7 Universities Receive Energy Dept Funding for Solar-Thermal Desalination Research
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced $21 million for 14 projects, of which $11.4 million went to seven universities. The projects will focus on reducing the cost of solar-thermal desalination and helping the technology to reach new markets, including to areas that are not connected to the electric grid. The seven schools selected and funding allocated were Columbia University ($1 million); Oregon State University ($2 million); University of California, Los Angeles ($2 million); University of California Merced ($1.1 million); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ($1.6 million); University of North Dakota ($2 million); and Rice University ($1.7 million).
Oregon State U Faculty & Students Endorse 'Warning to Humanity' Article
The university's Faculty Senate and Associated Students passed a joint resolution last month endorsing “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice", an article published in the journal Bioscience that documents changes in environmental factors over the last 25 years. While the article says that progress has been made in addressing some environmental issues, it suggests that humanity is continuing to risk its future. The article has been co-signed by more than 20,000 scientists from 184 countries.
Nova Scotia CC Team Builds Mobile, Solar-Powered Microgrid
The college's Applied Energy Research team has developed a microgrid that uses solar panels and a system of converters and deep-cycle batteries that can store and produce up to 48 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Part of the aim of the research is to build a reliable microgrid that can be deployed to remote areas without conventional power sources, temporary hospitals in disaster zones, and to run small electric cars.
Global Alliance Releases SDGs Report
At the U.N.’s High Level Political Forum in New York earlier this July, a partnership of universities, colleges and sustainability networks called the Global Alliance released a report examining the global contribution of higher education to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The findings highlight the opportunities and challenges in embedding the SDGs in higher education, as well as higher education's commitment to increase its contributions to the SDGs. The report also shows the aspiration of students to learn more about the SDGs and the changing focus of young people as they start to prioritize social justice and environmental ethics.
2018 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge Announces Winners
California State University at Long Beach, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, Tung Hai University (Taiwan), and the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) were recently named institutional winners of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, a competition that asks innovators to create nature-inspired inventions that reverse, mitigate or adapt to climate change. Over 60 teams from 16 countries entered the challenge. Finalist teams receive cash prizes and an invitation to the 2018-19 Biomimicry Launchpad.
U Nottingham Partners With Volvo on Energy Storage Research
(U.K.) The new partnership with Volvo Trucks aims to convert diesel engines due for scrap into renewable power storage units that can charge electric bus and truck fleets. The project idea is to re-task the engines to become machines that compress and expand air to store and release energy, called Compressed Air Energy Storage.
U Louisville Launches Institute to Study Human-Environment Interrelationship
With a $5M gift, the university will establish the Envirome Institute at the School of Medicine, dedicated to researching environmental determinants of health. Specifically the institute will study environmental factors that influence heart disease, better known as environmental cardiology. The institute will incorporate community engagement and citizen science to introduce a new approach to the study of health.
U California San Diego Researcher Wins International Prize for Climate Science
The 2018 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development, issued by a Taiwanese foundation, has been awarded to climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and former NASA climate scientist and advocate James Hansen. The two scientists will split a $1.33 million prize. Ramanathan, who joined Scripps in 1990, has pioneered research on sources of planetary greenhouse warming. In recent years, he has turned his focus to areas beyond research, engaging civic and spiritual leaders to frame climate change in social justice terms.
U Utah to Receive Up to $140M for Geothermal R&D
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that the University of Utah will receive up to $140 million in continued funding over the next five years for geothermal research and development at a new field laboratory called FORGE, the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy. The new FORGE site is dedicated to research on enhanced geothermal systems, i.e., manmade geothermal reservoirs, which could be deployed in areas across the U.S. that don't have traditional geothermal resources.
Harvard U Pens Letter Opposing New EPA Rule
University President Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s administrator, opposing "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," a proposed rule that would restrict the kinds of scientific studies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can use when it develops policies. The letter argues that the proposed rule would significantly limit the EPA's ability to consider best available science and erode public trust in the EPA's work.
Emory U Students Propose SDG 7 Solutions
21 student teams recently proposed solutions for implementing Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy at the municipal scale as part of the Emory Sustainability Case Competition. The case competition is an annual academic challenge that seeks innovative and practical solutions to a real-world energy issues for the United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (UN RCE) Greater Atlanta on Education for Sustainable Development and the city of Atlanta.
Two Researchers Win Sustainable Chemistry Challenge
The 2018 first prize winner of the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is Prajwal Rajbhandari, president of the Research Institute for Biosciences & Biotechnology in Nepal for his research into using guava leaves to combat food spoilage. The second prize was awarded to Dr. Alessio Adamiano, a researcher for the Italian National Research Council at the Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramic Materials, for his research into converting fish bones into phosphorous and reused as fertilizer.
