Skip to main content

Hanley Sustainability Institute

Paper on carbon neutrality pathway for UD wins global campus sustainability research award

By Mark Gokavi

A University of Dayton research paper on the cost of carbon neutrality at the University earned an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 2020 Sustainability Research Award.

Graduate assistant Ryan Shea was the lead author of the paper - “A life-cycle cost analysis of transitioning to a fully-electrified, renewably powered, and carbon-neutral campus at the University of Dayton,” - with co-authors Hanley Sustainability Institute Executive Director Ben McCall, UD energy efficiency and renewable energy manager Matthew Worsham, engineering professor Andrew Chiasson and former UD engineering professor Kelly Kissock.

"Ben, Matthew, Kelly, Andrew and I are honored that AASHE selected our research for their 2020 Campus Sustainability Research Award, signifying the importance of transitioning to decarbonized campus energy systems,” Shea said.

AASHE presented the award during an online awards ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 3.

"Limiting global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) to prevent the worst effects of climate change absolutely necessitates an immediate transition from a fossil fuel-based energy system to one that's renewably powered,” said Shea, now a senior associate at Rocky Mountain Institute. “Our research showed that at the University of Dayton, and likely other universities, this imperative is not only possible but cost-effective.

“In my current role at Rocky Mountain Institute helping local governments achieve their renewable energy goals, it's been exciting to see these overall themes of our research align with real-world projects.”

The award was announced by Fahmida Bangert, the director of sustainability and SEM business services at Stanford University.

“This type of analysis will really help not just Dayton, but other universities to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1 and 2 emissions,” Bangert said. “So nice work, thank you and congratulations.”

The research paper said UD’s conversion would increase costs by just 2.4 percent during a 30-year period. The paper was published in the journal Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments and an update to the study was discussed in a presentation during the recent 2020 Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education.

“This recognition of our work shows how powerful it can be when graduate students, faculty and facilities personnel team up to tackle sustainability challenges,” McCall said. “I hope there will be many more such impactful collaborations at UD as we work to meet our commitment to becoming a carbon neutral campus."

The association's annual awards honor sustainability achievements, research advancements and student leadership by raising the visibility of high-impact sustainability projects and pioneering research.

More than 400 applications worldwide were considered for the 40 finalists in several categories with competition in UD’s category from researchers in China, Indonesia and the United States.

“While UD faces similar logistical and capital barriers that many local actors face when realizing their fully-electric and renewably-powered future, I hope that this research, in concert with the continued hard work from dedicated students, faculty, and staff, lays the necessary groundwork for UD to finally address its contribution to a warming world,” Shea added.

UD has earned a gold rating in AASHE’s reporting system for sustainability.

For more sustainability news and information, visit HSI’s news blog, the Hanley Sustainability Institute website and the sustainability program website. To sign up for HSI’s Sustainability Spotlight newsletter, register here.

Previous Post

UD again a top-10 performer in two Sustainable Campus Index categories

For a third consecutive year, the University of Dayton has been named a top-10 performer in AASHE's global Sustainable Campus Index in two categories - purchasing and research - and retains its gold STARS status.
Read More
Next Post

Former HSI student leader Sandstrom joins growing climate journaling and healing initiative

University of Dayton graduate Emily Sandstrom has joined The Climate Journal Project, an initiative to "help alleviate environmental anxiety and fears" through which participants are invited to empower themselves and others to transition away from planetary grief and climate change paralysis.

Read More