Timeline of the Environment at CMUCarnegie Mellon University has been integral in the development of environmental research for over 100 years. In the past two decades the University has moved forward with implementing environmentally conscious practices and activities on campus. Click on a year below to read more about some of these milestones.
Renewable Energy Purchase
Carnegie Mellon University contracts for the purchase 120 MWh of Renewable Electricity Credits (RECs) for the period Jan-Dec 2011, the equivalent to 100% of the university's electricity requirements.
Environment Today: Water & Energy
Leaders of the student organization Sustainable Earth, reformat the Focus the Nation annual event into a weekend course, Environment Today: Water & Energy, fashioned after the country weekend courses.
Renewable Energy Purchase
Carnegie Mellon purchases nearly 87 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, enough green power to meet 75% of the school’s purchased electricity use.
Natural Gas Replaces Coal
Bellfield Boiler Steam Plant stops using coal, and starts using natural gas as fuel. Carnegie Mellon purchases steam for heating from Bellfield.
Renewable Energy Purchase
29% of Carnegie Mellon's energy comes from renewable energy sources. The University’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Environmental Footprint, the results of a Student Project Assessment, are available on the Green Practices website.
Environmental Justice Weekend Course
The Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research (SEER) sponsors “The Problem of Environmental Justice,” a weekend course designed to broaden and deepen awareness among students of the problems in the area of Environmental Justice (EJ) through interdisciplinary study.
Building Receives LEED Silver
Building renovations at 300 South Craig Street—home to Campus Police and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center—receive LEED Silver Rating.
Sierra Magazine ranks Carnegie Mellon University the 10th 'Coolest' School in its November/December 2007 cover story.
Solar Decathlon: TriPOD
The CMU Solar Decathlon team builds a modular solar-powered home named TriPOD. The house takes 1st place in the Energy Balance category. The house is permanently installed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Powdermill Nature Reserve after the competition.
Living RoofThe Hamerschlag Hall Living Roof is featured in the New York Times 'Greening of America's Campuses' article and is awarded the National Roofing Contractors Association Roof of the Year award. It is also nominated for the Healthy Cities Award and Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.
Green Campus AwardThe campus Green Practices Program is awarded the 2006 Campus Outreach Opportunity League (C.O.O.L.) Idealist 'Idealism in Action Award' for being a leading 'green campus' in the U.S.
Building Receives LEED GoldThe Collaborative Innovation Center Building receives a LEED-CS gold rating (Core and Shell Version).
Green GasA contract is negotiated to supply the entire university with 'green gas' from a local landfill at no additional cost.
Center for Sustainable EngineeringThe Center for Sustainable Engineering, funded by NSF and EPA, is a collaborative research team between Carnegie Mellon's Cliff Davidson of Civil & Environmental Engineering, David Allen of the University of Texas at Austin, and Brad Allenby of Arizona State University. The Center is creates workshops and a website to teach sustainable practices across all engineering disciplines.
Green RoofConstruction of the Hamerschlag Hall Green Roof is complete. The roof is instrumented for green roof research and the project gets underway.
Solar Powered ComputingSolar panels are plugged in and solar-powered computing begins at the Computer Science Building at 407 S. Craig Street. The 12 kW DC grid-tied array produces 10% of the building’s energy.
Building Receives LEED Certification
The Posner Center achieves LEED Certification and becomes the third building on campus to be built to the LEED guidelines.
Solar Decathlon: Pittsburgh Synergy
In 2005 CMU collaborates with the University of Pittsburgh, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and local businesses to create the Pittsburgh Synergy house for the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition. The house finishes 10th overall in the competition.
Climate Decision Making CenterThe Climate Decision Making Center is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by M. Granger Morgan of the Department of Engineering and Public Policy. The Center is designed to aid decision makers and create methods to resolve problems of irreducible uncertainty.
First Environmental Ethics CoursePeter Madsen of the Philosophy Department teaches the first environmental ethics course at Carnegie Mellon. Prof. Madsen is also the advisor for the Environmental Policy Additional Major in H&SS and the Minor in Environmental Studies for undergraduate students.
Living RoofThe Living Roof on the south wing of Hamerschlag Hall is an interdisciplinary project that grew out of a student SURG program.
Computer Energy ReductionThe 'Sleep is Good' campaign started for computers across campus.
RecycleManiaCarnegie Mellon participates in the RecycleMania recycling contest along with 17 other schools across the US. CMU finishes in 6th place, beating Harvard, Yale and Brown!
Building Receives LEED SilverHenderson House receives LEED Silver rating from the US Green Building Council.
