Masdar Institute Researchers Convert Algae into Biofuel
(United Arab Emirates): A group of researchers at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology are using native algae to convert organic matter in camel dung into a biogas that can be used in place of normal diesel and natural gas. Eventually, the plan is to build industrial-sized bioreactor tanks near the coast, where the algae are grown and harvested.
U West Indies to Open Renewable Energy Research Center
(Republic of Trinidad and Tobago): As part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Energy and Trinidad and Tobago, the center will be focused on critical technologies for renewable energy in the Caribbean.
U Calgary Researchers Study Climate Change in Cold Regions
Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's new Climate Change and Atmospheric Research initiative, four researchers at the university will receive $418,100 over five years to explore the impact of climate change on the water cycle and ecosystems of cold regions. With the goal of gaining information and tools for water resources managers, the team will study the contributions of glacier meltwater to Alberta's rivers and how this runoff is likely to change in light of glacier retreat in the Canadian Rockies.
Portland State U Studies Public Perception of e-Bikes
University researchers are loaning out locally made, GPS-equipped electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) to 120 people to learn about their actual experience using the bikes. The research will help determine whether e-bikes can increase cycling as a transportation option, particularly among women, older adults and people with physical limitations.
U Iowa Study: Social Responsibility Leads to Economic Stability
Firms that make greater investments in corporate social responsibility initiatives see less risk in their stock prices during economic downturns, according to a new study by the university's assistant professor of finance. The research looked at the stock prices of 3,005 firms from 34 countries between 2004 and 2010, factoring in the social and environmental risk factors of each company including labor relations, health and safety, recruitment and retention strategies, progressive workplace practices, and environmental and climate risk.
UC Berkeley Graduate Student Awarded Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship
Architecture graduate student Antony Kim and his faculty mentor are one of 10 teams selected worldwide for the new Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship. Focused on finding self-sustaining sources of lighting in low-income housing developments, their project will look at incorporating natural and LED lighting that is more affordable for developers and aesthetically pleasing for occupants.
U California Santa Cruz Students Receive NSF Research Fellowships
Three doctoral students in the Environmental Studies Department have received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2013. Ann Drevno will analyze strengths and weaknesses of regulations at the urban-agricultural interface; Justine Smith will examine behavioral and ecological responses of mountain lions and their prey to habitat fragmentation in the Santa Cruz Mountains; and Rachel Wheat is focusing on the impacts of Pacific salmon availability on terrestrial wildlife.
U Canterbury Researchers Produce Findings for Green Roof Pilot
(New Zealand): Researchers have investigated the benefits of green planted-roofs for the New Zealand built-environment. Initial findings into a year-long ecological pilot study have found that storm water run-off is reduced by half on a planted roof in comparison to an unvegetated roof.
U Minnesota Earthducation Program Goes to the Arctic
(U.S.): The university’s Earthducation is a series of seven expeditions to every continent designed to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability. A small team of researchers has begun Expedition 5. During the two-week, 100-mile expedition, the team will visit schools, teachers, and classrooms in the Canadian Arctic to learn about their educational needs and discover how global climate change affects these communities.
U Minnesota Implements Living Lab Program
The university has launched a Living Laboratory program that allows students and faculty to apply to use campus land for research and educational purposes. Approved applications are expected to dovetail with current or planned campus renovations and identify possible sources of funding.
Ben-Gurion, U Michigan Partner for Energy Research
(Israel, U.S.): Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Michigan have signed a $2 million partnership to develop a three-year collaborative renewable energy research program. The project aims to tackle challenges in the fields of vehicle fuels, solar energy and thermoelectric materials.
NY Times: 'U Tennessee Wins Approval for Hydraulic Fracturing Plan'
(U.S.): The University of Tennessee has received permission from the Tennessee Building Commission to lease more than 8,000 acres of state-owned land to an energy company for hydraulic fracturing, a process known as “fracking,” and then use the profits from the lease to study the environmental impact of the natural gas extraction technique. The proposal has been met by public protests and environmentalists worry the process could release harmful chemicals that would contaminate drinking water.
