BUFFALO, N.Y. -- There are dozens of soiled lounge chairs inside
the Clement Hall workshop of Maureen Matesic.
In another time, they would have been declared surplus property
or thrown away. Not today. The chairs, used by countless
undergraduates in University at Buffalo South Campus residence
halls, will be reupholstered and buffed for a new generation of
"There's a lot of life left in them. They're built to last,"
says Matesic, one of two upholsterers at UB.
Whether fixing old chairs or building eco-friendly residence
halls, UB promotes a culture of sustainability at its three
campuses. Aside from saving money, the university's efforts aim to
educate, inspire and enable people, both on and off campus, to
reduce their environmental footprints.
At the forefront is Campus Living, which recently celebrated
William R. Greiner Residence Hall becoming the first public
university dormitory in New York to be certified gold under the
U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
The certification recognizes such eco-friendly features as floor
tiling made from recycled soda bottles and low-flow faucets. One of
several certified or designed LEED buildings at UB, Greiner Hall
also won the "Best New Green Construction Award" at Buffalo
Business First's annual "Brick by Brick" awards ceremony.
Campus Living's sustainability efforts don't stop with new
buildings. Contractors saved thousands of brick pavers from the
sidewalk outside of Red Jacket residence hall in the Ellicott
Complex, where UB is building a new dining hall called the
Crossroads Culinary Center. The pavers will be reused to create a
walkway from Flint Road to the UB
Solar Strand, a solar installation that produces enough energy
to power hundreds of student apartments.
"In addition to having scientists and scholars at the forefront
of sustainability research, UB is committed to the wise use of
resources," says Ryan McPherson, the university's chief
sustainability officer. "Campus Living has shown great leadership
in not only reducing, reusing and recycling, but also in thinking
and repairing -- critical elements to our university's
Other examples include giving students energy-saving compact
fluorescent light bulbs in exchange for incandescent bulbs and
installing electricity meters and thermostats in student apartments
to encourage conservation.
Campus Living also has a "Green Cleaning Program" that focuses
on using products, equipment and techniques that are less harmful
to the environment than traditional methods. For example,
custodians use microfiber clothes in lieu of paper towels and
detergents that don't require hot water. The latter helps UB save
money by not heating water for cleaning purposes, explains Don L.
Erb, the university's director of residential facilities.
"We are gradually changing the culture at UB to a more
sustainable future," says Erb, adding that UB ranked 14th among
U.S. colleges and universities last year in green power use.
Impressive, but so are the talents of Matesic, who is better
known by her nickname, "Mo." She came to UB two years ago after
decades of work at Kittinger Furniture Co. and immediately saw
potential in the modern-style furniture that line UB's residence
halls and offices.
Chairs from Gunlocke, Steelcase and other quality manufacturers
tend to last, despite year-to-year punishment from undergraduates,
Matesic says, half-joking. She replaces sagging cushions and torn
upholstery -- sometimes incorporating a UB logo -- in a matter of
hours. She even does woodwork, if needed.
The result is newly refurbished chairs that are ready for more
"I have enough upholstering here to keep me busy until the day I
drop dead," Matesic says.
For more information about sustainability research and
initiatives at UB, visit the UB Green website at http://www.buffalo.edu/sustainability.