Student Projects Increase SU Sustainability

Syracuse University’s commitment to sustainability reaches back to 1972 when the University made energy conservation a priority in the face of the international energy crisis. In 2007, the University created the Sustainability Division within the Department of Energy and Computing Management. Syracuse University now has two sustainability entities on campus. The first, the Sustainability Initiatives, focuses on academics and research; infusing sustainability into the curriculum and applying their campus as a living laboratory which partners faculty, staff and students in the pursuit of sustainability. The second, the Sustainability Division focuses on campus business and operations, while engaging in community outreach, education and awareness and advises students on class assignments and projects.

Taking advantage of the campus as a classroom and laboratory has led to some exciting projects that utilize the university’s students as collaborators in sustainable thinking.  


Students’ Award-Winning Project Reduces Energy Consumption and Pollution on Campus

In 2014, Maxwell Hall had been identified by students and faculty as the most uncomfortable building and prone to overheating. Four engineering students used data loggers, thermal imaging cameras, and ultrasonic leak detectors to locate problems in the heating system, and they determined that over 20% of steam traps in the building were faulty. They turned over these findings to the University’s Energy Conservation Manager, Emily Greeno. The traps were confirmed to be defective and replaced using incentives from National Grid, and the repairs are estimated to save Syracuse University $12,900 and 527,000 pounds of steam annually. The students who worked on the problem, Enrica Galasso, Jillian Burgoyne, Ryan Milcarek, and Mark Seibel, published their findings in the paper Green Heating: Reducing Overheating and Pollution on Campus, and received first place in the graduate student category at the 2014 Earth Day Event and Student Competition Exhibition held at R.I.T. for developing an innovative solution that benefits the environment on a campus.


Carrier Dome Rain Harvesting System

Syracuse Universty was again able to combine its educational mision with its campus operations in the Carrier Dome Rain Harvesting System, which employed students from both the Engineering and Communication Design schools. The 7 acre roof of the dome will be utilized to collect rainwater to be used for plumbing during Carrier Dome events. Matthew Mitch and his team from the School of Engineering came up with an innovative plan to relocate the storage tanks for the captured water underneath the playing field to reduce the distance the water would have to travel, and to prevent the water from freezing. Communications Design students Tierney Latella and Sam Proctor created the simple and effective “S” pipe logo for use throughout the Dome and in other rain capture projects on campus. While the students’ logo has been adopted for use around campus, the engineering solutions have been sidelined because of space limitations.

Syracuse Dome S Pipe Logo


For more info on Syracuse University’s Sustainability projects, visit or contact Melissa Cadwell, Marketing Manager, Energy Systems & Sustainability.





The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.