SUNY Chancellor King Announces the Formation of the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council

September 22, 2023

SUNY ESF President Mahoney and SUNY Oneonta President Cardelle Will Serve as Co-Chairs

Building on SUNY's Successful Energy Efficiency Record, the Council Will Implement Innovative Clean Energy Programs Throughout SUNY Campuses

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced the creation of the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council to accelerate SUNY's leadership on sustainability and climate action. The council will focus on ways to reduce SUNY's environmental footprint, promote green workforce development programs, spur research and innovation on advanced climate issues, and encourage other applied learning methods.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Joanie Mahoney and SUNY Oneonta President Alberto J.F. Cardelle will serve as co-chairs of the advisory council, while SUNY Board of Trustees members Stanley Litow and Keith Landa will serve as advisory council members. Isabel Valentín, a student at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry will serve as the first student representative. Additional advisory council and workgroup members will include campus presidents, campus sustainability and energy leaders, faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Carter Strickland, SUNY's chief sustainability officer and executive director of climate action, will support the advisory council's organization.

"Given the ongoing challenges posed by climate change, SUNY recognizes the urgency of taking proactive steps to address environmental concerns. This includes developing a proficient workforce capable of conceiving practical solutions while promoting sustainable practices throughout the system," said SUNY Chancellor King. "To achieve these goals, the Sustainability Advisory Council will be instrumental in supporting sustainability initiatives across all SUNY campuses, ensuring campus leaders, faculty, staff, and students have a voice and contribute their insights. I would also like to extend my appreciation to Presidents Mahoney and Cardelle for serving as co-chairs of the council."

The Sustainability Advisory Council will:

  • Help advance the Chancellor's vision for how sustainability is a critical part of SUNY's mission—from reducing SUNY's environmental footprint at state-operated campuses under EO22 to increasing green workforce development programs at community colleges to identifying applied research opportunities on issues that will be useful to carbon reduction and leveraging SUNY's students' passion for environmental justice to enhance experiential learning;
  • Support the work of the sustainability leads on each campus to ensure alignment at all levels with participation and input from presidents, faculty, staff, and students;
  • Develop consistent goals and metrics, assessment needs and tools, external partnerships, internal policies (to be developed by staff and adopted by the board as appropriate), and other elements that could be components of a SUNY-wide Climate Action Plan.

SUNY ESF President and Advisory Council Co-chair Joanie Mahoney said, "SUNY's Sustainability Advisory Council, working with the Chancellor's new sustainability office, will help to drive meaningful and impactful climate action strategies at every one of SUNY's 64 campuses. So much important work is already happening at so many of our sister campuses, but there is more to do, and we must move swiftly. Thank you, Chancellor King and Director Strickland, for convening this council; President Cardelle and I stand ready to assist you both in taking an inventory of and developing an action plan for the critical and timely work happening throughout the SUNY system. Each SUNY campus is unique, each brings with it its own challenges and opportunities, and as president of SUNY's flagship environmental college, I couldn't be happier to help lead this effort with my friend and colleague President Alberto Cardelle."

SUNY Oneonta President and Advisory Council Co-chair Alberto Cardelle said, "The opportunity to work collectively and think critically on these topics will enable the SUNY community to identify and implement solutions that will not only help develop the SUNY Climate Action Plan but could positively impact the state and our country. Using campus buildings and operations as teaching and learning tools to practice sustainable operations and behaviors will allow us to identify those that may be scalable for our cities and regions. I am eager to work with the council to leverage SUNY's sustainability and clean-energy efforts into economic development opportunities for communities across the state and hands-on learning opportunities for our current and future students."

SUNY Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Director of Climate Action Carter Strickland said, "There is an urgent need to address the effects of climate change. As the largest system of public higher education in the country, we have a duty to work with our students, faculty, staff, and New York State to develop and implement sustainability initiatives and create the next generation of environmental leaders. By doing so, we will be able to ensure that the state can meet Governor Hochul's climate goals of a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030."

SUNY Board Trustee Keith Landa said, "If we are to diminish the effects of climate change, we must look at how we are running our operations today to determine how we can make viable changes for tomorrow. I am excited to be a part of this advisory council, especially working with our co-chairs and our student leaders. I believe there is so much more we can do, and I am thankful for Chancellor King's commitment toward creating a more sustainable system for years to come."

SUNY Board Trustee Stanley Litow said, "Effectively incorporating sustainability into a vast system of public higher education is of vital importance. It requires us to think creatively and holistically about how we can effectively achieve our climate goals. I applaud Chancellor King for convening this incredibly valuable group as we explore ways to implement proven and successful sustainability programs, while discovering new, innovative ways to mitigate the impact of climate change. This is essential both for todays and tomorrow's SUNY students and students for decades to come. I look forward to joining our co-chairs and members to investigate opportunities to improve sustainability and bring them forward for broader consideration." 

SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council Student Representative Isabel Valentín said, "I am honored for the opportunity to bring a student's perspective to the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council. It feels surreal to be stepping into a role that merges learning with real-world impact, from dreaming up eco-friendly initiatives to seeing them come to life across SUNY's massive network. I am here to learn, contribute, and most importantly, foster lasting change."

Under Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State is taking an aggressive stance to combat climate change and ensure a more sustainable future for New Yorkers. The Governor's vision builds on New York's investments in clean energy, including more than $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and more than $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. In 2019, the New York State Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which requires renewable energy for New York's energy sector by 2040 with 100 percent net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In addition to the state's investments, President Joe Biden's federal Inflation Reduction Act provides monies and opportunities to reduce costs so that New York can meet the requirements of the Climate Act. The IRA will reduce costs to New York to help meet the requirements of the Climate Act by approximately $70 billion through 2050 and is expected to provide unprecedented funding to reduce consumer energy costs, slash carbon emissions and pollution, ensure energy security and resilience, increase energy innovation and domestic manufacturing, and advance environmental justice.

About The SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council

To meet those demands, the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council will harness the diverse clean-energy programs throughout SUNY campuses and support students throughout their education with applied learning experiences linked to real-world career opportunities (e.g., internships and post-program job placement opportunities with municipalities, union partners, and local businesses). SUNY has an existing number of academic and hands-on training programs that lead to high-paying jobs in the state's growing clean-energy sector. The Sustainability Advisory Council will create educational and career pathways for workers statewide in clean-energy fields.

The advisory council will work in conjunction with SUNY's Offshore Wind Training Institute —a collaboration between Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University—that is projected to train 2,500 workers and provide training and retraining opportunities for all key planks of the clean-energy sector. SUNY System Administration will coordinate ongoing clean-energy market research and technologies through the Rockefeller Institute for Government and NY Small Business Development Center to strengthen and prepare for emerging academic and workforce training demands.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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