The University of Rochester received a Silver Bicycle Friendly Award from The League of American Cyclists for promoting safe and accessible biking on campus. Rochester joins 193 Universities and colleges in this distinction, and has improved since receiving the Bronze Award in 2015. There is now a campus bicycle map that includes paths and repair stations, along with new bike safety and maintenance classes offered by Transportation and Parking Management in collaboration with Well-U.
As part of a five-year window replacement program, University Facilities and Services updated the windows in Harkness Hall during the Summer of 2018. The new windows, which meet the University’s standard Peerless Windows, offer a variety of benefits including energy and cost savings, protecting the building’s interior from sun damage, improved temperature control, and improved safety.
Campus environmental activism group Grassroots organized the 21st annual Earthfest, a week-long event designed to promote sustainability and celebrate Earth Day. This year’s highlights included a clothing exchange and an Open-mic event.
The University of Rochester was the National Diversion Champion of the annual GameDay Recycling challenge. Volunteers helped divert 91.71% of the waste from landfills during a home football game over Meliora Weekend. The GameDay Recycling Challenge is a national collegiate football waste reduction competition administered by the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), RecycleMania, Keep America Beautiful, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program
During the University’s 11th Annual E-Cycle Day, 30,156 lbs of electronic waste was collected- this is 3,000 more pounds than the previous year. Representatives from Sunnking Electronics Recycling Company, along with volunteers from Delta Upsilon Fraternity and University of Rochester Medical Center Facilities worked together to collect personal electronics, diverting the waste from landfills. This event promotes safely disposing of electronics, and prevents the leakage of toxic chemicals from electronics into the ground and water supply.
The University was awarded a $1 million grant for a new solar panel project by The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority REV Campus Challenge. The university plans to install an integrated solar energy storage system on the roof of the Goergen Athletic Center. The energy generated by the new solar panels will feed into the University’s collective energy system, and will offset the energy of a planned office building on the South side of Hutchinson Hall.
The University of Rochester’s Dining Services won a Gold Award in Sustainable Procurement Practices at the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) annual national conference. Dining Services was honored for their commitment to serving local food in campus dining halls. Through their partnership with Headwater Food Hub, the amount of local food offered in dining operations increased from less than 50% to 62%.
The University of Rochester is now a Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) member school. PLAN is a non-profit organization that offers environmental advising services to help colleges and universities reduce their waste. Anyone with a University of Rochester email account can access PLAN’s online resources to help with waste reduction.
University Facilities and Services sponsored the eighth annual Shred Fest, a day for students and employees to safely shred and recycle personal documents for free. The University partnered with Iron Mountain, a company that provides secure shredding services. This year’s Shred Fest was the most successful one thus far, with a total of 24,880 pounds of paper collected.
During the month of March, University Facilities and Services partnered with The Lions Eye Bank at Rochester to hold an eyeglass recycling program. Unwanted prescription and nonprescription glasses, sunglasses, and frames are cleaned, sorted and packaged by Lions Club volunteers, who then send the glasses to the Lions Club International. A total of 513 pairs of glasses were collected to be sent to those in need.
The University’s newest residential building, Genesee Hall, was awarded LEED Silver Certification from The U.S. Green Building Council. Genesee Hall has self-sustaining landscaping landscaping for efficient water usage and energy efficient fixtures. The building was also designed using sustainable materials, and 76% of the waste produced during on-site construction was recycled.
Earth may not be the first planet to deal with climate change and its effects on civilizations. University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank is part of a research team that developed a mathematical model used to determine what happens to possible alien civilizations in the event of climate catastrophe. This model will help researchers understand what might happen here on Earth, and how to cope with these possible outcomes.
New research has changed the way scientists think about the nitrogen cycle. A study by University of Rochester Professor of Earth and environmental sciences, Thomas Weber, shows that nitrogen loss occurs in more areas of the ocean than previously thought. The study led to the development of a new computer model which better shows how the nitrogen cycle is affected by changing levels of oxygen in the ocean due to warming waters.
