Campus News

Earth week

New sustainability strategy to be introduced at first annual summit

By CORY NEALON

Published April 16, 2015

Earth Week events poster

Click to download the Earth Week events poster

Building the most publicly accessible solar array in the nation? Check.

Turning food waste into a potent and eco-friendly fertilizer? Check.

A new interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to solving pressing environmental problems? Check.

These accomplishments are only the tip of the iceberg in UB’s efforts to create a more sustainable campus and world through innovative research, education and operations management.

Yet to reach the goal of becoming a truly sustainable university, more must be done. Much more.

That sense of urgency explains why UB is hosting its first annual Sustainability Summit on Earth Day, April 22. RSVP online.

The summit is the kickoff for a larger effort by UB to embed sustainable thinking, practices and decision-making throughout the university via an integrated sustainability strategy.

It will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Black Box Theatre in the Center for the Arts, North Campus, and feature keynote speaker Erik Foley, managing director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute.

One of more than 30 events scheduled during Earth Week — visit UB Sustainability’s website for a complete list — the summit will include UB’s first-ever Green SLICE (Sustainability Leadership, Innovation, Collaboration and Engagement) awards.

Winners of the awards are:

  • Faculty – Alan Rabideau, professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. For more the two decades, Rabideau has been a leader at infusing sustainability philosophy and actions at UB.
  • Staff – Russ Crispell, director of Outdoor Pursuits in the Office of Student Life. Crispell has been a tireless advocate for increasing outdoor opportunities for the UB community.
  • Student – Kelley Mosher, an undergraduate majoring in environmental design and environmental studies. Mosher has worked on numerous sustainability initiatives, including the UB Campus Garden.
  • Sustainability Excellence – The Honors College, which has been exemplar in integrating sustainability at UB through service learning, co-curricular activities and day-to-day practices.

At the summit, UB’s leaders also will provide an update on the university’s progress to achieving carbon neutrality.

A landmark sustainability report compiled by UB in 2012 was certified “silver” by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education — a clear indication that UB is at the forefront of sustainability among North American colleges and universities.

Leaders will discuss the efforts of UB’s Stewardship Committee (formerly the Environmental Stewardship Committee). The committee created the university’s Climate Action Plan, which offers guidance for the university on energy use, transportation, information technology, materials use and human resources.

Stewardship co-chairs Robert Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and Ryan McPherson, chief sustainability officer, also will explain how UB is enlisting the expertise of dozens of leaders university-wide to build upon the committee by creating four new subcommittees focusing on research, teaching, operations and engagement.

The subcommittees, which are tasked with developing goals, priorities and focus areas for UB’s broader sustainability plan, are chaired by:

  • Research – Amit Goyal, director of RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water) and the Empire Innovation Professor in the departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Physics.
  • Teaching – Andrew M. Stott, dean of undergraduate education and professor of English.
  • Operations – Kelly Hayes McAlonie, interim associate vice provost and director of UB’s Capital Planning Group.
  • Engagement – Domenic “Dom” Licata, instructional support technician and instructor in the Department of Art, and incoming chair of the Professional Staff Senate.