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Clarkson prepares 10 days of sustainability, food events

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POTSDAM — Clarkson University’s commitment to green living and locally sourced foods is so strong, it can’t be summed up in just one day — or one week, for that matter.

“We have a 10-day celebration of campus sustainability and local food,” said Susan E. Powers, Clarkson’s associate director for sustainability.

Today, the school will kick off the celebration with the return of the Sustainable Iron Chef competition.

The competition debuted in March with a contest among three teams of students, staff and faculty using a “mystery box” of secret ingredients.

“The mystery box has only local ingredients,” said Courtney Evans, marketing manager for Clarkson’s dining services. “While we do want to cook locally, it isn’t always an option because of seasonality issues.”

Those seasonality issues will challenge competitors from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Student Center Forum. The winning dish will be served at a Local Foods Dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23 in the university’s Ross Brooks Dining Hall.

“This was just a fun challenge for us to do back in March,” Ms. Evans said. “We got a lot of positive feedback from it.”

Ms. Evans said Clarkson’s Dining Services emphasize sustainability no matter what they are cooking — or where they are serving it.

“Sustainability is important on campus. It is an initiative that is important to Dining Services as well,” she said. “We’re looking to minimize waste — food waste especially. Even in our catering service, many of our products that we use are reusable and/or compostable.”

For Clarkson, sustainable living is not just a policy goal emphasized across campus, but a potential engine for economic development.

This year, the university received grants to build a state-of-the-art wind turbine blade testing facility and to renovate the historic Old Main building downtown to energy-efficient specifications.

Ms. Powers noted a student-initiated proposal to install automatic lighting timers on campus, reducing the school’s energy use.

On Saturday, the school will dedicate the new Munter Trails along the Raquette River. The trails include two lookouts onto the river and run from Bayside Cemetery to just south of Maple Street.

“Valuing our natural resources and the revitalization of our waterfront so we can actually enjoy it is a huge part of showing Clarkson’s values,” Ms. Powers said.

The trail dedication is at 2:30 p.m. at Canoe House.

A number of speakers and discussions will underscore the importance of environmentally conscious living. Today, Emily Hunter, a Canadian environmental advocate, will speak at 7 p.m. at the Cheel Campus Center.

“Her parents were cofounders of Greenpeace, and she has been involved in many Greenpeace-sort-of initiatives, saving whales and stopping poaching in the Galapagos,” Ms. Powers said. “She is by far the biggest speaker. It should be a real eye-opener, whether or not you agree with the sort of eco-warrior approach.”

The campus will broadcast a webinar focused on climate change by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education on Oct. 24 in the Student Center multipurpose rooms.

The webinar coincides with two events — the association’s Campus Sustainability Day and the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Food Day.

“Food Day is an initiative to have a focus around food and food sourcing, with a focus on healthier eating, sustainable farming and food security,” Ms. Powers said. “It is an awareness event and an educational event.”

Campus and community members are being encouraged to don green clothing Oct. 24 to show their support for green initiatives and their Clarkson pride.

The university will offer tours of its greenhouse and anaerobic food digester behind Cheel Arena from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 24 and 27.

“This is something that students have been working on for a number of years. These are now operational to show we can grow food year-round in the greenhouse and manage our food waste to create biogas,” Ms. Powers said. “It is a great opportunity to highlight what students have contributed and student innovation has contributed to campus.”

The event also will involve an on-campus eco-scavenger hunt using smartphones and QR code scans, Web discussions and contests, Ms. Powers said.

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