Sustainability & Environment

Green Latrine Project

The Green Latrine was developed to compost human waste and produce electricity. It aims to prevent water contamination as well as provide a source of electricity, critical in developing countries. The multipurpose invention is called the Microbial Fuel Cell Pit Latrine and has been installed in Ghana in May of 2012 and is currently in active use. Graduate students are currently researching designs that can modify existing latrines. The team hopes to visit its host community in Agona Nyakrom in fall of 2014.

Protect Our Breasts

Protect Our Breasts is a national student-based/experiential learning organization that shares about environmental toxins that contribute to breast cancer. A team of students from different academic specialties come together to research and share the scientific discoveries and safer alternatives to everyday toxins. Protect Our Breasts hosts a variety of events through chapters on different campuses (including UMass/Amherst) throughout the academic year.

Climate System Research Center

Climate System Research Center focuses on the climate system, climatic variability and global change issues. Issues span from contemporary climate variations to paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental changes. The center brings together graduate students, post-docs, research scientists and University faculty who are interested in the variability of the climate system in time and space. Faculty are working in more than 24 countries with studies ranging from ancient lake sediments in Siberia to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

UMass Extension's Green School

UMass Extension’s Green School is a short course for Green Industry and agricultural professionals taught by UMass Extension specialists and faculty. The course is designed for landscapers, lawn care specialists, arborists and vegetable producers who wish to advance their understanding of plant care fundamentals. This course is offered bi- annually where students must choose a specialty track from the following four offered; Landscape Management, Turf Management, Arboriculture and Sustainable Vegetable Production.

Agricultural Learning Center

In 2013, UMass started the Agricultural Learning Center (“ALC”) as a hands-on living “classroom” or field laboratory for undergraduates, graduate students and residents of Massachusetts to pursue active learning about all forms of agriculture. The ALC will provide experiential learning opportunities in a wide variety of farming, horticultural, nursery and landscape industries. With small areas devoted to livestock, fruits, vegetables, turf, and landscape crops, the ALC will offer a broad array of agricultural topics to both UMass students and the general public.

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders is a student run organization driven to help local and international communities create sustainable solutions to improve their quality of life and future. EWB aims to develop, fundraise, construct and implement tools necessary for communities to help themselves. The student chapter at UMass Amherst has managed projects in Ghana and Kenya to help develop sustainable methods for clean water.

Futurescape City Tours

Futurescape City Tours is a national public engagement project that enables citizens to explore how new technologies are changing their cities. Springfield, MA, was one of six participating cities in 2013. In addition to UMass/CPPA, partners included the Center for Nanotechnology and Society at Arizona State University, the Loka Institute, the Springfield Science Museum, Putnam Technical High School, the UMass Design Center, and U.S Congressman Richard Neal’s office, among others.

Massachusetts Native American Trail Project

Native American Trail project is a collaborative effort to develop a website of maps of/for/by multiple Native American communities, where each community will share with the public their historical and contemporary cultural heritage. The Commission of Indian Affairs and the University of Massachusetts Amherst will work directly with Native American communities to develop the content and technology for each group. Each Native American community will be responsible for decisions concerning the content and presentation of the content on their site/link.

Innovate to Mitigate: A Crowdsourced Carbon Challenge

"Innovate to Mitigate: A Crowdsourced Carbon Challenge"-- directed by Dr. Gilly Puttick of TERC, a non-profit educational organization-- is a crowdsourced open innovation challenge for high school students to come up with creative solutions for mitigation of climate change. Crowdsourcing promises a novel approach to engaging students in science while addressing a significant societal challenge. Dr. Leschine’s role is to serve as an adviser, assist in the design of the challenge, and select resources that will be necessary to support the work of high school student participants.

Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP)

This research provides design/build services to a village in North India, where, due to chronic drought caused by climate change, an entire community is moving to a new site. Faculty work with villagers through community design charettes to help envision this process and plan with digital tools. In addition to drafting master plan documentation and various community land infrastructure, locals are engaged to construct new prototypes on the community space in the new village.

The Outsmart Invasive Species Project

The goal of the Outsmart Invasive Species Project is to strengthen ongoing invasive-species monitoring efforts in Massachusetts by enlisting help from citizens. Using web- and smartphone-based approaches, volunteers identify and collect data on invasive species in their own time, with little or no hands-on training. Because increasing numbers of people are equipped with smartphone technology, this approach will expand the scope of invasive-species monitoring, and is an effort to help control outbreaks of new or emergent invasive species that threaten our environment.

Water Geographies: Conflict & Sustainability

Water Geographies: Conflict & Sustainability is a service-learning course which aims to connect students with people’s active efforts to learn about and protect water, and to help students make a difference in water-related issues they care about. To this end, students undertake two action projects of their choice, which constitutes about one-third of their grade.

