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About the CCSF The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) represents a bold commitment to develop and deploy knowledge to address some of society’s most complex and pressing problems. Sustainability transcends individual disciplines, while resting on a foundation of disciplinary understanding. The Center’s three major program areas—Energy, Environment, and Economic Development—are highly interdependent. CCSF supports and stimulates sustainability research across Cornell. We contribute to programs and initiatives in Cornell’s colleges, schools, centers, institutes, and offices, including the Institute for the Social Sciences; the Presidents Climate Commitment Implementation Committee; the Office of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability; Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development; Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center; Center for Global Sustainable Enterprise; Northeast Regional Climate Center; and many others. CCSF is funded through a generous donation from the David R. Atkinson Fund for a Sustainable Future, with additional funding from Cornell University, the Towards Sustainability Foundation, and Cornell alumni and friends.

CCSF MISSION The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future advances multidisciplinary research and cultivates innovative collaborations within and beyond Cornell to foster a sustainable future for all.

“Problems related to energy, the environment, and economic development are highly interdependent. Sustainability is a system problem that transcends individual disciplines.” Frank DiSalvo

About CCSF:

Message from the Directors CONTENTS The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future completed its first full year of operations in 2009. CCSF has quickly established itself as a focal point for rigorous, relevant research on energy, the environment, and economic development. Building on Cornell’s Ivy League and land grant traditions, CCSF helps faculty, centers, and institutes across campus—and their many off-campus partners—to launch new ventures that show great promise for addressing transdisciplinary sustainability problems locally, nationally, and globally. The sustainability community on campus is large and growing. The initial cohort of over 180 CCSF Faculty Fellows named in 2009 represents an exceptionally distinguished group of faculty and senior academic staff who have engaged with CCSF. Through partnerships with Cornell’s colleges, CCSF aspires to help build an even larger community of sustainability scholars at Cornell. Our strategic initiative in faculty cluster hiring will reinforce Cornell’s preeminence in key areas where the university can, with our partners, develop both the knowledge and the leaders the world needs to achieve a sustainable future for all. CCSF cultivates visionary advances in crucial areas of sustainability. One tactic is energetic partnerships with outside practitioners to define, develop, and deliver high-impact innovations through sustainability science. We also convene collaborative exploration of sustainability research topics. CCSF will sponsor three summer institutes in sustainability in 2010, bringing to campus the best young minds—students, postdocs, and junior faculty from around the world—to join Cornell faculty and practitioners in a week of dialogue and investigation. We are inspired and humbled by the outpouring of enthusiastic interest and support CCSF has received from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The early evidence is in: CCSF’s vision of multidisciplinary sustainability collaborations within and beyond Cornell is bearing rich fruit. Sustainability is flourishing at Cornell. Frank DiSalvo Director

Jeff Tester Associate Director Energy

Anurag Agrawal Associate Director Environment

Helene Schember Executive Director

David Dieterich Partnerships Director Executive in Residence

Chris Barrett Associate Director Economic Development

Message from the Directors


Message from President Skorton


Highlights of 2009


Academic Venture Fund

4 –7

Special Projects and Joint Programs




Iscol Lecture


Topical Lunches


Cultivating Strategic Collaborations


Sustainability on the Cornell Campus


Faculty Advisory Committee


Program Financial Report


CCSF People



Message from President Skorton Our planet faces formidable sustainability challenges. A swift, effective response demands concerted effort across diverse areas of expertise, uniquely positioning—even obligating—top universities to lead the search for solutions. The international community depends upon researchers operating at the cutting edge in areas such as materials science, climate change, ecosystems, energy sources, agricultural methods, hydrology, the behavioral and social sciences, and poverty and health studies to join forces with practitioners to form strong partnerships that can meet key challenges in sustainability. Cornell University is fortunate to have large numbers of faculty and staff advancing the knowledge frontiers in such areas, even larger numbers of students determined to acquire and to extend this knowledge, and alumni and friends who are engaged with and support these efforts. The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future connects people across the campus and encourages their collaboration with external partners. In a world of finite resources, CCSF enhances and mobilizes the potential of Cornell’s most significant resource: its people. Sustainability is not new to Cornell, but CCSF has quickly established itself at the center of the university’s efforts to advance our leadership in sustainability research and to promote sustainability education and outreach. Cornell students currently have access to more than 200 courses related to sustainability. And CCSF-supported research is making promising advances on such topics as sustainable food systems, enhanced geothermal energy, carbon sequestration, silicon solar cells, disease and economic consequences of climate change, biochar, biofuels, and wind power. It is eminently appropriate for Cornell University, a land-grant research institution dedicated to educational opportunity and public engagement, to place a high priority on addressing the challenges of sustainability that ultimately affect us all. CCSF is cultivating productive collaborations among our world-class faculty and with strategic partners. This vibrant center is advancing research that effectively addresses the daunting sustainability challenges we now face. David J. Skorton President, Cornell University


“Colleges and universities are integral in guiding our planet on a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous course through critical thinking, creative inquiry, and innovation. Now is the time for universities to step up to the challenges before us; now is the time for Cornell to lead.” Kent Fuchs Provost, Cornell University

Highlights of 2009 Vibrant


More than 350 faculty—nearly 15 percent of faculty from all of Cornell’s colleges and schools—joined in CCSF’s 2009 activities, including seminars, workshops, informal working groups, grant application teams, faculty hiring committees, and academic initiatives.

