Hoboken, New Jersey – Stevens Institute of Technology hosted the first-ever Innovation of Sustainable Communities, a unique symposium for those passionate about sustainability.
The symposium, an entirely student-run event, was held on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the Stevens campus in Hoboken. The event brought together students, faculty and industry professionals from the New York and New Jersey area to discuss the challenges and opportunities in sustainability research and initiatives, and showcased student research at college campuses across New Jersey.
The program was sponsored by the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS), an organization that promotes sustainability on college campuses, and the NJHEPS Student Leaders.
Sonia Mantzouridou-Onasi, a Stevens graduate student who led the student effort to hold the symposium at Stevens, said “the goal was to bring awareness to the concept of sustainability, not just in terms of being green, but in terms of behavioral change.”
The event opened with keynote speaker Dr. Carlos Lopez Cano Vieira, an international lecturer and professor at the Universidad de Algarve in Portugal. Two panel discussions followed focusing on “Campus-Driven Innovation” and “Sustainable Innovation in Industry.” Panelists included a number of professors, engineers, architects, other professional green-enthusiasts and students.
Christos Christodoulatos, vice provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and member of the NJHEPS steering committee, said he was gratified to see how NJHEPS has evolved into a student-led organization.
“Students have become the champions of the sustainability movement,” he said. “This symposium is a true testament to the dedication and entrepreneurship of our students who are driven to make sustainability practices the norm.”
Just last month, Stevens received a STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nearly 1,000-member group of universities striving for environmentally-friendly campus facilities, social responsibility, and equitable work policies and work environments.
The university received a perfect score in the Innovation category from AASHE on the strength of four recent initiatives:
• a new low-flow liquid desiccant air conditioning (LDAC) system in the Schaefer Athletic and Recreation Center that conserves energy and heats the swimming pool with ambient air;
• Stevens' participation and strong performances (including one overall victory in 2015) in three U.S. Solar Decathlon competitions;
• significant new programs and coursework in innovation and entrepreneurship;
• and a student research project on the initial planning and testing of a new system to produce fuel from waste biomass.
Additionally, Stevens finished in 1st place at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 for the overall design, construction and sustainable operation of a solar-powered, energy efficient home resilient enough to withstand hurricane-force winds and flooding.
Stevens’ competition house – SURE HOUSE – was conceived as the “Coastal Home of the Future” in direct response to the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Stevens’ 2015 Solar Decathlon victory represents the university’s third consecutive appearance in the international competition, following impressive performances in 2013 and 2011.