Research Universities Worldwide Sign Sustainability Agreement

Vice-chancellors and presidents from Universitas 21, the international network of 21 research-intensive universities in 14 countries, have signed a statement on sustainability at their annual meeting held in Seoul, South Korea. The statement emphasizes the important role universities play in facing the challenges of climate change, the decline of biodiversity, the need for energy, food and water security, and of economic sustainability and of human health. Under the agreement, each university will develop, publish, and monitor targets, share the results with the others, undertake research aimed at a sustainable future, establish the university campus as a living laboratory for such a future, emphasize citizenship and engagement to promote faculty, staff, and student volunteers, and build capacity through cross-network collaboration and work. Fourteen of the university leaders also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a joint PhD program to enable doctoral students to undertake joint degrees. The universities believe this will enhance the students' international research and employment opportunities. American and Canadian participants include the University of British Columbia and the University of Virginia.

NY Times Covers Increasing Number of Organic Farm Internships

The New York Times has published an article on the increasing number of liberal arts students who are opting to intern at organic farms during the summer. The article mentions Barnard College (NY), Kenyon College (OH), Washington State University, and New York University.

Students Campaign for Econ Textbooks to Address Sustainability Issues

Students have begun a campaign, called Toxic Textbooks, to support and coordinate protests against college and university economics textbooks that do not consider social and environmental externalities. The group desires a textbook that instead focuses on human well-being and quality of life and teaches students to distinguish between poverty in terms of low quality of life and in terms of low monetary income.

Arizona State U Partners to Advance Solar Technology

Arizona State University has partnered with Advent Solar, a solar technology company, to develop solutions for improving energy harvesting of solar systems. ASU and Advent Solar will collaborate to develop solar technology based upon an integrated cell-to-module architecture that delivers higher energy efficiency at lower production costs.

Case Western Reserve U to Pilot New Energy Reduction Technologies

Case Western Reserve University (OH) has announced plans to pilot Cisco's new building energy use reduction technology in its biomedical Wolstein Research Building and in one of its largest residence halls. The initiative, known as Connected Real Estate project, aims to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

Lafayette College Creates Film on Campus Sustainability Project

Students and faculty at Lafayette College (PA) have created Dig the Earth , a feature length film documenting the College's Corn on the Quad sustainability project and the academic and cultural issues the project explores. Corn on the Quad was a companion project to the Fall 2008 first-year students’ orientation reading of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma . The project consisted of three plots of corn planted by students, faculty, and staff at the center of campus. Students in a film theory and practice course worked as production assistants and creative consultants on the 45 minute film. The students operated camera and editing equipment, conducted on camera interviews, edited footage, and reviewed and critiqued other students’ work. The film was director by the students' professor, Andrew Smith. Smith plans to show the film at film festivals and to pitch it to PBS.

U Tennessee to Host State Solar Institute

The University of Tennessee has announced plans to join Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority as a partner in Governor Phil Bredesen's proposed Volunteer State Solar Initiative. UT and ORNL will be home to The Tennessee Solar Institute, one of two projects in the proposed initiative subject to U.S. Department of Energy approval. The Tennessee Solar Institute would receive $31 million to focus on basic research to improve solar product affordability and efficiency.

Georgia Tech, Caltech Partner Globally for Sustainability

The Georgia Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology have joined with five international technological universities to form the Global Alliance of Technological Universities. The Alliance brings together these engineering-based universities in the belief that one of the best ways to address global societal issues is through the joint and concerted development of technological solutions based on top class research in science and technology. “Grand Challenges” identified by the Alliance include biomedicine and health care, sustainability and global environmental change, security of energy, water and food supplies, and changing demographics/ population.