Making connections among Cornell faculty is our highest priority as we expand the scope, scale, and speed of Cornell’s investment in sustainability research. In the second round of the Center’s signature Academic Venture Fund program, five new cross-campus research teams received funding. Many new collaborations emerged from CCSF’s popular topical lunches, where innovative thinkers from across Cornell come together to brainstorm questions, problems, and approaches.

Visible CCSF supported a delegation of 19 Cornell faculty and students who traveled to Copenhagen to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference. In addition, CCSF associate director Jeff Tester serves on a task force of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. CCSF fellows testified before the House of Representative’s Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, presented Capitol Hill briefings on emerging carbon markets, and advised key government agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, State, and Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Among this year’s visitors to CCSF were William McDonough, the internationally renowned green architect and designer, and Elinor Ostrom, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.


Effective CCSF provided essential coordination and support to help Cornell sustainability faculty teams secure over $40 million in funding from government and other agencies. Requests for nearly $40 million more are pending at the time of this report’s publication. All of this funding is awarded directly to the principal investigator’s department, school, college, center, or unit.

Ready Cornell is ready to embark on an era of sustainability, propelled by faculty leaders, strengthened by the CCSF, and furthered by the generosity and insight of alumni and friends who support real-world solutions for a sustainable future.

Recruitment and retention of the finest faculty is a prerequisite to global leadership in sustainability. CCSF is developing several focus groups charged with envisioning and aiding in key hires in sustainability science. The climate change focus group successfully facilitated the 2009 hire of Professor Gang Chen (EAS), with a second search in terrestrial biogeochemistry under way and a social science position to follow.

CCSF News, Events, and Videos: 3

Academic Venture Fund

“The big gains in conservation science require high-risk

NEW AVF RESEARCH PROJECTS The Academic Venture Fund (AVF) is the CCSF’s keystone funding initiative. The fund stimulates original cross-disciplinary research in sustainability science at Cornell and promotes activities with the potential to attract external partners in industry, government, nongovernmental organizations, and foundations. The 61 proposals submitted to the AVF (in response to two calls for proposals) represent a vibrant, interdisciplinary movement at Cornell. CCSF evaluated proposals from investigators in all colleges and schools across the Cornell campus. Over three-quarters of the submissions included investigators from more than one college or school, and nearly a third of the submissions were from teams spanning three or four colleges or schools. CCSF review panels and leadership worked together to select 17 proposals—12 in 2008 and 5 in 2009—for funding. All workshops were completed during 2009, while most research projects are ongoing. CCSF directors meet quarterly with AVF principal investigators for progress updates and to encourage team members to explore external partnerships.

Sustainability of Food Systems Consumer interest in “eating local” has increased sharply in recent years. Miguel Gomez (AEM), Huaizhu Gao (CEE), Dennis Miller (FDSC), Ardyth Gillespie (NS), and Jonathan Russell-Anelli (CSS) are developing metrics and models for assessing food systems sustainability, which they will test by comparing the sustainability of one local and one conventional supply chain for a fruit and a vegetable. The project will quantify the sustainability of a shift from conventional to local food systems, shedding light on key policy questions about the nation’s food supply.

Academic Venture Fund: 4

Assessing Carbon Sequestration in Complex Agricultural Landscapes

Green Energy Development and Rural Community Sustainability

Led by Cornell scientists James Lassoie (NTRES), David Wolfe (HORT), Alexander Travis (VET), David Lee (AEM), Philip McMichael (DSOC), and Louise Buck (NTRES), this project will provide a practical approach to landscape-level carbon accounting in complex agricultural landscapes. The group will use simple field and statistical methods to identify the minimum data set required for rigorous but cost-effective monitoring of changes in soil health and livelihood security. This new methodology will support emerging efforts to promote and regulate climate-friendly agriculture in low-income countries, the United States, and around the world.

