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Clarkson teams honored at RIT competition

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POTSDAM - Two teams of Clarkson University students, who are working to reduce waste and save energy on campus and in the community, received awards at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute’s (NYSP2I) third-annual R&D student competition, held at Rochester Institute of Technology and sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) awards graduate and undergraduate student teams with seed money in the fall semester to work on projects focused on sustainability and environmental conservation.

The theme this year was “Greenovate NYS: Make a difference on campus or in your community by developing an innovative solution to benefit the environment.”

To receive funding, a team of four students or fewer had to write and submit a proposal, outlining a project of their choice to address a local problem with a significant environmental impact, and an innovative approach to improve the situation and reduce the environmental footprint.

Teams could apply for up to $1,000 to use on project materials during the spring semester. Six undergraduate teams and five graduate teams from schools across New York State received funding and presented at the student competition.

The Clarkson Apartment Food Waste team won first place in the undergraduate category and the Students and Community Outreach on Renter Efficiency (SCORE) team took third place in the same category.

The Apartment Food Waste team used the funding from NYSP2I and Clarkson’s Sustainability Fund to purchase and distribute kitchen-sized compost bins to 33 on-campus apartments in the Woodstock Village and Townhouses apartments. With help from student volunteers in Sustainable Synergy, the group this spring semester collected more than 1,000 pounds of food waste, which was fed to the University’s anaerobic digester. The project is part of a larger effort led by Prof. Stefan Grimberg to make the digester more efficient and expand the food waste being fed to it. The team plans to continue and expand the project next year.

The SCORE team used the NYSP2I funding to conduct small-scale energy audits in rental units throughout the Potsdam community. Clarkson students who rent apartments off campus could participate in energy audits. During audits, the team focused on education, safety and comfort. The team upgraded inefficiencies throughout the apartment and taught the tenants about what changes were being made and how they would make the apartment more sustainable. The team also taught the tenants about simple lifestyle changes that could drastically affect their efficiency. The materials used by the SCORE team included CFL light bulbs, sink aerators, window film, weather stripping, pipe insulation, and low flow shower heads. This year, eight homes were audited. Next year, the team plans to expand to 25 homes and include students from neighboring colleges.

The Apartment Food Waste Team of Sustainable Synergy team was led by Benjamin Crewdson (chemical engineering, ’16) with Quinn Beattie (statistics, ’16), Michael Donovan (chemical engineering, ’15), and Thomas O’Rourke (environmental engineering, ’16). It was co-advised by Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Stefan Grimberg and Susan Powers, the Jean ‘79 and Robert ‘79 Spence Professor in Sustainable Environmental Systems and associate director for sustainability in the Clarkson Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

The SCORE team was led by Emma Dixon (biology, ’15) and Connor Raymond (electrical engineering, ’15) with Jonas Ebert (biology/psychology, ’16) and Sam Sprague (mechanical engineering, ’16). It was advised by Prof. Susan Powers.

Both teams attended the April 22 conference and presented to a panel of judges and displayed their posters. The teams wrote reports summarizing their projects and assessing their impact, sustainability, and innovation. They also presented their projects on and made10-minute presentations before a panel of judges.

The projects were judged on the teams understanding of the environmental issue, unique approach to sustainability and pollution prevention, potential positive impact to the local environmental footprint, quantitative analysis of environmentally harmful reductions, potential for implementation, and responses to judges’ questions.

Based on RIT’s campus, the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) is a statewide research and technology transfer center funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. RIT and its partner universities, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, and the University of Buffalo, along with the state’s ten regional technology development centers (RTDC), together comprise the NYSP2I. The vision for the NYSP2I is to foster the transformation and development of sustainable businesses and organizations in New York State in a collaborative program committed to making the State a leader in environmental stewardship.

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