Governor Spitzer Announces Rochester Institute of Technology to Host Pollution Prevention Institute

Press Release

Date: Feb. 29, 2008
Issues: Environment


Research and Development Center will Design "Green" Manufacturing Methods, Cut Toxic Waste and Help Make Improve Competitiveness of New York Businesses

Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced the selection of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as the host of the Pollution Prevention Institute, a cutting-edge research and development center to design and test "green" manufacturing methods and provide technical support to businesses for pollution reduction measures that will help make them more competitive. Governor Spitzer 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.

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. Investing in pollution prevention will also promote the competitive advantage of New York's businesses.

The Institute will assist industry in reducing its environmental impact by decreasing the use of toxic chemicals, cutting waste generation, decreasing exposure risks to workers, and promoting more efficient use of raw materials and energy.

The Institute will tap into cutting edge academic research and technology to help bring pollution-reduction processes to market by identifying practical pollution-reduction methods, cost-effective equipment and safe materials. The Institute will work collaboratively with businesses, provide professional education and training and create a pipeline of technical advancements.

"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. In today's world, there is a shift developing in how we produce, distribute, sell and use goods and services. This transformation is being driven by governments, private organizations, businesses and consumers for a variety of economic, environmental and social reasons."

Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson said: "As demonstrated by impacts like climate change, we have placed undue burdens on our natural environment which are having effects on a global scale. Initiatives such as this one will place New York on a path to become part of a global solution. Under Governor Spitzer's leadership, New York is confidently facing the future with a vision that ultimately will allow us to rescue our environment while strengthening our the economy."

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) 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.

Following a recommendation by the technical review panel, the selection of RIT was endorsed unanimously by the NYS Pollution Prevention Council, which includes representatives from DEC, the NYS Department of Health, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the NYS Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation.

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 ten 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 non-profit 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/remanufacturing, "design for the environment" projects, resource conservation, pollution prevention methods, chemical safety assessments, environmental management systems, green cleaning products, and academic course development.

Senator Carl L. Marcellino said: "The establishment of the Pollution Prevention Institute is critical to the State of New York in order to preserve and protect the water we drink and the air we breath. We must continue to invest in programs such as this one in an effort to improve the quality of life for future generations of New Yorkers."

Assemblymember Bob Sweeney, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, said: "The Institute will help New York companies to minimize industrial pollutants in the manufacturing processes and design products to be environmentally responsible. This is an important step to reduce the risk to human health and the environment from toxins and other environmental pollutants."

Assemblymember David Koon, chair of the Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes, said: "It is an honor to have RIT chosen as the site for this project. Green projects, such as this, are invaluable not only in addressing environmental issues, but also in creating high quality local and regional jobs and unburdening us from our reliance on non-renewable, foreign-produced energy. Green initiatives will continue to be one of my top priorities and I look forward to working with RIT to ensure that our region benefits from this project."

RIT President Bill Destler said: "We are delighted that RIT has been selected to host this significant research and development center that will benefit all New Yorkers. The award of the Pollution Prevention Institute is an important milestone for the new Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT. 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."

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said: "RIT has the hands-on experience of bringing the theoretical into real-world application. In this undertaking, it will seek to take the adage ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,' and make it real. This means developing green chemistry methods and crafting new tools and practices to prevent pollution upfront - putting New York at the forefront of a new environmental model."

NYS Department of Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. said: "We look forward to the new Institute providing research in green chemistry and leadership in transferring new, less polluting technology to New York businesses that will help reduce New Yorker's exposure to toxic chemicals."

ESDC Upstate Chairman Daniel C. Gundersen said: "I applaud Governor Spitzer and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for developing this innovative program. The program demonstrates the need to be smart about how we invest in manufacturing - an important sector of New York's economy - while emphasizing green manufacturing methods. The Pollution Prevention Institute will help manufacturers reduce pollution and waste through the development of environmentally responsive processes and advance the Governor's vital ‘15 x 15' plan."

President and CEO of NYSERDA Paul D. Tonko said: "The Pollution Prevention Institute will serve as an important resource for the State to identify approaches to reduce harmful pollution. Tapping into the State's intellectual capacity through this Institute will help us to better understand the causes and impacts of pollution, and identify sensible steps to prevent and combat it. The Institute will be of great benefit to all New Yorkers thanks to the efforts of Governor Spitzer and the Legislature who provided the funding to launch this timely initiative."

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. These figures point to an untapped opportunity to reduce the impact of toxins on human health and the environment. Moreover, regulations at the State, national and international levels indicate a shift toward reducing toxic and hazardous substances and an emphasis on product recycling. 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.