Archive for September, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

Well, I guess we need it but the heavy rain has forced the cancellation of our farmer’s market for today.  It has also pushed back the installation of our first rain garden to tomorrow morning. For those that don’t know, a rain garden uses plants to help filter rainwater and prevent runoff into roads.  The University is working with the Albany County Stormwater Coalition (of which we are members) to put in a raingarden at the Alumni House. Installation is set for 9:30 am tomorrow morning. Let’s hope the weather cooperates.

Mary Ellen


Big weekend

We’ve got a big weekend coming up on October 9 through 11.  I just posted information on our website at

On Saturday, Fall fest will feature a large farmer’s market and we’ll be there with an information table.

Sunday is the Global Work party. This is a continuing action from last year’s 350 rally.  We’re organizing dorm storming to distribute information about energy conservation.  Anyone is free to help. Contact our office at or 956-8120 if you want to help.

Monday features the Gen O Bus tour.  This is a group of young farmers touring the Northeast and spreading the word about organic farming in their bus that runs on vegetable oil.  Please come out and hear their presentation on organic farming at 11:30 am in the Terrace Lounge in the Campus Center followed by a grilled cheese social.

See you all there!!


You have probably noticed that the University looks very different from when you left last fall.  A number of construction projects have commenced all over campus.  Whenever we have growth, it is an opportunity to create a better educational experience for our students by providing more academic offerings, more housing options and better services.  However, this also creates a conflict with our natural resources. It’s very easy to look at the trees coming down and assume that no consideration was given for their value.  But that would be a mistake as the decision to expand included assessing our impact on our environment.

Our campus has a monoculture of trees.  This achieved a certain aesthetic appeal that was desired when the campus was built but is not a sustainable way of landscaping. This is due to the fact that if one tree becomes diseased, it will pass this onto the remaining trees.  We are witnessing this very event with our trees on campus.  A landscape architect, as part of a larger landscaping master plan, had recently inventoried every single tree on campus and rated its condition.  The conclusion?  Over 70% of our evergreen trees have diplodia, a terminal illness.  Many of the trees that are currently being taken down are included in this statistic.

So what are we doing with the trees?  Given our concerns with emissions associated with wood burning, especially the fly ash produced, we decided to have the trees chipped to be used for bedding or landscaping.  In addition, for every tree that is taken down for certain projects, like the work around Collins Circle, 1.5 trees will be replanted and in a biodiverse manner.

As you see the construction progress, please keep in mind that the effect on our natural resources play a role in our planning and we strive to create a landscape that will be more environmentally sustainable than previously.

Mary Ellen Mallia

Director of Environmental Sustainability

The Energy Campaign Part 1: Office Storming

Recently those of us working with Mary Ellen in the Office of Environmental Sustainability here at UAlbany have been given the task of “Office Storming”. This is similar to the more common “dorm storm” but rather focuses on the offices on the Academic Podium. Basically all we were tasked with was handing out flyers about the ongoing Energy Campaign to the offices in buildings on the Podium. We were each given a section of buildings and a stack of flyers to hand out. I was assigned the Education, Humanities, and Social Science buildings.  It was an interesting experience, as I usually only endeavor into the History Department Offices, and I got to see many offices I’ve never had a reason to visit before.

Ultimately, the goal of our office storming is to bring about awareness among professors and other members of the faculty and staff about not only the energy campaign but also how they can individually impact the electricity usage on the Podium, which has a much larger carbon footprint than the dormitories on campus. Part 2 of the Energy Campaign is Dorm Storming, when Sustainability Council members will be replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs and informing students of ways they can save electricity in the dorms. After all, 90% of the energy used in the dorms is controlled by the end-user, so this can be a huge step to reducing our energy usage and our carbon footprint.

– Jeremy Grunstra

New bulletin

Our back to school bulletin is available at:

See all the programs we did last spring and our plans for the fall.

Energy campaign starts

Our energy campaign started last Wednesday.  We will return to the meters this Wednesday and report on any savings incurred over our baseline.  Our goal is a 10% electricity reduction between now and November 14th for the residence halls and academic buildings.  This year we will have real time energy use web sites. Check for updates at

Kudos to Jonny

Jonny Puglia, a member of the sustainability council and Dutch Quad chair, recently was featured in an article for his work in the field.

Interested in becoming a teacher of sustainable practices in the future, Jon Puglia works on his technique by showing his mother and sister some renewable energy hardware at the Mattituck location of Eastern Energy Systems. Check it out at:

Let us know what you think.