“Green energy” projects promise substantial benefits, but may carry significant risks for rural communities. Focusing on the Allegheny Plateau region, researchers Richard Stedman (NTRES), Rod Howe (CALS), Susan Riha (EAS), and Susan Christopherson (CRP) will develop models and methods for assessing the sustainability of rural communities in the face of a large-scale reorientation of the nation’s energy supply. The resulting framework will aid the implementation of green technology by predicting likely impacts of development and pinpointing regions with greater resilience or risk.

investment in radical ideas. This is one goal of the AVF program.” Anurag Agrawal RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT

Aging and the Environment What does the enormous growth in the older population have to do with environmental sustainability? This topic drew researchers from across Cornell (including Weill Cornell Medical College) and around the country for the first Cornell Conference on Aging and the Environment, held over two days in July. The conference, organized by Karl Pillemer (HD), Linda Wagenet (SOC), Nancy Wells (DEA), and Rhoda Meador (BLCC), was the first of its kind and resulted in the formation of a network on aging and the environment. “Even though those two areas individually have occupied an enormous amount of attention, they’ve only been connected to a small degree,” Pillemer said. “We feel we’re on the cutting edge of this issue.”

Micropowdered Biomass Combustion Cornell researchers Robert Thorne (PHYS), Elizabeth Fisher (MAE), Frederick Gouldin (MAE), K. Max Zhang (MAE), and Antonio Bento (AEM) are testing a prototype of a novel micropowdered biomass combustion system to characterize emissions and determine how to control pollutant levels. Initial experiments will use powdered hardwoods, the most abundant biomass feedstock in upstate New York. This clean combustion technology offers a local, sustainable energy solution with the potential to replace liquid fuels like heating oil, kerosene, and propane.

A Solar Cell Using Inorganic “Grass” Led by Professors Sandip Tiwari (ECE), Jiwoong Park (CHEM), and Christopher Ober (MSE), this project promises a new low-cost, low-energy technique for creating silicon solar cells—a major step toward the goal of making clean, sustainable energy widely available. The group’s pioneering process replaces expensive single-crystal silicon wafers with grass-like silicon nanowires grown on metal. This study will refine the mechanism for single-crystal nanowire growth on a metal substrate, demonstrate the technique’s characteristics, and develop appropriate production technology and prototypes.

Participants came from 12 Cornell departments and units and 10 national organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other universities, foundations, and NGOs. Conference participants prepared working papers on climate change and its impact on the health of older individuals, volunteerism and civic engagement among the aging population, and residential living environments for the elderly. The key issues addressed through papers, talks, and a consensus-building program were (1) environmental problems disproportionately compromise the health of older adults, (2) the older population increasingly impacts the environment, and (3) older people are an excellent, but underutilized, resource in solving sustainability problems. The workshop team arrived at a slate of 10 recommended areas for research, including the top-ranked priority: investigation of environmental attitudes and behaviors in the older population. Equipped with key insights, a network of collaborators, and recommendations from the conference, Cornell researchers have already begun documenting their approach and preparing proposals for future research.

“We know that the sustainability of a food system is inherently multidisciplinary. Thanks to the AVF support from the CCSF, we have been able to study this issue from a truly multidisciplinary perspective, opening new opportunities for inquiry and discovery.” Miguel Gomez




Algal Bioreactors for Biofuel Production

Integrated Digital Design Environment for Sustainable Architecture

Forecasting Disease and Economic Consequences of Climate Change

Environmental, Energetic, and Economic Potential of Biochar

Aquatic microalgae are an attractive prospect for biofuel production, yet no large-scale facilities for commercial algal biofuel production exist. Algal culture stability and economic factors remain challenges. The research team of Beth Ahner (BEE), Ruth Richardson (CEE), and Maureen Hanson (MBG) is improving the economics by coproducing a high-value enzyme, while simultaneously developing diagnostic methods for algal culture monitoring—a new tool that stands to increase output of both the enzyme and oil for biodiesel.

Don Greenberg (JGSM, ARCH), Kevin Pratt (ARCH), Dana Cupkova (ARCH), and Ken Torrance (MAE) are developing interactive visual and analytic tools to help architects in the early stages of the design process, when decisions that affect the long-term sustainability of buildings are made. Striking new visualization methods for energy simulations are just one output from this innovative group.

C. Drew Harvell (EEB), Laura Harrington (ENTOM), Kelly Zamudio (EEB), and Diego Ruiz-Moreno (EEB) are leading a Disease and Climate Network at Cornell. The team is presently developing tools to forecast mosquito-borne infections and climate-driven disease outbreaks in corals and amphibians, with the ultimate goal of estimating the economic impacts of disease outbreaks driven by climate change.

Biochar, a stable charcoal product, greatly enhances crop yields, while reducing the need for traditional chemical fertilizers—and their environmental impact on croplands. Johannes Lehmann (CSS), Norm Scott (BEE), Brent Gloy (AEM), and Antonio Bento (AEM) are using integrated economic, energy, and life-cycle data analysis to quantify biochar’s potential as a major technology to fight climate change.