The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) annual Earth Hour encourages everyone from individuals to national monuments to turn off their lights to raise awareness of light pollution and climate change. During the University’s third year of participating, the non-essential lights of the Wilson Commons porch, Hirst Lounge, Bridge Lounge, Wilson Quad, and Rettner Atrium shut off for one hour.
The Ethical Investment Advisory Committee is working to encourage the University to invest in sustainability. The committee was formed in 2017, and in May of 2018 successfully passed revisions to the University’s Social Responsibility in Investing (CSR) Policy, which means that the University will commit to values of environmental sustainability, and will not invest in companies that spread scientific misinformation.
University Facilities and Services held the 10th annual “Move-Out Cleanout” event, which helps students leaving campus get rid of their old belongings in a safe and sustainable way. This year, a new record was set for clothing donations- a total of 19,874 pounds of clothing and shoes were donated to Planet Aid. We also collected 2,588 pounds of food for Open Door Mission. Student group Grassroots also held their annual “Dump n’ Run” event, which collects gently-used appliances and furniture from students leaving the University for the summer. Both events diverted lots of unwanted items from the landfill.
The Community-Engaged Summer Sustainability Fellowship, which began its inaugural year from June -July of 2018, gave students an opportunity to work on sustainability issues at a local level. Four undergraduate students worked with Katrina Smith Korfmacher, associate professor of environmental medicine, to assess the health impacts associated with climate change, as part of the ongoing City of Rochester Climate Vulnerability Assessment. The students local outreach included conducting surveys at the Rochester Public Market and presenting their findings and recommendations to City officials to help the community adapt to climate change.
A team of University of Rochester researchers, led by environmental scientist Katy Sparrow ‘17 (PhD) and John Kessler, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, researched how ancient stores of methane found in ocean sediment can affect climate change. The study, which took place off the coast of Alaska, found that, although ancient methane is often released into the ocean, it rarely makes its way into the atmosphere. The methane is likely biodegraded by ocean microbes before it can reach the atmosphere, and thus does not significantly contribute to climate change.
New research published by John Tarduno, a professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, indicates that the Earth’s core is much younger than previously thought. Scientists previously estimated possible range of 2 billion years when the core could have formed, but it is now hypothesized to be only 565 million years old. Researchers determined this by studying the magnetism locked in ancient crystals, which was very weak 565 million years ago, which could possibly be linked to a major diversification of life on Earth at that time.
Researchers at the University of Rochester’s Lab for Laser Energetics (LLE) have moved one step closer to developing controlled nuclear fusion, which would improve nuclear weapons and provide a new source of clean energy. The new research uses data science techniques to model new plans for achieving controlled nuclear fusion.
A team of researchers led by University of Rochester assistant professor of chemistry and physics, Ignacio Franco, has determined how ultrafast laser pulses can generate electrical currents faster than other methods. The method used in this experiment was previously only theorized to be possible, but Franco’s research proved that this phenomenon is an example of how matter acts when out of equilibrium.
E. Michael Campbell, director of the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), presented a lecture as part of the Jesse L. Rosenberger Seminar Series, discussing why nuclear fusion is so hard to replicate, and why its potential as a clean energy source. The lecture titled “On Earth, God’s Work Must Truly Be Our Own: The Pursuit of Fusion,” explores how to make fusion energy and economically efficient in the near future.
University of Rochester professor of astrophysics Adam Frank published “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth.” The book explores the possibility of climate change and civilization collapse on other planets.
Two University of Rochester alumni, Michael Parsons ’90 and Michael Savarese ’81, ’84 (MS), are part of a team of researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University studying the phenomenon of red tide. The team evaluates the effect of climate change on red tide, explaining how warming ocean temperatures create a perfect habitat for increased red tide algae blooms, which produce harmful toxins. Red tide has increased in size, number and frequency, with Parsons and Savarese say is largely due to human impacts on the environment, including human-made climate change.