From Recycling Microfilm to Reducing Fume Hood Use, UB "Green Partners" Find Innovative Ways to Conserve

New UB program aims to conserve energy, resources and, often, money

Release Date: April 21, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A computing division is teaching students how to put their computers to "sleep."

A chemistry department found ways to reduce fume hood use without affecting classes or research.

A library department found a way to recycle microfiches and microfilms.

These are just a few of the University at Buffalo's environmental efforts being celebrated this Earth Day (April 22) as part of the new Green Partners program, organized by faculty, staff and students of UB's Environmental Task Force.

"UB is the size of a small city," said Walter Simpson, UB's energy officer and coordinator of the Green Partners program. "We have numerous environmental impacts associated with the resources we use, the products we purchase and discard, the modes of transportation we use to get to and from campus, and the ways we manage the campus property itself.

"The goal of the Green Partners program is to celebrate and further encourage campus offices, departments and organizations to make additional commitments to reducing the university's environmental footprint."

Simpson said UB has been a national leader in the green campus movement, serving as a model for other large universities since the late 1970s.

He stressed, however, that greater participation from all corners of the university is required if the university is going to maintain that position and continue to reduce its environmental impact.

"For this reason, the Environmental Task Force has reached out to new "Green Partners," while encouraging existing participants in our environmental program to seek additional ways to conserve," he said.

So far, 25 partners have been identified, ranging from academic departments and institutional services to undergraduate and graduate student groups.

Task Force members worked with the partners to decide on one or more steps to pursue that would have a significant environmental benefit.

In some cases, Simpson noted, the benefits to the environment also will mean benefits for the university's bottom line.

For example, the Division of Computing and Information Technology (CIT) will be using new software to implement power-management features on hundreds of computer monitors in UB computer labs as well as developing an education program to inform students how to do the same with their own computers.

These green-computing efforts will permit monitors to shut off automatically without harm to the computer or data, after a user-selected period of inactivity.

According to the Energy Star program of the U.S. Department of Energy, this software saves an estimated $13 each year, for each computer. UB has more than 20,000 computers on campus.

"For just the 7,000 students living in UB's residence halls and apartments, that represents more than a $90,000 reduction in UB's energy bill every year," said Rick Lesniak, director of CIT's Academic Services.

CIT plans to launch the student program by the fall semester; a similar program targeting faculty and staff also is planned.

In the UB Libraries, Central Technical Services, which acquires, processes and preserves library materials, has put into place new environmental procedures and developed its own Web site with recycling instructions for its staff.

In the preservation area, where library materials are repaired, staff members have developed and installed on their Web site a detailed list of materials they use, ranging from alcohol pads to date-due, peel-off stickers, stating whether or not they are recyclable.

Staff members in Central Technical Services also conducted research to locate places where microfiches and microfilms can be recycled.

"Until about five years ago, whenever we withdrew any of these materials from circulation, they ended up in the trash," explained acquisitions head David Nuzzo.

But after some research, the division was successful in identifying a facility that recycles microfiches and microfilms.

"Just by continually asking the questions, 'What about this? Can this be recycled?' staff members have found new ways to conserve and recycle," Nuzzo said.

He added that people will take simple steps to conserve, when, for example, recycling stations for paper, CDs, diskettes and batteries are conspicuous and convenient.

"It's not that people are opposed to recycling, but if the stations aren't close by, then it just falls off their 'radar,'" he said.

The Department of Chemistry in UB's College of Arts and Sciences, in cooperation with University Facilities, was able to recommend fan schedule changes that significantly reduced the operating hours of exhaust and supply fans serving teaching-lab fume hoods in the Natural Sciences Building on UB's North (Amherst) Campus. The department also conducted its own energy-awareness program for fume hood users in research labs.

According to University Facilities, these two measures resulted in tens of thousands of energy-dollar savings.

Additional Green Partner projects include:

* faculty, staff and student artists working to develop promotional materials for campus environmental programs

* educational partnerships with UB's Environment and Society Institute, which supports environmental research by UB faculty and graduate students

* a program undertaken by University Residence Halls and Apartments to replace 5,000 light bulbs in floor lamps with compact fluorescent lamps, reducing energy use by 75 percent

* a program by Environment, Health and Safety promoting chemical waste minimization and proper disposal procedures in UB research laboratories and Facilities Operations shops and storage areas

For more information on the Green Partners program, please contact UB Green at (716) 829-3535 or Information about other aspects of UB's green campus programs can be found at

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