Northwestern U & U Tennessee to Receive $3M for Bio-Energy Research
The U.S. Department of Energy has selected projects from the University of Tennessee and Northwestern University that will receive between $1 million to 2 million each. The research aims to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of biomass and increase the availability of competitively-priced renewable fuels and bio-based products, while increasing and diversifying the U.S.'s domestic energy sources. The funding is provided through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint program from the Energy Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Announces Inaugural Campus as Lab Seed Funding
Launched in February 2018, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment's (iSEE) Campus as a Living Lab program is designed to link campus sustainability targets to national and global sustainability, energy and environment challenges. Inaugural funding is going to two research projects: a study to examine redirecting waste heat from industrial processes using a thermochemical battery, and testing a no-waste system for turning food scraps into biofuel while also treating wastewater and creating natural fertilizers. Funding covers startup costs for the researchers to prepare larger proposals for substantial external funding.
Stetson U Students Compile ESG Stock Index
Five university seniors in the Roland George Investments Program (RGIP) created a new index focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. In total, $300,000 was approved from the RGIP Growth Fund for investment in four of the six stocks comprising the index.
Cornell U Students Redesign Regional Bus Signage for Accessibility, Clarity
Students of the Cornell University Sustainability Design (CUSD) collaborated with the county-wide campus and regional bus system to redesign over 560 signs to incorporate responsive mobile phone text messaging to help riders understand routes and delays. The new signs are also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
UNESCO Designates Chair of Global Understanding for Sustainability at University of Jena
(Germany) The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established a Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. Over the next four years, the new chair will primarily encourage getting social sciences and humanities to become more involved in sustainability research. Social geographer Dr. Benno Werlen will hold the position.
U Florida Launches Center for Public Interest Communications
The center is dedicated to developing, translating and applying the science of strategic communication to drive social change. Among other things, the center will promote scholarship that can advance the practice of public interest communications and will create undergraduate and graduate curricula for adoption by other institutions. The university's College of Journalism and Communications has also launched the Journal for Public Interest Communications, an open-access academic journal devoted to this emerging field.
Fordham U and SASB to Develop Sustainability Accounting Education Program
The university's Gabelli School of Business will partner with Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) to advance the field of sustainability accounting through education, research and public events. In addition to hosting SASB board meetings at Fordham, the university will host a speaker series, conduct academic research into current and emerging topics related to financially material sustainability issues, and develop and test education materials for students.
Cornell U Establishes Center for Health Equity
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell’s Ithaca campus have established a new center to better understand why health outcomes vary among demographic groups. Through partnerships with communities in New York City and central New York, the Cornell Center for Health Equity will study the potential causes of health care disparities, which include unequal health care access and quality, as well as social influences, among minority communities with the goal of achieving health equity for people locally, regionally and nationally.
Pennsylvania State U to Lead Global Building Science Network
Faculty expertise in the university's Institutes of Energy and the Environment led the United Nations to ask the it to lead the Global Building Network, a global network to advance building science, construction processes and building management that advances energy efficiency and human performance.
North Carolina State U Tests Water Quality With Floating Islands
A faculty member and a student in biological and agricultural engineering recently installed floating islands of plants at an on-campus research site to evaluate whether the islands can improve stormwater quality. A temporary vinyl barrier divides the pond into a control side and an experimental side with water quality sensors providing continuous, multi-point data as water enters and exits the pond.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Launches Campus as Lab Seed Funding Program
The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at the university recently announced that it will provide seed funding for faculty members to assist in preparing a proposal for external funding that will include using campus sustainability features and projects in their research related to sustainability. Specifically, iSEE wants to leverage this seed money to attract external funds that are relevant to objectives from the Illinois Climate Action Plan.
U Helsinki Establishes Institute of Sustainability Science
(Finland) The newly formed Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science seeks to solve global sustainability issues by focusing primarily on the study of cities, the global south and Arctic areas, systems of sustainable consumption and production, and the theory and methods of sustainability science. Ten new professorships are being established in conjunction with the new institute, connecting nearly 200 researchers from six different faculties.
University Deans Refuse Funding From Tobacco-Tied Anti-Smoking Group
Seventeen American and Canadian public health schools have signed a pledge saying they won't work with or accept money from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an anti-smoking group funded by Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International plans to contribute close to $1 billion to fund the organization, whose mission is to reduce illness and death from smoking. The statement claims both the tobacco industry and Philip Morris International have a long history of funding research in ways meant to purposely confuse the public and advance their own interests.
Queen’s U Belfast Opens Research Center for Renewable Energy
(U.K.) Working with a number of partners across Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland, the $12 million (9.7 million euros) research center for renewable energy projects will recruit 34 doctorate students across the marine and bio-energy disciplines to research the use of tidal and wave power generation.
North Carolina State U Uses Campus Buildings for Energy Management Living Lab
Working together with the university's energy management team, engineering professors and students were able to identify opportunities to reduce electricity use at times when costs are highest. The collaboration also revealed that if the university had a 1.2 megawatt solar array and 400 kilowatt-hour battery there would be a 5 percent reduction in electricity costs over the summer months.
Six Universities Receive Energy Dept CHP Research Funding
North Carolina State University, Pace University, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Maine, Washington State University, Houston Advanced Research Center and the Center for Sustainable Energy will split a U.S. Department of Energy $25 million grant to further the installation of cost-effective, highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. These institutions will, among other things, become regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships that will assist in the development of strategies to increase resilience to natural disasters and improve grid and electric delivery reliability.
