The Stem Building at SCSU  New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richards

Southern Connecticut State University opened up their new home for the sciences in the fall of 2015. The massive two winged, four-floored academic science and laboratory building houses a center for nanotechnology as well as high performance training labs for computing, astronomy, cancer research, and molecular biology. It’s also home to the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies. Along with being a tremendous resource to all these fields, the building has many sustainable functions.

When it’s raining, one will notice two downspouts in front of the main quad entrance with water flowing onto a boulder. All rainwater is collected in a recycling system from the roofs by gutters and is redirected back into the building and is used to water the surrounding quad.

“The water collected from the gutters spills over boulders taken from Stony Creek Quarry in Branford and is collected by a perimeter drain, then channeled into a 40,000 gallon cistern buried under the quad,” said Reno Migani, senior associate of Centerbrook Architects & Planners, LLP and project manager for the architectural design of the building. “The water is treated with an ultraviolet light filtration system, meaning no chemicals. It’s then used for the site irrigation, reducing the need for potable water used for irrigation by 50 percent.”

The rainwater recycling system is just one of the many sustainable features of the new building. Laboratories and fume hoods are generally the largest consumers of energy in a facility. Often, fume hoods are required to run 24/7. In lab buildings, all of the air used must be outside air, which needs to be dehumidified, heated, and conditioned before entering the building. This requires massive amounts of energy to circulate such a high volume of air. To reduce this energy, several devices were used.

The first is called an Energy Recovery Unit (ERU). This is an air collection box that captures heat from contaminated lab exhaust air before it exits the building and transfers it safely back into the building, reducing energy needed to heat the incoming outside air. The second device is called a Variable Geometry Damper, which reduces the energy required to exhaust the contaminated air out the exhaust flues.

“Every new project I work on I learn so much from my clients,” said Migani. “I had to work closely with the science professors to make sure everything could run smoothly.”

Condensation from the mechanical equipment is captured and reused as makeup water for the building’s cooling towers. Low-consumption toilets and low-flow faucets are also used to save water. All these energy saving strategies exceeds the original goals by 32 percent. Twenty percent of the building’s materials are recycled content, and 20 percent of the materials are regionally sourced, according to Migani.

The sustainability of the science building still doesn’t end there. The roofs and paving materials are a light color to reduce the “urban heat island effect,” which wastes a lot of energy. The surrounding plants outside require low maintenance. There’s also designated parking spots for battery-run cars.

“Nothing inspires and instructs more profoundly than great art and architecture and our new Academic Science and Laboratory Building is, at once, both,” said Steven Breese, Dean of the university’s School of Arts & Sciences. “It is a powerful state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment, as well as a beautifully imagined and designed structural centerpiece.”

Sherrill Baldwin inside Ecoworks

Ecoworks’ Sherill Baldwin, creating beginnings out of ends.


New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richards

Reusing and recycling are two very different things when it comes to waste management. Recycling is taking used material, breaking it down, and creating something useable again. Reusing is taking that item, whatever it is, and re-purposing it in its original condition. Reuse instead of recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and holds the potential to support the local economy.

This is a philosophy that Sherill Baldwin lives by that spawned the creation of her store and creative reuse center, Ecoworks Inc. on State Street. Baldwin and her team take manufacturers scrap, samples from architects, and material by-products from various businesses and sell it at low prices. There is also a gift and consignment shop in the front that sells work from local artists.

In the beginning, Ecoworks discovered many businesses that saw the reuse value of their waste, but didn’t want to deal with artists constantly knocking on their door or the remorse of throwing it all away. Now her company serves as the middleman.

“We’re looking at it from a perspective of trying to reduce waste but also giving access to people that wouldn’t normally have access,” said Baldwin. “These businesses and manufacturers see us providing a value where they don’t have to coordinate meeting with a lot of people. We just take all their stuff.”

The materials that Ecoworks sells are for anyone to re-purpose, but Baldwin saw the need for low-cost art supplies and scraps for teachers and artists. Through her frequent interaction with school teachers, she noticed them spending hundreds of dollars yearly of their own money on materials to supplement their school supplies. 

“In addition to surplus and things that businesses throw away that have value to a lot of artists, school teachers are always looking for low-cost supplies,” said Baldwin. “They are committed to the work they do. You find that art teachers, as well as others, are looking for creative ways to engage students and will spend more.”

All members volunteer their time to run the shop through their shared passion for sustainability. The store is open two days a week and sees teachers and artists from all around Connecticut making the time to stock up. They also hold craft workshops led by local artists that utilize their materials. Every month, Ecoworks opens shop apart from regular business hours to participate in On 9 New Haven events, a collaborative open-house evening in 9th Square.

Instead of just providing a service, Ecoworks has a core mission of using creativity and fun as a means of making the planet a better place. 

“We find that when people engage in a fun way, they’re more likely to practice new behavior. It’s one thing if a business is trying to lessen their carbon footprint, but we’re really trying to recognize the value in materials,” said Baldwin. “All the stuff in the store was, at one point, destined for disposal. Instead of it going to a local waste energy facility, it is in fact getting in the hands of others that are trying to use it.”

New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richard

common ground new building exterior is a high school, urban farm, and environmental education center that functions entirely within New Haven city limits. Its location at the base of West Rock Ridge State Park spans 20 acres of parkland while still accessible by city public transit. The site allows students and community members to engage in the natural world while connecting their education to urban sustainability.

High school students enrolled at Common Ground have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, environmental sustainability, and interact with animals all while taking traditional school classes in math, science, visual and language arts.

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ASSA ABLOYS Sargent has evolved from an old line lock company to a company with more and sustainable buidling solutions.


