A research team led by William Jones at the University of Rochester developed a more efficient way of converting ethanol to n-butanol using the Guerbet reaction. Modifications made by Jones’ team have allowed the reaction to yield more energy and produce no corrosive byproducts. The discovery is just one step in determining how to produce n-butanol in mass. Producing large quantities of n-butanol will allow it to be viable for use in the fuel industry.
The University’s 8th annual E-Cycle Day diverted 26,648 pounds of waste from going into landfills. With new New York State laws making it illegal to dispose of many types of electronics, E-Cycle enabled individuals to recycle their electronics free of charge. University Facilities and Services, brothers fromDelta Upsilon Fraternity, and Sunnking employees collected unwanted, broken, and old electronics for recycling. 2015’s E-Cycle transported 11,000 pounds more material to the Sunnking recycling plant than last year’s total.
In July of 2015, the University of Rochester Medical Center opened its new $145 million Golisano Children’s Hospital, which was designed to LEED standards. Its ground floor houses one of the few integrated PET/MRI imaging technology systems in the United States. The hospital’s family friendly rooms and amenities allow families to be an integral part of the health care providing team and the hospital is projected to help more than 85,000 children from the 17-county Finger Lakes region and beyond.
Following the success of the University Facilities and Services 2014 Little Free Libraries, the Medical Center Facilities Operations built another free library at The Children’s School @ URMC. The newest addition continues to promote community-wide book sharing and preserves the three pillars of sustainability.
The University expanded its reuse opportunities for faculty, staff, and students. Through Currents Classifieds departments can donate surplus items to other departments. Individuals can donate and sell unwanted furniture. Due to the expansion of Currents Classifieds, 37.8 tons of material was diverted from landfills and 1,858 pounds of electronics were recycled.
University Facilities and Services hired a sustainability summer intern to launch a recycling research project. As part of the project, a survey was sent to students and staff to get a better understanding of recycling knowledge and gain insight on the effectiveness of internal communication efforts. Information from this survey was then used to make improvements on campus that would be the most productive. As a result, new recycling bin labels were implemented and new informational recycling posters are available to download and print at www.rochester.edu/sustainability/recycling/.
With the help of Iron Mountain a company that specializes in secure document shredding, the University hosted its fifth annual Shred Fest. Shred Fest is a convenient way for members of the University to securely get rid of their personal information. Over the course of eight hours, the event filled two trucks with 14,940 pounds, or 7.5 tons, of securely shredded documents. One staff member even brought 30 years’ worth of personal documents to shred! Way to tear it up!
June of 2015 brought international visitors to the University from Nanjing Botanical Garden through the Institute of Botany at the Jiangsu Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences. Members of the University of Rochester’s Facilities and Services led the group on a tour of its horticulture. The group took in the sites of Highland Park, the Sunken gardens of Warner Castle, and the Patrick Barry House and gardens. As a member of the American Association of Public Gardens and the Professional Grounds Management Society the University was honored for the international recognition.
Well-U is a department built with the health and wellness of University employees in mind. Many of Well-U’s efforts overlap with the University’s sustainability efforts by means of promoting active transportation and fresh local foods. Every Wednesday from 3 to 6 pm, Well-U offers an on-site Farmer’s Market Well-U also offers the Good Food Collective which is a Community Supported Agriculture based in Rochester.
Throughout the years, Central Utilities has made many energy-conscious updates. Most recent updates include removing Chiller 1 from the plant to get rid of CFCs. Past updates involved updating LED lighting, and installing premium efficiency electric motors and variable speed drives in order to save energy, increase the efficiency of the plant, and to reduce the University’s impact on the environment
Setting new records, Facilities held its annual Move-out Cleanout event for its fifth consecutive year. 3,046 pounds of non-perishable food was donated to Open Door Mission and 18,578 pounds of shoes and clothing were donated to Planet Aid. The University again delivered its annual collection of about 1,000 pounds of electronics to Sunnking recycling. Complimenting Move-out Cleanout was Grassroots’ annual Dump & Run event which collected furniture, appliances, and general supplies to be reused by students in upcoming years.
University of Rochester Associate Vice President for Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Carl Tietjen initiated a partnership with Medline Industries, Inc, a medical and surgical supplies manufacturer and distributor, to reduce medical waste in operating rooms. The partnership resulted in a savings of approximately three-hundred thousand dollars. The second year of the program should save an additional several hundred thousand dollars.
2015’s RecycleMania, an 8-week long competition striving to reduce waste reduction and promote recycling on school campuses across the country encompassed 4.5 million students who altogether recycled and composted 80.1 Million lbs. This prevented 129,411 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The University ranked 28th out of 207 schools in the Per Capita Classic and averaged 27.4 lbs. of recycling per person. In the Gorilla category the University ranked 32nd out of 308 schools and recycled and composted a net total of 553,562 lbs. Finally, in the Grand Champion category, the University had a 32% recycling rate, ranking 124th out of 232 schools. In terms of the four targeted materials categories, the University ranked 10thout of 107 in the Paper category, 17th out of 118 schools in the Corrugated Cardboard category, 8th out of 104th in Bottles and Cans, and 59thout of 147 schools in Food Service Organics.
