Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Zemanick
Director, Campus Sustainability Office
FS - Energy & Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

A variety of Cornell units and members of the University community are regularly engaged with Tompkins County organizations, local governments, and leaders working on carbon neutrality, sustainability, and cutting-edge strategies that touch on government policies, utility infrastructure and more efficient ways to engage and empower.

Cornell staff are participating in the Ithaca Green Building Policy (http://www.ithacagreenbuilding.com/home) and serving on the Advisory Committee. Legislation is expected to be considered for adoption by the City of Ithaca Common Council and Town of Ithaca Town Board for standards for energy and water use standards for new construction.

A Cornell staffer serves on the county-appointed Environmental Management Council, http://tompkinscountyny.gov/emc while staff and faculty have offered inputs and expertise in the development of the Tompkins County Energy Roadmap.

Cornell was also a founding member of the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, http://www.tccpi.org that includes governments, businesses and citizens from all walks of life, who advocate for key legislation, and related ordinances tied to solar, wind, coal, natural gas, and on other key topics/

Finally, Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, http://www.atkinson.cornell.edu is the first research institution to unite three pillars of sustainability—energy, environment, and economic development—in one center. Grant programs have provided leadership and resources tied to public policy, and related developments.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

During the Legislative Session we hosted a meeting at Cornell Tech for the NYS Energy Committee Chair, the Ithaca Assemblywoman, and the Assembly member who represents that campus. This meeting consisted of a briefing for these legislators on state tax laws that need to be amended to prevent local taxing jurisdictions from applying unreasonable tax assessments on renewable energy projects. These assessments are preventing projects from going forward. This briefing at Cornell Tech also covered the Renewable Energy Certificate issues that need their attention. These legislators were given a tour of the sustainability features of the Cornell Tech campus. We had sustainability directors from SUNY Buffalo and Ithaca College join us for this briefing and tour.

Cornell staff led the work of the Coalition of Renewable Energy Users (CORE), a group of institutions and businesses which actively participated in NYS Public Service Commission cases and matters filing comments and petitions with the intent to cause new rules on distributed energy resources and the state's clean energy standard to enable voluntary renewable energy projects and participation in the state's renewable energy transition by utility customers.

Cornell is a member of the Alliance for Clean Energy NY (ACENY) which advocates for sustainability at the state and national level on behalf of its members.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Cornell University is a strong advocate for Federal policies that have a direct impact on the university and its students, faculty, staff, and operations as a non-profit institution with missions of education, research, patient care, and outreach. Cornell faculty are expert on many issues that touch on sustainability, and the University encourages these individuals to share their expertise and research to help shape federal policy across a broad range of issues including climate change, energy policy, agricultural practices, economic development, water resources, invasive species management, sustainable development, and species conservation, among others.

Cornell University advocates for robust funding for the federal agencies that sponsor research on sustainability, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture (including the National Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service), Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautic & Space Administration, and US Geological Survey. Cornell continues to lobby against legislation that would place restrictions on funding for entire research disciplines such as climate change and social science, that touch on sustainability. The University also actively opposes legislation and policy changes that would impose political conditions and filters on scientific research, squelch data collection and dissemination, politicize the peer review process, remove scientists from serving on federal scientific advisory panels, and discredit or ignore scientific findings.

Cornell is signatory of the Presidents' Climate Commitment hosted by Second Nature. Second Nature advocates on behalf of its member institutions.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:

Each year, Cornell participates in and sends a delegation to the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP). Please see link below for details. Additionally, Cornell's President Martha Pollack has signed her support of the Paris agreements (see below for link and details).

Cornell is a founding member of the International Universities Climate Alliance - https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/04/cornell-joins-global-research-university-climate-alliance

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2019/01/students-faculty-shape-global-effort-cool-warming-world

http://news.cornell.edu/essentials/2017/06/president-signs-make-climate-change-progress


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

N/A


A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):

N/A


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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