New Haven

By Claudia Ward-de León

In a time when many are jumping on the solar bandwagon, New Haven lock manufacturer ASSA ABLOY is leading with sustainable innovations that defy ordinary for the region. Using sustainable technology, education, and practices, it is providing the means for many of its customers to become more energy efficient while also decreasing its own resource consumption. The company, which primarily manufactures locks, key systems, deadbolts, and padlocks, does so from two facilities in Connecticut—one on Sargent Drive in New Haven, and the other in Berlin. At the New Haven facility, a security lock is being developed that harvests the power of any available light source, including standard indoor lighting or sunlight, enabling the lock to mainly run off the solar energy it stores. Primarily used in institutional settings like hospitals and colleges where people typically have to swipe a badge or key card for access, the IN120 WiFi lock is a front-runner in its industry as far as commercial solar applications go. 

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Dan Esty, Yale’s leading “tree hugger” and former Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Energy and The Environment will lead the yale Sustainability Leadership Forum.

New Haven: Yale University, Yale will host the first Yale Sustainability Leadership Forum, September 21-23,  bringing together “perspectives from the United States and across the world, from business, government, NGOs, and academia, to examine the concept of sustainability.”

The forum topics are expected to include environmental entrepreneurship, sustainable investment strategy, new conservation, circular economies, spurring innovation, sustainability governance, and more. 

In addition to the modules, Sterling Professor William Nordhaus will deliver a dinnertime talk on “tools for addressing sustainability issues, focusing in particular on carbon pricing mechanisms”, and Mary Evelyn Tucker will deliver a lunchtime talk on the “nexus of ecology and sustainability.”

energizeCT offerBy Mitchell Young

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s [EPA] top administrator Gina McCarthy, knows Connecticut well, she was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004–2009.  

In her position as Connecticut’s environmental leader McCarthy worked closely with Connecticut’s energy companies as many of the state’s energy initiatives were first being created.

The EPA has recognized some of those efforts it awarded Energize Connecticut’s partners Eversource, The United Illuminating Company (UI), Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas as a 2016 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year for Energy Efficiency Program Delivery.

 Rider confidence in Metro-North plummets



If truth in advertising were the watchword of the day, Metro-North Railroad’s recently released study of riders’ opinion’s of the commuter line’s recent performance would be called a customer-dissatisfaction survey.

Conducted in June but released only this month, the survey reveals that commuters’ satisfaction with Metro-North has plunged 20 points in just 12 months, to 73 percent.

As if to prepare readers for bad news, the study’s very first sentence (under the heading “Overall Context”) reads: “Metro-North’s 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey was conducted in June 2014, following a period which saw several incidents occur on the railroad which adversely impacted perceptions of the safety pf railroad operations, and the railroad’s on-time performance record.”

In addition to the decline in overall satisfaction with Metro-North, the study acknowledged that on-time performance declined by 28 points to just 58 percent.

Moreover, New Haven Line riders were significantly less satisfied with Metro-North than their counterparts on the Hudson and Harlem lines. Their satisfaction with Metro-North plunged to 58 percent, 29 points below last year. Customer satisfaction west of the Hudson was stable over the same period.

“Metro-North customers were right to express deep dissatisfaction with levels of service after the particularly difficult year the railroad has had,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a statement. “Our commuters have a right to expect a culture of safety and on-time performance levels of 95 percent or better. It is clear that Metro-North has a long way to go.  Recent positive indicators for reliability have not been sustained, and service is clearly unacceptable for New Haven Line customers.

Not exactly a vote of confidence for MTA Metro-North Commission Joe Giulietti, who arrived at the beginning of the year from Florida to considerable fanfare. He previously served as executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

“A 20-point drop in customer satisfaction with Metro-North performance is a lot more than a wakeup call for a railroad that has struggled for many months with very big issues and challenges,” said state transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker. “We have been working closely with President Joe Giulietti and his top leadership team to instill a safety culture in Metro-North, and we will redouble our efforts  to identify a remedial action plan for service reliability that our customers deserve.”

In a letter to Metro-North, Redeker directed the railroad to deliver a complete assessment of every cause for failed train performance and an action plan to bring on-time performance to a minimum of 95 percent. Redeker has asked that the assessment and plan be on his desk by December 1.

 City Council opposed sale of publicly owned utility



NEW HAVEN — UIL Holdings Corp. announced November 10 that it would not terminate its planned $1.86 billion purchase of Philadelphia Gas Works at this time. In its announcement the parent of the United Illuminating Co. and Southern Connecticut Gas Co. expressed “disappointment” that the City Council of the Pennsylvania city opposed the sale of the publicly owned gas utility in an October meeting.

UIL “will continue to monitor developments in Philadelphia to assess the advisability of further delaying termination of the agreement.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter had hailed the planned sale to UIL as a win for the roughly 500,000 ratepayers, the municipal pension fund, and efforts to boost the region’s energy sector.

The council said an outside consultant it hired found that the city would net $200 million to $400 million, far less than the $400 million to $600 million cited by Nutter’s administration. Council officials noted other concerns, including the lack of a guarantee that rates would stay “reasonably affordable” after a promised three-year rate freeze.

“On October 28 we expressed our disappointment in the City Council’s announcement that it would not endorse the sale, and stated that we would determine whether to exercise our contractual right to terminate the agreement and make a determination on future action within two weeks,” said James P. Torgerson, UIL’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

“The transaction made strategic sense for UIL when we announced the agreement in March of this year, and continues to make strategic sense today,” he added. “Accordingly, with time remaining for the City Council to consider the transaction at its upcoming meetings, we believe that it would be premature to exercise our right to terminate at this time.”

UIL said it has had the contractual right to end the deal since July 16. The company said that if the Philadelphia City Council doesn’t adopt an ordinance approving the deal by December 31, the asset-purchase agreement will automatically terminate.