Pollution Prevention Institute announces winners of statewide student competition

Awards recognize top graduate and undergraduate sustainability initiatives

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The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute announced the winners of its second-annual student competition, held April 24 in Albany. From left to right, Anthony Buchanan, Shelby Jacobsen and Jon Diaz—fourth-year RIT students majoring in environmental sustainability, health and safety—placed third among undergraduate-level projects.

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at Rochester Institute of Technology has announced the winners of its second-annual R&D student competition. Open to colleges and universities throughout the state, the event recognized both graduate- and undergraduate-level sustainability projects.

Teams from The City University of New York College of Staten Island (CUNY-CSI), Syracuse University and The New School in New York City earned top honors at the graduate level, while Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University and RIT finished in the top three schools among undergraduates.

Earning the top three graduate-level positions:

  • CUNY-CSI captured first place for devising a plan to use sunlight and a unique nanomaterial to decompose organic wastes generated by the college’s instructional laboratories before they are disposed.
  • Syracuse University placed second for its project to investigate the potential of harvesting rainwater from the roof of the Carrier Dome to control water runoff and to prevent stress on nearby sewer systems.
  • Third place was awarded to The New School for its project aimed at evaluating the potential for increasing recycling on the lower-Manhattan campus by conducting a pilot waste composition project.

Representing the top three undergraduate winners:

  • RPI took first place for identifying ways to replace incandescent and fluorescent bulbs—initially within five main buildings before scaling the project to the rest of the campus once it was determined the initiative would result in energy savings.
  • Clarkson finished second for its project to replace sink aerators—which control the water flow from faucets—in the university’s dorms and academic buildings to reduce wasted water throughout campus, with little to no noticeable effect.
  • RIT placed third for investigating the feasibility of replacing petroleum-based plastic silverware with biodegradable or bio-based options, enabling service ware and food waste to be managed together through composting or digestion.

“We were thoroughly impressed by the innovative ideas that both the graduate- and undergraduate-level teams identified to help make their campuses more environmentally friendly,” says Anahita Williamson, director of NYSP2I. “While we recognized six of the top teams, we thought all of the students did a tremendous job identifying opportunities and developing cost-effective and sustainable solutions for their respective campuses.”

As part of its ongoing Research and Development Program, NYSP2I’s Student Competition required teams of students to “Go Green on Campus” by identifying a specific activity at their college or university with a large environmental footprint and find a solution to make their campus more environmentally sustainable.

In all, 15 student teams from 10 schools—Clarkson, CUNY-CSI, The New School, RPI, RIT, Siena College, Skidmore College, SUNY College at Buffalo, University at Buffalo and Syracuse—displayed their projects and competed for prizes at the competition inside the Legislative Office Building in Albany on April 24.

In addition to the top three schools receiving trophies, each first-place team received $1,500 to share among team members; the second-place school received $750; and third place $250. The prize money was made possible through donations by sponsors, including Baldwin Richardson Foods Co., Counterparts Chemistry, General Electric Global Research Center, FMC, Rochester General Health System, Rochester Midland Corp., SI Group and Xerox Corp. Additional funding for the competition was provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

NYSP2I provides comprehensive and integrated programming in technology research, development, training and education aimed at promoting sustainability across New York state. Partners include Clarkson, RPI, UB, and New York’s 10 Regional Technology Development Centers. The institute is funded through the Environmental Protection Fund and managed by the state DEC.

NYSP2I promotes cost-effective, pollution-prevention techniques that aid businesses in reducing manufacturing costs, energy and water usage while and decreasing toxics and hazardous substances in overall waste streams—allowing companies to remain competitive in today’s challenging global economy.

Go to http://www.nysp2i.rit.edu to learn more about NYSP2I.