Portland State U Receives Grant to Study Rooftop Solar Energy

A team of researchers at Portland State University (OR) has received over $600,000 to study the integration of solar panels and eco-roofs on rooftops to assess how combining these green technologies might boost overall photovoltaic energy production and green roof function. The researchers want to know if shading provided by the solar panels might benefit green roof vegetation, which often suffers during hot, dry months. As part of the study, a set of solar arrays will be installed over a series of 12-by-15 foot stainless steel trays simulating green roof conditions. Each set of solar panels installed above the green roof trays will have a corresponding set installed in a separate array without the trays. Installation for both projects is tentatively set for early summer 2009.

U Illinois Chicago Receives Grant to Study Benefits of Green Housing

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to study the benefits of green housing. UIC researchers will evaluate the health and monetary benefits when 300 low-income residents move from distressed, unhealthy public housing into green, affordable, healthy housing.

U Michigan, GM Announced Automotive Research Institute

The University of Michigan and General Motors have announced the formation of the GM/U-M Institute of Automotive Research and Education. The institute will be dedicated to clean and efficient vehicle technologies that address challenges such as energy diversity, sustainable mobility, and technology innovation. It will link U-M faculty and GM in projects and research questions, as well as enable an efficient exchange of technical personnel and knowledge. The projects will supplement ongoing work within GM and will provide U-M faculty and students with research focused on real-world challenges.

DOE to Establish Energy Research Centers at 31 Universities

The White House has announced the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over the next five years. Out of 46 new Centers, 31 will be located at Universities. Supported in part by funds made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , the EFRCs will bring together groups of leading scientists to address fundamental issues in fields ranging from solar energy and electricity storage to materials sciences, biofuels, advanced nuclear systems, and carbon capture and sequestration. Over 110 institutions from 36 states plus the District of Columbia will be participating in the EFRC research. In all, the EFRCs will involve nearly 700 senior investigators and employ, on a full- or part-time basis, over 1,100 postdoctoral associates, graduate students, undergraduate students, and technical staff.

U California Berkeley Profs Receive Carbon Capture Research Grant

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded grants to two professors at the University of California, Berkeley for carbon capture and sequestration research. Professors Berend Smit and Donald DePaolo will get $2 million and $4 million a year, respectively, to seek better ways to remove carbon from the emissions of power plants and natural gas wells. Smit will work on more efficient scrubbing of carbon dioxide from power plant plumes and DePaolo will focus on how to better store carbon dioxide underground where it won’t leak out of porous rocks and into the air again.

U Wyoming Receives $3M for Clean Coal Technology

The University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources Clean Coal Technology Center has received a $1.5 million gift from the Arch Coal Foundation and a matching grant from the State of Wyoming. The $3 million will be used to support students and faculty who are dedicated to the development of improved technologies for the extraction of energy from coal.

Group Campaigns to Include Green Building in Architecture Accreditation

The Boston Society of Architects Architectural Education Committee has launched a campaign to encourage the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) to include carbon neutral building in the accreditation requirements for professional degree programs in architecture. The NAAB Board of Directors has approved the first reading of the 2009 Conditions for Accreditation , and the document is now available for review and comment by the general public. The deadline for comments is June 1, 2009.

Inside Higher Ed Publishes Article on Sustainable Ag Education

Inside Higher Ed has published an article titled, "Green Revolution," that discusses the growth in sustainable agriculture programs on campuses across the nation. The article mentions the University of California, Davis and North Carolina State University and profiles programs at the University of Maine, the University of Missouri at Columbia, Montana State University, Washington State University, the University of Florida, and Iowa State University.

Santa Clara U Sustainability Activist Wins Fulbright Award

Santa Clara University (CA) senior Elizabeth Tellman has won a Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Tellman, a double major in Environmental Studies and Individual Studies with an emphasis on Sustainable Globalization, plans to use the fellowship to continue work she began using a Hackworth grant at SCU. With fellow student Alexandra Dunne, she explored whether Salvadoran organic coffee farmers are better off with established or alternative trade networks to sell their coffee. She plans to continue that analysis as a Fulbright scholar for 10 months starting in August, measuring the various trade options by their impact on the farmers’ food insecurity, or whether they can grow or buy enough food for themselves and their families. While on campus, Tellman hosted multiple events each quarter to increase awareness in the areas of sustainability, labor rights, and cultural values surrounding food. Tellman also received honorable mention in the 2008 AASHE Student Sustainability Leadership Award program.