WORKSHOPS The Academic Venture Fund supported five workshops held on the Cornell campus during the summer months of 2009, based on proposals selected for funding in late 2008. These successful events explored crucial challenges in sustainability, from harvesting wind power on a major scale, to filling our cities with trees, to effects of an aging population on the environment. Cornell Workshop on Large-Scale Wind-Generated Power David Caughey (MAE), Zellman Warhaft (MAE), and Alan Zehnder (TAM)

Understanding Aflatoxin Accumulation in Maize Mycotoxins—toxic compounds produced by fungi—contaminate an estimated quarter of the world’s food supply. Michael Milgroom (PLPA), Rebecca Nelson (PLBR, PLPA), and Charles Nicholson (AEM) are examining one of the most potent mycotoxins, aflatoxin, in maize in East Africa to identify the most effective and feasible interventions to reduce aflatoxin exposure for high-risk populations.

Vibro-Wind Technology

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Francis Moon (MAE), Ephrahim Garcia (MAE), Hod Lipson (MAE), Charles Williamson (MAE), Wolfgang Sachse (TAM, MAE), and Kevin Pratt (ARCH) are investigating harvesting energy from the wind as it flows around buildings. Vibro-wind power extracts energy from small vibrating elements mounted on the structure, converting kinetic energy into electrical energy that can be used in the building’s operation.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have launched an electrified transportation sector. K. Max Zhang (MAE), Tim Mount (AEM), and Bob Thomas (ECE) are evaluating the effects of electrifying transportation on energy use and emissions. Their research team is assessing the potential of PHEVs to accommodate renewable energy and link the transportation, utility, and building sectors.

Sources of Uncertainty in Sustainable Resource Management Evan Cooch (NTRES), Jon Conrad (AEM), Carla Gomes (CIS, AEM), and David Shmoys (ORIE)

Social Networks for Biological Inventories and Information Harry Greene (EEB) and Josh Donlan (Advanced Conservation Strategies)

Urban Trees for Sustainable Cities Marianne Krasny (NTRES) and Keith Tidball (NTRES)

Environmental Sustainability in an Aging Society Karl Pillemer (HD), Linda Wagenet (SOC), Nancy Wells (DEA), and Rhoda Meador (BLCC)

AVF Workshops: 7


Special Projects and Joint Programs Costs and Consequences of Biofuel Policies A multidisciplinary group made up of Antonio Bento (AEM), Bob Howarth (EEB), and Susan Riha (EAS) is examining how current and proposed U.S. biofuel policies interact with other national policies and goals—and what may be the consequences for environment quality. Biofuels are emphasized in the first phase of this work, but the ultimate goal is to use natural and human systems simulations to evaluate environmental policy. The group’s initial areas of investigation include agricultural conservation reserve lands and biodiversity, water quality and coastal marine “dead zones” resulting from coastal nutrient pollution, and emissions of greenhouse gases. Researchers are developing a set of dynamically linked economic and biophysical models to examine the interaction of different policies. All of the models represent significant improvements over the relatively simple models previously used to evaluate the environmental consequences of biofuel production. The group’s analytical framework relies on linked models of economic factors, land use, agricultural systems, and water quality. By accounting for dynamic linkages and feedbacks among these systems, this approach offers a new and highly effective framework for evaluating the consequences of different energy, agriculture, and environmental policies, while highlighting trade-offs, unintended consequences, and potential synergies among different public policy objectives. In fall 2009, Bento and David Wolfe (HORT) provided congressional policy makers with concrete resources for global environmental sustainability and energy security in a briefing sponsored by CUAES and CALS.


CCSF funds, cosponsors, and participates in a variety of sustainability research activities and collaborations, including projects, proposals, faculty recruitment, workshops, conferences, and seminars. CCSF chooses to fund certain activities outside of the Academic Venture Fund process if proposers identify a significant opportunity coupled with an urgent need for resources. All projects targeted for rapidresponse funding are thoroughly reviewed by the Center’s faculty director and associate directors, often with input from colleges and other units on campus.

grants to Cornell in the area of sustainability. The DOE Energy Frontier Research Center was supported by CCSF in its proposal phase; it will bring $17.5 million to Cornell over five years, plus $2.75 million from New York State. The NSF awarded Cornell two key grants aimed at educating future leaders in sustainability. Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grants totaling nearly $6.5 million over five years were awarded to Chris Barrett (AEM) for the proposal “Food Systems and Poverty Reduction” and Paul Chirik (CCB) for “Materials for a Sustainable Future.”

In 2009 CCSF funded several topical and capacity building research programs, the largest of which addresses the economic cost and environmental consequences of biofuels policies. Other special projects included the workshop “Beyond Diversity: Resituating Pluralism,” led by Karim-Aly Kassam (NTRES), and the forum “Water-Sharing and Culture in the Mediterranean,” organized by Gail Holst-Warhaft (NES). CCSF also sent Antoine Espinet, a student of Christine Shoemaker (CEE), to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to work with Tianfu Xu on modeling and simulation of geologic carbon sequestration, bringing an important capability to researchers at Cornell.

