In the 2014 calendar year, the University recycled 4,823 tons of material. This resulted in a waste diversion rate of 35.6% as a part of total waste for the entire University (River Campus, Medical Center, Eastman School of Music, and Memorial Art Gallery). Individually, the River Campus waste diversion rate was 49.0% and the Medical Center waste diversion rate was 28.7%. Construction material increased the diversion rate by 8.3%, from 27.3% to 35.6%, accounting for 1,700 tons of material. Since the arrival of a recycling coordinator on campus this rate has increased by 13.7%. RecycleMania is an annual competition between Universities nationwide to see which institution can collect the most recycling materials throughout an eight-week competition period. The University scored exceptionally well in RecycleMania 2014, finishing in the Top 25 in multiple categories including Paper, Per Capita Classic, Cardboard, and Bottles and Cans. The University had a recycling rate of 31.60%, equating to about 32.35 pounds of recycling per person and 544,378 pounds in total. Diverse student groups came together to contribute to the event’s success and the results reveal the University’s commitment to sustainability.
At the end of the Academic Year, University Facilities and Services hosted their 6th annual Move-out Clean-Out event, wherein they helped students donate and recycle their old or unwanted clothing, food, furniture, electronics, and school supplies. A total of 10,983 pounds of clothing were donated to Planet Aid and 1,328 pounds of electronics were collected by Sunnking electronics to be recycled. Additionally, 2,817 pounds of food were collected and donated to the Open Door Mission, a dramatic increase from last year by 1,161 pounds. Miscellaneous items such as furniture and school supplies were also gathered for recycling during the Grassroots’ annual fundraiser Dump and Run. Students would place unwanted items outside their rooms and members from the student organization would pick them up and sort them. Both events proved extremely successful, preventing thousands of pounds of materials from entering the landfill.
The University of Rochester was placed on Princeton Review’s List of 322 Green Colleges of 2014. Examining a list of over 2,000 schools each year, Princeton Review decides on a list of Green Colleges based on sustainable initiatives and attitudes on campus. They hand select colleges and universities with a strong commitment to sustainable practices.
The 4th annual Shred Fest was the most successful one yet. Hosted by University Facilities and Services on July 25th, the event drew in hundreds of employees and students who brought in their own papers to be shredded and recycled. The University partnered with IronMountain, a company that ensures the secure handling of documents. Last year, 114 containers were filled with paper- already an impressive number. However, 137 containers were filled in the 2014 event. This equates to approximately 17,000 pounds (8.5 tons) of paper. The growing numbers demonstrate the event’s need and success on campus.
University Facilities and Services’ 7th annual E-Cycle Day diverted 15,000 pounds of electronic waste from the landfill. Throughout the day, employees of the University dropped off their unwanted personal keyboards, computer monitors, CRT TVs, microwaves, laptops and other devices. Sunnking, a local electronics recycling company, collected and recycled the electronics, while members from Delta Upsilon (DU), University Facilities and Services Team Green, and University Medical Center Facilities volunteered their time to help run E-Cycle Day. E-Cycle Day’s contribution to sustainability also helped people striving to de-clutter their homes, making it quite a successful event.
The University participated in the Recycling Game Day Challenge, an event encouraging recycling and waste reduction during a home football game. Thanks to the effective “zero waste stations” that volunteers managed, each person out of the 2,229 people who attended the football game, generated only 0.04 pounds of trash per person throughout the event’s entirety. Ultimately, out of its conference, the University received 3rd place in recycling, 3rd place in waste minimization, 2nd in diversion rate, and 1st in organics reduction. The total diversion rate improved compared to last year, increasing from 67.7% to 85%, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 0.168 metric tons of C02 Equivalent.
Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan begin with the famous Drake equation, a straightforward formula used to estimate the number of intelligent societies in the universe in order to answer the questions: “Are we the first and only technologically-intensive civilization in the entire history of the universe?” and “If not, shouldn’t we stand to learn something from the past successes and failures of these other species?” In their treatment of the equation, the authors concentrate on the average lifetime of a Species with Energy-Intensive Technology (SWEIT). Frank and Sullivan calculate that even if the chances of forming such a “high tech” species are 1 in a 1,000 trillion, there will still have been 1,000 occurrences of a history like own on planets across the “local” region of the Cosmos. By studying past extinction events and using theoretical tools to model the future evolutionary trajectory of humankind, Frank and Sullivan show that it is possible to inform decisions that could lead to a sustainable future.
In coordination with National Eye Exam Month in August, the University of Rochester created a pilot recycling program for eyeglasses. The Recycling Office, part of University Facilities and Services, collaborated with many local companies to make the recycling system efficient including Optical Shop, the Rochester Eye Tissue Bank, and the Canandaigua Lions Club. The eyeglasses were given to the Canandaigua Lions Club who sent them to a regional location to be cleaned, sorted, and packaged by prescription strength. The glasses were then distributed in developing countries to improve the sight of those in need.
Sustainability is composed of three pillars: environmental, social, and economic. In August, University Facilities and Services completed a unique project that embodies those three pillars. The result? A Little Free Library. A Little Free Library is a small box resembling a birdhouse on a stand that holds a book collection. It is designed to provide a space for community-wide book sharing. The motto of the program is "take a book, return a book," a slogan that is often painted on the side of the box as a pleasant reminder. University Facilities and Services installed two libraries: Whipple Park and University Park, University owned residencies that are typically inhabited by graduate students and families.Little Free Library
Each year, the University of Rochester’s EcoReps Program selects 30 incoming freshmen to educate members of their residence halls about environmental issues and help steer campus sustainability efforts for their class. As a part of the program, they attend a biweekly sustainability course, and subsequently host hall meetings to share what they’ve learned with others. Coordinators Ben Gerstner, Class of 2017, Renee Smith, Class of 2015, and Jacob Post, Class of 2017, successfully guided the freshmen through the EcoRep process, as they were once EcoReps and are experienced in organizing environmental efforts.
Every Year, several sustainability internships and research projects are offered to interested students. Funded by the School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering, the internships and projects address issues pertaining to sustainability in a variety of fields ranging from biology to art. In 2014, five opportunities were offered under the direction of supervising faculty. These included: A research project pertaining to China’s perception of sustainability advised by Anthropology Professor John Osburg, a Sustainability Assistant position for Facilities and Services under supervision of Director of Support Operations Pat Beaumont and Recycling Coordinator Amy Kadrie, a project examining the policies and practices around business travel’s carbon offsets advised by Philosophy Professor Randall Curren, a project that examined environmental health policy case studies advised by Professor of Environmental Medicine Katrina Korfmacher, and lastly, a project concerning molecular biology and its approach to study the microbial enzyme systems of biofuels advised by Chemical Engineering Professor David Wu. All of these experiences provided opportunities for students to participate in sustainability activities in a more specific and in depth way, as well as to share that education and research with others.
The Department of English at the University of Rochester honored digital artist Cary Peppermint as this year's Lillian Fairchild Award recipient on January 31st. The annual award is given to a Rochester-area resident who has "created extraordinary artistic work in any artistic medium in the past year." Rosemary Kegel, chair of the English department said the selection committee chose Peppermint for his portfolio of innovative and collaborative projects, which include Basecamp.exe, a workshop and art installation that explores environmental awareness, and Industrial Wilderness, an online and community-based artwork that explores connections between industry and nature.Winner Cary Peppermint
Founded by Sara Ribakove (Class of 2014), the Food Recovery Network was established in October, 2014 as a new student organization on the University of Rochester River Campus. The goal of the group is to obtain leftover food from University dining halls, that would have otherwise been thrown away, and donate it to local soup kitchens. The group participates in events that promote sustainable food use and members volunteer at food-related community service events. By April, the organization had donated about 800 pounds of food to St. Peter’s Kitchen.
