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EPA recognizes UB for commitment to sustainability

William R. Greiner Hall on the North Campus is the SUNY system’s first residence hall certified gold under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CORY NEALON

Published May 4, 2015

“These New Yorkers work tirelessly to protect human health and the environment, inspiring us all to strive for a more sustainable future.”
Judith Enck, regional administrator
Environmental Protection Agency

UB’s commitment to solving pressing environmental issues, educating students about these challenges and operating eco-friendly campuses has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The agency recently presented the university with two honors, including the only Environmental Champion Award given to an institute of higher learning in New York in 2015.

“The EPA is thrilled to honor the work of these environmental trailblazers,” Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator, said in a press release. “These New Yorkers work tirelessly to protect human health and the environment, inspiring us all to strive for a more sustainable future.”

UB’s commitment to sustainability spans more than 35 years — from the origins of the environmental movement at Love Canal to the university’s aggressive commitment to become climate neutral by 2030.

“It is wonderful to receive the EPA’s Environmental Champion Award,” says Dennis R. Black, vice president of university life and services. “Through an integrated and collaborative approach, UB has become a leader in sustainability in higher education. We strive to evolve, build resilience and minimize our environmental footprint as we march toward achieving climate neutrality.”

The EPA cited UB for the following accomplishments:

  • Launching RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water), an ambitious, university-wide, interdisciplinary research institute that focuses on the most difficult and complex environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are intertwined.
  • Offering more than 330 sustainability-related courses that thousands of students enroll in annually.
  • Eco-friendly buildings, including William R. Greiner Hall, the SUNY system’s first residence hall certified gold under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
  • The 750-kilowatt Solar Strand, believed to be the nation’s most publicly accessible solar array. Designed by landscape artist Walter Hood, it produces enough power for hundreds of student apartments and includes such interactive features as the Solar Strand Dashboard and an app that provides insight into its design, performance and surroundings.

The EPA also named UB the Mid-American Conference (MAC) champion for renewable energy usage. UB produced or bought roughly 75 million kilowatt hours of green energy, roughly 35 percent of its total power needs, enough to best peer institutions in the MAC conference.

What’s next?

As announced recently at UB’s first annual Sustainability Summit, the university is launching a new approach to embed sustainable thinking, practices and decision-making throughout the university via an integrated sustainability strategy.

“While we are proud of what we’ve done, we want to build on our history of environmental stewardship and recognize that sustainability is not a goal to achieve, but rather a strategy for creating a better future,” says Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and co-chair of UB’s Environmental Stewardship Committee.

READER COMMENT

It is a shame that there was no mention of the old Rachel Carlson College back in the 1970s.  We did some interesting things for that time.

 

Donald Drazan