With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act leading to new funding opportunities, CCSF provided support and coordination to many additional proposals in 2009, including several major submissions to DOE programs involving a strong sustainability focus.

CCSF’s prior support for proposal teams paid off in 2009, as two key government agencies—DOE and the National Science Foundation (NSF)—awarded major

Three programs provide a glimpse of how CCSF program cosponsorship activities in 2009 contributed to advancing research and collaboration in sustainability. In addition to many other joint efforts, CCSF coordinated and recruited additional sponsors for the popular and engaging Cornell Climate Change Forum, hosted by Dick Miller (PHIL). “Climate Controversies: Leading Figures Address Leading Issues about Global Climate Change,” led by Cornell faculty in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities, pursued an effective and just response to the challenge of global warming. During the

CCSF was a leading cosponsor of the spring 2009 Institute for African Development conference, “The Food and Financial Crises and Their Impact on Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.” The symposium brought together prominent academic experts and practitioners from Africa and around the globe, in disciplines ranging from economics to international relations to nutritional science to law, to examine key issues emerging from these crises, share analyses, and evaluate possible responses. The proceedings are being edited into a volume to be published in 2010. The CCSF has actively supported the efforts of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In December, CCSF funded a group of Cornell students and faculty attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In addition, CCSF associate director Jeff Tester currently serves as a U.S. representative to a special task force of the IPCC that is preparing a report on the impact of

“We would not have succeeded without the help and involvement of the CCSF.”

renewable energy deployment on climate change. Finally, CCSF joined forces with the University Lectures committee to host a three-day campus visit from Elinor Ostrom in September 2009, just three weeks before she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. This visit offered an extraordinary opportunity for dozens of faculty, staff, and students to meet one-on-one and in small groups with the world’s preeminent scholar on governance and management of common property resources such as fisheries, rangelands, forests, irrigation systems, and groundwater basins.

Energy Frontier Research Center Cornell’s new DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, the Energy Materials Center at Cornell (EMC2 ), directed by Héctor Abruña (CCB), aims to discover and design materials that will dramatically enhance the performance of fuel cells and batteries. The team includes 18 faculty members from five departments and two colleges. The team’s research includes an expanded search for better catalysts for fuel cells, work already in progress at Cornell’s Fuel Cell Institute, and the development of better materials for electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. These new electrodes will increase the amount of energy the batteries can store per unit of weight, which is essential for viable electric cars and will be useful for solar and wind energy systems. “The Department of Energy recognized Cornell’s strengths in materials design, characterization and modeling, and the close-coupling of the various components of the proposed work,” said Abruña. The center will receive funding of $17.5 million over five years, with additional funding of $2.75 million from New York State offices. The new center is one of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) created by the DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Cornell’s EFRC, funded by President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, will dramatically accelerate the development of energy generation, conversion, and storage technologies, advancing the evolution of the entire energy landscape.

Carla Gomes



spring 2009 semester, six international researchers took part in talks and interactions with the Cornell and Ithaca communities addressing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and means of containing it.


“A strong emphasis on education and research, coupled with the willingness to make the tough decisions now, will produce meaningful answers for tomorrow.” David Skorton

Cornell’s goal is to enroll, educate, and graduate the most deserving and promising students at every level, regardless of background or economic circumstance. Although CCSF’s main focus is sustainability research, during 2009 we supported Cornell’s educational mission in a variety of ways. CCSF is committed to including students as researchers in our programs and initiatives. Faculty-developed research projects and activities across the campus involve and employ undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral researchers. We encourage students interested in sustainability research to contact faculty in their departments and colleges for opportunities to participate. With support from Al George (MAE, SE) and Mary Helen Cathles, CCSF has assembled and maintains a comprehensive online listing of Cornell courses with significant sustainability components. CCSF also helped to promote and document the Sustainable Earth, Energy, and Environmental Systems seminars during the fall of 2009. Many groups are actively engaged in sustainability education at Cornell. The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) recently introduced a new interdisciplinary graduate program in earth-energy systems. This MS/PhD program integrates fundamental understanding of earth systems; geothermal and fossil energy capture and conversion; carbon capture and sequestration; and the social and economic contexts in which sustainable energy technologies must advance. Other departments and colleges are also in the process of launching new sustainability programs; for example, a new minor in sustainable energy systems is being launched in Engineering. A number of student groups sponsor sustainability activities on campus. Many are coordinated by the student-run Sustainability Hub. More information can be found on the central sustainability overview page and on the Sustainable Campus website.

