Campus Sustainability News

News on campus sustainability initiatives, emerging programs, rankings, awards, student initiatives, green teams, and more from across the Cornell University campus.

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Cornell rankings

The University swept top spots in national sustainability rankings for the 2020 year after being recognized as one of the most sustainable higher education institutions by the Sierra Club, Princeton Review, AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, and the Carbon Commitment run by Second Nature.

Solar panels

Max Zhang, a professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been awarded a 2 ½-year, approximately $200,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for work aimed at determining efficient solar farm array configurations to avoid land-use conflicts or spoiling precious agricultural space.

The Bioswale Garden at Cornell Botanic Gardens cleanses stormwater runoff from the adjacent parking lot, before it flows into Beebe Lake.

Cornell’s Sustainable Landscapes Trail now can be explored virtually, in a new narrated video tour from Cornell Botanic Gardens.
The 16 sites on the trail promote open spaces, natural areas and landscapes with unique sustainability features that enhance and promote healthy ecosystems. Most of these features were designed with staff, student, faculty and research collaboration.

CALS Dean Benjamin Z. Houlton

An accomplished environmental scientist, new CALS Dean Benjamin Z.  Houlton has published more than 130 academic papers. He is internationally recognized for his research on ecosystem processes and for creating collaborations that drive sustainable agriculture and energy production.

Offshore wind farms

A new research project – led by Rebecca J. Barthelmie, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Sara C. Pryor, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – is designed to unlock the power of wind energy by optimizing the spacing between wind turbines and wind turbine arrays to maximize power production.

Two students in a lab

If the cloth face covering can achieve levels of the FDA-approved face mask, the reusable cloth masks can replace the demand for disposable medical face masks for nonhealthcare professionals and provide accessible, affordable options to the public.

Solar panels

Cornell completed its 12th year of pursuing carbon neutrality and has published a greenhouse gas inventory showing carbon emissions have dropped by 36% from the 2008 baseline set as part of Cornell’s participation in the Second Nature Carbon Commitment. As detailed in the full greenhouse gas inventory, the Ithaca campus released 203,001 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) in 2019, compared to 318,624 MTCO2e 12 years prior. 

Annual sustainability report sections in circles

On Monday, September 21, the Campus Sustainability Office released its first-ever interactive annual sustainability report.
The annual report design process began with an intention to capture STARS Plantinum and make the 1,000s of metric points available in the full STARS report more accessible to the campus community and public by creating an engaging, interactive, data-driven online report. Here is a list of takeaways from the creation of the report, as compiled by the Sustainability Office's summer fellow.

Cornell campus

Four Cornellians have been appointed to three climate advisory panels that will inform the New York State Climate Action Council – a task force established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo – to guide the state and draft a plan toward a zero-carbon economy by the middle of this century.

The bright green algal blooms are prominent along the shore of Lake Victoria’s Kisumu Bay in Keny

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant for Cornell researchers to study the health dangers, changes in the lake food web, and socioeconomic challenges that arise when algal blooms produce toxins.