BUFFALO, N.Y. -- From compact fluorescent lights in residence
halls to major wind energy purchases, from students addressing
neighborhood environmental concerns to Arctic research on climate
change, from 'green computing' to energy conservation savings
totaling more than $100 million, the University at Buffalo has a
proud record of environmental stewardship.
Among American colleges and universities, UB is recognized as a
leader in reducing energy costs through extensive and innovative
conservation measures and in promoting alternative energy sources,
steps that are helping to reduce the university's contributions to
climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year
named UB one of its Top 10 College and University Green Power
Partners in recognition of the fact that it is the largest
purchaser of wind energy generated in New York State.
This semester, the university will celebrate that decades-long
commitment while exploring the climate change crisis and other
critical environmental issues through a series of speakers and
activities under the theme "A Greener Shade of Blue."
"Blue and white may be UB's official colors, but for at least
three decades, thinking green has been just as important to our
campus identity," says UB President John B. Simpson.
"UB has long recognized the critical importance of environmental
stewardship, and we have committed ourselves to playing a
leadership role in developing environmentally sustainable solutions
and renewable sources of energy for the future.
"After all, this is what public research universities do best.
Through our research, education, and service, we are constantly
seeking new ways to address the key social issues, problems, and
challenges that impact our communities, from the local to the
In conjunction with this semester's activities, the university
has launched a Web site at http://www.buffalo.edu/greener_ub/
designed to keep the UB and Western New York communities abreast of
green events and to highlight UB's environmental leadership,
faculty research addressing long-term global sustainability and
educational opportunities offered to its students and the
A highlight of the activities will be visits to UB by three of
the world's most influential environmentalists as part of UB's
Distinguished Speakers Series.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai will speak at 8 p.m.
Friday in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts as part
of UB's 31st Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration. Named by Time
magazine as "one of the 100 most influential people in the world,"
Maathai is a champion of environmental conservation, democracy and
human rights. She founded the Green Belt Movement and, with the
United Nations, helped launched the Billion Tree Campaign. Among
the audience at Maathai's sold-out address will be representatives
of more than 400 local community groups, organizations and churches
who were provided with complimentary tickets.
The Distinguished Speakers Series will continue with Jean-Michel
Cousteau -- ocean explorer and son of the late Jacques Cousteau
– at 8 p.m. March 1 in the Center for the Arts.
It will conclude with an address about climate change by former
vice president and environmental activist Al Gore at 8 p.m. April
27 in Alumni Arena. Gore's pioneering efforts to protect the
planet's ozone layer and to clean up toxic-waste dumps were
outlined in his best-selling book, "Earth in the Balance: Ecology
and the Human Spirit." His recent work is the subject of the
Academy-Award nominated documentary film and accompanying book, "An
Additionally, Denis Hayes, who coordinated the first Earth Day
in 1970, will speak at UB at 7:30 p.m. on April 10 in Lippes
Concert Hall in Slee Hall in a program sponsored by UB Green, the
university's environmental stewardship office. Hayes, often
referred to as "Mr. Earth Day," directs the Bullitt Foundation,
which protects the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest.
His talk will be entitled "Here Comes the Sun: The Solar Solution
to Climate Change."
"The university is extremely pleased that at a time when this
country and the entire world are being confronted by environmental
challenges and the need to find sustainable solutions, UB can bring
to our community environmental leaders of the caliber of Al Gore,
Wangari Maathai and Jean-Michel Cousteau and Denis Hayes," said
Marsha S. Henderson, UB vice president for external affairs, "Even
more importantly, through its energy-conservation efforts, research
and the community-service activities of its faculty, staff,
students and alumni addressing environmental issues, UB is making a
positive impact on the quality of life in Western New York and
UB's proud record of environmental stewardship is underscored by
the fact that since the start of its conservation efforts in the
1970s, it has saved more than $100 million dollars in energy costs
through its investment in pioneering energy-saving projects. These
have included a major project on the North Campus instituted in the
1990s that has resulted in annual energy savings of more than $3
million and a South Campus project initiated in 2005 that is
expected to produce utility-bill savings of at least $1.2 million
per year, while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions on campus.
