Timeline of the Environment at Carnegie Mellon-Environmental Education - Carnegie Mellon University

Timeline of the Environment at Carnegie Mellon

Pittsburgh's rich and complicated environmental history makes it an ideal place for sustained examination.


Date Subject Did you know?
1910-1918 Sanitary Engineering Department The Sanitary Engineering Department was the first environmentally oriented engineering department within Carnegie Mellon and was housed in the School of Applied Sciences.
1965 Environmental Project Courses In 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. They also provide a consulting resource for the commuity. Many have led to policy changes within companies, organizations or government.
1971 Engineering and Public Policy The Engineering and Public Policy department, formerly Engineering and Public Affairs, focuses on energy and environmental systems; information and communication technology policy; risk analysis and communication; and technology policy and management. M. Granger Morgan is the current department head.
1975 Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Wastewater In 1975 the National Science Foundation funded a proposal written by CMU professors Francis McMichael, environmental engineer, Joel Tarr, historian, and David Wojick, philosopher, to do a study in Retrospective Technology Assessment. The subject of the proposal was the evolution of wastewater technology with a focus on technology evolution and its societal impacts.
1977 First Wastewater Conference Carnegie Mellon leads the first conference on the evolution of wastewater technology and its societal impacts. This leads to many other projects on water, history, and societal impacts. Also in the same year, Cliff Davidson, of the Civil & Environmental Engineering department, leads research on heavy metal pollution from populated areas impacting national parks and the Greenland ice sheet. The article on the subject is published in Atmospheric Environment in 1981.
1978 Center for Energy and Environmental Studies The Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (CEES) is established and Ed Rubin becomes the Director. CEES replaces the Environmental Studies Institute. In 1980, the Center receives a large grant from the Benedum Foundation to fund startup projects. A direct outcome of the grant is several educational and research initiatives which later yield further sponsorship.
1990 Civil and Environmental Engineering The 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. Jeanne VanBriesen is the Director.
1990 Recycling on Campus Carnegie 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. More information about recycling on campus can be found through Green Practices.
1992 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. Lester Lave and Chris Hendrickson are current co-directors of the institute.
1992 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.
1993 First Environmental History Course In 1993, Professor Joel Tarr, an urban studies historian, began 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.
1994 Student Environmental Action Coalition In 1994, a 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.
1995 Environmental Risk-Ranking Project In 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.
1995 Human Dimensions of Global Change The 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.
1996 TAML Patent Carnegie 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.
1997 Environmental Minors Established Student 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 established. Please check H&SS Interdepartmental Majors and Minors or the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Minor for current information about these minors and majors.
1997 Intelligent Workplace In 1997, the 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 The Intelligent Workplace is a "living" and "lived-in" laboratory where researchers conduct their work and also research the space they occupy.
1998 Environmental Practices Committee The Environmental Practices committee focuses on issues that affect individuals on campus, such as recycling, transportation, dining, energy use, and purchasing. In 2001, the committee becomes the Green Practices Committee and is co-chaired by Barb Kviz of Facilities Management and Stephen Lee of the Department of Architecture.
2001 Wind Power Purchased In 2001, CMU becomes the first institution in the nation to have the largest fraction of its total energy from wind power. Brad Hochberg, the energy specialist of Facilities Management Services, along with members of the Green Practices Committee, continue to encourage the school to purchase an even higher percentage of wind energy.
2002 Solar Decathlon Competition In 2002 CMU participates in the Solar Decathlon Competition, an International Competition held on the Mall in Washington DC. In 2005 CMU collaborates with the University of Pittsburgh, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and local businesses to create Pittsburgh Synergy. In 2007, CMU joins the CMNH Powdermill Nature Reserve, where the house will be permanently installed at the end of the competition. View a visual kiosk of the effects of the house.
2003 Sustainable Students Sustainable 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.
2003 First LEED Certified Dorm CMU builds the first dormitory in the nation to receive a LEED silver designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
2003 Steinbrenner Institute The 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.
2004 Climate Decision Making Center The 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.
2004 First Environmental Ethics Course Peter 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.
2004 Living Roof The Living Roof on the south wing of Hamerschlag Hall is an interdisciplinary project that grew out of a student SURG program.
2005 Center for Sustainable Engineering The Center for Sustainable Engineering funded by NSF and the EPA, is a collaborative research team with 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 creating workshops and a website to teach sustainable practices across all engineering disciplines.
2007 Environmental Justice: A Weekend of Lectures, Analysis and Discussion 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.
2010 Environment Today:  Water & Energy Two very enterprising students, Justin Parisi (Tepper and CEE) and Dyanna Becker (CEE 2011), leaders of the student organization Sustainable Earth, re-focus the Focus the Nation annual event into a weekend course, Environment Today: Water & Energy, fashioned after the country weekend courses.