University at Buffalo

As a public research institution, University at Buffalo focuses on finding solutions to global challenges through research, educating individuals, standardizing sustainability operations, and sharing experiences and partnering with the external community. Their sustainability efforts include: the opening of five new LEED building, the publicly accessible Solar Stand, their sustainability-infused curriculum, innovative environmental internships, and the recently launched research institution RENEW (Research and Education in Energy, Environment, and Water). These programs are moving the University at Buffalo toward being a more sustainable campus.

Student Preparedness

The University at Buffalo cultivates the next generation of sustainability leaders through teaching and research. Providing exceptional teaching and innovative research is at the heart of what they do. With over 1/3 of their 30,000 student body in more than 330 sustainability courses, infusing sustainability across the school’s curriculum has become integral to fostering the next generation of leaders who are equipped to address global challenges. In 2013, The Sustainability Academy was established as one of UB’s innovative living/learning communities allowing students to deepen their academic understanding of sustainability, pursue sustainability initiatives in their own lives, engage with university wide sustainability efforts, and connect with opportunities to positively impact the greater Buffalo community through internships and service learning. The sustainability academy facilitates student involvement in collaborative problem solving, addressing some of the most vexing problems of our day.

Building on a long history of environmental research, UB recently launched RENEW (Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water)—an ambitious, university-wide, interdisciplinary research institute that focuses on the most difficult and 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 will harness the expertise of more than 100 faculty across the university, with the goal of hiring 20 more outstanding faculty with expertise in such areas as aquatic ecology, pollution law, behavioral economics, environmental planning, community health and energy/environmental systems.

Climate Innovation

University of Buffalo strives to support its students as they explore ways to weave sustainability and environmental stewardship into their everyday lives. Last year, UB students completed 42,455 hours of sustainability related service by participating in programs like the Louisiana Bayou Alternative Winter Break trip and an innovative environmental internship program with 100 environmental organizations throughout Western New York. University of Buffalo strongly believes its work doesn’t stop at the campus borders. The university works in partnership with sustainability-centered community organizations to help bolster the sustainability conversation in Western New York. UB has provided key community leadership (recently earning the 2014 Best Collaboration Award by USGBC) to create, implement and provide ongoing strong leadership and collaboration to the Western New York Environmental Alliance (an umbrella group that strengthens the work of its region’s environmental community) and the Sustainable Business Roundtable (the region’s green business group). The university also believes in the power of sharing its success (and failures) and thus has developed a dynamic sustainability communications portal that provides a one stop shop for “all things sustainability” and provides a jumping off point for our social media vehicles and the monthly UB Sustainability News. UB benefits from an equally engaged and civic-minded faculty and professional staff. Each year the Professional Staff Senate brings together 30 local and national businesses and community groups to host the UB Sustainable Living Fair, which engages students, faculty and staff with ways to lead greener lives both at work and at home.

Creating Opportunity

The University at Buffalo’s 750-kilowatt Solar Strand, brought to life by world-renowned artist Walter Hood, reflects a transformative vision that moves beyond obtaining carbon neutrality and reducing their footprint. It welcomes students, faculty staff and community members to UB’s campus through a connected and cultural natural landscape, designed to be one of the most publicly accessible energy sites in the world. Like higher education, the strand is multidimensional; merging teaching, learning, art, research, sustainability and community engagement into a complex and powerful resource that will be a model for future development. As the most accessible solar landscape in the world, which has generated 24 million kwh to date, the Solar Strand was recently listed on the 2014 Wall Street Journal Best of Architecture list. In addition, the University has been a leader in purchasing renewable energy at a rate of 35% of its total consumption. This action has garnered it top national recognition by the Environmental Protection Agency as the 11th largest green power user among U.S. colleges and universities for the past several years.

The University at Buffalo’s early commitment to green construction and sustainable design laid the foundation for five new LEED Gold buildings—all opening within one year of another. William R. Greiner Hall opened as New York State’s first LEED Gold residence hall and continues to demonstrate the potential for student living to be highly-efficient, well-designed and inspirational places to live, work, and play. The University currently has nine LEED Certified buildings.