56% of all food items served and sold on campus are grown, raised, produced, or manufactured within the state of New York. This dedication to local sourcing provides holistic support in terms of commerce, jobs, and encourages local prosperity both statewide and in our immediate surrounding area. We have continued to evolve our partnership with local vendors like Headwater Food Hub, The Good Food Collective, Kilcoyne Farms, Boulevard Produce, Barilla Pasta, and numerous other vendors. This year, over 127,500 pounds of food waste were diverted from landfills and composted. Over 3,800 pounds of perishable food from the University’s locations, that would otherwise go to waste, were recovered and provided to the local community food cupboard in Dining’s partnership with the Food Recovery Network. 80% of all campus locations are participating in the program. The University was rated 6th in the nation for Best Colleges for Food by The Daily Meal. For the 4th year in a row the University of Rochester was named one of the Nation’s Most Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly Campuses by PETA2 in light of its menu efforts and continued support of the Meatless Monday program.
Horticulturist Ron Crandall orchestrated a new addition to the University’s “Livable Garden” on Intercampus Drive. The pumpkin patch grown from seed generated a lot of viewing traffic for the Livable Garden and served as a prospering supplement to the garden’s already fruitful production of eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes and beans. Initially conceived by Manager of Horticulture and Grounds, Dan Schied, the Livable Garden was designed to illustrate the harmonious ecosystem the cohabitation of flowers and produce can yield. It hosts fruits and vegetables, while also growing flowers and herbs and providing a home to insects and small animals. This year the garden especially thrived, due to the attentive, collaborative maintenance of the Horticulture and Grounds Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County who helped it flourish and allowed the University community to enjoy its offerings.
For the fourth year in a row, the Arbor Day Foundation recognized the University as a "Tree Campus USA." Tree Campus USA is a national program that honors educational institutions who "engage their student body as well as their broader community to establish and sustain healthy community forests for the benefit of current and future residents." The award was received because of the University’s maintenance of a prolific arboretum, implementation of a tree-care plan, devotion of funds to trees, and observation Arbor Day. Manager of the Horticulture and Grounds Department Dan Schied is strongly devoted to keeping up the tree culture on campus, and helped two student organizations to plant trees in April in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day. Schied also led a Horticulture History tour on campus, retelling many of the stories behind the University’s unique trees. Additionally, Grassroots held a tree planting event on April 25th, 2014, where they invited students to plant trees which will contribute to the generation of clean air and campus beauty.
High efficiency LED light fixtures were installed to replace existing light fixtures at the University of Rochester’s Central Utilities Plant. Five 400W Mercury Vapor and fifteen 400W Metal Halide lights were replaced with a total of 33 new high efficiency LED light fixtures, This saves 38,290 kWh of energy per year and is predicted to save $4,000 a year for the University.
Energy efficient lighting was installed in two lecture halls at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Collaborating with materials supplier Wesco Distribution and SmartWatt Energy, a company specializing in sustainable lighting and electricity, the University replaced about 300 incandescent light bulbs with light emitting diodes (LEDs). This will reduce their energy usage by about 75 to 80% and save an estimated $6,000 per year.