Wayne State U Engineering Dev Ctr to Study Green Technologies

Wayne State University (MI) has opened the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center. The $28 million, 82,500-square-foot facility contains labs that will be used to advance research in biofuels and diesel fuels, fuel cells, emissions and vehicle wear automotive systems; allow for 25 student faculty and student researchers to investigate ways to reduce traffic congestion and improve traffic and pedestrian safety; research and develop biotechnology applications that include micro-systems for artificial vision, real-time cancer detection, and other biological and neurological implants and smart sensors; and conduct advanced research in surface science, tissue engineering, drug delivery, and biomaterials.

U California Davis, San Diego to Expand California Solar Energy

The University of California, Davis has received $3 million from the California Energy Commission to coordinate efforts of four statewide programs. The new California Renewable Energy Collaborative will become the administrative center for three existing programs focused on biomass, geothermal, and wind energy, as well as a new fourth program that will focus on solar energy. In related news, the University of California, San Diego, in collaboration with the UC, Davis, will use a two-year, $700,000 grant from the California Energy Commission to expand the development and use of solar energy in the state. The new California Solar Energy Collaborative will collect and critically analyze existing solar research; facilitate research in gap areas where existing data are insufficient; and develop consensus among key solar stakeholders based on this research by tracking the evolving landscape of solar technology development and use in California. This new collaborative is also intended to help California achieve an ambitious target of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar in California by 2017.

U Guelph Cuts Organic Ag, Women's Studies Programs

The University of Guelph (ON) has cut its Organic Agriculture and Women's Studies programs. The final decision was made by the deans and program committees in an effort to make up for a portion of the University's $16 million deficit. NOTE: After the publication of this news story, the University of Guelph decided to give the Organic Agriculture Program a one year reprieve. See UG's new press release for more information.

U Kentucky, U Louisville Partner for Battery R&D

The University of Kentucky (UK), the University of Louisville, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to establish a national Battery Manufacturing R&D Center to help develop and deploy a domestic supply of advanced battery technologies for vehicle applications that will aid in securing U.S. energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help in strengthening the economy. The Center's major goals will be to support the development of a viable U.S. battery manufacturing industry; make it easier for federal labs, universities, manufacturers, suppliers, and end-users to collaborate; develop advanced manufacturing technology to reduce advanced battery production costs; and accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed at national laboratories and universities.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Installs Rooftop Garden

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has installed a garden atop its West Garage. The garden will contain vegetables, flowers, and herbs, and is part of a pilot program in urban sustainable agriculture.

RecycleMania Winners Announced; 510 Compete

RecycleMania has announced the winners of its 2009 competition in which 510 institutions in the United States and Canada competed to reduce, reuse, and recycle the most campus waste. California State University, San Marcos is the 2009 Grand Champion. In addition, North Lake College (TX) won the Waste Minimization contest, McNeese State University (LA) won the Stephen K Gaski Per Capita Classic and for Corrugated Cardboard, Rutgers University (NJ) won the Gorilla Prize, Stephens College (MO) won for Paper, Kalamazoo College (MI) won for Bottles & Cans, and Bard College (NY) won for Food Service Organics. In all, 4.7 million students and 1.1 million faculty and staff collectively recycled or composted just over 69.4 million pounds of waste over ten weeks.

U Idaho Awards $80K for Sustainability & Climate Change Research

The University of Idaho has awarded $80,000 worth of grants to faculty research teams for projects in the areas of environment, sustainability, global change, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and related concerns. The Funds for Interdisciplinary Teams program awarded 5 grants to projects to research biodiversity conservation and sustainable community development; enhance communication in public health; study the eco-social system of an urbanizing environment; develop a comprehensive organic waste-to-commodities process; and develop programs for biofuels and bioproducts industries that are ecologically sustainable and socioeconomically beneficial to rural communities.