Colorado State U Receives $50K for Campus Sustainability & Water Research
The $50,000 grant will be split between campus sustainability research and collaboration, and STEM opportunities for diverse and underrepresented students. The university's National Western Center Sustainability Team will use $37,500 to develop innovations in water, energy, food systems, and health and recreation, and improve the natural environment. The second part of the grant, $12,500, supports the CSU Water Fellows program. First-generation CSU students from diverse and often underrepresented backgrounds will team with neighboring high school students to work on water issues.
Southern Oregon U Launches Botanical Tour
The tour includes GPS coordinates for trees located across the university’s 175-acre campus, along with a printed tour brochure and a web-based tour. The tour serves to educate southern Oregon residents about the campus' biodiversity, inspire people to expand sustainability efforts and foster engagement with groups throughout the community.
U Colorado Boulder Receives LEED Gold on Three New Buildings
The Sustainability, Energy and Environment Laboratory, a hub for environmental and sustainability research, features a high-performance energy recovery system that captures waste exhaust from labs and utilizes it in the heating and cooling of the building. The East District Energy Plant features a rain gardens that captures all stormwater from the roof and a yellow roof to reduce light pollution. The Grounds and Recycling Operations Center building features include an 11-kilowatt rooftop solar array, exterior LED lighting and an electric-truck charging station.
Michigan State U to Test Algae-Based Carbon Capture on Power Plant
With the support of a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, university researchers will test a novel technique for capturing power plant emissions while producing high-value chemicals and biofuels with algae. The test will take place at the T.B. Simon Power Plant on MSU’s campus.
U California Davis Pilots Energy Saving Technology to Keep Cows Cool
In an effort to demonstrate an effective alternative to cooling cows that consumes less energy and water, the university's new pilot program uses chilled water and air cooling. The project is part of a four-year, $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission to help improve water and energy efficiency in California’s dairy industry.
Indiana U Launches $300M Grand Challenges Program
The university's Grand Challenge program announced the new Prepared for Environmental Change initiative. The new multi-million dollar initiative seeks to gather an interdisciplinary team of researchers that will engage government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to implement actionable solutions to the impacts of environmental change.
MIT Energy Initiative Announces $10.3M Collaboration
The $10.3 million, five-year collaboration with energy company Iberdrola aims to advance technologies and policies that will help transition to clean energy and fight climate change. The agreement includes $5 million in funding for a professorship at MIT dedicated to research and education in power systems engineering.
Queen's University Receives $11M for Renewable Energy Research
(Ireland) The $10.9 million (9.3 million euros) funding will be used to create a "virtual center of competence" to support research into bio-energy and marine-based renewable energy sources. Working with a number of cross-border partners including the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ulster University, and University of Highlands and Islands, the center will research wave and tidal power, ocean power, and energy produced through anaerobic digestion of food waste.
U Illinois Chicago Receives $450K to Help Chemistry Teachers Tackle Heavy Metals
UIC has received a nearly $450,000 National Science Foundation grant that will help high school chemistry students and teachers from seven Chicago public schools study and address urban heavy metal contamination in their communities. The project, called “The Poisoned Onion,” will support educators to teach chemistry within the context of heavy metal contamination in the soil and water of Chicago neighborhoods.
UK Universities Partner With Rail Industry on New Research Center
The newly-created U.K. Railway Research and Innovation Network, a partnership of seven U.K. universities and the rail supply industry, secured 92 million pounds ($188 million) in funding to create three linked centers of research and innovation. The aim of the centers is to develop new technologies and products for trains, railway systems and infrastructure that will deliver a better, more reliable and efficient railway.
U Arkansas Plans Interdisciplinary Resiliency Center
An interdisciplinary Resiliency Center is being developed under the university's School of Architecture and Design. Still subject to approval from the university's board of trustees, the new center proposes to coordinate graduate-level education, undergraduate sustainability coursework, research, and outreach programs in sustainable food, water, community and landscape systems.
EAUC Publishes Living Labs Research
The Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (U.K.) recently released new research on living labs. The research is broken into three reports: what living labs are and why they are important; making the case for living labs; and how living labs work.
Indiana U Purdue U Indianapolis Launches MS in Product Stewardship
Launching in fall 2017, the university's new Master of Science degree in product stewardship is designed to prepare students to address local, national and global issues relating to the environment, worker health and safety, and social accountability as they relate to the design, use and disposal of everyday products.
U Virginia Launches Environmental Resilience Institute
The new Environmental Resilience Institute aims to accelerate solutions to urgent social-environmental challenges, such as coastal flooding and storm impacts in coastal regions, and water security. The institute will be initially funded with a three-year, $2 million grant from the university, and spearheaded by the offices of the executive vice president and provost, and the vice president for research.
Three Michigan Universities Partner on Water Quality Research & Solutions
Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University are partnering on a new program called IN-Water, Infrastructure Network for Water, in part due to aging water infrastructure as witnessed in the Flint, Michigan water crisis. The idea behind the program is to bring water leaders together to draw up a road map for how to help communities update their water systems.