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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Flowchart depicting the research field of multi-sector dynamics.

A Cornell engineer is advancing the field of ‘multi-sector dynamics’ with a new $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that will focus on techniques for better projecting the outcomes of human interactions with the natural world. As scientists and policy makers increasingly turn toward mathematical modeling to help inform their decision making, the project aims to better predict how human systems – such as the economy, urbanization, technology, and agriculture – co-evolve with Earth systems, such as climate, natural resources and wildlife.

corals underwater

Intro to Oceanography is one of the largest and most popular classes at Cornell University, with almost 1,100 students each semester. Taught by Bruce Monger, senior lecturer in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the era of COVID-19 and remote teaching presented Monger with an enormous challenge: How would he make his spirited lectures — peppered with climate activism and inspirational calls-to-action — as dynamic in a remote setting? Last summer, he reached out to Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS at the time, requesting funds to build his own in-home production studio to record lectures for Intro to Oceanography. Boor passed the request to Cornell’s senior leadership, where a new idea was born — to record the lectures with the professional support of eCornell, and in tandem, develop a publicly accessible oceanography and climate sustainability course, made available through eCornell’s online certificate programs.

Cornell campus

By delving into scientific, technological, environmental and economic data, Cornell Engineering researchers have examined whether New York could achieve a statewide carbon-free economy by 2050.

Their finding: Yes, New York can reach this goal – and do it with five years to spare.

Students hanging out

The Campus Sustainability Office is hiring a graduate or highly qualified undergraduate student to become our AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) Student Coordinator.  Paid position can be completed remotely during COVID19 conditions and begins late Spring '21 or Summer '21, with the possibility to extend through the following school year.  Cornell is the only Ivy to earn a  STARS Platinum rating for our campus' sustainability performance. Help us maintain it.

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At a virtual community forum Jan. 19, a Cornell faculty and staff panel outlined the next steps for testing Earth Source Heat (ESH), the process by which water would be extracted from the Earth’s crust, its heat transferred to a separate supply of water flowing within Cornell’s heating distribution pipeline to heat most of the Ithaca campus buildings, and the original geothermal water returned to the subsurface

Earth Source Heat Graphic

If Cornell can demonstrate it's feasibility and really make some headway with this enhanced geothermal system, it could be put into use in many parts of the Appalachians, and potentially in similar locales around the world.

Energy Navigator graphic (compass)

Volunteer as an Energy Navigator! Accepting applications for the 2021 cohort. Application deadline: March 19th, 2021 .

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Cornell University will host a virtual community forum on Tuesday, January 19 from 6 to 7 p.m. to provide an update on the enhanced geothermal heating project which is central to the Climate Action Plan.

Two adults and one child's socked feet in front of a fire

Concerned about high energy bills, drafty rooms, or your carbon footprint? Interested in renewable energy sources? Join energy educators from Cornell Cooperative Extension and HeatSmart Tompkins in this three-part home energy resource series. Learn about steps you can take to save money and reduce household greenhouse gas emissions.
 

Arctic ice in Greenland, shown above, is severely affected by climate change. Cornell Climate Engineering will model the effects of introducing aerosols into the stratosphere for reducing climate change impact.

Global warming reduction may someday get a cool new tool: climate engineering. The SilverLining Safe Climate Research Initiative has awarded a $500,000 grant to a Cornell engineering researcher, who will model the effects of introducing reflective aerosols into the stratosphere, which could deflect enough sunbeams to reduce Earth’s temperature and limit climate change impact.