Universities at Shady Grove to Host Maryland Clean Energy Ctr

The Universities at Shady Grove had announced that it will be the new home for the Maryland Clean Energy Center. The MCEC headquarters will be located at the LEED-Gold Camille Kendall Academic Center at USG. The purpose of the MCEC is to promote clean energy, economic development, and jobs in the state; encourage deployment of clean energy technologies across Maryland; assist newly developed technologies with pilot projects; collect, analyze, and disseminate industry data; and provide outreach and technical support to further the clean energy industry in Maryland.

U Wisconsin Madison Partners for Opportunities in Wind Energy

The University of Wisconsin, Madison's College of Engineering has partnered with Vestas, a producer of wind-power technology, to provide student learning opportunities. Under the partnership, Vestas will begin providing funding support this year that will grow to sponsor as many as 10 graduate and undergraduate students working on wind technology projects. The company also plans to provide visiting research fellows to campus and start a small research-and-development facility near the engineering campus that will focus on technology transfer. Another stage of the partnership will support named professorships or endowed chairs with expanded focus on wind-energy research and education.

LA Times Covers Increase of Students Pursing Clean Energy Careers

The Los Angeles Times has published an article on the rapidly increasing number of undergraduate and graduate level college students who are taking courses towards a degree in renewable energies. Higher education institutions highlighted include the University of California, Los Angeles; Arizona State University; Indiana University; the University of Colorado; the University of South Carolina; Lehigh University (PA); and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Survey Shows Businesses' Need for Students Educated in Green Issues

In a recent survey completed by National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), 65 percent of business surveyed said they value environmental and sustainability knowledge in job candidates and 78 percent said that that value will appreciate as a hiring factor in the next five years. NEEF surveyed 1,354 people from businesses in 20 industry sectors, from NGOs, and from government organizations as part of the project. The findings have been released in a report titled, "The Engaged Organization, Corporate Employee Environmental Education Survey and Case Study Findings."

2 California Institutions Partner to Establish Model Sustainable Community

The University of California, Santa Cruz, and Foothill-De Anza Community College District (CA) have announced a new partnership with NASA Ames Research Center to establish a sustainable community for education and research at the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field. The goal of the partnership is to create a prototype for an environmentally sustainable community and to contribute to the economic vitality of the region. For students, the collaboration will offer joint academic programs that draw upon the talents and expertise of each partner institution. Carnegie Mellon University (PA), Santa Clara University (CA), and San Jose State University (CA) have also been involved in the planning and may eventually join the partnership. Work on the site could begin as early as 2013, with initial occupancy as early as 2015.

Maharishi U Mgmt Organic Farm Receives $13K Grant

The Maharishi University of Management (IA) Organic Farm has received a $13,750 grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture to study growing vegetables in large gutter-connect greenhouses in winter without added heat. The method involves placing an extra layer of plastic directly over the plants to retain more heat. The farm workers will measure growth and yield of four crops, measure soil and air temperatures, and estimate heating cost savings. If this study is successful, Iowa farmers will be able to grow organic vegetables in large greenhouses without spending money on heating fuel.

Michigan Tech, Michigan State U Receive Biofuels Research Ctr Grant

Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University (MSU) have received more than $1.4 million from the US Department of Energy through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to establish a new forest-based biofuel research center. The center will focus on research to help make cellulosic biofuels a commercial reality. The new Forestry Biofuel Statewide Collaboration Center will be housed at MSU's Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center. Research at the new biofuels research center will build on the work of the Center of Energy Excellence, enabling the two universities to expand their scope to include the entire state.

Salem State College Announces Ctr for Economic Dev & Sustainability

Salem State College (MA) has announced the establishment of a Center for Economic Development (CEDS) and Sustainability. The Center seeks to serve as repository for research and project data on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the north-Boston region. CEDS will be funded through a combination of grants and revenue income from services it provides.

