Overall Rating Reporter - expired
Overall Score
Liaison Greg Monaco
Submission Date Nov. 10, 2016
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STARS v2.0

Stony Brook University
AC-9: Academic Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Tom Lanzilotta
Campus Energy Manager
Campus Operations and Maintenance
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Number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:

Total number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in research:

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts sustainability research:

The total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that conduct research:

A copy of the sustainability research inventory that includes the names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:
Names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:

Sustainability Studies Academic Program
Department of Mechanical Engineering
School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences
Advanced Energy Center
Center of Excellent in Wireless & Information Technology
Department of Transportation & Parking Operations
Office of Sustainability
Department of Chemistry

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory:

Stony Brook University has a variety of academic Departments completing sustainability-related research on topics that include energy, water and groundwater, greenhouse gas, mechanical engineering and transportation. Each Department conducts research independently following different methodologies.

A brief description of notable accomplishments during the previous three years by faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:

A list of notable sustainability-related accomplishments include;

Great South Bay Ecosystem Study: Great South Bay is a shallow, well-mixed, lagoonal system on the south shore of Long Island, NY. Known in the past for its extensive finfish (menhaden, winter flounder, and many other species) and shellfish (hard clam, oyster) populations, along with its extensive eelgrass beds that served as spawning and nursery areas, production of commercial and recreational resources has been in decline for decades.

Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project: In response to deteriorating environmental conditions in Shinnecock Bay on Long Island, faculty at SoMAS founded the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP) to restore the health of this vital ecosystem. The goal of ShiRP is to use science, outreach, and partnerships to restore the water quality and fisheries of Shinnecock Bay.

Stony Brook Storm Surge Research Group: The Stony Brook Storm Surge Research Group is developing a real-time weather and ocean storm surge prediction system which can be used for a variety of purposes. Such uses include hurricane and nor 'easter flooding predictions and alerts, water quality and effluent dispersion, the feasibility of building storm surge barriers to protect the New York Metropolitan region from storm damage and coastal flooding in an era of global climate change and rising sea level.

LI Shore: This website maintains a database of meteorological and hydrological data, historical data, images, and written information generated by the system operator or received from other sources. In addition, this site provides in real time a selection of current weather and oceanic observations for use by the national and international community. In an effort to enhance science, experimental products are accessible on this server and care must be taken when using such products as they are intended for research use. Reasonable efforts are made to keep this site available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but timely delivery of data and products from this site through the Internet is not guaranteed.

SBU Smart Transit: Development and enhancement of SBU Smart Transit, which is an information system that integrates vehicle GPS routers, tablet displays, passenger counters, card readers and related software. System communicates transit arrival times using websites, campus signage and mobile applications. The system is also designed to provide passenger utilization reports and allow operators to enhance sustainability by using smaller vehicles, (more fuel efficient vehicles) during non-peak times.

Energy Harvesting Shock Absorber: A device used to harvest energy from vehicle shock absorbers. It is then used to power systems, on vehicles to increase fuel economy.

Speed Bump Energy Harvester: A device used to harvest energy from parking lot speed bumps. It stores the harvested energy in batteries and uses the energy to power area systems, such as lighting. This process has the potential to decrease overall utility consumption.

On Road Energy Harvester: A device used to harvest energy from on road devices. It stores energy in batteries and uses the energy to power area systems, such as lighting. This process has the potential to decrease overall utility consumption.

Thermoelectric Heat Energy Harvester: A device used to harvest energy from thermoelectric devices, on power plant piping. It stores energy and uses it to power information systems, when the power plant is not operational.

Algal Turf Scrubber: Professors Aubrecht and Hoffmann have designed and built two small algal turf scrubber (ATS) units, for use in both a laboratory course (ENV 321- Chemistry for Environmental Scientists, Lab) and for undergraduate research. Decreasing the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients is one of the key challenges, to improve coastal water quality. Though nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary nutrients, at elevated concentrations they can cause eutrophication. Hypoxic and anoxic zones can form when increased algal growth, results in increased quantities of decaying organic matter. The decaying matter is then consumed by heterotrophic bacteria. An emerging green technolog, to reduce nutrient loadings and eutrophication in water is algal turf scrubbers (ATS). ATS's are intentionally grown and harvested in communities of attached algae (periphyton).

ATS technology has been shown to be effective in a variety of settings, but some challenges include: land area requirements, energy requirements and cost-effective uses for the harvested algae. With our lab-scale size units, we are poised to investigate the latter two questions.

Our two small (1 meter wide x 1.5 meters long) Plexiglass algal turf scrubber units are designed to recirculate the water. Submersible pumps bring the water from the reservoir, to the top of the unit. Each unit is divided into two lanes with two separate reservoirs, pumps, and inputs. One lane has a continuous water flow, as long as the pumps are on. Water is pumped from the reservoir to the top of the ATS unit, into a polyethylene pipe with holes in it. The other lane has a trapezoidal tipping bucket.

The flow from the polyethylene pipe, which is located above the bucket, collects in the bucket. When the bucket is full, it is off-balance and spills its contents into the lane, creating a wave every 5 seconds. Each lane is lined with removable 4x4 inch travertine (calcium carbonate) tiles. The tiles can be removed individually and the attached algae can be harvested, dried, and weighed in order to obtain growth curves, as a function of time. We have made two types of tiles; “smooth”, with only a polypropylene mesh attached to the tiles, and “rough” which have 1 cm acetal rods extending vertically from the surface of the tile.

Students make measurements of: algal growth rates, concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients in the recirculating water (colorimetric), concentrations of metals in the recirculating water (graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy, GFAA), concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in dried and digested algal biomass (colorimetric), and concentrations of metals in dried and digested algal biomass (GFAA).

Questions students are investigating include:

a) How can algal growth (and thus nutrient uptake) be maximized using only solar power?

b) What impact do waves provided by a tipping bucket and the roughness of the surface have on algal growth rates?

c) How do the concentrations of potentially harmful metals in the algae, measured by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAA) compare with concentrations measured using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF)?

Sustainable Drinking Water Solution: Professor Benjamin S. Hsiao from Stony Brook University’s Department of Chemistry and his team, are researching two innovative and robust solutions, to provide drinking water at the University’s Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) in northern Kenya. They are using Hsiao’s breakthrough nanofibrous membrane technologies powered by gravity or solar heat, two free energy sources.

Energy Storage Research: Stony Brook University conducts energy research at the New Energy Frontier Research Center. SBU was selected for a proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy that the proposal led by renowned energy storage researcher, Esther Takeuchi, PhD, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, and is Chief Scientist in Brookhaven National Laboratory's Global and Regional Solutions Directorate, was selected to receive a $10 million Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) award. The Stony Brook led multi-institutional EFRC, known as the Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties (m2m), will conduct basic science research to advance and enable the deliberate design, of materials and components to achieve higher performing, longer life and safer energy storage systems, including batteries.

The website URL where information about sustainability research is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.