Sustainable Infrastructure Systems

Challenges that state and local public works directors face in providing essential infrastructure services (e.g. water, sewer, transportation, utilities) while at the same time satisfying state and local sustainability goals related to the environment, economic development, fiscal responsibility, and public safety are the foci of this course . Several state and local officials serve as guest lecturers, and in some instances they subsequently work with the students on their term team projects addressing a local problem in their community.

El’gygytgyn Lake Scientific Drilling Project

Over 50 scientists from 4 countries are engaged in studies of the sediments from Lake El'gygytgyn, located in remote northeast Russia to recover hundreds of meters of lake sediment and impact breccia that will provide new insights into the climate evolution of the Arctic and the formation of the crater.

ReGreen Springfield

Through our tree advocacy efforts, ReGreen Springfield has collaborated with businesses, community organizations, educational partners and government agencies to promote the reforestation of Springfield, improve growing conditions for trees and engage new allies in tree care and monitoring.

Heritage Assessment and Community Development, Eleuthera, Bahamas

The Center for Heritage & Society has initiated a partnership with a community development organization on the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas (oneeleuthera.org). We have conducted a pilot research project (Historic Building Survey) in Governor's Harbor, and we have developed a community engagement web portal for use by our partners. Finally, we are now in the development phase of an archaeological survey and excavation project in Millars on the site of a former plantation in collaboration with the descendent community.

Master of Science in Design & Historic Preservation

The Design & Historic Preservation Master of Science program uses Hancock Shaker Village, one of the largest and best preserved Shaker sites in the nation, as a primary study site. The Shaker’s deep-seated commitment to sustainability in building, living and farming is the philosophical ground for the program’s curriculum. Students learn and expand their skills in architectural design, historic preservation, construction, restoration, town planning, as well as their understanding of historic site management while working closely with leading preservationists in the state and region.

Optimizing Food Storage Systems For Quality, Safety And Energy Efficiency

Food banks are major consumers of energy related to food handling and storage as well as major customers for local food producers. Energy efficiency and cost reduction in food banks could have synergistic benefits for both types of enterprise. This project will develop a process map to integrate energy and food handling audits to help identify key nodes for effective energy efficiency and food safety interventions. By evaluating technological innovation in the context of the local post-harvest food system the food banks can optimize energy efficiency and food safety.

Understanding The Factors That Influence Outdoor Residential Water Conservation: A Case Study In Suburban Boston

This study will examine the influence of policy and outreach efforts on residents' adoption of water conservation and storm water strategies in the residential landscapes of the Ipswich and Parker River watershed north of Boston. It will trace watershed conservation measures from policy incentives to impact so as to develop a clearer picture of the relationship between local policy and outreach efforts, and actual decisions to engage and install residential landscape water conservation practices.

Riversmart Communities: Supporting Ecologically Restorative Flood Prevention And Remediation In New England

This project links fluvial geomorphology to New England-specific climate, landscape, ecology, population, and infrastructure to develop best management practices for flood prevention. It will uncover challenges and constraints caused by distinct jurisdictional and institutional fragmentation, highlighting successful strategies for overcoming these. The extension aspect will take this much-needed scientific and institutional knowledge and disseminate it to towns, government officials, landowners, businesses, environmental organizations, road crews, and others.

UMass Cranberry Station

The mission of the UMass Cranberry Station is to maintain and enhance the economic viability of the Massachusetts cranberry industry through research, extension and to serve the public welfare by supporting economic development and protection of the environment. We have specialists in Plant Pathology, Entomology, Environmental Physiology, Plant Nutrition/Cultural Practices, Weed Science/Integrated Pest Management, and Floriculture. In our programs we emphasize efficiency, environmental protection, and profitability.

Student Farming Enterprise

The UMass Student Farming Enterprise produces certified organic produce on 2 acres at the UMass Crop and Animal Research and Education Center. The UMass Student Farm is a collaboration of students and faculty passionate to learn about agriculture and food through the production and distribution of the highest quality organic produce. Our current customers include Earthfoods Cafe, Student Farmers Market, Dining Services, other student-run businesses, and the Amherst Big Y. In Fall 2013, we will provide 50 shares of local, organic produce to the UMass community.

UMass Extension Building Energy

The Building Energy Extension Program conveys current energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building science information to stakeholders, including those in the building trades, design professionals, state government agencies, building owners and occupants through workshops, web publication, and consulting. Applied research in building energy systems is conducted to respond to perceived stakeholder need.

UMass Extension Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

The overall objective of the Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management project is to develop and promote practical, innovative, and affordable solutions to issues related to soil fertility and nutrient management in the Commonwealth and beyond. This is accomplished through applied laboratory and field research used to support ongoing extension and outreach activities. The primary outreach vehicle for the project is the Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory which offers affordable analytical testing of soil, plant tissue, compost, and soilless greenhouse media.