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Sustainability is a very broad term and at Riverdale it’s not just about the environment. The dictionary will give a simple definition of “prolonged nourishment.” At Riverdale, sustainability means that we work to establish an environment that allows for prolonged success and nourishment of our students, faculty, employees, campus, and community.

With regard to sustainability, Thomas Friedman recently noted in The New York Times: “We’re trying to deal with a whole array of integrated problems—climate change, energy, biodiversity loss, poverty alleviation and the need to grow enough food to feed the planet—separately. The poverty fighters resent the climate change folks; climate folks hold summits without reference to biodiversity; the food advocates resist the biodiversity protectors.” His point is that these challenges need to be approached as one problem, and this is the philosophy at Riverdale; we want to take a careful and deliberate approach to sustainability and all the related issues.

Riverdale, along with 10 other New York City independent schools, was one of the first to sign the Green School Leadership Commitment Pledge of the Green Schools Alliance. The Commitment asks that we will attempt to lower our carbon footprint 30% by the year 2012. In 2008, through energy consumption alone, RCS generated 3,056 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Ultimately, we want to lower our total energy carbon output to 1,577 metric tons of carbon dioxide. We will continue to look at other ways—besides energy use reduction—to lower our carbon output. The quickest and simplest way to reach our goal will be through energy conservation and efficiency measures, but we will not stop there.

Everyone at Riverdale—our faculty, students, parents, administrators, dining services staff, grounds staff, environmental services staff, and maintenance employees—is committed to a sustainable future. David Patnaude, Director of Plant & Sustainability, will be working with all of these interested parties on a variety of issues and will keep the RCS community updated on the school’s sustainability activities and adventures.

What types of posts will you see in the near future? To name a few, we are interested in:

• Agriculture and gardening; providing for a sustainable food supply.

• Xeriscaping; low intensity landscaping with more indigenous plants.

• Organic fertilization for groomed fields and presentation space.

• The Three “R”s: recycling, reusing and renewing versus always new.

• Biodiversity, ethnobotany and protection of species and public land, parks, and refuges.

• Conservation and energy efficiency.

• Alternative forms of energy; the use of renewable energy.

• An overall reduction in our school’s carbon footprint.

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