SUNY Awards 10 Energy-Smart Campus Collaborations

February 7, 2013

Albany — The State University of New York today announced the winners of its inaugural Small Grant Sustainability Competition, which was established as part of the system's strategic planning goal to support an Energy-Smart New York.

"SUNY campuses in every region are working to decrease their carbon footprint and contribute energy-smart research and innovation to the communities they serve," said Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "By leveraging our systemness and working together to bring excellent programs and new ideas to scale, SUNY continues to drive sustainability throughout New York State."

The competition is coordinated by the SUNY Office of Sustainability to support the work of SUNY faculty and students to promote sustainability by reducing on-campus energy usage; assisting local communities by educating them on sustainability issues or replicating a project in the surrounding community; and spurring more intensive research on an idea developed during the project.

The 10 winning proposals of this inaugural competition are as follows:

Heavy Metals in Soil: New Paltz, Cobleskill, College of Environmental Science and Forestry:
The colleges seek to determine the feasibility of using basic field techniques for non-experts to determine the quality and concentration of heavy metals in soil. It is important for community members to be able to determine this, because if food is grown in such soil and consumed, the consumer's health could be negatively affected.

Waste Education: Brockport, Fredonia, UAlbany: A main challenge of the food system is the large amount of waste it produces, however the average consumer does not know how to reduce his or her waste. This study will determine whether educating people about how to reduce their food waste results in lower waste and a better understanding of how waste can be reduced in these communities. A composting method will be tested and campus researchers will invite approximately 40 students from each of three campuses to participate.

eGarden: SUNY Geneseo: SUNY Geneseo is planning the construction of a stand-alone, off the grid, Energy Garden (eGarden) that will generate energy using renewable sources such as wind, solar energy, geothermal systems, and bio-fuels. This will decrease campus energy consumption and landfill waste. It will also power an Eco Dorm, a bioconversion green house, and the new Center for Inquiry, Discovery, and Development. Approximately 50 students per year are expected to participate in the eGarden through volunteering, engaging in research, working, or taking the proposed eGarden lab course. Members of the SUNY Brockport, Monroe Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, and Genesee Community College campuses will also use the facility.

Storage of compressed air from treadmills: Farmingdale State College, Stony Brook University:
Researchers are converting the energy expended during exercise on a treadmill into compressed air, which is then stored and can be used later to drive a generator and produce energy. The investigators are specifically seeking to increase the efficiency of the storage of compressed air. Campuses will use the findings for a larger scale project that will study the scalability of the system or link the system with existing renewable power plants, such as wind and solar farms.

Solar Decathlon: University at Buffalo: UB students will create and develop design concepts for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) 2015 Solar Decathlon, an international competition that entails teams of college students designing, building, and operating small solar-powered houses. Student proposals must describe how a project will benefit the City of Buffalo, surrounding communities, and other SUNY campuses. Buffalo State College and the College of Environmental Science and Forestry will contribute to this initiative.

Morrisville Biodiesel Cooperative: SUNY Morrisville: The college will establish a Morrisville Biodiesel Cooperative (MBC) and new methanol recovery, storage, and handling systems. These changes will increase the amount and sustainability of current on-campus biodiesel production. Students, faculty, staff, and community members will contribute, and participants will gain knowledge of and experience with biodiesel production and the benefits of this renewable energy source. Also, the MBC will provide campus and community members with the opportunity to use a more sustainable fuel than petroleum-based fuel.

Sustainability Path: SUNYIT: Engineering students at SUNYIT will convert a 350-foot trail on campus into a "Sustainability Path" that will demonstrate solar, wind, and hydropower renewable energy technologies to the campus and community. Students will learn, design and build solar, wind, and hydropower systems to power lights and a water fountain along the Path. A hydropowered energy storage system will also be built, which will complement the unpredictability of certain renewable energy sources.

ACTS Program: SUNY Oswego: Through its Actively Collaborating Towards Solutions (ACTS) program, SUNY Oswego, in collaboration with the Oswego City School District (OCSD) and theOswego City community, is soliciting proposals from students for funding for an independent sustainability project. The college will use the SUNY sustainability grant to fund four to eight such projects. The ACTS program requires that the projects result in a holistic, experiential learning experience for the SUNY Oswego students executing the projects, as well as the K-12 OCSD students participating in them.

Climate Data: Stony Brook University, ESF: The colleges seek to involve all SUNY campuses in compiling climate data for New York State. The currently available climate change data is insufficient because it lacks information specific to New York State, which is essential for creating climate models that predict the energy needs of campuses and communities, and implementing renewable energy efforts. Undergraduate students from SUNY Stony Brook and ESF will obtain this information by contacting faculty from SUNY campuses, asking them for information about potential climate datasets, and then verifying the accuracy of these.

Monitoring Event Traffic to Increase Efficiency: University at Buffalo: A team from UB is studying how to improve the traffic patterns for large-scale planned special events, such as concerts and sporting games. Specifically, the investigators want to mathematically model the behavior of traffic control agency (TCA) workers, who override traffic lights to direct traffic, and then determine where and when the TCA workers should be placed in order to enhance vehicle flow efficiency.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2017, more than 430,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served nearly 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2016-17 academic year. SUNY students and faculty across the state make significant contributions to research and discovery, resulting in $1 billion of externally sponsored activity each year. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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