Carbon Reduction Challenge

team at triad.

UB undergraduate students Daniel Moses, Sean O’Neill, and Todd Glosser at Triad Recycling and Energy, their partner company for the 2019 Carbon Reduction Challenge.

The Carbon Reduction Challenge (GLY479/579), co-taught each spring by Dr. Elizabeth K. Thomas, assistant professor in Geology and Ryan McPherson, UB Chief Sustainability Officer, is an interdisciplinary seminar-style science course that relies on subject matter experts from across the UB campus and beyond, encouraging lively discussion of both current events and past developments relevant to our energy and climate future. The main student activity is the semester-long "Carbon Reduction Challenge” project, which is carried out by teams of 2 to 3 students in collaboration with local businesses and organizations. The project involves designing, pitching, and implementing creative strategies to avoid carbon emissions and, where possible, identify benefits to all three legs of the triple bottom line: People-Planet-Profit.

Watch the Spring 2020 Student Presentations

2020 Carbon Reduction Challenge Students.

2020 Carbon Reduction Challenge students and professors met regularly via zoom despite the coronavirus pandemic

Spring 2020

Students worked with the Williamsville Central School District, Curbell, Erie County, Rich’s Products, NY Department of Transportation, and Harmac Medical Supply in the 2020 Spring Semester. 


How to Participate

Students: Consider taking this class, GLY479/579, offered every spring semester

Learn more about this course

Course Overview

 This interdisciplinary seminar-style science course relies on subject matter experts from across the UB campus and beyond, encouraging lively discussion of both current events and past developments relevant to our nation's energy and climate future. The main student activity will be a semester-long "Carbon Reduction Challenge", in which student teams apply their scientific knowledge to reduce carbon footprints of partner businesses by the end of the semester. Students will also learn how to communicate the science effectively with stakeholders. 

Course Objectives

The primary goals of the course are:

  • to familiarize the students with the science of climate change
  • to equip students with the scientific and technical knowledge required to understand America’s current energy infrastructure and alternative energy strategies 
  • to engage students in an interdisciplinary dialogue about one of the most pressing and complex problems facing modern societies
  • to inspire and equip students to become active participants and communicators in shaping our sustainable energy future
  • to provide actionable plans and strategies for specific organizations to reduce their carbon footprint and advance UB, New York State, and global goals of mitigating the effects of climate disruption

Highlights from the Spring 2019 Class

teams presenting.

UB graduate students Chris Sbarra and Lavkesh Rajwani present the carbon saved by their 2019 Carbon Reduction Challenge partner, National Grid, to Congressman Brian Higgins and the UB Community

Congress man Higgins.

Students from the 2019 Carbon Reduction Challenge course presenting their project results to Congressman Brian Higgins and the UB Community