Energy-Saving Bus Stop, Doormats, Speed Bumps Among Projects Awarded SUNY Small Grant Sustainability Funds

June 3, 2014

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced the winners of the 2014 Small Grant Sustainability Fund Awards, which aim to promote sustainability across SUNY by incentivizing cross-campus collaborations that cut energy costs and have a potential to be replicated elsewhere within the system.

Among the nine campus projects selected to receive a total of $50,000 from the Research Foundation for SUNY are a sustainable bus stop designed and built by students and faculty at SUNYIT; energy-harvesting doormats and speed bumps that will be installed at Stony Brook University, the University at Buffalo, and Farmingdale State; and the integration of mobile devices into service learning projects at multiple SUNY campuses and a local high school.

“The Small Grant Sustainability Fund gives SUNY an opportunity to support innovative concepts and designs by faculty and students across the state, while reducing the system’s carbon footprint,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “This program’s built-in incentive for projects that have the potential to be replicated elsewhere within SUNY is a driving force as we answer our strategic-planning goal of contributing to an Energy-Smart New York. Congratulations to all of the projects selected this year.”                                                  

Tim Killeen, president of the Research Foundation and SUNY vice chancellor for research said, “With a required campus funding match of 2 to 1, the awards generate approximately $150,000 for innovative and collaborative campus sustainability initiatives and research across the SUNY system. Congratulations to the students, faculty, and staff whose work is being funded.”

The winning projects are as follows:

Sustainable Bus Stop Shelter


For this project, students and faculty will design and build a sustainable bus shelter located in front of the new Computer Chip Commercialization Center (Quad C) complex on the SUNYIT campus, to promote sustainability in the community and encourage the use of public transportation. Specifically, the shelter will consist of five sustainable components: a solar power system, a wind turbine system, a rainwater harvesting system, an aquaponic system, and a comfort console.  Faculty and students will design and build the sustainable components, first in the laboratory, and then on site with a construction firm.

Energy Harvesting Doormats

Stony Brook University, University at Buffalo

This project will place portable energy harvesters that look like doormats in the entrances of heavy foot-traffic areas on campus, such as in front of elevators, escalators, and stairs. The idea is to capture and harness energy from footsteps and convert it into usable power, which could then be used to power electronic devices, such as smart phones, laptops, sensors, monitoring cameras, etc.

Mobile Devices as Tools for Service Learning  

SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Fredonia, Clinton Community College, Peru High School

This project will integrate mobile learning devices into service learning projects. Students from participating SUNY campuses and Peru High School will create an ongoing service learning project to meet a campus need (e.g., green, clean, environmentally friendly). Benefits may include a reduction in vehicle-wildlife collisions and/or littering and vandalism, community beautification, and improved stewardship. Students, faculty, and staff will collaborate with community organizations on the project. A secondary goal of the project will be to improve student research experiences using technology, better preparing students for employment or graduate school.

Speed Bump Energy Harvesters

Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State, University at Buffalo

This project will develop and demonstrate energy-harvesting speed bumps to generate electricity from passing vehicles.  Existing speed bumps will be replaced by the new speed bumps, with the goal of harvesting hundreds of watts of electricity from passing cars. Electricity generated will be used to power road-side lights.

Biodiesel Learning Laboratory

SUNY Brockport, SUNY Oswego, Rochester Institute of Technology

One of the challenges associated with campus food systems is the high levels of food waste containing used cooking oil. At SUNY Brockport, for example, close to 900 gallons of used canola and soy bean oil are produced for disposal each month. Disposal of this oil presents a significant environmental concern, as it requires a used oil recycling company to haul away the waste because the campus does not have an operating biodiesel production facility. This project will use a three-part approach to develop and expand a system that can ultimately be used across SUNY campuses. The project will: (1) design and establish a biodiesel production facility at SUNY Brockport through the work of student research assistants; (2) develop manuals and the production specification details for future operations and expansion across SUNY; and (3) develop a plan to assist other SUNY campuses seeking to establish their own facility.

Local Food Cost Premium Study

SUNY New Paltz

This project will establish a database tool and a process to determine the price differential and carbon emissions of local food vendors at SUNY New Paltz. A research team will analyze invoices from the college’s primary food vendors and calculate price differentials for those products offered by Sysco and local distributors selling locally grown, raised, and processed products. Successful implementation of this project will create an updatable database with the capacity to generate reports and queries, and support the “SUNY Commits” program by creating a routine process to identify local products that are competitively priced.

Energy from Low Differential Temperature Heat

SUNY Cobleskill

This project will recover energy from sources regularly neglected, such as solar heating of dark surfaces and develop a device to recover energy from any process where heat flows from a hot to cold source. A significant portion of the electrical consumption on SUNY campuses can be reduced by using this technology in boiler rooms, roof tops, parking areas and roadways. The project could result in an ability to provide low-cost renewable energy to state facilities, farms, residential homes, and businesses. The project will build a small, fully functional prototype and test it in two practical applications. 

Environmental Humanities Initiatives

University at Albany

The University at Albany will create a discussion on Environmental Humanities, with an emphasis on how our culture and media deal with issues around climate change. This will be a joint effort between the Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoScience (CHATS), the Institute for Critical Climate Change (IC3) and the Office of Environmental Sustainability.  The project will entail coursework, student engagement, a public symposium, and the creation of a student documentary film festival.

Nonlinear Rotary Translational Energy Harvester for Wind and Wave Power Generation

Stony Brook University, University at Buffalo

This project will develop an energy generator called “Nonlinear Rotary Translational Energy Harvester (NRTEH)” that converts rotary or translational mechanical motions into electrical energy. Large NRTEHs can be used by vessels to generate kilowatts of power from ocean waves, while small NRTEHs can be placed inside wind turbine blades to generate power from the rotation of the blades. 

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, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three 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 opportunities, visit

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