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Office of Sustainability's Campus Learning Laboratory

by Sakib Ahmed

SBU's Office of Sustainability announced the formation of the Campus Learning Laboratory, which serves to organize and communicate a number of sustainability-related student research projects under one umbrella. Within the Campus Learning Laboratory, the Office of Sustainability has partnered with a number of academic Departments in order to establish initiatives which allow students to work on and solve complex, real world University challenges. The Laboratory allows students, faculty and staff to collaborate and develop solutions which are framed around sustainability, carbon footprint reduction, and/or energy efficiency.

The Office of Sustainability's Campus Learning Laboratory incorporates initiatives with a variety of academic Departments, which includes collaborations with the Sustainability Studies Program, Department of Computer Sciences, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Transportation & Parking Operations and the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, which provide students with exciting learning environments that yield progressive solutions.

The Laboratory launched its first initiative in 2011 by teaming up with the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, Departments of Computer Science and Transportation & Parking Operations in order to create SBU Smart Transit, which is an information system that uses GPS technology and mobile applications to communicate SBU Transit bus and shuttle information. The system provides real-time transit information to the University community, which enables SBU Transit operators to review ridership and adjust operations accordingly with sustainability and fuel efficiency in mind. "Working on the SBU Smart Transit project has been very rewarding." said Dr. Jennifer Wong, the lead faculty member on the project. "The students who have worked on the project are also extremely grateful for the experience. It was an excellent learning experience to develop for a customer and to see the campus community using their creation."

"SBU Smart Transit has been a big hit with students and allows the University to communicate the status of SBU Transit on a live basis." said Dave McAvoy, Transportation Fleet Manager. Many Laboratory initiatives are organized across a number of semesters, which enables each project to be further developed and enhanced by a number of students, typically over a few different types of disciplines. "The project has continually allowed students to develop a real world solution, which not only gives them valuable experience on software development, but also produced a product that benefits the University community. Each semester enhancements are made to the system, which includes updating software, providing passenger reporting information and upgrading the systems capabilities." adds Dave McAvoy.

In addition to SBU Smart Transit, the Laboratory also includes initiatives with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, which largely focus on energy harvesting and storage. Many of the Mechanical Engineering initiatives aim to harvest energy from vehicle shock absorbers, roadway devices, parking lot speed bumps and other devices in order to either increase vehicle fuel efficiency or lower campus utility consumption. In addition to energy harvesting, the Laboratory collaborates with the Department of Mechanical Engineering on researching/testing thermoelectric technology which uses heat to power electronic monitoring software. For additional information on the thermoelectric project, please click here.

The Campus Learning Laboratory also incorporates a number of initiatives related to researching building energy efficiency in order to lower utility consumption. In 2012 and 2013, the Laboratory led two (2) phases of a building interior/exterior lighting audit – which tasked students and faculty in Sustainability Studies with reviewing lighting use and make recommendations on new lighting, improved controls, facility enhancements and use of ambient lighting. In 2013, the Laboratory expanded the study to engage students and faculty to review building energy consumption by analyzing building/elevator use, electric utilization and available recycling infrastructure in order decrease utility consumption and increase recycling.

The following is a list of current Campus Learning Laboratory initiatives, which are covered in the portfolio:

Office of Sustainability
Campus Learning Laboratory
Initiative Summary

Timeline Sustainability Focus Area Department Initiative Name Initative Description
Started Summer 2011; 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 Transportation Center of Excellent in Wireless and Information Technology & Computer Science SBU Smart Transit Development and enhancement of SBU Smart Transit, which is an information system that integrates vehicle GPS routers, tablet displays, passenger counters, card readers and software. System communicates transit arrival times using on websites, campus signage and mobile applications. System also designed to provide passenger utilization reports and allow operators to enhance sustainability by using smaller vehicles at non-peak times.
2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 Energy Mechanical Engineering Energy Harvesting Shock Absorber Harvest energy from vehicle shock absorbers and use harvested energy to power systems onboard vehicles to increase fuel economy.
2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 Energy Mechanical Engineering Speed Bump Energy Harvester Harvest energy from parking lot speed bumps, store energy in batteries and use energy to power area systems, such as lighting, to potentially decrease utility consumption.
2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 Energy Mechanical Engineering On Road Energy Harvester Harvest energy from on road devices, store energy in batteries and use energy to power area systems, such as lighting, to decrease utility consumption.
Fall 2012 & Spring 2013 Energy Mechanical Engineering Thermoelectric Heat Energy Harvester Harvest energy from thermoelectric devices on power plant piping, store energy and use it to power information systems when power plant is not operational.
Spring 2012 Energy Efficiency Sustainability Studies Student Lighting Audit - Phase 1 Study of Student Activities Center, Earth Space & Sciences, Library and Social & Behavioral Science buildings interior and exterior lighting use, fixtures type, energy consumption, controls, exterior window treatment use and occupant behavior in order to identify potential opportunities for conservation, behavioral changes and education.
Fall 2012 Energy Efficiency Sustainability Studies Student Lighting Audit - Phase 2 Study of Life Sciences, Math/Physics and Grad Chemistry building interior and exterior lighting use, fixtures type, energy consumption, controls, exterior window treatment use and occupant behavior in order to identify potential opportunities for conservation, behavioral changes and education.
Fall 2013 Energy Efficiency Sustainability Studies Building Utility Consumption Audit - Fall 2013 Survey buildings utility use focusing on energy utilization, elevator utilization, occupant behavior patterns, scheduling and use, in order to reduce energy consumption and limit impact on the natural environment.
Fall 2014 Environment & Urban Planning Sustainability Studies Urban Environment Study Study to analyze urban environments and identify sustainability-related recommendations which may be used for future planning. The urban environment that will be the primary focus of the Study is the transportation and pedestrian hub that encompasses the Student Activities Center (SAC) and Engineering Drive vehicular traffic circles.

For additional information on the Office of Sustainability's Campus Learning Laboratory or to suggest a sustainability-related student initiative, please contact:
Stony Brook University
Office of Sustainability
E-Mail: sustainability@stonybrook.edu


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Sustainability @ Stony Brook University