The energy dollars saved are invested back into the university to
finance academic and program priorities.
"The role of University Facilities is to minimize the cost of
energy to the university and at the same time be good stewards of
the environment," says Michael F. Dupre, associate vice president
for university facilities. "We are very conscious of how much
energy we buy and are very mindful of the whole issue of procuring
energy. Six percent of our electricity purchases are now
Those purchases, primarily in wind power, have won UB accolades
and awards, including one from Environmental Advocates that named
the university its "Environmentalist of the Year" in 2003. UB is
exploring other ways to increase reliance on green power, energy
sources that do not contribute to global warming and climate change
by emitting greenhouse gases.
UB continues to serve as a model for other institutions.
Representatives from Carnegie-Mellon and Cornell universities;
other campuses within the SUNY system, including Stony Brook and
Binghamton; City University of New York; and the Australian
National University have sought UB's detailed input and advice on
how to best implement energy-conservation programs.
UB's comprehensive recycling program diverts from landfills
fully one-third of the university's waste stream. Seventy percent
of copier and printer paper used on campus is 100 percent
post-consumer recycled. The university boasts natural regeneration
areas, as well as pesticide-free lawns. On the roof of Norton Hall
is the region's largest solar array. UB also constructed the first
certified green building in Western New York when it built the
Creekside Village student housing complex. UB's High Performance
Building Guidelines are among the most-used green design manuals
At a time when climate change is in the news daily with
scientists and activists advocating a rapid reorientation away from
fossil fuel use, UB Green's Climate Action Initiative is preparing
a report on the university's greenhouse gas emissions and steps
that can be taken to significantly reduce UB's impact on global
warming. The report, developed with input from a faculty
advisory committee, will explore the possibility of a "climate
Michael E. Ryan, Ph.D., vice provost and dean of undergraduate
studies, notes that UB students interested in environmental
education have a wealth of opportunities to choose from, including
programs in environmental design in the School of Architecture and
Planning, environmental studies in the Interdisciplinary Social
Sciences Degree Program and environmental engineering in the School
of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Ryan, who teaches a freshman
seminar on energy and the environment, adds that programs with an
environmental focus also are available in geology, geography and
chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as in the
School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Law
Through one of the nation's few chemistry service-learning
programs focusing on environmental concerns in urban communities,
UB undergraduates have worked with community organizations to
investigate serious environmental health questions they have raised
about their neighborhoods. They have worked with residents in
neighborhoods including Buffalo's Hickory Woods subdivision and
Seneca-Babcock neighborhood, and Cheektowaga's Bellevue
Students in a geology advanced field methods class have passed
up spring break to travel to Mexico to study North America's most
active volcano up close and to talk with local residents about
their experiences fleeing from eruptions.
UB faculty members have gained recognition for a breadth of
environmental work and research that also offer opportunities for
graduate and undergraduate students.
Legal scholars in the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy
work with faculty in the natural and social sciences on
environmental stewardship, and community participation in
environmental management. Architects and urban planners work with
social scientists and computer visualization experts on developing
sustainable communities in the U.S. and Latin America. Closer to
home, social and natural scientists work with engineers on
environmental restoration of the Great Lakes.
Within the UB 2020 strategic strength in Extreme Events:
Mitigation and Response, the university's engineers and scientists
work together to analyze natural disasters.
How pollution may cause cancer is the focus of environmental
epidemiologists and geographers. Chemists and engineers analyze the
behavior of pollutants in surface water, groundwater and
wastewater. Natural scientists and computational engineers work to
develop new tools to model and predict the fate and transport of
pollutants and the behavior of natural phenomena, such as volcanoes
and changing climate trends
Multidisciplinary collaborations are standard operating
procedure among environmental researchers at UB, with organizations
like the Environment and Society Institute having helped to
catalyze a culture of cross-disciplinary cooperation across
departments and schools, resulting in major, multidisciplinary
grant proposals to federal agencies.