Sustainable StudentsSustainable Students is established in 2003 out of EARTH, a student run environmental education organization. Some of Sustainable Earth's projects include composting, the Green Roof Initiative, gardening projects, environmental public service announcements, and environmental education.
First LEED Certified DormCMU builds the first dormitory in the nation to receive a LEED silver designation from the U.S. Green Building Council. The New House (Stever House) is the first LEED rated Silver University Residence Hall in the nation.
Steinbrenner InstituteThe Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research (SEER) focuses on education, practices, research and community with a mission to promote the interdisciplinary studies in the environment and energy and create research and educational opportunities.
Computer RecyclingDell Computer Recycling Event held at Carnegie Mellon recycles 56.5 tons of computer equipment from the region.
Energy Fest 2003Energy Fest 2003 is held at Carnegie Mellon
Solar Decathlon Competition
CMU participates in the first Solar Decathlon Competition, an International Competition held on the Mall in Washington DC. The house, built by a team of students in architecture, design, and engineering, finishes 12th overall and is the winner of the Energy Balance category.
Recycling Education CenterThe Green Practices Committee unveils a new Recycling Education Center in the University Center.
Renewable Energy PurchaseCMU extends its wind energy purchase contract for five years and increases the percentage to 6% of total campus electricity use. CMU is the first of 25 Pennsylvania colleges and universities now purchasing wind power.
Wind Power PurchasedIn 2001, CMU becomes the first institution in the nation to have the largest fraction of its total energy from wind power. CMU is awarded the 1st Annual Green Power Leadership Awards from the EPA, DOE and CRS. The 2001 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence recognizes the University's commitment to purchasing green power.
Alternative Fuel VehiclesFacilities Management purchases two natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Campus Security also purchases a natural gas car. Carnegie Mellon adopts a policy that all new vehicle purchases for campus organizations will be alternative fuel vehicles.
Green Practices CommitteeThe Environmental Practices Committee changes its name to Carnegie Mellon Green Practices and adopts an official University logo. The committee is co-chaired by Barb Kviz of Facilities Management and Stephen Lee of the Department of Architecture. The 'Green Scene' Environmental Newsletter is created to communicate and publicize the efforts of the GPC.
US Green Building CouncilCarnegie Mellon makes a commitment to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for all new buildings and major renovations on campus and becomes a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Energy FestCarnegie Mellon holds its first annual Energy Fest to promote awareness about energy conservation and alternative energy resources.
Recycled PaperThe percentage of the campus that uses at least 30%-recycled content paper increases from 5% to 91%, a big step in the goal of eliminating virgin paper use on campus.
A Decade of RecyclingTen years after the creation of a campus-wide recycling program, the percentage of non-hazardous waste being recycled has increased from 5% to 13% by weight.
Environmental CoordinatorA full-time position is created at the University for an Environmental Coordinator.
Hazardous Waste CollectionThe first Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day for faculty, staff and students is hosted by Carnegie Mellon.
Dining Hall Plastic BanThe University Center Schatz Dining Room bans the use of polystyrene in the dining room and switches to washable dinnerware.
Environmental Practices CommitteeThe Environmental Practices Committee (EPC) is established to develop a more comprehensive waste reduction and energy conservation program. The committee comprised of staff, faculty and students establishes priorities, goals and mechanisms for implementing environmental practices.
Environmental Minors EstablishedStudent demand and faculty support lead to the Environmental Policy Additional Major and the Environmental Studies Minor. An Environmental Engineering Minor and Environmental Science Minor are also established.
Intelligent WorkplaceThe Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace opens as the home for CBPD (the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics) and occupies the fourth floor of the Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall. The Intelligent Workplace is a "living" and "lived-in" laboratory where researchers conduct their work and also research the space they occupy.
Environmental Academic PartnershipCMU joins Three Rivers University Consortium for the Environment (3RUCE), an academic partnership to advance environmental education, research and technological development.
TAML PatentCarnegie Mellon's Terry Collins of the Chemistry Department patents an environmentally safe technology called TAML. TAML activates hydrogen peroxide, one of two oxidizing agents, and acts as an alternative to chlorine-based activators and oxidation processes. To learn more about TAML Activators, visit the Institute for Green Oxidation Chemistry.
Heinz GrantCarnegie Mellon receives a $10,000 grant from the Heinz Endowments for waste reduction initiatives.
Risk-Ranking ProjectIn 1995, the departments of Engineering and Public Policy, Social & Decision Sciences, and the Heinz School collaborate on a Risk-Ranking project, resulting in scientifically informed methods for citizens to set priorities among environmental risks. This develops into a National Science Foundation funded, world-renowned Center for Risk Perception and Communication. Professors Baruch Fischoff and Michael Dekay are active members of the center and teach courses on the topic.
