By Courtney Leiva
Many Ramapo students might be wondering, how green is Ramapo College?
“At Ramapo College there are three levels of sustainability; facility, level of operation, and education. We are currently working at all three levels to keep Ramapo green," says Ashwani Vasishth, Director of Master of Arts in Sustanaibility Education Program at Ramapo College.
Ramapo College began its commitment to sustainability in the year 1969. Although Ramapo has continued to grow both in size and student population, the college has not failed in honoring its sustainable promise as new eco-dorms now appear on campus.
In 2010, the college launched Sustainable living facilities, which decreases energy costs and allows students to engage in the college's sustainable mission. Also, the Sharp Sustainability Center, one of Ramapo's greenest accomplishments, was completed in 2009.
According to the college website, the center makes use of natural daylight and recycled and environmentally friendly materials. The center also provides heating and cooling through a environmentally friendly geothermal system.
"The Sharp Sustainability Center is a demonstration project tht shows that buildings can be greener. We are using the lessons we have learned through this project to help build greener buildings on campus," Vasisth says.
Along with its many green policies, the college does not stop short at recycling.
Each classroom on campus must be equipped with two bins for trash. A blue container is meant for paper products. All other trash is to be placed into another container which is usually gray, black, or brown.
The college is still working to make these guidelines effective.
"You have students throw the waste trash away in the wrong container, so we are working to make these guidelines more effective, particularly through education. At freshman orientation we introduce the incoming students to concepts such as recycling and sustainability," Vasishth adds.
Not only has college administration tried to make Ramapo College more sustainable. Student led organizations such as 1Step have worked to take green matters into their own hands.
"In November of 2007, President Mercer signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This is a commitment that over 600 other colleges and universities have signed on in order to go green," says 1Step president Noah Luogameno.
"With the signing, the president also created the Climate Commitment Task Force, which is faculty and administrators tasked with getting Ramapo to 'Carbon Neutrality.' Carbon Neutral means that the college will be mitigating or offsetting more carbon dioxide than it produces through energy savings and other green initiatives."
Once the Climate Commitment Task Force was initiated, soon came the creation of Ramapo's own 1Step organization.
"Along with the Climate Commitment Task Force, 1Step (Students Together for Environmental Progress) was created to act as the student working group of the sustainability initiative. 1Step has been leading the charge at Ramapo to raise awareness about environmental sustainability, as well as developing and implementing green projects, programs, and events," added Luogameno.
Over the years the student-led-organization has accomplished many green incentives. In 2008, the organization sponsored monthly late night dining which introduced the use of all biodegradable materials including utensils such as cups and plates in the campus dining hall.
More recently the club is taking new actions like composting and getting involved with local environmental organizations.
"We are incorporating composting on campus. We might be getting an industrial size composter called rocket compost. We are also involved with MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteer Organization), in which we do clean ups and spread the word about recycling" in the town, said 1Step member Amanda Nesheiwat.
"It is 1Step's vision to see Ramapo as the leader in sustainability education and practice among New Jersey higher education. Ramapo is already ahead of the game with the first Sustainability Studies Masters Program in the state, and the Sharp Sustainability Education Center; a highly efficient and green structure used for teaching classes," Luogameno said.
Ramapo is considering a cool roof program might allow the installation of solar panel roofs on the campus's academic buildings.
"There have been talks of replacing roofs of the academic wings on campus (A-E) with solar panels. This would reduce dependence on energy and reduces heat load on buildings, which decreases the use of air-conditioning in the summer," Vasishth adds.
Ramapo College's upcoming Earth Week promises lots of green activities. Among other activities, 1Step is hosting a special dinner. The dinner, open to all students is opportunity for students to learn how to keep the environment and campus clean. The dinner will be held on Tuesday, April 19th at from 4-7 p.m.
For more information: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=104827749602420&ref=mf
"Earth week is coming up and there are tons of events going on to raise awareness of environmental issues as well as fundraising for the club," Nesheiwat says.
More information on Ramapo's green initiatives can be found at ramapo.edu/ramapogreen.
This article also appeared in Mahwah Patch