The Rush Rhees Library Dome’s metal halide light fixtures were replaced with 32 new LED Lights. The switch reduced energy use by approximately 70%, a reduction equivalent to planting seven acres of trees, removing four cars from the road, or saving 2,693 gallons of gasoline annually. According to the EPA and SmartWatt, a company specializing in sustainable lighting, the light bulb replacement will prevent 44,426 pounds of carbon dioxide, 74,044 grams of sulfur dioxide, and 171,782 grams of nitrogen oxides from being released into the air every year. Thus, the project contributes to sustainability both on campus and in the greater atmosphere by reducing pollutants that contribute to global warming, smog, and acid rain.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, awarded the University a total of $1,021,997 towards energy efficiency projects. Central Utilities and Facilities and Services completed two large projects yielding significant returns. Firstly, as a part of the Dewey Hall Career Center Relocation Project, an inefficient air handler was replaced with efficient Fanwall technology to provide Dewey Hall with more effective heating and cooling. In another project, three new electric chillers were installed at the Middle Campus Chiller Plant, having variable speed drives that change speeds based on the conditions and needs of the University prevents unnecessary energy consumption.Middle Campus Chiller
On July 24th, the University of Rochester was awarded the prestigious APPA 2014 Sustainability Award for demonstrating excellence in sustainability practices for an educational facility. The APPA endorses leadership in educational facilities for those professionals working to change their institutions and those committed to “adapting, enhancing, and transforming the facilities of the future.” Facilities departments must handle many obstacles such as diminishing funding despite an increasing student body. APPA works with facilities members to help combat these issues efficiently and sustainably. The Sustainability Award is an honor, as it proves that the University has excelled, specifically in seven different categories: Educational Curriculum and Research, Leadership and Administration, Maintenance and Operations, Energy and Utilities, Planning and Construction, Sustainability Indicators, and Sustainability Innovations. During the year, the University has worked to integrate sustainable policies and practices and their efforts were awarded.
In October, Professor of Chemical Engineering Ching Tang of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Rochester was honored on two accounts for his pioneering research on energy efficient, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Tang received a Technology Award from the Eduard Rhein Foundation for his innovative invention of the highly efficient OLED and other advances in "organic semiconductor devices." In October, Tang was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame for being a visionary and generating foundational research on OLEDs that others use today. He gained much of this recognition because of a paper he published on OLED’s in the Applied Physics Letters Journal, which has since been "cited by more scientists than any other paper" within it. Because of their thin, eco-friendly, and accessible nature, OLEDs are expected to be the future of consumer technologies, notably in flat screen TVs and smartphone displays.
The University implemented an Abandoned Bike Program four years ago. The University of Rochester’s Horticulture and Grounds Department gathers abandoned bikes from campus and then donates the bikes to R Community Bikes, an organization that reuses bikes, providing them to people in need. If the bikes are in poor shape, they are striped for parts, preventing that metal from entering the landfill. In May and November, the University donated over 80 bikes to the group. Over the years, the organization estimates that it has diverted 150 tons of metal from reaching the landfill.
In June, new weatherproof, secure, and enclosed bike cages were installed at the East Drive entrance of the parking garage, in addition to the existing cage at the Elmwood Avenue entrance. Over the warmer months, the demand for biking accommodations has increased. The new bike cages were installed in response to this demand. The parking lot provides a secure location for the bikes, as it requires card swipe access and also has locks on individual bike spots. There are 43 spots in total, each available for purchase for $44.00 per year. In addition, users may opt to pay an additional $44.00 to gain access to a personal locker and shower at the URMC’s Fitness and Wellness Center, if cleaning up after a ride before work is desired. The establishment of this bike cage is expected to encourage biking to work, an energy efficient and healthy alternative of transportation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the University of Rochester for its successful participation in the EPA’s national WasteWise program. The program is designed to help organizations and businesses employ sustainable materials management practices in order to reduce municipal and industrial wastes. The University received Honorable Mention for 2014 in the college/university category; participants diverted almost 7.6 million tons of waste from landfills or incinerators in 2013.
This year, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Cynthia Ebinger teamed up with Mario Ruiz from the Instituto Geofísico Escuela Politécnica Nacional to do research on the subterranean plumbing system associated with the Galápagos Volcanoes. As part of their research eventually published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, they buried fifteen seismometers all around the largest and most active volcano of the Galápagos: the Sierra Negra. By measuring and interpreting the velocity and direction of earthquake sound waves that passed through Sierra Negra, researchers pieced together the temperature and material of the wave paths and construct a 3D visual image of that data. The result was a digital picture of the plumbing system beneath the volcano, similar to the imaging methodology of a CAT-scan. Because of this new technology, the researchers found buried magma chambers, information about the growth of the Galapagos islands, similarities between neighboring islands, and an improved conception of the physical layout and characteristics of Sierra Negra. More information about places like these may help give insight into the environmental features of these landscapes and increase knowledge about island volcano systems in general.