Ramapo Green

Sustainable Living Facilities (SLF's)

village    cpa-redwood


‘Eco-dorms’ – or green residence facilities – have started to appear across campus landscapes around the country. They range from small (e.g. 36-occupant) LEED-certified buildings with student programming, including seminars and organic gardens, where the focus truly is on ‘living green’ and infusing sustainability into the student lifestyle; to large (125-360 student) LEED buildings designed to save operating costs over traditional residences, but with the residents essentially oblivious to notions of sustainability. There are also campuses where ‘green lifestyles’ are being promoted in small ‘green themed houses’, with programming support, but without a green building.
Ramapo College’s Sustainable Living Facilities (SLFs), which began operating in Fall 2010, follow the ‘green lifestyle in an existing building’ model, for two major reasons: there are no plans to build additional residence halls (at least in the near future), and most existing residences are new and not nearing the time for major renovation when the building could be greened.


Village (one stairwell)
CPA Redwood (and Hickory if required)
Apartment-style living, where students are able to cook for themselves, and live in SLF-contained units, are ideal for the SLFs. Juniors and seniors are eligible to live in the Village, which is close to the Sharp Sustainability Education Center (SSEC). The CPAs offer occupancy to sophomores through seniors; the SLF’s organic vegetable garden is located behind Redwood. The Village has single rooms; CPAs consist of doubles. Bicycle racks will be available at each SLF.

  • Village is separately metered for electricity, close to Thomases Commons (a laundry perk), is centrally located within the Village (providing a literal sustainability core to the community).
  • Redwood and Hickory are south of the Lodge, Redwood being closest. These two CPAs are the closest to the Lodge and the organic garden.
Student Eligibility
  • Students apply for the SLF through a separate application procedure in February. Some elements of the Housing Selection process are done separately.
    • A separate application process will be required and certain criteria (see must be met. The application deadline is February 27, 2015. (See “Residence Life Procedures”, below.)
    • The SLF Committee reviews applications.
  • Open to sophomores through seniors.
  • For the Village SLF, the regular Village criteria also apply.
Benefits to Students and Institution

Benefits to Students:

  • Grow your own food
  • Service Learning credits
  • Sense of community
  • Resume-builder

Benefits to Ramapo College:

  • “Green living” decreases operating costs (energy/water savings; increased recycling therefore decreased waste)
  • Student engagement in sustainability
  • Culture-building
Commitment by Students

The SLFs have a separate housing application and agreement. Examples of actions which students are expected to undertake include:

