Honoring Green

Energy Campaign Results, Terra Award Winners Announced

 Director of Sustainability Mary Ellen Mallia shares information about energy savings during the 10-week Energy Campaign. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 20, 2017) — The UAlbany Green Scene held its annual University at Albany Energy Campaign: Reveal and Recognition ceremony on Friday, celebrating weeks of hard work towards reducing energy consumption on campus. Mary Ellen Mallia, director of the Office of Sustainability, announced that 666,507 kilowatt hours were saved between Sept. 6 and Nov. 12, adding up to a reduction of nearly 250 tons of CO2.

What exactly does that mean? As Mallia explains, it equates to 13 people being declared carbon neutral on campus. “And maybe more tangible, it’s the equivalent of taking 106 cars off the road for a year or providing the annual electricity needs for 47 homes,” she said. Even better? The number of kilowatt hours is equivalent to the carbon that 584 acres of trees would sequester in one year.

The annual Energy Campaign is a challenge for all monitored buildings to achieve a 10 percent reduction in electricity use. This year’s top performers include: Empire Commons in the apartment division with a 36 percent reduction, Alumni Quad in the quad division with a 13 percent reduction, Fine Arts in the academic building category with a 15 percent decrease and the Lecture Centers in the specialty building category with a 14 percent decline. The savings from this initiative supports two grant programs aimed at academic endeavors and residential life programming that incorporate the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Energy Campaign is not the only opportunity for campus members to get involved. The Green Workspace Challenge is a self-reporting framework for faculty and staff to make their workplaces more sustainable, while gaining recognition for their progress.. There are currently nine offices that have completed the certification.

The Terra Awards, given for meritorious contributions to campus sustainability, were also announced at the event. This semester’s recipients were faculty member Robert Keesee of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, staff member Darcie Abbatiello of the University Art Museum and students Maki Mandelis and Robert Bertolacci.

Keesee, and associate professor who is the advisor for the UAlbany Students for Sustainability, is a lifetime supporter of sustainability who not only teaches the topic but lives it. He has participated in various campus events such as the Power Dialog and the National Climate Teach In.

Abbatiello, the University Arty Museum’s registrar, is leading the effort to become a “sustainable museum” by joining the office composting program, getting Green Workspace Certified, procuring more eco-friendly supplies and working to reduce waste at catered events.

Mandelis, a senior, oversees the Office of Sustainability’s social media platform and has introduced sustainability initiatives to his peers, specifically the athletic teams and cheerleaders. He and the rest of the Green Scene recycling team are now a constant presence at large sporting events.

Bertolacci, also a senior, is an essential part of many campus sustainability initiatives, including the Empire Commons electricity bill program and the inkjet/toner and compost collections. He also oversees the weekly energy checks in the academic buildings, leading a group of students after hours on Friday to turn off lights and computers that have been left on in classrooms. This semester, he embarked on a self-imposed research study by monitoring selected buildings each evening, making observations about usage, and turning off lights with the goal of reducing electricity usage.

A video of the entire ceremony is available on the UAlbany Green Scene Facebook page.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health,health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.