Mitch Aso, an assistant professor in the History Department, used his Sustainability Innovation Grant to bring in a speaker on climate change in the Arctic. (Photos by Carlo de Jesus)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 22, 2016) — The 10-week Energy Campaign is over and the winner is … pretty much all of us.

The Office of Sustainability held its Reveal and Recognition Ceremony Friday, Nov. 18, noting the big energy savers, carbon reducers and program leaders. Overall, the campus reduced energy usage by 8.2 percent over baseline averages over the 10 weeks, saving a total of 943,306 kilowatt-hours of electricity and reducing carbon dioxide output by 353.05 tons.

Not too shabby, Sustainability Director Mary Ellen Mallia said.

Residence halls led the pack, with an overall savings of 15 percent. The leader was Freedom Apartments, which reduced energy usage by 38 percent over the 10 weeks, followed by Alumni Quad and Empire Apartments, which both came in at a 22 percent savings.


Charles Rogers of Residential Life presents an award for Alumni Quad, which had the highest energy reduction of the five quads, and the second highest of all residence halls.

Among the academic buildings, “the civically-minded people in the Social Sciences building” worked together to reduce energy by 19 percent, Mallia said, taking first place. Business Administration – the home of the Office of Sustainability – came in second at 15 percent.

In specialty buildings, which include libraries, athletic and administrative buildings, SEFCU won, with an energy savings of 11 percent, followed by the Lecture Center at 9 percent. That reduction, Mallia said, was primarily a result of sustainability interns who went through the center turning off lights and computers on evenings and weekends.

While the official goal of the Energy Campaign is a 10 percent reduction campus-wide, Mallia said she was pleased with 8.2 percent, especially considering that the Campus Center was taken out of the challenge because of construction. All of the campus residence halls, including quads and apartments, hit the 10 percent target, with most far exceeding it, she noted.

Mallia also handed out the University’s Terra Awards, which honor students, staff and faculty who are “demonstrating a commitment to advancing sustainable culture.”

This semester’s winners are:

Ronald Friedman, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, who said climate change is as much an issue for psychology professors as scientists and researchers because “it’s a matter of self-control. We can change our behavior.” Friedman has worked to incorporate information about climate change in his courses and seeks to raise awareness about the issue to a wide range of students, Mallia said.

Donna Duffy, a nutritionist for Sodexo, was honored for her work promoting healthy eating and spearheading a pilot food recovery program at State Quad. Student volunteers come into the dining hall at night and wrap unserved leftovers to donate to food pantries. Duffy said the program is going well and could be expanded to Indian Quad soon.

Student Rahda Urribarri, a senior environmental sciences major who serves a Food and Dining Chair on the Student Sustainability Council. Urribarri is an alumna of the World of Environmental Sustainability living-learning community and organizer of Sustainability Week events.

Student Jessica Tsang, also a senior serving on the Student Sustainability Council as chair of recycling and outreach, is the President of UAlbany Students for Sustainability.

The ceremony also recognized the four recipients of the Sustainability Innovation Grant Program. They are:

Natalie O’Neil, a Chemistry graduate student, for her “Green Chemistry Initiative” to bring sustainable practices to the lab.

Mitch Aso, assistant professor in the History Department, for bringing in environmental historian Andrew Stuhl of Bucknell University to speak on “Unfreezing the Arctic – The Place of History in the Social Response to Global Climate Change.”

Oliver Elison Timm, research associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, for bringing in atmospheric scientist David Battisti of the University of Washington to speak on climate change and food security.

Ronald Friedman, associate professor of psychology, who brought in Kari Marie Norgaard, a sociologist from the University of Oregon, to speak on “Moving Beyond Climate Denial Toward an Environmentally Just Future.”

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