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UB receives 2 awards in SUNY sustainability competition

By STEPHANIE CHIAW

Published February 21, 2013

UB submitted two of the 10 winning proposals in the inaugural Small Grant Sustainability Competition, a competition organized by SUNY to promote sustainability issues and reduce on-campus energy use.

The competition—part of SUNY’s strategic planning goal to support an Energy-Smart New York—was coordinated by the SUNY Office of Sustainability to support SUNY faculty and students working on sustainability issues, including research, community education and reducing campus energy consumption

The UB team working on a project called “Solar Decathlon” was awarded $6,075. The team, which includes six students from various disciplines, is led by Martha Bohm, assistant professor, Department of Architecture.

The students will create and develop design concepts for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2015 Solar Decathlon, an international competition in which teams of college students design, build and operate small solar-powered houses.

If their proposal is accepted by the DOE, the students then will construct a small solar-powered home and document this process, to be shared with other campuses and communities.

Student proposals must describe how the project will benefit the city of Buffalo, surrounding communities and other SUNY institutions.

Students from Buffalo State College and the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse also will take part in this project.

The other winning UB project, “Monitoring Event Traffic to Increase Efficiency,” was awarded $4,069. It is led by Qing He, assistant professor in the departments of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering, and two UB graduate students.

The team from UB will study how to improve traffic patterns for large-scale, planned, special events, such as concerts and sporting games. Specifically, the investigators want to mathematically model the behavior of traffic control agency (TCA) workers, who override traffic lights to direct traffic, and then determine where and when the TCA workers should be placed in order to improve vehicle flow.

The goal of the research is to reduce traffic congestion by determining proper signal timing for event traffic. It also should increase safety, since less congestion discourages pedestrians from jay walking and results in fewer pedestrian-vehicle accidents.

Additionally, project also should lower energy usage, since vehicles use more energy when they stall, and there will be less stalling with more efficient traffic flow.

The research outcomes can be applied to events at UB and other SUNY campuses, as well as in the surrounding communities.

Results of this project can inform future research on such issues as how factors, including event parking signs, road closures, detours, emergency access and trip planning, can be changed to enhance traffic flow.

This project also will receive support from UB’s Office of Parking and Transportation Services.