When professor Louise Manfredi applied for a campus sustainability grant last April, she wanted to fix her department’s wasteful habits and encourage others to do the same.
Syracuse University’s Campus as a Lab for Sustainability grant awarded funding to Manfredi and three other professors in May to support four sustainability projects. The professors have since used the funding to install beehives at SU and reduce waste.
The grant was established alongside SU’s Climate Action Plan. The plan, which the university introduced in 2009, aims to completely eliminate SU’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by the end of 2040.
“The importance of CALS is being able to offer funding to students and faculty that can help reduce our carbon emissions and educate our students about sustainability on campus,” said Melissa Cadwell, a sustainability coordinator for SU’s Energy Systems and Sustainability Management department.
The CALS grant awards up to $75,000 per project and has provided funding for 11 sustainability projects since 2016. Here are the four sustainability projects SU professors have pursued with the 2019 funding:
Manfredi, an assistant professor of industrial and interaction design, requested $17,670 from the CALS program to reduce waste production in the School of Design.
Before the CALS grant, design students used large, unmarked bins for material disposal, Manfredi said. As a result, students were often unaware of what materials they were allowed to recycle, she said.
The new bin system utilizes color-coded bins for different materials and provides graphics for what can go in each bin, Manfredi said.
“We have students from all over the globe who all have different recycling protocols that they are used to,” Manfredi said. “This system will allow students to understand what materials will go where.”
Manfredi also designed a material exchange program where students can leave their unused materials out and take other materials that students leave for free.
“We are trying to waste as few materials as possible so at the end of the semester we aren’t throwing away things people could potentially use,” Manfredi said.
Manfredi also used the CALS money to hire assistants to research Onondaga County’s recycling protocols and to interview students on their recycling habits. She and her colleagues are creating a pop-up exhibition detailing the results of this initiative to display on campus during Earth Day.
Introducing honey bees on South Campus
Lisa Olson-Gugerty, an associate teaching professor of public health in Falk College, plans to use $9,988 in CALS funding to install six beehives on SU’s South Campus in late May.
“Bees help improve food security and instability and environmental health,” Olson-Gugerty said. “On campus, they will serve as essential pollinators for many native plants and will provide opportunities for more sustainable food production.”
Olson-Gugerty helped make SU part of Bee Campus USA, an initiative that promotes awareness of bees as important pollinators on college campuses. She also plans to use the bees as a way to contribute to different programs at SU, she said.
“While VPA students could learn how to design their own hives for the bees, business students could work on promoting and selling the honey we make,” Olson-Gugerty said.
Olson-Gugerty plans to apply for future CALS grants to build more hives on SU’s Main Campus and introduce educational programs on beekeeping, she said.
Adding course components on Smart Stormwater Management
CALS awarded $10,000 to Baris Salman, an assistant professor for the Civil and Environmental Engineering program. He used the funding to purchase hardware for a Smart Stormwater Management system on SU’s South Campus.
Graduate engineering students will construct the system using a network of sensors that measure the velocity, water quality and water level of stormwater. Students will analyze the data in class to improve the stormwater infrastructure at SU and make the system more sustainable, Salman said in an email.
“We are hoping that this project will bring significant returns in terms of raising the human capital and securing larger grants in smart infrastructure systems,” Salman said.
Generating energy from food waste
To support his research on converting food scraps and other waste into energy, CALS awarded $18,240 to Jeongmin Ahn, an associate professor for SU’s mechanical and aerospace engineering program.
Ahn is researching a system that generates biofuel from materials such as banana peels or cherry stems and converts it into electrical and heat energy.
“We want people to understand that trash is not actually trash,” Ahn said. “You can generate power out of it rather than just throwing it away.”
The funding has allowed him to buy resources for his research, Ahn said. He also plans to give lectures in different classes to draw attention to why his project is important. These lectures will help raise awareness for environmental issues in various SU academic programs, he said.
“Almost all of our environmental issues are related to energy consumption, so we have to make sure that all students understand that and can address it in their own way,” he said.
Published on January 28, 2020 at 11:06 pm
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