Fisher struggles to maintain sustainability amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Kelsey Braun ’22, Staff Writer 

By Kelsey Braun ’22, Staff Writer 

St. John Fisher College continues to make conscious efforts to maintain a sustainably friendly campus with the help from students as well as the Center for Sustainability. During the COVID-19 pandemic however many changes have been put in place on campus that ensure the health of the campus community but also might have interrupted the progress. 

In August, when the Fall 2020 Semester started, the Center for Sustainability had already begun taking measures to establish a way to maximize the health and safety of ventilation systems in buildings on campus in the most energy efficient way.

According to Michael Boller, Sustainability Coordinator at the Center for Sustainability, “In order to try to minimize the transmission through airborne processes with the pandemic, we have tried to increase the amount of fresh air that we are bringing into the building.” In a typical building heating system, air is returned, reheated and recycled back into the building. By maximizing the amount of fresh air that comes in, the goal is for less risk of contamination.

“To make sure that we’re doing the best filtering that we can, we’ve evaluated the level of filtration,” said Boller.  “It might require that some buildings have increased fan speeds and energy usage in order to make sure you can maintain that filtration.”

Dining Services on campus also look different this semester compared to years prior. In order to keep students, faculty and staff safe, a lot of the food in the Ward Haffey Dining Hall, Cyber Café and Sono, the new Mexican style food service located in Fishbowl, are prepackaged. The Center for Sustainability is also working with Dining Services to understand how food wastes are going, and make sure operations continue to be done in a sustainable way. The reusable green Ozzy containers that were implemented in January 2019 is just one example of a strategy put in place to reduce waste on campus.

Fisher’s Dining Services and Center for Sustainability also work together with Monroe County to follow the rules for recycling. Monroe County has a single stream recycling program, which means all the recyclables go in together and get sorted out in a factory. A goal for the Center for Sustainability is to make people more mindful about using the correct bins for recycling as well as figuring out how to reduce the kinds of packaging being used.

In addition to ventilation and dining precautions, Boller predicts there will be an increase in water usage on campus as more students will be washing their hands and sanitizing objects. The chemicals being used for sanitizing and cleaning will be taken into consideration as well.

There are many ways students can get involved in sustainability on campus. The academic Sustainability program offers both a major and a minor with classes at all levels. In addition, EcoReps, Fishers volunteer peer educators, put on programs for students to learn more about sustainable alternatives. During the Spring Semester, the Center for Sustainability is looking forward to putting on a virtual Fisher Goes Green fair bringing in people from the community to talk about things that can be done to be sustainable. 

While the weather is nice, the Sustainability Club put on a distanced garbage pick-up, allowing students to engage with nature, get outside and document their progress. “A healthy environment is necessary for having a thriving, enjoyable, and healthy society,” said Tommy Farry, Junior Sustainability and Business Management Major and President of the SJFC Sustainability Club. “That’s why I am so happy that Fisher is taking sustainability so seriously and doing their part to contribute to a better future!”

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