U Minnesota Morris Receives Biomass Gasification Curriculum Grant

The University of Minnesota, Morris Department of Continuing Education has been awarded a grant of $174,258 by Minnesota's Renewable Energy Marketplace - Alliance for Talent Development initiative. The funding will be used to develop new curriculum in biomass gasification technology which will serve participants during an intensive three-week pilot to be offered in May 2009 on the Morris campus. Participants will include four-year students from Morris, two-year students from Minnesota West Community and Technical College, undergraduate students from other institutions, and working adults who seek training and employment in biomass gasification.

Bucknell U Approves Core Curriculum that Includes Sustainability

Bucknell University’s (PA) College of Arts and Sciences has approved a new curriculum that includes sustainability in its Tools for Critical Engagement component. The courses in this component include "Environmental Connections", which will allow students to examine their personal connection to the environment through an analysis of environmental systems, cultural narratives that shape the environmental relationship, or societal mechanisms that collectively interact with the environment; and "Diversity in the United States", which has as its central concern approaches to gender, sexual orientation, class, race, religion or ethnicity in the cultural landscape of the United States. The new core curriculum will be launched in the fall of 2010.

Cabrini College to Implement Social Justice Based Core Curriculum

Cabrini College (PA) has announced plans to implement a new curriculum that focuses on social justice issues. Cabrini's "Justice Matters" core curriculum will include three writing-intensive courses that focus on awareness of a student’s connections to their communities; on participation through service learning with a partnering community organization; and on enacting social change through community-based research projects or legislative and advocacy work. The curriculum will also require a senior capstone experience in the student's major. College officials are currently researching ways to assess the success of the new curriculum.

Cornell U Converts Biomass to Fuels

Cornell University (NY) has begun the Cornell University Renewable Bioenergy Initiative (CURBI), a new project to convert vegetable oil from dining hall fryers, animal bedding from campus barns, and farm waste from university research into fuels. CURBI will look at anaerobic digestion, high-efficiency direct combustion, and other renewable energy technologies, so that waste products from one system can be used by another.

Northland College Announces New Env'l Focused Curriculum

Northland College (WI) has redesigned its curriculum to include environmental issues. Set to launch in the fall of 2009, the redesigned curriculum offers students the choice of four new liberal arts programs and a full set of new or redesigned majors, all of which feature a focus on environmental issues. All of the college’s new majors, Humanity and Nature Studies, Sociology and Social Justice, History of Ideas (combining History, Philosophy, Religion, Music, and Literature), Sustainable Community Development, and the Environmental Sciences are built on a foundation of making connections, as are its most successful continuing majors such as Natural Resources, Outdoor Education, and a redesigned Business Program.

U Tulsa Partners to Advance Research at the Ntl Energy Policy Inst

The George Kaiser Family Foundation and The University of Tulsa (OK) have formalized a partnership to advance scholarship and research for the National Energy Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based organization funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation that is dedicated to developing a national energy policy that produces energy independence and reduces greenhouse gases. The partnership with The University of Tulsa provides NEPI with a headquarters on its campus, while also utilizing TU’s academic and research capabilities to advance the organization’s mission and support economic opportunities related to emerging energy technology.

Queen's U to Host Green Chemistry Commercialization Center

The federal government of Canada has announced that it will provide $9.1 million over five years to help establish GreenCentre Canada at Queen's University (ON). The new commercialization center will focus on green chemistry, aiming to help guide more energy-efficient chemical processes from university labs into factories across the country. At the GreenCentre, new chemical processes developed in university labs across the country will be tested on a larger scale and adapted for practical applications. The Centre will also study catalysts, substances that make chemical transformations more energy efficient to increase yield and decrease the amount of waste byproducts.

Mary Baldwin College Receives $360K Grant

Mary Baldwin College's (VA) Environment Based Learning program has received a three-year, $360,000 grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue learning and teaching about the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The grant is contingent on the allocation of federal funding.

