Published June 13, 2017 This content is archived.

UB's Sustainability Commitment

UB's Solar Strand.

UB's Solar Strand is one of many examples of the university's commitment to sustainability.  

The University at Buffalo has a longstanding and steadfast commitment to sustainability. As a leading public research university, we firmly believe that we play a critical role in shaping a sustainable society by seeking out innovative solutions to climate change and its detrimental impacts.

We are not paying lip service to reducing our carbon footprint. Rather, we are taking clear, measurable action to respond to the increasing pace and intensity of global climate change.

Recently, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher signed a pledge to remain committed to the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, reaffirming our work to ensure that our university reduces greenhouse-gas emissions and embarks upon other critical sustainability initiatives.

Going further back, in 2007 UB was among the charter signatories on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment—now known as the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments.

This landmark agreement—which has been signed by 605 higher education institutions—formalizes UB’s commitment to take concrete steps to become climate neutral by 2030 and to accelerate our research and educational efforts to help restabilize the earth’s climate.

As a university, we have taken great strides toward achieving our sustainability goals.

Foremost among these efforts is our commitment to developing a sustainable physical environment. For the past decade, UB has been a leader in creating green buildings and working to reduce energy and material usage throughout our facilities. UB currently has nine LEED-certified facilities, with two more—Hayes Hall and the new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building downtown—on track to receive this significant environmental designation.

Our Solar Strand generates enough energy to power hundreds of student apartments while offsetting the emissions of nearly 500 tons of greenhouse gases annually. Since being powered on in 2012, the Solar Strand has generated more than 240,000 kilowatt hours, offsetting the emission of more than 1,700 tons of CO2 and the consumption of 194,000 gallons of gasoline.

Launched in 2014, RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water) is an ambitious, university-wide interdisciplinary research institute that focuses on the most complex environmental issues as well as the social and economic issues with which they are intertwined.

Our Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab is dedicated to research that examines the role of planning and local government policy in facilitating sustainable food systems and healthy communities. Drawing on its research, the Food Lab team provides technical assistance to community advocates, planners and local governments on the use of policy and planning to create equitable food systems and healthy communities.

Other examples of our commitment to sustainability include:

  • Providing critical community leadership in forming the Western New York Environmental Alliance, Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable and other community partnerships 
  • Establishing the UB Sustainability Academy, with hundreds of undergraduates participating 
  • Operating a user-friendly sustainability portal that provides the campus community with a one stop location to plug into university sustainability efforts 
  • Offering an innovative bike share program that allows UB community members to borrow GPS-enabled bikes to get around UB’s campuses.

We know that these efforts are paying off in measurable ways. We also know that our efforts are being recognized at the national level.

In April of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency ranked UB first on its list of the largest college and university “green power” users. Later that fall, we were one of just three institutions to receive the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Award in recognition of our commitment and contribution to the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Also in 2016, Princeton Review, using weighted data, ranked UB among the nation’s Top 50 Green Colleges, placing us in a select group of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the nation.

UB has long been a sustainability leader in higher education. Our efforts date back more than three decades, from the origins of the environmental movement at Love Canal to the present day.

Moving forward, we remain steadfast in our dedication to the critical work of sustainability for our university, our community and our planet.