Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Campus
Molly Ball ’14
Jason Cocca ’14
Sophomore Molly Ball’s Sustainability Project Fund research also focused on
reducing energy consumption on campus.
As a top consumer of electricity on campus, refrigerators are a main
producer of greenhouse
gas emissions,” Ball says.
Replacing just one large
outdated refrigerator would
reduce the CO2 emissions on
campus by 1,635 kg per year.”
Science & Policy major turned
energy detective, surveying and measuring the energy consumption of every
refrigerator on campus — in labs, apartments and dining halls.
I used a
meter to measure the energy
usage of the oldest refrigerators first to find the most
inefficient ones and replace them,” she explains. “The
ultimate goal of the project is to set up a replacement
plan for the entire campus.”
The project also gave Ball an opportunity to
present her research in Albany alongside other
winning proposals at an event sponsored by NYP21.
She credits her success in part to her mentor
Professor Alan Rossner. “He took me to Sears to
look over new refrigerators, and helped with my
proposal and summary project,” she says. “He also
helped me revise my presentation poster many times
to make sure it was just perfect and even printed an
extra poster so I could show my mom!”
IMAGINE THE POTENTIAL SAVINGS
in costs and energy if Clarkson replaced all light
switches in the campus classrooms with light sensors instead.
Sophomore Jason Cocca did. And thanks to The Clarkson Fund, Cocca had a
chance to analyze and develop a detailed proposal for a pilot project to replace light
switches in 14 classrooms and lecture rooms in the Science Center, CAMP and
This past year, a $25,000 Sustainability Project Fund was established through
revenue generated by charitable gifts from alumni to The Clarkson Fund to support
sustainability initiatives on campus. Students and faculty and staff were encouraged
to submit proposals, which were reviewed by the Campus Sustainability
Committee as well as the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP21).
Winning proposals, like Cocca’s, were selected based on their potential impact and
probability of success. NYSP21 also provided additional funds for several projects.
So what would replacing light bulbs with light sensors in 14 classrooms save
the University? As Cocca calculated, each classroom uses 34 watt fluorescent bulbs,
which means that every bulb wastes 34 watt-hours of energy an hour when not in
use. This quickly adds up; in these 14 rooms there are over 1,000 bulbs. In terms
of costs savings, after factoring in a one-time installation cost @ $4,000 for the
project, Cocca estimates a $2,500 a year savings. The cost of replacement would be
recovered in less than two years. And that is only for 14 classrooms.
Cocca also recommended the use of light bulbs such as CFLs (compact
fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes) as another way to reduce the
electricity consumption for lighting at the source.
His design is currently being integrated into the on-going lighting upgrade
throughout the campus.
Other funded projects included:
Residence Hall Motion Sensor Lighting
Graduate student Jeannie Piekarz (electrical
engineering) and students in the Electrical
Engineering Honors Society helped to install
light sensors in residence hallways where lights
are traditionally left on.
They found they could save 29% of the
electric power used in the hallways. They
projected energy and cost savings to be around
$600,000 per year with a three- to five-year
payback on the investment.
Piekarz and her team received a first-
place award from the NYSP21 sustainability
competition and had an opportunity to be
congratulated directly by N.Y. State Governor
Andrew Cuomo for their successful project.
Increasing Recycling Rates
Graduate student Emily Ball
environmental science & engineering)
worked to promote recycling around
campus with a project that included
new recycling bins in apartments and
outside, posters and an innovative
Recycle Molly” display of recycling
do’s and don’ts to promote awareness.
On-Campus Food Waste
A joint project between senior
Ashley Waldron (civil engineering)
and Professor Stefan Grimberg,
chair of the Department of Civil &
Environmental Engineering, enabled
operation of the on-campus food
waste digester to get started. Their
team of students worked on all
aspects of the operation from food
waste collection in the cafeterias
to digester operation and use of the
nutrient-rich effluent for fertilizer.
Water Bottle Refilling Stations
Members of the Synergy club led by
senior environmental engineering Heather
Masterson worked with facilities to install
three water bottle refilling stations. Since
implementation in April of the water bottle
refill stations, the equivalent of over 93,000
oz. water bottles were refilled. A student
survey suggests that additional refill stations
are in demand across the campus.
Energy Consumption by an older model refrigerator
The energy saved annually with an Energy Star
model refrigerator is 4,037 kWhrs.
kWhrs of energy
Energy Savings in KWhrs
kWhrs of energy
Energy Savings in KWhrs