New Mexico State U Explores Sustainable Wastewater Treatment
Researchers have begun testing a new system to treat wastewater that uses less electricity than conventional sewage plants and uses photosynthesis to produce renewable surplus energy. If successful, the POWER (photosynthetically oxygenated waste-to-energy recovery) system will provide a more sustainable method for treating wastewater, a new viable approach to producing electric power and liquid biofuels, and a revenue stream to offset infrastructure improvements.
U Dayton to Research Renewable Energy for Air Force
The university’s Research Institute has been awarded a five-year Air Force Research Laboratory contract with a $99 million ceiling for research, testing and transition of new energy and environmental technologies to the Air Force and other Department of Defense agencies. The contract included an initial award of $1.5 million for evaluation, testing and installation of advanced renewable energy storage and management technologies
Pennsylvania State U to Create Sustainability Institute
The university has announced the launch of a Sustainability Institute to bring together researchers, educators, students, staff and community members from multiple colleges, campuses and frames of reference. An aim for the institute is to dissolve the traditional boundaries of the classroom to partner operations with research, teaching and community engagement.
U Arizona Ranked Top in Nation for Environmental Research
The university has been ranked as the top environmental university in the U.S. based on several measures of productivity for research publications in environmental science, according to a report published in the Journal Science of the Total Environment. The study was based on the Thomson Reuters Web of Science database to analyze research report indicators such as the number of top-cited articles published by an institution, scientific publications resulting from collaborations, and the lifespan and history of articles.
U Wisconsin Oshkosh Biodigester Team Studies New Bioplastic
(U.S.): Researchers and students have begun working with local, regional, national and international companies to test bioplastics in a new Biodigester and also at the connected UW Oshkosh Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) laboratory. The plastics research testing will focus on the impact of new biodegradable plastics on the environment; the biogas and energy yield of the materials as they decompose; and the readiness of a mass-consumer public to embrace the next-generation materials.
Virginia Tech Creates Center for Leadership in Sustainability
The interdisciplinary center, launched by Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, integrates graduate and professional education, research, and engagement activities focused on building partnerships and leadership for environmental sustainability.
Oxford U Partners with India to Launch Development Center
(U.K.): With a joint contribution of £8.3 million, the Government of India, Oxford University and Somerville College have partnered to establish an International Development Center. The initiative aims to engage in research concerning issues surrounding India’s development in the 21st Century, with a focus on food security and environmental sustainability.
U Greenwich Receives Funding for Green Power Plant
(U.K.): An experimental power plant is to be built at the university as part of a cross-channel project to find sustainable sources of green energy. Students and staff will conduct research on the glycerol-fueled plant to find cost-effective and environmentally efficient ways of using glycerol. The project is backed by the European Development fund through a $5.3 million (USD) grant.
U Haifa Debuts Green Roofs Ecology Research Center
(Israel): The university’s Green Roofs Ecology Research Center will focus on research and development of non-irrigated green roofs, improving biological diversity and generating new ecological and evolutionary theories. Recently dedicated following a gift from a British expert in the field, the center will allow for a thorough examination of flora survival and need for artificial irrigation on roofs in Mid-East climates.
U York, Korea Partner to Advance Green Chemistry Research
(U.K.): The university’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at York and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology have signed an agreement to establish a basic framework for conducting cooperative activities aimed at enhancing their respective scientific and technical knowledge. The partnership will also include the exchange of researchers and collaborations in green chemical technology.
U California Berkeley Students Win Dow Sustainability Award
In recognition for research addressing significant global concerns, three graduate students have received a total of $12,500 from the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award program. The students’ research included developing a method of harvesting biofuel from algae using fiber optics, and a study on the decontamination of waterborne pathogens and arsenic from water.
U Michigan to Develop Center for Great Lakes Restoration
A new $9 million research and education center will guide efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes region by reducing toxic contamination, combating invasive species, protecting wildlife habitat and promoting coastal health. Made possible with a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the university will add an additional $4.5 million to the project over three years.
