Talking Sustainability at St. John’s: NYSDEC Deputy Commissioner James F. Gennaro Tours Queens Campus

Monday, March 24, 2014

St. John’s University recently welcomed to its Queens Campus James F. Gennaro, newly appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Deputy Commissioner for New York City Sustainability and Resiliency.

Gennaro toured the campus with several University administrators and two student Sustainability Coordinators who briefed him on the varied and innovative efforts towards greater sustainability that have been implemented on St. John’s campuses.  Among the many topics discussed during the visit included an update on the University’s progress in the plaNYC Mayor’s Carbon Challenge: St. John’s has already achieved 21% carbon reduction from base year 2007 and is on target for 30% reduction by 2017.

“As a resident of Jamaica Estates, I know that great things are always happening at St. John’s but I am very pleased to learn and see firsthand just how much sustainability is integrated into the daily campus activities,” Gennaro commented following his visit. “I applaud St. John’s for taking such an interdisciplinary approach to campus sustainability and for taking significant steps to reduce their carbon footprint, get greener and to raise environmental awareness with the larger University community.”  

Recapping the campus impact of Superstorm Sandy and subsequent steps and long-term investments made by the University to improve infrastructure and achieve greater sustainability during extreme weather events was an important matter raised during the visit by Brian Baumer, Assistant Vice President of Facilities.

Student Sustainability Coordinators, Victoria Valentino and Jonathan Whitcomb, recounted their campus-wide efforts on energy reduction, waste and recycling audits and campus gardening and composting initiatives.

“In Deputy Commissioner Gennaro we have a proven leader in the environmental movement in our own backyard and it is only fitting that the University share with our neighbors how St. John’s will always be Red but is going green,” noted Brian Browne, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations.

Prior to assuming this new role in state government Mr. Gennaro had served as a member of the New York City Council for twelve years where he represented the Queens Campus of St. John’s and its surrounding neighborhoods and chaired the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection.