Professor Amber Bartosh and Mark Povinelli and their students were awarded a grant through the new Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability (CALS) funding program. They plan to use the grant to construct a virtual reality simulation in Bird Library about energy awareness. Their students split into groups and designed and prototyped a virtual reality simulation that they felt would most effectively make students aware of their energy consumption. The students all came up with ingenious, and fun, ways to get their message across. One group created an interactive game consisting of a cage for students to kick or throw a ball into. Knowing that energy would be created everywhere the ball hit inside the cage, the students lined the interior of the cage with piezoelectric material. They then had a display screen showing the energy produced by the ball hitting the cage. Another group wanted to convey how much of an impact our daily activities have on organisms around us. These students channeled their artistic sides and constructed different shapes, each reflecting an organism in our environment. They then had a program that would ask a user questions like, “How did you get to class today?”. If the user’s answer had negative impacts on our planet, then the “organisms” in their set up would start to die in way that was visually apparent to the user. While all the groups’ ideas were unique, ultimately they all served a similar purpose- to remind us we have a responsibility to be sustainable, in both the decisions we make and the ways at which we expend energy.
By Christine Edgeworth ‘15
On June 24, 2014, Chancellor Syverud announced his Fast Forward Syracuse campaign, including a new Strategic Plan, campus master plan, and “Operational Excellence Program.” In light of these plans, Sherburne Abbott, SU’s Vice President of Sustainability Initiatives, challenged the students in her course, The Grand Challenge of Climate Change, to explore how sustainability can play a role in the Campus Master Plan. What role should sustainability and environmental values play in supporting the academic mission of the university, she asked, and how they could be incorporated into the Campus Master Plan?
Jason Ashley, a senior Political Science and Citizenship and Civic Engagement double-major, responded to the challenge. “The value of sustainability requires that when we create new spaces, or renovate existing ones, we give incredible attention to the impact of materials (including their extraction) on the surrounding environment, of the spaces’ context within the larger campus, and give great deference to the future use and impact of everything about the space.”
For his project, Jason chose to focus on the use of green space, suggesting that we eliminate the majority of Crouse Drive to make room for a biological sanctuary with a 50-seat amphitheater. He highlights how this would not only serve as a quiet space; it would also provide many environmental benefits, such as absorbing greenhouse gases, creating a wind break to reduce the wind tunnel effect on the Quad, absorb rain water instead of sending it downstream during heavy rain events, “and reduce the need for salt and other resources for ensuring a drivable area.”
Chiara Klein, a senior English and Textual Studies major, recommended that SU invest in green or vegetated roofs. “Green roofs are effective in their functioning as carbon sinks and sources of rainwater collection…They resonate with a mission to locally address a global issue of climate change, and they provide a university setting with the opportunity to be progressive, engaged, and exemplary,” she says.
The class presented their suggestions to Sasaki Associates, the firm SU is partnering with to carry out these plans, on October 27th, so it will be interesting to see what role sustainability will have in the Campus Master Plan and if any of these students’ ideas will be adopted.
By Christine Edgeworth ’15
Founded in 1970 and entirely run by volunteers, the Morningside Community Garden is one of the oldest gardens in the city of Syracuse. Located walking-distance from campus at the intersection of Lancaster and Broad Streets just a few blocks northeast of SU, the garden is home to over 50 plots, any of which Syracuse residents may apply to cultivate for a suggested minimum donation of just $10/season.
About 4 years ago, SU’s Lutheran Chaplain, Gail Riina, bought two of those plots—one for personal use and the other for SU students to cultivate through the Lutheran Campus Ministry’s STEP Center. The STEP Center is an interfaith service-learning project that encourages students to “step into another’s world to make a difference.” With this plot, Riina hoped to connect SU students to the garden and encourage them to explore the advantages of urban gardening.
While visiting the Syracuse Center of Excellence in 2010, Riina saw a model display of the city of Syracuse with sustainable design features, one of which was growing flax in empty city lots. Since then, shel says she has been “inspired by the beauty of the plant and by the potential of putting together an urban project that could create new employment opportunities, beautify the city, and produce sustainable clothing, creams, and beauty products made of flax.” As it turns out, flax is one of the most sustainable fibers on the market—it’s extremely durable, requires just a tiny fraction of the water that it takes to grow cotton, and actually grows better without pesticides.
Since 2010, Chaplain Riina has enlisted the help of 10 students on average each summer to get the flax garden up and flourishing. The first year students planted yellow and brown flax and both proved to grow just fine. However, the following year students ran into the problem of deer eating and sleeping on their plot. Fortunately, they were able to put a fence up last year that has since prevented the deer from tampering with the flax.
While the flax garden has been a summer project to date, Chaplain Riina is now planning to reach out to students willing to plant the crop in April since flax grows best in cooler conditions. She hopes to integrate the garden into a hands-on, interdisciplinary workshop, potentially for class credit, where students would research optimal growing conditions, prepare the plot, plant the flax, run a market analysis of flax products, and then propose a business model for how the harvest could be used in the production of sustainable, eco-friendly products.
Chaplain Riina ’s dream is to see flax gardens pop up all over the city, but it all starts right here with SU students getting on board with the flax garden at the Morningside Community Garden.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the flax project or in having your own plot at the garden, e-mail Chaplain Riina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SU Students and Chaplain Grow Flax at Local Garden
By Christine Edgeworth ’15
About 4 years ago, SU’s Lutheran Chaplain, Gail Riina, secured a plot in Morningside Community Garden for SU students to cultivate through the Lutheran Campus Ministry’s STEP Center. With this plot, Chaplain Riina hoped to connect SU students to the garden and encourage them to explore the advantages of urban gardening.
While visiting the Syracuse Center of Excellence in 2010, Chaplain Riina saw a model display of sustainable urban design features, one of which was growing flax in empty city lots. She was “inspired by the beauty of the plant and by the potential of putting together an urban project that could create new employment opportunities, beautify the city, and produce sustainable clothing, creams, and beauty products made of flax.” As it turns out, flax is one of the most sustainable fibers on the market—it’s extremely durable, requires just a tiny fraction of the water that it takes to grow cotton, and actually grows better without pesticides.
Since 2010, Chaplain Riina has enlisted the help of 10 students on average each summer to get a trial flax garden at Morningside up and flourishing. Read more…
There is a rich resource for sustainability research just a few minutes from the main SU campus along the Connective Corridor bus route. The iconic Syracuse Center of Excellence (SyracuseCoE) building houses lab spaces for experimentation on energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and air and water flow dynamics. Three new labs are under construction for the study of thermal systems, combustion dynamics, and biofuels.
Just about every aspect of the SyracuseCoE building lends itself to study, research and experimentation. A green roof offers opportunities to measure the efficacy of vegetative cover for water capture and temperature regulation; office space is designed for controlling various aspects of the indoor environment for daylight, temperature, and air quality; a south facing wall in the lab wing has a test panel that is available for pilot projects about solar energy collection.
The Flow Visualization Lab occupies one portion of the lab wing. Melissa Green, Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering, uses the facility for her Green Fluid Dynamics Lab, which studies “biologically-inspired fluid problems, such as fish propelling themselves through water or the pulsed pumping of blood flow.”
The SyracuseCoE invites students, faculty, and staff to tour the facility and link its resources to classroom teaching and campus learning.
A team of fourth-year industrial and interaction design (IID) students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Department of Design won three $1,000 awards in the Royal Society of Arts U.S. (RSA-US) Student Design Awards.
Boaz Cohen, Jesse Handelman, Jon Langer, Miles Ray, Kevin Scheiferstein, Zach Stringham and Shelby Zink and their project “Bioroll Geotextile Mat” won the RSA-US Leadership Award for Applied Industrial Design, the Techmer PM Award for Sustainable Design and the Techmer PM Award for Materials Science. Read more…
Designing a parking lot sounds simple, but when the lot sits on a hillside in a sensitive watershed, and when the layers of soil below it are likely to be unstable if saturated with water, it becomes an interesting problem. If you further add in campus building codes and cost restrictions, then coming up with an effective design is truly a challenge.
A team of seniors in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering at SU took on this challenge. Led by project manager Larisa Pechenyy, they came up with innovative designs for managing storm water on site while accommodating the need for parking on campus. Their design includes tree planting and storm water planters to take up some of the water, two vegetated swales to allow the water to infiltrate the ground, and a gabeon retaining wall to deal with soil stability issues.
The team called itself Salt City Consulting and included, in addition to Pechenyy, Michael Kelly, James McGorty, Marcel Young-Scaggs, and William Finch. They selected the project from a list of real-world design problems assembled by Professor David Chandler. Because the site was on campus, they consulted regularly with Jack Osinski from Campus Design, Planning and Construction. Although actual plans for construction of the lot had already been approved before the students made their recommendations, Jack was impressed by their creativity in finding green solutions to some of the site’s challenges.
Pechenyy says the group learned a lot about the complex nature of campus infrastructure development. “Funding is the biggest factor that prohibits green design,” she says. “[But] the campus is thinking green and sustainability is on the minds of those who are in charge of campus planning, design and construction. I see a promising future for sustainability development across campus.”
A project to capture rainfall from some of the 7-acre expanse of the Carrier Dome roof has turned into a strong collaboration between Campus Design, Building and Construction and academic programs in engineering and communications design. VPA students Tierney Latella and Sam Proctor worked with consultants from Environmental Design and Research to produce signage and visual aids to help Dome visitors understand the intent and effects of the project. The students’ logo was chosen from among dozens of options, and their designs will also appear on the restroom walls in the Dome. At the same time, a team of seniors in Civil and Environmental Engineering put together an alternative proposal for the rain capture project itself that very nearly reshaped the whole process. Read more…
In Spring, 2014, about 30 students received a hands-on introduction to resilience and urban sustainability through the WILDER Compound project, which stands for Wildly Interdependent Living and Design Education for Resilience. Led by VPA Professor Susannah Sayler, her Canary-Project co-founder Ed Morris, and Brooklyn-based designer Jill Allyn Peterson, six workshops introduced students from SU and ESF students as well as some Syracuse high schools to skills like bike repair, web design, and building earth ovens and geodesic domes. Two of the students created a video about the project. Read more…
When Biology professors Jason Fridley and Doug Frank learned of plans to install a miniature drumlin landscape outside the Life Sciences Complex, they saw it as an opportunity to test the impact of a changing climate on tree growth. In consultation with Prof. Don Leopold of SUNY-ESF, they identified 34 tree and shrub species that could serve as indicators of the way vegetation copes with rising temperatures and increasingly severe weather.
Chuck Bucci and Carmen Luppino of Campus Design, Planning and Construction, and landscape architect Kent Rieder of Hargreaves Associates collaborated with the faculty members to design groupings of the plants to facilitate the research while also serving as an attractive campus landscape. Read More… (Also see this article and video in the Syracuse Post-Standard, June 5, 2014)
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