BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Scarcely a year into its existence, the
Environmental Affairs Department of the University at Buffalo
Undergraduate Student Association (SA) has been awarded the 2011
Good Going Award for Best Earth Day Outreach for an
The Good Going Awards -- the result of a collaboration between
the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Ecology and
Environment Inc., and other local partners -- recognize local
organizations for outstanding sustainability outreach efforts.
The awards are part of the Fourth Annual Buffalo Niagara Earth
Day Celebration, which aims to expand awareness of environmental
and sustainable transportation efforts in Western New York.
"Buffalo Niagara Earth Day has become more grass roots in the
past four years," says Rachel Smith, an environmental specialist
with Ecology and Environment Inc. who helps administer the awards.
"Where before it was larger organizations doing good things for the
Earth, now it's transferred to awardees like the Student
Association, which is getting students out and active. What UB's
Student Association has done is so interactive," she says. "I hope
students will be inspired to continue what they learned outside of
Previous winners of the award include the Hyatt Regency, Rich
Products and Community Action Organization.
Smith adds that the efforts of SA's Environmental Affairs
Department have inspired other community organizations and campuses
to educate students on ways to get involved with sustainability
The Environmental Affairs Department's Earth Week celebration
included earth pong, a sustainability scavenger hunt, a speaker
series featuring Buffalo environmentalists and a clothing swap
co-sponsored with UB Green. The department also enlisted the help
of UB Improv, UB's student comedy group, to perform skits about the
environment and, with the involvement of Engineers for a
Sustainable World, built its annual "Mt. Trashmore" mountain,
demonstrating the need to boost recycling on campus.
Jim Simon, associate environmental educator with UB Green, who
nominated the UB group for the award, noted that the Environmental
Affairs Department has quickly distinguished itself for developing
a rich slate of events to celebrate Earth Week, events that would
appeal not just to students, but also to faculty, staff and the
The department was formed in the spring of 2010 after the UB
chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), a national
engineering student organization, successfully proposed the idea to
the Student Association.
The department was formed partly as a wake-up call to students
and to show that UB was serious about going carbon-neutral by 2030
in accordance with former President John B. Simpson's signing of
the American College and University Presidents Climate
The department's key focus has been on improving the
sustainability of Student Association events by promoting recycling
and energy conservation, as well as increasing awareness of
sustainability on campus.
"The department works to create a culture of climate awareness;
it has drafted a climate action plan and report for the Student
Association to measure its emissions and energy use," says Mike
Alcazaren, a senior pursuing a dual degree in aerospace and
mechanical engineering at UB and current Environmental Affairs
Department director. "Within the next five years, we hope to make
and implement the changes needed to significantly reduce SA's
impact on the environment."
The Environmental Affairs Department also works to provide
students with representation by fighting for their environmental
rights. They act as student representatives on UB's Environmental
Stewardship Committee and recently succeeded in publishing a
message in the library to remind students to re-use or recycle
Alcazaren and his staff have also reached beyond UB and into the
community to work with other environmental organizations, such as
Youth Connection, supported by the Community Foundation for Greater
Buffalo, to coordinate environmental action in the community and
the Buffalo Public Schools.
"I want us to grow and expand," Alcazaren says. "It was our
first year in the Student Association and it was nice to get in
there, but I want to solidify our presence by greening up the
university and making students aware of ways they can reduce their