“The overall breadth and high quality of Cornell’s academic programs and the university’s commitment to sustainability on campus are most compelling.” Jeff Tester

Cornell Sustainability Education: 10

Iscol Lecture Renowned green architect and designer William A. McDonough spoke about his “cradle to cradle” design philosophy and practice to a capacity crowd during the 11th annual Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture on April 21, 2009. During the afternoon lecture, he spoke about the hopeful and inspiring possibilities of an environmentally and economically intelligent future by design. Earlier in the day, he visited classes on environmental systems and facility planning and management, took part in a roundtable discussion on green innovation, and spoke with graduate students over lunch. McDonough, founding principal of William McDonough + Partners, was recognized in 1996 with the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, the nation’s highest environmental honor. He received the U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2003, as well as the 2004 National Design Award for exemplary achievement in the field of environmental design.

“The world needs to be seen as a place where abundance can be celebrated by all of us. Nothing is beyond our limits.” William A. McDonough

The Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture, presented by the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, is Cornell’s premier annual event on the environment. Since its inception in 1999, the Iscol Lecture has brought eminent scientists, policy discusmakers, and opinion leaders to the Cornell campus to inform and promote the discus sion of critical issues facing our planet. A faculty award commitcommit tee, representing a cross-section of academic disciplines, selects each year’s Iscol Lecturer. The 2010 Iscol Lecturer will be James E. Hansen, well known for his research in climatology and author of Storms of My Grandchildren.

Iscol Lecture: 11

Topical Lunches The goal of this popular program is to create new connections among Cornell researchers who are working on related topics in sustainability. Through informal, working lunches on a specific theme, CCSF brings together scholars who share their expertise and have the opportunity to form new collaborations and launch new research initiatives with significant potential for future funding. During the academic year, we typically set aside one or two dates per month, providing a modest lunch and a moderated forum for discussion. Each lunch’s organizer gives a brief presentation on a sustainability issue. Discussion revolves around several topics, such as Cornell’s related expertise, global and national needs, ways to generate an impact, and possible partners for research, funding, and outreach. CCSF hosted 16 topical lunches in 2009, with more than 200 researchers from nine Cornell colleges and schools attending.

Estimating the Economic Impacts of Climate-Driven Disease Outbreaks Drew Harvell (EEB), Laura Harrington (ENTOM), and Kelly Zamudio (EEB)

Cross-Disciplinary Communication Helene Schember (CCSF)

Sustainable Buildings and Communities K. Max Zhang (MAE)

Institute for Sustainable Mechanical Designs Paul Dawson (MAE) and Matt Miller (MAE)

Conventional versus Local Supply Chains for Fruits and Vegetables Miguel Gomez (AEM)

Resources for Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership Mark Milstein (JGSM)

Systems Approach to Sustainable Energy Albert George (MAE) and Jeff Tester (CBE)

Spatial Analysis Methods in Demography and Sustainability Science

Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Traps

Rob Strawderman (BSCB)

Chris Barrett (AEM) and Alex Travis (VET)

Genetic Diversity Research at Cornell

Copenhagen Climate Change Meetings (UN COP 15)

Matt Hare (NTRES)

Sustainability Research Opportunities in India Dan Roth (ECOS)

Transportation Technology, Systems, and Planning

Antonio Bento (AEM)

Launching a Cornell Examination of the Marcellus System Drew Harvell (EEB) and Terry Jordan (EAS)

Rolf Pendall (CRP)

Exploration of Funding Opportunities for the Advancement of Faculty Research Kristen Ford (AAD), Mort Sosna (AAD), and Glenn Altshuler (Dean, SCE)

Access to Clean Water Marcela Gonzalez Rivas (CRP)

CCSF Topical Lunches: 12

“Topical lunches are a wonderful tool for stimulating new collaborations in sustainability research across campus. Each lunch brings together diverse faculty members, creating ‘connective tissue’ between those with appropriate talents and expertise.” Chris Barrett

Cultivating Strategic Collaborations CCSF seeks strategic collaborations that enable Cornell sustainability research to advance the well-being of the planet and people worldwide. The greatest impact is achieved when work at Cornell is undertaken in concert with external experts. Just as topical lunches expedite the formation of new connections among faculty and staff on campus, the Center stimulates new connections among Cornell researchers and off-campus parties with common interests and complementary skills. We seek the early engagement of collaborators who can help to define and shape the challenges and work ahead. Beginning with presentations to alumni groups, the Center has advanced the local and national conversation on sustainability through events that engage government officials and agencies, foundations, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and others. We solicit your involvement in the sustainability science life of Cornell.