North Carolina CCs Start Green Curriculum Initiative

The North Carolina Community College System has begun "Code Green," an initiative to expand green job training courses throughout the state. The program is currently working to identify the needs of colleges and of companies to decide exactly which types of courses will be most beneficial. So far, the System has seen a need for green training in the areas of automobiles, construction, and home heating, and it hopes to infuse sustainability into all types of classes.

U Arizona Launches Green Homes Construction Project

The University of Arizona has begun a project to design and build affordable, energy and water efficient homes. UA architecture students design and build the homes, which feature rainwater collection systems, ventilation hatches, and natural lighting. The homes are meant for low-income families.

U Rhode Island Professor Creates Sustainable Seafood Website

Cathy Roheim, a professor of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Rhode Island, has prepared a Consensus Seafood Guide that allows readers to look at and compare all the ratings provided by organizations such as Greenpeace and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Roheim created the Guide, which is available on the URI Sustainable Seafood Initiative website, with the goal to provide independent, scientific information to those in the seafood industry. The website also contains hundreds of reports from universities, governments, and advocacy groups on such topics as ecolabeling, consumer preferences, fisheries certification and standards, government policies, and markets for sustainable seafood.

Humboldt State U Expands Solar Radiation Data Collection Site

Humboldt State University (CA) has purchased a third Eppley Precision Spectral Pyranometer to add to its Solar Radiation Monitoring Station project, making the site one of the primary data-collecting locations for solar radiation. HSU partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to become a data-collecting site for solar radiation in 2006.

U Maryland Helps Fund Portable Wind Turbine Development

The University of Maryland's Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program is providing $1.4 million, with participating companies donating a total of $3.4 million, to support research in the laboratories of participating University System of Maryland faculty who work with company researches. As part of the Program, $51,000 has been allocated to help ProParts LLC of Baltimore to develop low-wind, low-cost wind turbines that can be mounted in residential or urban markets and portable turbines for military applications.

Yale Announces First Grants for Sustainability Research

The Yale University (CT) School of Architecture has selected five projects to receive the inaugural grants from the Hines Research Fund for Advanced Sustainability in Architecture. The winning proposals fall into three thematic areas: constructional methods and materials, particularly in terms of reducing both embodied energy and the energy consumed by building systems; development of climate responsive building types; and analysis/optimization of energy behaviors in buildings. All proposals are committed to expanding academic research and educational opportunities for students.

CSU Chico College of Ag Receives $40K Organic Valley Award

The Research Foundation at California State University, Chico has received a $40,000 grant from Organic Valley. The money will be used by CSU, Chico's College of Agriculture to help fund a two-year study focused on improving net profit by improving pasture management. In addition to assessing and promoting more sustainable feeding systems, the project will host "grazing schools" for beginning and advanced dairy farmers to encourage and support efficient pasture use. The research will also assess organically approved soil amendments to establish profitability resulting from changes in forage quality and quantity.

U Illinois Chicago to Start Community Garden

The University of Illinois, Chicago has announced plans to dig a community garden on campus. The new garden, which will offer 5' by 6' and 5' by 12' plots, will be run communally and gardeners will be required to practice sustainable and organic techniques and refrain from using genetically-modified seeds. The UIC Office of Sustainability plans to offer educational workshops at the new site on topics such as gardening techniques, sustainable practices, and cooking and preserving.

U Nevada Las Vegas Unveils Energy Efficient Homes

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in partnership with Pulte Homes and NV Energy, has unveiled four energy efficient model homes in northwest Las Vegas. The homes were developed as part of a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a community of homes that combine energy efficient features and smart grid technology to cut residential energy usage by more than half.

Campus Sustainability Leader Earns Rhodes Scholarship

Oberlin College (OH) senior and environmental activist, Lucas Brown, has received a Rhodes Scholarship. Brown, along with two other students, designed and financed the SEED (Student Experiment in Ecological Design) house at Oberlin, an Oberlin-owned duplex that a group of students renovated to be more environmentally friendly. As a result of the changes made to the house, the students cut energy costs in half. Brown will begin a Masters in Economics program at Oxford University this fall.