Water Resources Initiative

Students discussiong recreation on Saratoga Lake

Senior Capstone Projects (2012-2013)


Design ProposalDesigning a Sustainable Field Research Station for Skidmore College’s Off Campus Properties

Marcus Goldbas, Gwyn Harris, and Lily Alverson (2013)

We developed an architectural design for a field station that will increase the use of Skidmore’s forested properties for teaching, learning, and outdoor activities, while implementing sustainable design strategies to limit the environmental impacts on the surrounding landscape.  We combined stakeholder analyses with evaluations of siting, orientation, climate, access/transportation, solar energy, passive solar heating, storm water management, rainwater catchment, day lighting, and materials, and offer a proposal to the Skidmore Community.


Green Home TourSaratoga’s First Green Home Tour:  A Social Experiment

Rene deJongh, Melissa Green, and Stephanie Seidmon (2013)

As an individual, your single most significant impact on the natural environment is your choice of home and behaviors within the home. As a result, the residential sector in the United States accounts for 40% of our carbon emissions. If energy efficient homes have a smaller environmental impact and save the consumer money, why don’t more people build green homes? In this study we explored the perceptions and behaviors of Saratoga County residents about building green and retrofitting homes through interviews and surveys and how a Green Home Tour could serve as a method of education to spread awareness of green building.


Unfinished PlansGrand Plans, Trails to Nowhere: An Analysis of Multi-Use Trails in Saratoga Springs

Nate Blanks, Sarah Marks, and Dan Raudonis (2013)

The trail network in Saratoga Springs is underdeveloped and despite numerous plans a cohesive trail network is still far from being a reality. We assess the factors that affect trail creation through historical and first-hand research. Key barriers to trail implementation include funding, government will and communication. Ultimately, we make recommendations for how to improve future trail efforts in the area, including a current plan to create a 10-mile network of trails.


Social CapitalSocial Capital and Soils in the Community Gardens of the Capital District:  What they put in and what they take out

Olivia Miller, Abby Smith, and Emily Hudspeth (2013)

What are the social and physical characteristics of community gardens in the Capital District? How does location (urban, suburban, rural?) influence the functionality of gardens? Using a survey, we examined gardener perceptions of and contributions to community, both inside and outside garden walls. We analyzed soil type and impervious surface cover data as well. We created a ranking system to determine those gardens that exhibit the “best” and “worst” characteristics. These results were mapped using GIS which allowed us to find correlations between location and garden success. We found that location has the most impact on impervious surface and community within the garden whereas soil type and engagement with the surrounding community are more variable and depend on other factors besides location.


Conceptual Landscapes on Skidmore CampusConceptual Landscapes on Skidmore Campus: Reconciling Perception and Reality

Hannah Greendorfer, Meghan Burke, and Abby Wyant (2013)

Colleges are constantly adapting to internal and external pressures. In the past ten years Skidmore College has increased in size and scope. Our project aims to illustrate how the Skidmore population views and interacts with the college campus. We investigate the conceptualizations of space using cognitive maps drawn by members of the Skidmore community. The assessment of space can then influence future developments and supports sustainable design and a strong Skidmore community.


The Times They Are A-Changin'The Times They Are A-Changin': Shifting Environmentalism in Saratoga Springs

Riley Johnson, Gabby Stern, and Sarah Risley (2013)
Is the environmental movement really dead? We applied this question to Saratoga Springs and came to our own conclusion: It certainly is not! Saratoga Springs has a vibrant movement that thrives at the local level and addresses an array of environmental issues. Although environmentalism is not dead in Saratoga, the grassroots are transforming. We analyze the state of the movement and how it is continuing to flourish in a new way.



Videos UnpluggedVideos Unplugged: Combining Comedy with Consequence

Racquel Figueroa, Eric Stumpf, and Anthony DiLisio (2013)

What does it take to make an effective video PSA for the Skidmore Unplugged energy saving campaign? We surveyed students about their usage of electrical devices to identify the sources of energy consumption and key behaviors to target. We made ten videos exploring the themes of humor, social influence and environmental concern. Focus group discussions showed that a combination of these themes would be most effective for the college audience. Other key aspects were brevity, shock value, personal relevancy and specificity of both target behavior and audience.


Growing Good HabitsGrowing Good Habits: A Garden-Based Approach to Fourth & Fifth Grade Learning

Haley Duncan, Anna-Beth Lawler, and Duke Yun (2013)

Today, children face depravation from nature, unhealthy eating habits, and limited physical activity. Garden-based learning can address all of these issues, while also enhancing science classes. We developed a 5-week indoor, garden-based, after-school program with fourth and fifth graders from St. Mary's elementary school in Ballston Spa to measure their effectiveness. Successful gardening programs must create allies within the school and ultimately influence in-classroom curriculums.


Breaking InBreaking In: Educating Prisoners Through Environmental Literacy

Sondra Lipshutz, Kristen Stearns, and Sarah LaBella (2013)

How can the impact of the environmental movement reach underserved communities?  Our project involved seeking nontraditional allies in prisoners, working with Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, NY to implement an environmental literacy program for inmates.  Literature, film, and interactive activities introduced inmates to topics from climate change to green jobs. We used pre- and post-surveys to evaluate the program and made suggestions for future Skidmore/prison collaboration in the field of environmental studies.



Why LocalWhy Local: An Examination of Motivations and Barriers to Integrating Local Food in Saratoga Restaurants

Lauren Markram, Julia Paino, and Holden Greene (2013)

Which restaurants in Saratoga County use local foods, what are their motivations, and what are the barriers that prevent expansion of this market?  To answer these questions, we conducted a multi-method study combining food systems theory with market theory. Our findings suggest that Saratoga residents are interested and willing to pay more for local food, but that lack of communication between stakeholders has created market inefficiencies that must be addressed in order to facilitate greater integration of local food in Saratoga restaurants.