WSU Helps Cut Pollution to Celebrate Earth Day

OGDEN, Utah — Weber State University is contributing to a greener and cleaner community during its annual Earth Day celebrations. Activities will include an electric lawn mower exchange and an opportunity to plant trees on campus.

The success of the university’s sustainability efforts is reflected in its significant savings and reduced energy and water consumption. Since 2009, the university has decreased energy costs by 44 percent and carbon emissions by 31 percent. In the fiscal year 2017, WSU saved $1.85 million on its electric, natural gas and water bills.

Planting trees, April 18 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
For years, community members and students have helped plant trees around campus for Earth Day. WSU’s Environmental Ambassadors are continuing that tradition, and Shadow Valley Elementary will help with the planting. The volunteers will plant eight trees near Wildcat Village and the W7 parking lot. The trees help clean pollutants from the air, as well as beautify the campus and unite those who come together to plant.

Mower Exchange, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WSU’s sustainability offices partnered with the Weber-Morgan and Davis County Health departments to host the “Cut Pollution – Mow Electric” program. Using a gas-powered lawn mower for one hour is the equivalent of driving a car 160 miles. To help cut back on these emissions, the mow electric program will offer 829 electric mowers to winners who entered the statewide lottery to switch out their old mower.

Those selected will get a new cordless electric lawn mower for $100 plus tax and a 3 percent credit-card fee. Free waivers are available for those in need. Typical retail price of the mower is $329. The electric mowers will be quieter, cleaner and cheaper, since they don’t require oil or gas. If every electric mower awarded through the program was used for one hour, it could potentially avoid the same amount of emissions caused by driving cars more than 122,000 miles.

The mower exchange will take place in the Ogden campus W4 parking lot and the WSU Davis campus parking lot (2470 University Park Blvd., Layton).

WSU’s Ongoing Sustainability Efforts
In addition to annual events and celebrations, WSU’s daily commitment to sustainability can be seen throughout campus. The university continues to expand its sustainability efforts and involves the campus community with a wide variety of programs.

All of this work ties into WSU’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050. To accomplish this, the university has a four-point plan focuses on energy efficiency; switching to electric energy; sourcing energy from renewable resources and, lastly, reinvesting savings to continue the process.

Here are some additional ways WSU is an example of sustainable practices:

Electric Bus
Thanks to a grant from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, WSU will turn one of its existing diesel buses into an electric bus. The bus is being converted now, and is expected to be completed in May. Once it’s finished, it will cut down on fuel costs and produce zero emissions. 

Clean the Air Challenge
WSU students, faculty and staff saved over 8.9 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from polluting the air during the statewide Clean the Air Challenge. Participants used alternative modes of transportation to travel more than 32,000 miles in February. Competing against other groups on campus, the Weber State student division won first place in the challenge. Student team members logged 1,570 trips on alternative transportation, offsetting 3.16 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Awarded for Efficiency
For the third year in a row, the Utah Association of Energy Users named WSU a recipient of the UAE Energy Efficiency award.

Leading the Way
WSU’s Energy & Sustainability Office received the “Outstanding Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Conservation” award from the Utah Association of Energy Users.

Earth-friendly Campus Grounds
The Arbor Day Foundation named WSU a 2017 Tree Campus USA for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Teaching Sustainability
During the Spring 2018 semester, more than 50 courses focusing on sustainability were offered. The 20+ majors offering the courses prove that sustainability can be applied everywhere ranging from accounting to automotive technology.

WSU’s Green Department Certificate Program
WSU’s Green Department Program encourages offices and departments on campus to support university-wide sustainability efforts. The voluntary, competitive program allows participating departments to assemble a “Green Team” and earn points by making their departments more sustainable. Depending on the number of points achieved, the department may be certified as bronze, silver, gold or green.

Teams help the university meet sustainability goals by reducing waste, going paperless, encouraging and organizing alternative forms of transportation and using sustainable paper goods in breakrooms.

Davis Campus Solar Field
Seven acres of ground-mounted solar panels help power Weber State University Davis, located in Layton. The project, which was installed in the summer of 2016, is one of the largest solar installations at a public institution in Utah.

The panels are capable of producing enough energy to power 100 percent of WSU Davis’s electrical needs. That’s the equivalent of powering 250 homes for one year.

Sustainability summit
For nine years, Weber State University has hosted what’s become the largest multi-topic sustainability conference. During this year’s event, held Feb. 28-March 2, presenters addressed timely trends in sustainability, as well as policies, strategies and practical solutions to problems.

More than 30 speakers presented, including the new addition of a performance of “Rising Tide” by the Crossroads Project, a show that blended science, music and visual images to tell the story of human impact on Earth.

Upgrading Bulbs in Ogden Homes
Summer of 2017, WSU’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC) collaborated with Habitat for Humanity to upgrade old incandescent bulbs with LED lights. The new lights use approximately 86 percent less electricity than the old bulbs, which cuts down a home’s energy bill. SPARC upgraded six Ogden homes with about 10 new bulbs per home.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Jennifer Bodine, WSU sustainability manager
801-626-6421 • jenniferbodine@weber.edu

Author:

Rachel Badali, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7295 • rachelbadali@weber.edu