Partnership Program Launches on Green Chemistry Innovation
Saint Mary’s University in Halifax has partnered with Green Centre Canada and Springboard Atlantic Inc. to launch the Atlantic Green Chemistry Innovation program. The program will accelerate the commercialization of sustainable chemistry-related technologies in Atlantic Canada.
Manhattan College to Open Center for Urban Resilience
The college has announced plans to open a new Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability this fall. The goal of the center is to help faculty that already have great strengths in sustainability research to collaborate in ways that will help find solutions to the environmental challenges of cities and their surrounding areas. The center will also support outreach to private and nonprofit organizations, while fostering the further integration of environmental education into the college’s undergraduate program.
U Wisconsin Madison to Study Human Component of Green Building
A team of researchers will receive $1.7 million over the next four years through the National Science Foundation's Sustainable Energy Pathways program to examine holistic ways to link the technological aspects of producing more energy-efficient buildings with the human parts of the equation. In addition to examining a range of techniques that potentially could provide savings in energy consumption, the project also contains an educational component that will include interactions with local high schools and a cross-disciplinary capstone course at the university.
Humboldt State U Conducts Electric Vehicle Study
The university’s Schatz Energy Research Center will conduct a plug-in electric vehicle planning study as part of the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The multi-year study is funded through the California Energy Commission and will prepare Humboldt County for the broad scale adoption of electric vehicles.
West Virginia U to Research Global Green Energy Development
The university has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to research clean energy development in West Virginia and the Shanxi Province of China. A team of four experts and faculty will conduct research for approximately three years and will focus on links among energy consumption, the economy, the environment and technology.
RIT to Create Green Office Supplies Research Hub
The new lab at the institute’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability will act as a research hub for the manufacturing of green office products and services. The institute will collaborate with Staples to find innovative solutions for product design, manufacturing and packaging that reduce environmental impacts.
U California Berkeley Researchers Develop Low-Cost Solar Cells
The new technology allows low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells to be created from almost any type of semiconductor material. Through a process of chemical doping, abundant inexpensive materials that otherwise would not work well can be used to create solar cells.
U Alaska Fairbanks to Unveil Sustainable Research Village
Starting this fall, student residents in the new four-bedroom units in UAF Sustainable Village, a community of four homes on the southern edge of campus, will commit to a low-impact lifestyle that includes recycling, conservation and using alternative transportation whenever possible. Researchers will monitor the energy use of various systems including an integrated heating and ventilation system, a solar hydronic system and a biomass stove. They will also study how foundations interact with permafrost and the economics of sustainable building. The university self-financed the $1 million project and will pay off construction costs with student rents.
Portland State U Unveils Public Research Garden
The university's new Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza, formerly an old metal security shed, will be used as a testing ground for designing and researching sustainable building materials and methods. The space will transform with each research project. Currently, the plaza features an experimental sloped green roof system and green walls equipped with solar-powered tools to monitor their potential for stormwater mitigation.
U Penn Faculty Receive Alternative Energy Research Grants
Five alternative energy research projects have received a total of $500,000 from the Energy Commercialization Institute. Projects include exploring thin-film ferroelectric semiconductors as a way to make solar cells more efficient, as well as easier and cheaper to produce; new ways to keep solar panels clean; and a prototype for energy storage technology.
U California Davis Awarded $2.7 M for Alternative Fuel Research
(U.S.): The California Energy Commission has approved a two-year, $2.77 million grant to the university's Institute of Transportation Studies to research the value, benefits and drawbacks of all types of alternative transportation fuels and fuel uses in the state. The grant will support teams of research leaders and graduate students in the institute’s NextSTEPS consortium as they complete research tasks.
Oregon IT Renewable Energy Program Plans Battery Research
The institute has partnered with Powin Energy to provide battery testing equipment for students and faculty in the renewable engineering program. Students will conduct advanced experiments on batteries, the results of which will be publicly disseminated to help inform companies that design and use batteries.
U Illinois Chicago Researcher Studies More Efficient Solar Energy
A professor and head of chemistry at the university has received a $390,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to test methods of coating solar panel films using nanoparticles from a chemical group called metal chalcogenides. The inexpensive films could be wrapped over everything from vehicles to buildings to gain maximum sunshine exposure and produce electricity.
