for individuals who take greener trips, which include carpooling, vanpooling, biking, walking, telecommuting and taking public transportation. NuRide is a free service and is supported by sponsors who provide special offers to NuRide members for taking greener trips and reducing global warming, traffic congestion and energy consumption. Almost 12,000 NuRiders in the New York metro region
have driven 22 million fewer miles, resulting in 9,500 tons of emissions prevented! NuRide is supported by the New York State Department of Transportation and administered by MetroPool.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940