Campus News

It takes a campus to put on Sustainability Month

Sustainability Month 2019 graphic featuring local iconic locations, wind turbines, solar panels and other forms of sustainable energy.

By DAVID J. HILL

Published March 29, 2019

“One of the concepts we’re trying to get across by using the Sustainable Development Goals is the idea that a triple-bottom-line approach requires cooperation and collaboration from everyone on campus.”
Ryan McPherson, chief sustainability officer

Sustainability Month video

Join UB’s Sustainability Superstars and take part in events on campus to promote a more sustainable world.

Looking over the lengthy list of events coming up as part of Sustainability Month at UB, one thing in particular stands out: The vast majority of them — and there are more than 40 in all — are touched by units that don’t fall directly under the UB Sustainability umbrella.

And that’s a good thing, says UB Chief Sustainability Officer Ryan McPherson.

“One of the concepts we’re trying to get across by using the Sustainable Development Goals is the idea that a triple-bottom-line approach requires cooperation and collaboration from everyone on campus,” McPherson says. “That’s why it’s so great to see a variety of units at UB presenting events as part of Sustainability Month.”

As usual, the month-long celebration features some bonus content. It kicked off Wednesday with a symposium hosted by the School of Social Work focusing on poverty as a human rights issue.

There are numerous events on the calendar that one wouldn’t necessarily think of as being related to sustainability, and yet they are. For example, UB’s Intercultural and Diversity Center is presenting a workshop called “The Transgender Umbrella” to teach people about different transgender identities.

Even Thursday’s Business Days gets incorporated into the Sustainability Month fold, thanks to sessions on university waste streams, green measures happening as part of UB’s Heart of the Campus project, and developments toward the university’s new climate action plan.

Another of the month’s key events is a visit on April 11 from Judith Enck, the former regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Enck will meet with various groups on campus and in the community, and will present her latest project, “Beyond Plastics,” aimed at promoting local laws to reduce plastic pollution.

UB students will also get in on the action during Sustainability Month. UB is again participating in the World’s Challenge Challenge, which calls on students to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The UB finals are set for 4-6 p.m. April 2, with the winner advancing to the global final in June at Western University in London, Ontario.

group shot of students from World's challenge Challenge.

Participants at last year's World's Challenge Challenge pose for a photo.

Erie Hack, another popular student event, is returning to campus this spring. Erie Hack is a data and engineering competition that unites coders, developers, engineers and water experts to generate enduring solutions to Lake Erie’s biggest challenges. The competition includes $100,000 in prizes for the most creative and effective hacks. Teams of UB and high school students will present their pitches April 19, with the winner advancing to the Erie Hack finals in Cleveland, also in June, with a chance to win $100,000.

The Solar Celebration, happening on Earth Day (April 22), will celebrate all things clean energy with Environmental SA, UB Sustainability and the Education and Leadership Fellows in Sustainability (ELFS). Participants can view solar panels, hear from business leaders in the clean energy field, and participate in fun solar activities.

On April 30, UB Sustainability will host its clean energy symposium, “Transforming Our World,” where students from across New York State will present their ideas for shifting energy production to more sustainable and resilient systems.

Once again, Sustainability Month culminates with the Western New York Sustainable Business Summit May 8 at Hotel Henry, where nearly 200 people representing dozens of area businesses will strategize ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

Over the coming weeks, UBNow will provide a more in-depth look at some of the bigger events happening during Sustainability Month. See the full list on the UB Sustainability website, where you can also check out the Sustainability Superstar video series.