Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne Students Present Ideas for Local Sustainability at April 16 Symposium

Issue Date: 
April 13, 2009

A truly sustainable society transcends fluorescent bulbs and recycling—it requires fresh ideas and local action. In that vein, students from the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University will present at an April 16 symposium the results of a cooperative project to develop practical city- and campuswide policies and habits to reduce Pittsburgh’s environmental footprint.

The One Step at a Time Student Sustainability Symposium features ideas ranging from establishing city green-building standards to calculating the energy universities could conserve by powering down their computer systems during off-peak hours. Hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh and coordinated by the Environmental Studies Program in Pitt’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science in the School of Arts and Sciences, the symposium will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16 in the 31st-floor conference room of the Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Ave., Downtown. Registration for the free public event is available on the Rachel Carson Homestead Web site at www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org/Events/tabid/62/Default.aspx.

Students and professors from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, and Duquesne initiated the One Step at a Time project in Fall 2007 in response to the 2007 Rachel Carson Legacy Challenge, issued by the Rachel Carson Homestead Association. The grant encouraged all three universities to create student-designed solutions to environmental issues on campus and around the city. The Heinz Endowments also supported the initiative.

The April 16 symposium begins with an introduction by Sustainable Pittsburgh at 9 a.m. and comments by Lindsay Baxter, sustainability coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh. Brief descriptions of the student presentations follow. All presentations include a question-and-answer session.

At 9:25 a.m., Duquesne students will present their research on climate-change initiatives among international businesses; a municipal-level application of MARKAL, a computer model designed by the International Energy Agency for monitoring and implementing energy efficiency; a study of Duquesne’s greenhouse gas emission; and ideas from One Step at a Time that have been realized on campus. The students represent Duquesne’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, Environmental Science and Management Program, School of Law, and Sustainable MBA Program.

At 10:30 a.m., Carnegie Mellon students will report on their evaluation of the energy usage of the university’s computer clusters and the clusters’ contribution to Carnegie Mellon’s footprint. The students aimed to conserve money and energy by figuring out the best times to power down the computers.

At 11:30 a.m., Pitt students will present ideas to streamline the City of Pittsburgh’s sustainability efforts, a report on a project to install a “green roof” on campus, and a description of a Pitt outreach campaign to increase awareness of environmental issues and of ongoing Universitywide sustainability efforts. Among other student group reports is an analysis of the participation and influence of nongovernmental organizations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

A 12:30 p.m. poster session will include displays of additional student projects, including renewable energy as a catalyst for U.S. job creation; a comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States, China, India, and Brazil; the influence of the international market for carbon credits on controlling greenhouse gas emissions; and a look at federal, state, and local climate change policies.