As they left their last classes yesterday in Mason Hall, students had to walk through a strip of tables and posters arranged in a manner resembling a science fair, all exploring energy and environmental sustainability research at the University.

Yesterday’s Sustainability Fair, in it’s second year, was sponsored by the Michigan Student Assembly’s Environmental Issues Commission. Organizers said the fair was meant to make students aware of sustainability efforts on campus.

The first half of the event, the “Eco Fair” was meant to encourage sustainable living. Campus groups, including Michigan Students Advocating Recycling and Green Greeks, as well as representatives from local companies like the People’s Food Co-Op and Zipcar were all in attendance.

The evening presentation, called “The New Frontier,” featured professors and researchers using posters, handouts and oral presentations to explain their environmental research.

Last year the fair was held in the Union Ballroom. With the new location, EIC hoped to attract more than “just environmentally minded people to come and learn,” said Greg Caplan, EIC co-chair, in an e-mail interview.

Caplan, a Ross School of Business sophomore, said this was the first year that the Sustainability Fair has included a research presentation section. He said the committee added the “The New Frontier” because they thought it would be a cool thing that would attract more students.

LSA junior Lilly Zoller, who helped organize “The New Frontier,” said the professors contacted to participate where all very eager about the event.

EIC co-chair Margo Ludmer, an LSA junior, said that the professors really had something to show to students.

“I am just so excited that all the professors came out,” she said. “Their research is so exciting and so applicable, and it’s not something that you see everyday.”

Below are a sampling of the presentations at yesterday’s event.

José A. Tapia Granados, a researcher in the Institute for Social Research, presented findings that show a correlation between the economy and carbon dioxide emissions.

Areas with more robust economies, he found, have higher carbon dioxide emissions.

Granados said that throughout history, whenever the economy is up, so are carbon dioxide emissions.

As a result, “not everything is bad in the recession,” Granados said.

Urban Planning Assistant Prof. Joe Grengs presented his research about using land space more efficiently to reduce driving. If cities are constructed more compactly, driving becomes much less vital, he said.

Researchers on this project have attached devices to vehicles to track their driving patterns. From these devices, Grengs can put together a map to further understand general driving habits.

Grengs said the three-year project is currently in its second year. In total, 83 cars have been tracked with these devices in Detroit.

“Hopefully, we’ll have something to say about what kinds of road configurations and urban form patterns we can start to move towards,” Grengs said.

Rackham Graduate School student Laura Sherman promoted a new class on sustainable energy. The course is offered during the summer term at Camp Davis, the University’s field station in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The course, GEO-344 Sustainable and Fossil Energy: Options and Consequences, will involve traveling to different areas around Camp Davis to study types of sustainable energy and then attempting to replicate them.

The class will teach students “how to become sustainable and use sustainable energy,” Sherman said. She said the course’s goal is to eventually get Camp Davis running purely on sustainable energy.

Representatives from the School of Natural Resources and Environment presented information on the Dana Building, which received a Gold certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ranking system for buildings. The gold certification is the second highest LEED achievement.

Receiving the ranking was a significant accomplishment, said Kat Superfisky, an interim concentration advisor for Program in the Environment. It’s rare that a renovated building earns the gold rating she said, adding that it’s more likely for a newly-constructed building to achieve the high certification.

Rackham student Mo Li, a researcher in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, presented research on safer, more sustainable building materials. With three posters’ worth of diagrams, Li explained that the “endless process” of repairing cracked concrete is “energy intensive.”

She created a new material that is more ductile, making it safer in the case of an earthquake, Li said. A building in Japan, constructed in a “seismic zone,” is made of the new material. The only use of the material in the United States is on a bridge in Ypsilanti.

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