Sustainable technology and UB’s Climate Action Plan

UB Students at a Lake LaSalle cleanup watch some geese flying overhead.

Published June 8, 2022

The University at Buffalo is on track to be carbon neutral by 2030. How can IT support these efforts?


This question has been front of mind for me after attending an event where constituents from all over campus, from Facilities to Finance and Administration, HR, Campus Dining and Shops and others, gave updates on their contributions to UB’s Climate Action Plan. It emphasized the holistic nature of UB’s sustainability efforts, and rightly so: achieving such an ambitious goal at a university the size of a small city can only happen with engagement from everyone on campus.

While information technology is a driver of energy consumption, the scope of our operations means we have the power to make a substantial positive impact. From rebuilding classrooms with more efficient LED projectors to implementing sensible energy settings on computers, relatively small choices like these make every classroom, every office suite, every shared space at UB more sustainable over time.

Additionally, the technology we’re evolving today may soon unlock greater efficiencies. Taking inspiration from hybrid vehicles, which recapture heat from the engine to charge the battery, we may be able to reimagine UB’s data center in the future so that, rather than expending additional energy on cooling, the heat generated could be redirected toward powering nearby buildings.

I’ve spoken elsewhere about the power of AI to optimize our work at UB. That same intelligent software could one day help to optimize our electricity consumption by assessing and anticipating UB’s energy needs in real time. Projects like these will require substantial investments—but the cost of not taking these opportunities may be greater in the long run.

These are big-picture, future-focused concepts. But the conversation around sustainability is taking place right now, all over campus. Monumental efforts like these start with passionate individuals who see the need, and advocate for the solutions, in their everyday lives. I’m proud to count many such passionate individuals among our organization, and I encourage them to keep the conversation going. From a sustainable campus to a sustainable world, let’s find the path forward together.

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