Michigan State U Plans Urban Agriculture Research Campus
The university has partnered with the City of Detroit to pursue an urban agriculture research campus within the city that may include a large working farm and innovative research techniques, such as transforming empty buildings into multi-tiered farms. The university has agreed to spend $500,000 a year for three years to explore the creation of what would be called the Metropolitan Food Plus Innovation Cluster. The agreement states that the university and the city would approach businesses, nonprofits and government sources for funds to pay for the center.
U California Berkeley Plans First CO2 Sensor Network in Oakland
The university's upcoming urban sensor network installation will provide real-time, neighborhood-by-neighborhood measurements of carbon dioxide. The prototype network will employ 40 sensors spread over a 27-square-mile grid, most of them mounted atop schools to engage students in the project. The information the network will provide could be used to monitor local carbon dioxide emissions to check on the effectiveness of carbon reduction strategies now mandated by the state.
Obama Administration Announces 'Clean Coal' Research Awards
(U.S.): Student-led teams at nine colleges and universities across the country have been selected to advance "clean coal" energy production. The institutions will receive about $300,000 each to research cleaner and more cost-competitive coal-fired energy.
U Saskatchewan Receives $4.4 M to Explore Sustainability Issues
Two university researchers have been awarded more than $4.4 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for two sustainability-related research projects. The first project explores the transition from traditional to industrial farming over the past two centuries and what lessons it might hold for present food producers. The Sustainability and Education Policy Network, the second initiative, will delve into new models that improve how environmental sustainability is taught and practiced. AASHE is among the many nonprofit and higher education partners in this grant. Graduate students will work with AASHE to examine STARS data to look at the relationship between sustainability policy and practice.
CEPT U Joins Clean Energy Indo-U.S. Consortia
(India): The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University has joined the U.S. Department of Energy's Indo-U.S. consortia on clean energy. The university’s research will focus on the energy saving potential of buildings, industry and local bodies.
U Illinois Chicago to Study Racial, Ethnic Inequalities
(U.S.): Researchers will use grants and fellowships from the university's Institute for Research on Race & Public Policy to conduct year-long studies of racial and ethnic inequalities in health, justice, economics and education. The 17 studies will conclude with reports at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
Binghamton U Opens New Solar Panel Research Labs
With the help of $8.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, the university has launched the Center for Autonomous Solar Power and the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center. The laboratories will be home to research designed to make more efficient, durable, flexible and smaller solar panels.
EPA Awards $1 M to Institutions for Off-Grid Research
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $1 million in grants to 15 university and college teams for innovative off-grid solutions. Projects include a new process that uses spinach to capture and convert the sun’s energy to electricity, and a partnership with a local landfill to design a process that uses waste heat and drainage to grow algae for biodiesel production. The projects were selected from more than 300 university and college sustainability projects.
U Kansas, Utah Research Reveals that Nature Boosts Creativity
New research conducted by faculty from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah concludes that people from all walks of life show "startling" cognitive improvement — for instance, a 50 percent boost in creativity — after living for a few days steeped in nature. Without distractions of 21st century life including social media, electronics and cell phones, people have resources left over to be creative, imaginative and to problem solve.
New York U Leads Urban Sustainability Research Effort
A consortium of international universities and companies led by New York University will open a new applied-research institute focused on the sustainability challenges facing cities, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. Known as the Center for Urban Science and Progress, the institute is part of New York City's "push to inject more graduate-level scientific research into the city's economy." Steven E. Koonin, a theoretical physicist who has served as an under secretary of energy for science in the Obama administration, has been named as the director of the institute.
U Edinburgh, Kwame Nkrumah U Research Safe Drinking Water Options
(Ghana and U.K.): Researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Edinburgh are partnering to develop technologies for safe drinking water. Funded by the Leverhulme Royal Society Africa Award, the researchers will focus on the use of laterite, a soil-type rich in iron and aluminum, as a sorbent and ultra-filtration for physical disinfection.