“Our university is evolving to be a living, learning laboratory in sustainability. With large land holdings and experts in a broad range of study, Cornell is a ‘one-stop’ shop for potential external partners.” Frank DiSalvo

Washington Road Show, April 2009

Trustee Council Poster Competition, October 2009

Our first “road show” was in Washington, D.C. The Cornell Club of Washington hosted a panel discussion, held in the Keck Auditorium at the National Academy of Sciences. CCSF director Frank DiSalvo chaired a panel featuring Cornell scien scientists Anurag Agrawal, Mike Hoffmann, and Jeff Tester. More than 100 alumni and invited guests engaged the panel in discussing sustainability at Cornell. The Center for a Sustainable Future met with individuals at four foundations; the National Research Council; the offices of senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Olympia Snowe; and the offices of representatives Maurice Hinchey, Eric Massa, and Paul Tonko.

Sustainability: Energy, Environment, and Economic Development, a Cornell University Council committee, meets annually. This year, council members were invited to assess Cornell’s progress toward sustainability by acting as judges of a poster competition featuring 22 exhibits of work supported by CCSF. The intent of the competition was to communicate the research effec effectively to a diverse audience. Sheryl WuDunn, Knight Kiplinger, David Picket, Hansen Clarke, and the CCSF associate directors chose three cash prize–winning posters from the five selected by council members. The top award went to the “Forecasting Disease and Economic Consequences of Climate Change” research team.

“A first step in cultivating collaboration is building awareness.” David Dieterich


Sustainability on the Cornell Campus

CCSF joins with the CAP project team, consisting of faculty, staff, students, and consultants, to encourage Cornell faculty to participate in the challenge of reducing Cornell’s carbon footprint by exploring a number of clean energy options, including the use of lake source cooling, biomass, indigenous geothermal heat, and wind energy. CCSF helped to fund the Climate Action Plan Small Grant Awards, given in 2008 to research programs investigating geological storage options for carbon capture and sequestration from Cornell’s power plant, smarter lighting for a greener campus, community attitudes toward the CAP, and reengineering campus buildings to improve sustainability.

The CAP’s recommended actions will help the university improve the energy efficiency of its facilities, reducing operating expenses and realizing savings otherwise subject to fuel-cost fluctuation. The immediate goal is a robust, renewableenergy approach for heating, cooling, and electricity generation on campus. At the same time, the CAP will unify Cornell’s research and teaching around sustainability in its broadest sense: economic strength and stability, research and teaching excellence, and outreach programs that fulfill the university’s mission. Our collective actions and initiatives to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions at Cornell will engage, educate, and inspire our NATURAL ENERGY :UTILIZING EARTH’S HYBRID EGS SYSTEM campus and contribute to a sustainable future for all. 2






“Cornell is fostering a culture of sustainability, with broad faculty expertise and some 14,000 acres of forest and natural areas committed to sustainability research on topics like advanced composting, anaerobic digestion, slow pyrolysis, direct combustion of switch grass and wood pellets, and biofuels.” Mike Hoffmann

Cornell’s Climate Action Plan: 14






In 2007, Cornell president David Skorton signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, setting Cornell on a path toward achieving carbon neutrality on the Ithaca campus by the year 2050. This year, the university presented a comprehensive plan to improve the campus’s energy efficiency, over time reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. Created with financial support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Cornell’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is among the first such comprehensive programs undertaken by a major university.


Faculty Advisory Committee

chosen annually by vote of the committee. Currently serving as chair and vice chair are Natalie Mahowald (EAS) and Zellman Warhaft (MAE). Much of the FAC’s work is done in its subcommittees, which study important issues, solicit input from other faculty, guide CCSF priorities, and implement recommendations on CCSF activities.

CCSF thanks the following members who completed their FAC service in 2009: Paulette Clancy (CBE, chair of the education subcommittee), Bob Howarth (EEB), Sid Leibovich (MAE, CCSF associate director for energy), Larry Walker (BEE), Kim Weeden (SOC), Lindy Williams (DEVSOC), ex officio member Steve Kresovich (VP-LS).

Environment Anurag Agrawal (EEB), Todd Cowen (CEE), Kieran Donaghy (CRP), C. Drew Harvell (EEB), Anthony Hay (MICRO), Mike Hoffmann (ENTOM/CUAES) Economic Development Chris Barrett (AEM), Nancy Chau (AEM), Gary Evans (DEA), David Lewis (CRP), Ken Roberts (GOV), Nicolas van de Walle (GOV) Ex Officio Rick Allmendinger (EAS), Nelson Hairston (EEB), Barbra Knuth (NATRES), Mark Milstein (JGSM), Daryl Nydam (PMD), David Sahn (ECON/NS, past FAC chair), Frank DiSalvo, Helene Schember, David Dieterich