Meliora Weekend is a weekend where community members can especially see the positive impacts of the University’s motto. In the spirit of “ever better,” the University of Rochester participated in the GameDay Recycling Challenge, an effort of colleges across the country to reduce as much waste as possible during home football games. Recycling Coordinator Amy Kadrie set up “zero waste stations” consisting of recycling, compost, and trash bins to help encourage the correct disposal of waste products. Volunteer representatives from EcoReps, Waste Management, and the men’s baseball team helped the University collect 734 lbs. of recyclables, 50 lbs. of organics, and 53 lbs. of trash. By itself, the University of Rochester’s GameDay Recycling Challenge resulted in a greenhouse gas reduction of 1.2 total MTCO2E accounting for the University’s first ever recorded true zero waste event.
The League of American Bicyclists recognized the University with a 2015 “Bicycle Friendly University Bronze Award.” The award acknowledges University efforts to promote and provide a more bikeable campus for students, staff, and visitors. The University joined a list of 127 bicycle friendly universities across 42 states.
The 2015 Year-End Waste Diversion Report demonstrated that construction and demolition material can account for a significant part of the University’s recycling. In 2015, 70 percent of diverted waste came from new building construction projects as well as dig projects. The waste derived from construction and dig projects demonstrates that recycling asphalt and concrete is a better alternative to sending them to landfills
Assistant professor in the University of Rochester Departments of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Sciences Todd Jusko, Ph.D led a team of researchers in providing a foundation for determining how exposures to toxic chemicals such as PCBs and DDT affect the developing immune systems in infants. The University study determined that early exposure to such chemicals diminish an infant’s immune response to the tuberculosis vaccine.
The National Science Foundation awarded $4.24 million to Carmala Garzione and John Tarduno, of earth and environmental sciences, to launch a joint U.S.-China research project to explore the role of CO2 in climate change through a study of reverse global warming. The research team includes three Chinese institutions and six other U.S. universities (Brown, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Colorado, and University of Texas at Austin). Garzione and her colleagues will test their theory for why the planet began cooling three million years ago: that iron-rich dust from Asian deserts may have fertilized the North Pacific Ocean, stimulating the growth of algae that reduced atmospheric CO2 and ultimately caused the big chill.
UR Institute of Optics Professor Chunlei Guo will be awarded $330,000 from the U.S. Army Research Office and $100,000 from State Energy and Research Development to explore the potential for water-attracting materials to make air conditioning and cooling systems more energy-efficient. His previous research used powerful lasers to create complex patterns on metals enabling them to either attract or repel water.
The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and Sandia National Laboratories received a two-year $3.8 million award to combine their technologies to produce controlled fusion reactions. Such reactions release large amounts of energy when small atoms like hydrogen join. The technologies involved in the project are LLE’s 60-beam OMEGA and 4-beam high-energy OMEGA-EP lasers as well as Sandia’s pulsed power machine, Z. Sandia’s machine Z is the largest in the world.
In March, the University launched the Center for Energy & Environment (CEE) to improve energy systems. CEE will allow the University to better understand how energy technologies impact the environment and human health. The program will also make it easier for faculty to identify opportunities for research collaborations. Scholars, researchers, and resources from more than 15 academic departments and multiple schools were involved in the launch.
In September, a team of University of Rochester researchers led by Professor Duncan Moore and Research Engineer Greg Schmidt were awarded $1.5 Million to produce a technology to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells. The technology will potentially reduce the cost of electricity derived from solar power. President Obama placed the Rochester project on a list of 10 other innovative projects driving an acceleration to a clean energy economy.
Construction of Wegmans Hall, the new four-story, 58,000 square-foot home to the Goergen Institute for Data Science, began in the fall of 2015. Included in the construction is the addition of new walkways, trees, seating, and a botanical rain garden. The project will add to the quadrangle enclosed by Robert B. Goergen Hall, Hylan Hall, Hutchison Hall, and the Computer Studies Building. Built into the design is more usable green space for University events and activities.
For the second year in a row, University Facilities and Services partnered with the Lions Eye Bank at Rochester to hold a collection for eyeglasses. In total, 581 pairs were donated! Donated eyeglasses were given to the Canandaigua Lions Club who then sent them to a regional location to be cleaned, sorted, and packaged by prescription strength. After packaging, the glasses were distributed in developing countries to improve the sight of those in need.
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. The 2015 EcoRep coordinators successfully guided the freshmen through the EcoRep process, as they were once EcoReps and are experienced in organizing environmental efforts.
The University is sponsoring sustainability-related summer internships for undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students will be given the opportunity to contribute to faculty course development and sustainability research. For the months of June and July interns will receive free housing and a $1000 stipend.
The Geological Society of America (GSA) honored Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Robert Poreda as a newly elected fellow. Fellows are elected “in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.” Poreda’s nominator chose him for his unique research contributions as a geochemist and expert in noble gases. Poreda’s research focuses on the application of noble gases to better understand various environmental impacts.
High energy use at the University of Rochester’s Medical Center led the University to pursue energy savings initiatives focusing on improving ventilation, upgrading exhaust systems, changing lighting fixtures, and other energy savings projects. To date, the largest energy savings project focused on updating controls in the Kornberg Medical Research Building’s Laboratories and equated to an annual savings of $381,000 per year. A similar project near the Green Elevators resulted in a savings of $45,500 per year. The relocation of data servers from Strong West data rooms to a central location in the Primary Data Center saved the University $33,600. In total, future projects could save the University an additional $291,100 per year.