Human Dimensions of Global ChangeThe Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change is at the hub of a network of 22 participating institutions, comprised of the US and seven other countries. Participants use social and natural sciences to understand current actions and find patterns to determine consequences.
Student Environmental Action CoalitionA small group of students begin the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) to rally campus community members around environmental issues. The organization becomes university funded and recognized; and grows in membership. The organization later becomes EARTH.
Environmental AwardCarnegie Mellon wins the Three Rivers Environmental Award for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Program.
First Environmental History CourseProfessor Joel Tarr, an urban studies historian, begins teaching courses on environmental history. His courses focus on the interaction of industry, urban development, the built and natural environment, and the reaction of government and police.
Green Design Institute
The Green Design Institute grew out of the Environmental Institute and the Engineering Design Research Center. Its mission is to bring disciplines together to form academic research in the field of green design, by creating partnerships with companies, government, and foundations.
First Environmental Science Course"Intro to Environmentally Benign Chemistry" was the first environmental science course taught at the University. It focused on green chemistry. The course is still taught by Terry Collins of the Chemistry Department.
Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe Civil and Environmental Engineering department receives an Environmental Engineering accreditation to teach and house an environmental engineering curriculum. Currently, an Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Minor is available for undergraduate students.
Recycling on CampusCarnegie Mellon recycles paper, plastics, cardboard, periodicals, glass, batteries, ink cartridges, and computers. Educational recycling materials can be found in the Green Room in the University Center.
Recycling PolicyCarnegie Mellon adopts a formal recycling policy and the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" theme and a new position is created for a campus Recycling/Waste Coordinator.
Engineering and Public Policy - 1971The Engineering and Public Policy department is established at CMU. It is one of the only three departments in the United States that deals with the changes to society that are brought on by technology. The department currently focuses on energy and environmental systems; information and communication technology policy; risk analysis and communication; and technology policy and management.
Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Wastewater - 1975The National Science Foundation funds a proposal for interdisciplinary collaboration on wastewater submitted by CMU professors from the environmental engineering, history, and philosophy departments. The study, Retrospective Technology Assessment, looked at the evolution of wastewater technology with a focus on technology evolution and its societal impacts.
First Clean Lab -1977Cliff Davidson, of the Civil & Environmental Engineering department, leads research on heavy metal pollution from populated areas impacting national parks and the Greenland ice sheet. Davidson built a clean lab for air particle research that was the first clean laboratory in the engineering college.
Wastewater Technology Conference - 1977Carnegie Mellon leads the first conference on the evolution of wastewater technology and its societal impacts.
Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (CEES) - 1978CEES is established and replaces the Environmental Studies Institute. In 1980, the Center receives a large grant from the Benedum Foundation to fund startup projects which lead to several educational and research initiatives that later yield further sponsorship.
Environmental InstituteDean Herbert Toor creates the Environmental Institute in the engineering college. The Institute is an agent to develop joint university research on environmental problems.
Environmental Chemistry LaboratoryGeorge Bugliarello studies flow of non-Newtonian fluids with suspended particles (such as blood) leading to the formation of the first Biomedical Engineering Program and the first environmental chemistry laboratory at CMU. Bugliarello subsequently develops early software (Hydro) for hydrologic modeling.
Project Courses EstablishedIn the late 1960's faculty and students begin work on environmental issues in the form of project courses. These courses are semester long intensive research projects that have continued as a cornerstone of environmental studies at CMU. They provide a consulting resource for the community and many have led to policy changes within companies, organizations or government.
1940s and 1950s
Air Pollution and Control SocietyThe professional journal of the Air Pollution and Control Society was founded and edited at the Mellon Institute.
Lock and Dam ModelsHarold Thomas Sr. initiates river flow and flood studies; builds laboratory-scale hydraulic structures that become models for locks and dams on the Monongahela River.
Development of Wastewater ResearchDepartment Chair Fred Mavis and student Thomas Stelson complete important research on the mass of objects accelerated in fluids. Thomas Stelson continues experimental studies in measurement of water properties and surfactant foams for applications in wastewater treatment.
Mining and the EnvironmentCarnegie Tech hosts a coal research laboratory and the Mellon Institute has several research fellowships that address environmental problems like mine acid control and treatment, steel industry waste treatment, and air pollution monitoring.
From 1910 to 1918, the Sanitary Engineering Department grew as the first environmentally oriented engineering department within Carnegie Mellon and was housed in the School of Applied Sciences.