Strategic Faculty Hiring CCSF plays an important cross-college role in facilitating strategic faculty hiring in the areas of energy, the environment, and economic development. Bridging and start-up funding are key to faculty hiring in these difficult financial times. CCSF assistance gives colleges and departments the opportunity to commit faculty lines to areas of particular strategic importance to the broader Cornell community. The FAC’s recruitment subcommittee defines focus areas for strategic faculty hiring in sustainability, which can be used to promote cluster hiring. Focus areas for hiring either strengthen preeminence or address an existing gap on campus that inhibits attaining excellence. The first such focus area was named in fall 2008 to guide a cluster hire in climate change within CALS. A faculty focus group led by CCSF associate director Anurag Agrawal and David Wolfe (HORT) identified pressing challenges springing from a changing climate and launched searches intended to strengthen Cornell’s leadership in this crucial area of research. Within the next year, we also anticipate helping with a broad-based recruitment effort to hire faculty with skills related to energy supply, distribution, and end use, in association with the establishment of the College of Engineering’s new energy institute. These positions are “open department” searches, seeking to place outstanding candidates in the College of Engineering departments they best match. The first CCSF-supported faculty hire is Gang Chen, who joined Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) as a tenure-track assistant professor on July 1, 2009. Several additional faculty appointments are anticipated in the area of climate change. A faculty search is under way in terrestrial biogeochemistry, and a third search in the social science of climate change will follow in 2010. “The cluster hires are allowing us to recruit some of the best minds in the world,” Agrawal remarked.

Cornell Departmental Abbreviations: 15


The CCSF looks to its Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) for guidance on issues ranging across all areas of sustainability. The FAC is comprised of 18 voting members and 7 or more ex officio members. Voting members are chosen from the ranks of Cornell tenured and tenure-track faculty. CCSF’s three associate directors serve as voting members and, with the CCSF’s director, assist in selecting five additional voting members to represent each of the CCSF’s three program areas. Ex officio FAC Members members include the CCSF’s director, Energy executive director, and representatives Terry Jordan (EAS), Johannes Lehmann appointed by the provost and deans of (CSS), Natalie Mahowald (EAS), Kevin Cornell colleges and schools. Pratt (ARCH), Jefferson Tester (CBE), Zellman Warhaft (MAE) The chair and vice chair of the FAC are

Program Financial Report Proposal Development $25,500

CCSF program funding stimulates and strengthens sustainability research at Cornell. Programs include seed funding (the Academic Venture Fund and other time-critical research grants); strategic faculty hiring, bridging, and retention; proposal development and cost-sharing; and networking and communication activities. We focus on areas where Cornell holds—or could soon attain—a competitive advantage and that show promise for longer-term funding and real-world impact. As an incubator of new ideas, teams, and collaborations, we measure our success from a university-wide perspective, where our seeded initiatives flourish in their respective academic homes. With program support from CCSF, sustainability researchers at Cornell have been awarded over $40 million in new funding and have pending applications for nearly $40 million in additional funding. Program Budget Program budgets are planned and approved by the CCSF directors. Funding is awarded competitively to multidisciplinary teams based on written descriptions and, for significant requests and when timing permits, the assessment of peer review panels. CCSF maintains close ties with all teams funded and assists in obtaining follow-on funding. In 2009, CCSF spent $1.611 million on sustainability-related programs described in this report and on our website.

“CCSF seed funding has already helped bring significant additional resources to campus. This added support flows directly to faculty members, their departments, schools, colleges, and Cornell University.” Helene Schember



Proposal Matching $376,500

23% 37% Conference & Workshop Support $165,000

10% 12%

Faculty Hiring, Bridging & Retention $186,100

Academic Venture Fund $593,600

16% Research Projects $264,500

CCSF People Director

Associate Directors

Francis J. DiSalvo J. A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, (607) 255-8891

Executive Director




Jefferson Tester Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems

Anurag Agrawal Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Christopher B. Barrett S. B. & J. G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management

Partnerships Director

Support to CCSF

Helene Schember, PhD, (607) 255-0978

David Dieterich, PhD, MBA Executive in Residence, (607) 254-1380

ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTORS Paula Euvrard, (607) 255-7535

CCSF People:

HUMAN RESOURCES Office of Vice Provost for Research Deb Shigley and Jamie Washburn INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Life Sciences Core Laboratories Center James VanEe, John Flaherty, Ken Smith, Ed Dodge, and Joe Dick

CCSF Staff

WEB AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER Mark A. B. Lawrence, (607) 255-2178

FINANCIAL SERVICES Office of Vice Provost for Research Donna Jenney and Gloria Loehle

ASSISTANT TO CROLL PROFESSOR Polly Marion, (607) 254-4785

CCSF also thanks Alton Clark, Sheri Englund, Melissa Pollock, Lori Sonken, and Gwen Wilcox for their timely and effective support throughout 2009. Report Design:


Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future 200 Rice Hall Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853-5601 (607) 255-7535 (607) 255-0238 (fax) See for departmental abbreviations

Printed with vegetable-based inks, and manufactured with 100% renewable energy.

To receive future versions of this report electronically, please contact us at

CCSF 2009 Annual Report  

This is the 2009 Annual Report for the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future

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