Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 69.58
Liaison Derek Nichols
Submission Date Dec. 14, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University at Buffalo
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Amit Goyal
Director, RENEW
Chemical and Biological Engineering
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Center for Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (CURCA) serves as a hub for undergraduate students interested in finding challenging research and creative opportunities that match their academic interests and career goals. CURCA is open to students from all majors: from the sciences, to the social sciences, to the arts and humanities. They have the opportunity to apply for funding to use on their mentored projects. Sustainability-related student research was recognized with "sustainability badges" at CURCA's annual Celebration of Academic Excellence event. Of the 200 + research projects, around 50 were selected as sustainability research by a panel which included faculty and team members from the UB Sustainability office. Creating such a recognition further encourages students to pursue sustainability research. Students can also plug into current faculty research through postings on CURCA’s website.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Building on a long history of environmental research, UB created the RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water) Institute —an ambitious, university-wide, interdisciplinary research institute that focuses on complex environmental issues, as well as the social and economic issues with which they are intertwined. One of the most expansive initiatives launched in recent years by the university, RENEW harnesses the expertise of more than 100 faculty across the university from disciplines ranging from engineering, computer science, geography, biology, geology, law, urban planning, chemistry, economics, social science, etc. Within the last two years, the Institute has hired twelve outstanding faculty of its own with expertise spanning aquatic ecology, pollution law, behavioral economics, environmental planning, community health and energy/environmental systems. Six more faculty hires are planned in the near future. The institute has four full-time research scientists with backgrounds in sustainability science, environmental economics, spatial modeling and data science, as well as electron microscopy. In addition, the Institute also has four RENEW fellows that work directly with the City of Buffalo on topics related to energy and climate, green infrastructure, and transportation.

Projects to highlight:
A research team from UB’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Department and the RENEW Institute is partnering with Covanta to study the company’s waste-to-energy facility in Niagara Falls. The plant, called the Niagara Resource Recovery Facility, turns municipal solid waste into steam and electricity. The UB team is independently quantifying the facility’s environmental and economic impacts on the Buffalo Niagara region and comparing it to landfilling. The team is considering everything from waste collection, processing and transport to the combustion process, including greenhouse gas emissions, metals recovery, ash management and steam generation. The study is one of the most comprehensive and quantitative comparisons between municipal waste combustion and landfilling.

Source: Adapted from UB Press Release, February 9, 2018, http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/02/018.html

Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment
The RENEW Institute and Erie County are collaborating on a study funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Certification Program that includes an assessment of the County’s vulnerability to future climate change. Potential threats include extreme temperatures, increased flooding, severe winds, and an increased risk of lake effect snow. The comprehensive study includes vulnerability analysis of the County’s infrastructure, natural resources, and social services, as well as racial equity issues. To ensure that the results of the study are useful for local decision-makers, the project incorporates the establishment of a stakeholder committee containing representatives from many County departments.

In 2017, RENEW fellows worked with the city of Buffalo on projects that resulted in solar panels on a local ice rink, energy efficient streetlights and less waste being dumped in a local creek. One of these fellows developed an Energy Master Plan for the city of Buffalo in 2016.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

UB does not have any formal policies with respect to interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research as it relates to tenure and promotion. However, there is a general understanding, certainly within the PRB, that such research has become increasingly common and is highly valued within our institution. --Robert Granfield, PhD, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The University Libraries have appointed a librarian, Frederick Stoss, MS (zool./ecol.), MLS, Librarian for the Biological Sciences, Interim Chemistry, Geology, and Mathematics Departments, as our liaison librarian to the Office of Sustainability. He is active in the area of sustainability and has published and presented on sustainability information topics in the past. His major contribution is drafting an information resources webpage on sustainability. The UB Libraries collection of monographs holds more than 1,600 tiles, and subscribes to more than 40 serials on sustainability issues. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of sustainability research, other information resources webpages used to assist researchers, educators, and students are:
* Architecture
* Chemistry
* Ecology and Environment
* Energy
* Engineering—Environmental
* Environmental Studies (SSC)
* Geography—Human
* Geography--Physical
* Geology
* Planning

The University Libraries subscribe to several databases and e-book aggregation services that address the topic of sustainability. They are:
* GreenFile
* E&E Publications
* Environment Complete
* ETDE World Energy Database
* Academic Search Complete
* Web of Science Core Collection
* ebrary Academic Complete Biological Abstracts
* BIOSIS Previews Citation Index
* Compendex*Plus (Engineering Index)
* GeoRef
* SciFinder
* Wiley Online Library
* EBSCOhost Research Databases
* EBSCOhost MASTER File Premier
* Elsevier Journals
* eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
* Energy & Power Source
* Gale Virtual Reference Library

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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