  • 100% recycling compliance (commingled, paper, cardboard, batteries, CFLs, etc.)
  • promote indoor air quality and limit environmental degradation by using ‘green’ cleaning supplies
  • consume local and/or organic produce whenever possible
  • reduce their personal carbon footprint
    • take fewer car trips – carpool, combine trips
    • use mass transit
    • conserve energy (electricity, heat) and water
  • enroll in the Sustainable Living Seminar (first-time SLFers; see below) or Leadership Skills (second-time SLFers)
Required Course
  • All incoming SLF students are required to take the Sustainable Living Seminar (INTD 250)
    • Counts in the General Education “Topics: Social Science” category (for everyone except SSHS students), and the Sustainability Core requirement (for SSHS students).
    • Offered in the Fall semester. [Fall 2015 (tentatively): MR 1:00-2:50 pm]
    • For students who can not fit INTD 250 into their Fall schedule, ENST 209 (World Sustainability) or ENSC 103 (Intro. to Environmental Science) are alternatives, with the permission of the SLF Committee.
    • Contact Professor Rainforth for additional information.
  • All “repeat” SLF students, who have already taken INTD 250, will take a designated sustainability-themed section of Leadership Skills (SOSC 105) in the Fall semester of their second year in the SLF program.
    • As part of their course requirements and SLF requirements, all students are required to undertake a Service Learning project.
    • There are many options for the Service Learning Component, and the scope will vary according to whether a students is in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-year in the SLF program.
    • SLF Student Director (who will liaise with the RD and serve as Chair of the SLF’s Residential Board; 1 position for each SLF)
    • Serve on Residential Board for each of the 2 SLF areas (Village, CPA)
    • ResLife Recycling liaison to Student Recycling Crew (collect data on volume of recyclables, encourage compliance across Residences) (1 position; Ex-officio on ResBoard)
    • Serve as a liaison (and active participant) in 1STEP and Environmental Alliance (1 to each club), SGA, ResLife, RHA (> 5 positions, ex-officio on ResBoard)
    • SSEC outreach: conduct tours of facility to both on-campus and off-campus groups (e.g., lunchtimes) (2 positions)
    • Organic gardens (SSEC and CPA): Head Gardener position (ex-officio on ResBoard) and garden crew for each.
    • Work with NJHEPS (e.g., coordinate their student outreach committee; volunteer in the NJHEPS office at Ramapo) (several positions)
    • Research opportunities – feasibility studies for further campus greening, e.g. to explore composting; biodiesel; free/loaner bicycle scheme; campus-wide ‘freecycle’ scheme etc. Subsequent implementation of any of these projects would provide further Service Learning opportunities.
    • Opportunities for Sustainability projects within the American Democracy Project.
    • As noted above, several of these positions are ex-officio on the ResBoard of each SLF, because it can not be known in advance from which SLF the positions will be drawn from.
Support for Students
  • Each SLF area is overseen by a designated CA/RA (as appropriate), who will assist in coordinating the program. The CA/RA will also create programming events targeted fo the SLF students.
  • Each SLF can have its own ‘Residential Board’, with regular meetings to discuss any issues that arise, ideas that can be brought forward, etc. The ResBoard becomes the governing body for the SLF and becomes the core of the community.
  • Facebook page – developed and maintained by students – with information on homemade green cleaning supplies; recipes; area vendors of local/organic foods and farmers markets; tips for green living (in support of the ‘Sustainable Living Agreement’
  • The Bookstore will be asked to order clothes drying racks upon request (they could be ordered online before the start of semester and made available for pick-up during move-in week)
SLF Governance
  • The SLF program is overseen by a Committee, whose role includes the overall governance and budget for the program, and selection of students who apply to the SLFs.
    • Current membership: Linda Diaz (Director, Residence Life), Emma Rainforth (Associate Professor Environmental Science/Director, Sustainability Center), Sangha Padhy (Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies); Sarah Dwyer (CPA Area Director), Anne Greenip (Residence Director), Stephanie Barlow (Residence Life, ad-hoc), Alexa Marques (SLF), Heather Darley (SLF).
    • Reps from the SLF ResBoards will be added
  • Each SLF has a Residential Board made up from its residents, acting as a governing body for the SLF. The Residential Board Chair is the SLF Student Director.
Residence Life Procedures - Sustainable Living Agreement / Selection Criteria and Process

A: “Sustainable Living Facility” Agreement
Students who are participating in the SLF Program are expected to abide by all Office of Residence Life policies, procedures and housing requirements. For your reference, please refer to the Guide to Community Living and Student Handbook, which is listed on the Residence Life Website. In addition to the regular Housing agreements, students applying to live in the SLF also agree to:

  • commit to living in the SLF for the entire academic year (Fall and Spring semesters)
  • sign and follow the SLF Contract.
  • take the required course (INTD 250 for first-time SLF students, SOSC 105 for second-time SLF students). (Contact Professor Rainforth for additional information, including substitution of courses for the SLF seminar.)
    • Students wishing to withdraw from the course must also withdraw from the SLF housing. Students would either be withdrawn from campus housing completely, or administratively moved to another on-campus vacancy.
  • Complete SLF Contract

Significant violations of this Agreement will result in ineligibility to live in SLFs in future semesters.

B: Selection Criteria and Process

  • Students will apply to the SLFs by February 27th of the preceding academic year.
  • Applications will be reviewed by representatives from the SLF Committee.
  • Students must submit the following information (in addition to the regular housing form):
    • Sustainability Resume: applicant’s name, major, overview of Sustainability Actions on campus and off campus, future plans for sustainability involvement.
    • Narrative: paragraph (175 words max) describing why the applicant wishes to participate in the SLF.
    • At least one letter of recommendation (e.g. from a faculty member)
    • List of students they would like to have as room-mates
  • Criteria for review will include the applicant’s Resume and Narrative, plus:
    • Cumulative GPA 2.5 or higher
      • Students who are accepted for the SLFs, but whose cumGPA drops below 2.5 in May, may appeal to the selection committee for permission to enter the SLF program in September. The appeal should include documentation stating the student’s plan for improving their GPA. Should the appeal be denied, the student’s space will be filled from the SLF wait-list.
    • Judicial review by Residence Life personnel to ensure no major judicial violations.
    • Academic review by Office of the Provost to ensure no academic integrity violations.

SLF Application Form for Fall 2015

SLF Contract (PDF)

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