New York - Capital Region

Regional Coordinator: Addyson Lyons

Essay Tutorial Announced: A Waste Free Future

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This year's Future City Competition theme challenges our middle school students to use the three principles of a circular economy to design a futuristic, waste-free city.

Here in the Albany region, we are happy to announce this year's Essay Tutorial, which allows our local students to explore this topic in depth, guided by local experts. This tutorial is offered FREE of charge and will be held via ZOOM videoconference as part of our commitment to keep all program participants as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Please RSVP by Thursday October 16th by emailing Christina Doughney at

A Zoom link will be provided to those that have RSVP'ed in advance of the session. 



Dr. Mary Ellen Mallia, UAlbany

Dr. Mallia’s presentation will examine how a circular economy is implemented on college campuses using UAlbany as a case study. She will cover topics such as:

  • Examples of life cycle assessment (buildings, transportation, food are highlighted)
  • How waste generation and purchasing decisions affect carbon reduction goals
  • State policies that have been enacted to reduce the environmental footprint of agencies
  • The impact of global waste and recycling markets
  • The evolution of UAlbany's waste diversion streams including successes, challenges and opportunities for the future

UAlbany practices "green" cleaning, eco-sensitive food purchasing, use and development of a campus heritage garden, use of a closed loop paper towel cycle, and general "green" purchasing techniques. Sustainable swag swaps and composting are also utilized on campus. Dr. Mallia will illustrate practices that designers could incorporate to inform their planning and facilitate a waste free city.

Dr. Mary Ellen Mallia serves as UAlbany's Director of Sustainability, a role she began in January 2008. She received her B.S. in Economics from Siena College and started her career in the financial sector, first at a brokerage firm and then in financial management at GE in Schenectady. She left that position to pursue a career in education, obtaining her Masters in Secondary Social Science Education from UAlbany, and subsequently teaching Economics, Public Policy and American History at Guilderland High School for eight years before shifting to higher education with a specialization in Environmental Economics. While fulfilling her teaching duties, she pursued her Ph.D. at RPI in Ecological Economics, which she earned in August 2006. In her role as Director, she is charged with coordinating and advancing the sustainability efforts on campus, working with a multitude of academic departments, student groups and community organizations. Outside of work, Mary Ellen has a deep devotion to nature, especially the welfare of animals. Currently she lives on a farm near Schenectady, NY with her husband and daughter where they enjoy raising llamas and chickens.

Gavin McIntyre, Ecovative

"The Future is Grown."

Ecovative Design is a materials company located in Green Island, NY that provides sustainable alternatives to plastics and polystyrene foams for packaging, building materials, and other applications by using MUSHROOM technology. Mr. McIntyre will discuss the fun and groundbreaking ways that Ecovative Design uses their Mycelium Foundry to create plant-based meat, biodegradable packaging, and leather-like textiles. Their stuff isn't just environmentally-friendly: it's really cool too. Strong, delicious, safe, ethical, and friendly on the pocketbook.

Gavin McIntyre co-founded Ecovative to solve environmental challenges through biology. Gavin oversaw research and development during the company’s early product launches, and is a listed inventor on over two dozen of the company's issued and pending patents. He now serves as the company's CCO where he focuses on growing a network of international mycelium-material partnerships from small enterprises to large multinationals and government agencies. Gavin is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where his dual degree in mechanical engineering and social design led to his passion for building home-spun bioreactors in which he has cultivated organisms from oysters to orchids. He serves on the Board of Directors at Ecovative and the non-profit Clean and Healthy New York, as well as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Strategic Advisory Council.