Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability Program Awards Funding for Four Projects

The Syracuse University Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability (CALS) program awarded four projects funding in May 2019. The Syracuse University Climate Action Plan, which was released in 2009, provided the competitive funding as part of the CALS program, overseen by a team of faculty and staff from across the University. The program merges academic scholarship with the University’s broad initiative to meet energy efficiency goals while having our faculty and students use our campus as a testbed for innovative ideas.

The following four projects were awarded funding in May 2019:

Bee Orange, Honey Bee; Lisa Olson-Gugerty, associate teaching professor of public health, Falk College; $9,988.94
Honeybees are a unique group of pollinators. They sip nectar to fuel their flight and actively gather large amounts of pollen to feed themselves and pollinate local plants and vegetation. Their contribution as a pollinator helps support one-third of the world’s food production, as well as the reproduction cycle of hundreds of bee-friendly plants. This, in turn, benefits the local ecosystem and cultivates biodiversity. Unfortunately, North American beekeepers are experiencing high colony loss due to a variety of diseases, the use of pesticides and the reduction of pollinator-friendly and native plantings. To help bolster the local ecosystem and biodiversity, we will establish honeybee hives on Syracuse University grounds, offer educational workshops on beekeeping for the University and local communities, and support bee-friendly initiatives throughout the University.
Does the School of Design Care About Environment?; Louise Manfredi, assistant professor of industrial and interaction design, School of Design, College of Visual and Performing Arts; $17,670
The overarching goal of this research is to strategize systematic ways to use materials more sustainably and responsibly in the School of Design (SoD). It is intended that this effort between faculty, staff and students will begin a sustained conversation about the excessive landfill waste generated by projects undertaken within the building and determine ways in which the outcomes could be self-sustaining. SoD will collect data on the types and volume of waste specific to studio materials and supplies, determine to what extent students are able to share and reuse materials through student-designed material collection points on participating floors in the SoD, explore whether attitudes toward sustainable material use can be altered when confronted by accumulated waste over the course of an academic year and begin to evaluate alternative materials that are less damaging for the environment and examine methods to reduce material wasting behaviors.
Revised Integrated Anaerobic Digester and Fuel Cell Power System; Jeongmin Ahn, associate professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science; $18,240
The objective of this proposal is to deliver a proof-of-concept integrated anaerobic digester with a flame-assisted fuel cell that can convert municipal and agricultural waste into heat and electricity efficiently and inexpensively. The unit will be used as an educational tool for the undergraduates and graduates to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through hands-on, real-world sustainable energy generation in the classroom. The research plan focuses on understanding and replicating the parameters in the field for digesters utilizing agricultural and municipal waste to enable research and development of a combustor and fuel cell that are inexpensive, durable and commercially viable.
Developing Hands-on Course Components on Smart Storm Water Management Strategies; Baris Salman, assistant professor, civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science; $10,000
The main goal of this proposal is to develop course components on Smart Stormwater Management to enhance our students’ exposure to these critical advancements. The hands-on course components will be designed primarily to enhance the educational opportunities offered in CIE 639/ECS 636 Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Management, a graduate-level class offered by the primary investigator, Baris Salman. Students will be involved in constructing a sensor network on South Campus drainage networks featuring both green and gray infrastructures. The sensor network will comprise of wireless sensors that can measure and record various characteristics (e.g., velocity and flow, water quality, water level, etc.) of the stormwater in the drainage systems. An electronic tablet will be used to collect the data from different wireless sensors. Students will use the smart Product Lifecycle Management (sPLM) platform to store, analyze and interpret the collected data. These hands-on components will be supported by other educational activities, such as analyzing stormwater drainage network, generating digital brochures and communicating efforts and findings trough presentations. It is anticipated that the proposed work will have a considerable impact in raising the human capital (improvements in students’ skills, knowledge, retention and satisfaction). This project can also be used as leverage in securing future research grants on smart infrastructure management.
The next round of funding is available for projects undertaken starting May 16, 2020, through June 30, 2021. All proposals must clearly address how the projects relate to climate disruption and include outreach or educational activities that promote awareness of sustainability issues on the Syracuse University campus. Projects may include faculty or student research, applied research, campus infrastructure or landscape projects, outreach campaigns, service projects or course development.

The call for proposals and application materials can be found at sustainability.syr.edu/cals. The deadline for submission of proposals is 11:59 p.m. on March 18, 2020.