New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced the selection of RIT on Friday. The governor proposed $4 million for the Institute in his 2008-09 Executive Budget, building on the $2 million he and the Legislature included in last year's budget to launch the Institute.
"By creating the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, we are seizing an opportunity to help businesses become greener while improving productivity and reducing environmental damage," said Governor Spitzer. "There is tremendous job creation potential that can come from new innovations from the research efforts of the Institute and its partners."
Rochester Institute of Technology (Photo credit unknown)
RIT's primary mission will be to promote cost effective pollution prevention techniques so that large and small business can reduce energy costs, hazardous substances, and wastes.
The Institute will work collaboratively with businesses, provide professional education and training and create a pipeline of technical advancements.
The Institute will assist industry in reducing its environmental impact by decreasing the use of toxic chemicals, cutting waste generation, reducing exposure risks to workers, and promoting more efficient use of raw materials and energy.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation evaluated proposals from universities across the state to host the Institute. A technical review committee unanimously selected RIT, noting that its proposal was bolstered by solid agreements with other New York universities and regional technology centers to build a research-sharing network.
"We are delighted that RIT has been selected to host this significant research and development center that will benefit all New Yorkers," said RIT President Bill Destler. "It will not only leverage the extensive expertise that RIT has accumulated in this important field, but it will enable us to collaborate with an extraordinary group of academic partners and technology organizations throughout New York state."
A key part of RIT's winning proposal includes the creation of 16 research and development "test beds," or technological laboratories, across the state, through partnerships with Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RPI, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Capabilities of these test beds include environmental engineering of nanotechnology materials and printing applications at RIT, green processing and biofuels testing at Clarkson, polymer processing and testing at RPI and sustainable chemical processes at Buffalo.
RIT plans on creating a partnership with the 10 regional technology development corporations (RTDC) to help disseminate data, tools and strategy. The RTDCs recently formed a "green sustainability" working group to bolster environmental opportunities across the State.
RIT will use $20 million in leveraged funding from public and private sources to augment the Institute and technical programs. RIT also will tap into its existing programs, such as its National Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery, which focuses on industrial processes. It also plans to create a community pollution prevention program to assist nonprofit groups.
Personnel at the Institute and its partner universities will focus their skills in the areas of toxics use reduction, hazardous and solid waste reduction, green chemistry, product reuse and remanufacturing, "design for the environment" projects, resource conservation, pollution prevention methods, chemical safety assessments, environmental management systems, green cleaning products, and academic course development.
A 2003 report by the New York State Assembly found that the lack of a focused research and development center and on-site technical assistance for businesses was a major shortcoming in the state's pollution prevention efforts.
In 2005, the federal Toxics Release Inventory revealed that New York companies reported 312 million pounds of toxic chemical waste generated and 42 million pounds released into the environment.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.