Going for Green

Terra Awards Honor Sustainability on Campus

This year's Green Dane Cup, a competition among all the living residences, went to Alumni Quad. (Photos by Isabel Garcia)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 1, 2018) — Last Tuesday, volunteers from the campus community spent some time raking, mulching and seeding around campus, doing their part to make the University grounds a bit greener.

During a luncheon for the volunteers, the winners of this semester’s Terra Awards were recognized — those who work year-round to make the campus, the community and the world greener.

The awards, handed out every semester by the Office of Sustainability, honor students, faculty and staff who demonstrate a commitment to advancing sustainable culture at UAlbany. The award is named for the Roman goddess of the Earth. Mary Ellen Mallia, the director of sustainability at UAlbany, presented the awards in the Campus Center Ballroom along with Vice President for Finance and Administration Todd Foreman.

Terra awards
Ema Buco, center, accepts the Green Dane Cup for Alumni Quad, where she serves as assistant director for residential life. Presenting the award are Vice President for Finance and Administration Todd Foreman and Director of Sustainability Mary Ellen Mallia.

For the student category, the winner of the Spring 2018 Terra Award is freshman Archer Shurtliff, who leads the University’s Food Recovery Network.

As the liaison between the Office of Sustainability and Sodexo, Shurtliff makes sure students are available after meals to wrap up unserved food in the Indian Quad dining hall so it can be donated to a food bank. Mallia said that without Surtliff’s leadership the program, which donated more than 4,000 pounds of food this year, could have faltered.

Archer is a member of the World of Community Service Living-Learning Community and recently joined the newly formed Sustainability Leadership Council.

For the faculty category, the winner is Associate Professor Catherine Lawson from the Department of Geography and Planning.

Mallia noted that Lawson integrates her passion for sustainable development at UAlbany into her classroom, using materials derived from student projects as well as Campus Planning studies and publications. For example, graduate Transportation and Statistics courses use data and analysis from recent UAlbany transportation surveys.

Lawson encourages students in Geography and Planning to conduct thesis research on alternative transportation, green infrastructure, and other elements of sustainable design.

In the staff category, the award went to Michael Vadney from the Office of Facilities Management.

“Mike has been a key player in every aspect of operational sustainability on campus,” Mallia said, noting that Vadney was instrumental in setting up new recycling bins and signage in residential halls, improving waste and recyclables-handling in the Campus Center, the installation of new vehicle charging stations, and upgrading electric and lighting systems for efficiency and reliability.

“He is a problem solver and doesn't mind rolling up his sleeves to move a project forward. He is happy to lend a hand and I have never heard him say, ‘But it's not my job,’ even though many of the projects I mention here are not his responsibility,” Mallia said. “But if you know Mike, you know that he is a team player who cares about the University and is committed to helping the Energy Office and the Office of Sustainability with innovative initiatives.”

The winner of the Green Dane Cup, which goes to a residence hall, is Alumni Quad. The award is a culmination of competitions between the living residences throughout the academic year that are designed to increase sustainability and environmental awareness. Events include the Class of the Quads, the Energy Campaign, Campus Crunch and the Trashion Fashion show.

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About the University at Albany
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 sciencesbusiness, 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.