UB Receives ‘Best of Green Schools’ Honor

Award highlights environmental and sustainability planning efforts led by School of Architecture and Planning

By Cory Nealon

Published December 19, 2014

UB’s engagement with partner organizations to restore and preserve Western New York’s natural environment has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council’s Center for Green Schools has named UB one of the 2014 “Best of Green Schools.” The awards recognize 10 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing national leaders and innovators in school sustainability.

UB received its award under the “collaboration” category for work that began nearly 10 years ago and continues today to build cohesion among Western New York’s environmental organizations.

“The students and faculty of the University at Buffalo are bringing people together in new and exciting ways to address some of the greatest challenges and opportunities for green building in their region,” says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools.

The Center for Green Schools cited UB’s work with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (CFGB) on a host of initiatives, including developing “Our Shared Agenda for Action,” a 485-page document that emphasizes collaboration while promoting smart growth policies, energy and climate change initiatives, protection and preservation of natural resources, and other environmental issues in Western New York.

Lynda Schneekloth, then a professor of architecture and director of landscape architecture in the school’s Urban Design Project, served as project manager.

Faculty members also have drafted plans to revitalize the city of Buffalo, including its waterfront, downtown and park system, and are nearing completion of a two-year initiative called “One Region Forward,” a broad-based collaboration to promote sustainable development in Erie and Niagara counties.

“This award is especially satisfying because it spotlights the School of Architecture and Planning’s engagement with the community, and it emphasizes that collaboration across the region and the University at Buffalo campus is a must as we continue our efforts to revitalize Buffalo and Western New York,” says Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. “Our Shared Agenda for Action” also served as a catalyst to create the Western New York Environmental Alliance, the umbrella group that represents more than 100 organizations working to improve the region’s natural environment. Since its inception in 2009, the alliance has become the region’s voice for environmental and sustainability issues.

“We are delighted to share this honor with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and, most importantly, the member organizations of the alliance that work every day to ensure sustainable, thriving ecosystems and communities in Western New York,” adds Ryan McPherson, UB’s chief sustainability officer and chair of the alliance’s board of directors.

The center also cited many efforts university-wide that contributed to UB receiving the award, including:

  • Numerous faculty members who have provided the region expertise in landscape architecture, chemistry, public health and other areas. 
  • An internship program directed by UB’s Sustainability Academy. The program benefits students, who gain experience working with professional groups, as well as the organizations, who receive needed support. 
  • An Honors College course in which students survey environmental groups and synthesize ideas about the future of the environmental alliance.