Welcome to the December 2016 Newsletter

A Just and Sustainable Future: Reaffirming Our Mission at the Year’s End

As we make our way to the end of the year and the dawn of a new one, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to a just and sustainable future for all.  Our broad mission to “inform and educate…in order to ensure the sustainability…of our world” has never been more pressing nor essential.  We are committed to these principles and will continue to model best sustainability practices, as we have done with the great strides made in reducing the institution’s carbon emissions toward the goal of becoming a carbon neutral campus.  Armed with the best practices and the soundest science, we’ll continue to engage our students and community and strongly advocate for a healthy environment, a healthy society, and a fair economy that remains viable in perpetuity.  The challenges to the world and the people it supports are enormous, but they are not beyond our ability to address, particularly as we recognize our common interests (such as a need for clean air) and work together. 

We wish you the best that this season has to offer – invaluable time spent with family and friends, indoors or out – and less of the stress and strain that comes when we get too wrapped up in material goods.  Thank you for all you do in your work and daily lives toward increasing the health and sustainability of our community. Happy holidays to all!   

-President Wight and Weber State’s sustainability team
Sustainability Practices and Research Center
Environmental Issues Committee and the
Energy and Sustainability Office

Faculty and Student Sustainability Research Awards - Call for Submissions

The call is out for submissions for one of the faculty or student sustainability research awards that recognizes excellent completed projects.  The prizes, amounting to $2,000 to be awarded in March 2017, are sponsored by the Sustainability Practices and Research Center and the WSU Alumni Association.

Faculty Awards:

Two $500 awards will be given to recognize completed work in one or both of the following categories:
1) traditional scholarship (i.e., conference or journal-targeted academic research/writing); and
2) applied scholarship (i.e., tangibly benefiting the community, campus, or students/teaching, etc.).

Student Awards

Two $500 awards, one provided by the WSU Alumni Association and the other by SPARC, are available for outstanding student sustainability research. Awards are for research projects completed during the 2016-2017 academic year. 

For more information, go to www.weber.edu/environment/. All submission documents/information must be submitted via email to Dr. Brandon Burnett at brandonburnett@weber.edu by March 1, 2017.

Mark Your Calendars!  Intermountain Sustainability Summit and Keynote Speaker Mary Robinson – March 17th

We are pleased to announce that the 8th Annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit will be held at Weber State University on March 16 -17, 2017. The Summit is organized by the Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC).

This year the Summit is honored to co-host, along with WSU Convocations, our keynote speaker Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards throughout the world, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Robinson is a charismatic, compelling speaker, commanding the attention of diverse international audiences. We are elated to have her at the Summit this year and expect overflowing crowds from both campus and the community to hear her speak on climate justice.

The Intermountain Sustainability Summit has become Utah’s largest sustainability conference, offering a wide range of topics. Sessions are organized into themed tracks, providing in-depth inquiry.  This year climate change and social justice will be featured themes.   Participants come from the Wasatch Front and Back and are increasingly joining us from surrounding states. The event is an energetic gathering of sustainability professionals, industry practitioners, policy experts, faculty, and students who are eager to learn, network, and increase sustainability practices across the Intermountain West and beyond. 

This is an excellent on-campus opportunity for faculty and students

Green Department Certification Program Update:

WSU’s Payroll Office is Green Department Certified!

The Energy & Sustainability Office is excited to announce that the Payroll Office is WSU’s newest bronze certified Green Department. A few of their accomplishments to achieve this rating include:

  • Converted payroll processes from paper requests to electronic ones, saving an estimated 7,500 sheets of paper
  • Stopped printing out payroll registers each pay period, saving 25,000 pieces of paper each year 
  • Having over 1/3 of all office computers, monitors, and printers Energy Star certified and EPEAT certified

The purpose of the Green Department Program is to involve WSU offices and departments in the work of making the entire university more sustainable and carbon neutral. The program is voluntary and competitive. Departments that choose to participate assemble a green team and acquire 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.

Human Resources and English Language & Literature Departments Achieve Silver!

In early November, the Human Resources Department became WSU’s first silver certified department. With thirty-three points in hand, HR is only five points away from being the first to be gold certified as well. Time to get to work, Green Teams! 
Noteworthy HR Green Team achievements include the following:

  • Converted employee training programs, such as the Higher Education Academy, to paper-free
  • Converted most frequently used office supplies to green supplies
  • Converted disposable breakroom dishes to recycled content/compostable green dishes
  • Implemented a glass recycling program for the entire Miller Administration building
  • Recruited other departments to participate in the Green Department Program

The English Language and Literature Department was not far behind Human Resources and achieved silver certification on November 23rd. English was WSU’s first certified Green Department, which was impressive given that it is one of the university’s largest departments.
To achieve its silver certification, the English Department successfully passed a waste audit and demonstrated that it was recycling correctly at nearly 100%. Also, the entire English Department turned in office trash cans and implemented the Tiny Trash Program. Benefits of the Tiny Trash Program include

  • Saves office space and fosters awareness.
  • Decreases waste and the amount landfilled.
  • Saves money by reducing the use of plastic liners.
  • Will help WSU continue to be a national leader in campus sustainability practices.


If you are interested in getting your office or department involved in the Green Certification Program, please contact Jennifer Bodine at jenniferbodine@weber.edu or visit: https://www.weber.edu/sustainability/GreenDept.html

Holiday Free Swap a Success and Plans for an Air Quality Awareness Month

The Holiday Free Swap held in November proved to be a great opportunity to share items among the Weber State community.  Donations included clothes and shoes, electronics, toys, books, furniture, movies, kitchenware, and food.  Many people came through and most left with a bag full of goods.  The general response from participants was that they hope the Environmental Ambassadors will host the swap again in the future.  The Environmental Ambassadors really appreciated being able to talk with folks about the importance of reusing items and conserving resources.  The message was that we must all take individual action to minimize our impact on the environment.  At the end of the event, the Ambassadors collected approximately 300 pounds of items, which will translate into a monetary amount through Savers FunDrive.  That money is expected to help the Weber Cares pantry in a couple weeks. 

The next activity the Environmental Ambassadors are working on is an Air Quality Awareness Month to take place in January or February.  The club wants to engage the WSU community on the issue of air quality and the actions we can take to improve it. It will be collaborating with others to compile educational materials, create demonstrations, and organize fun interactive components such as games. 

Sustainability Spotlight:  WSU Students Conducting Solar Cell Research!

Weber State University is officially in the solar research game! Chemistry students Heather Browning and Andrew Sandoval and physics students Nicholas Allen, Meagan Parker, and Charles Smith have joined together in a special interdisciplinary research group studying new solar cell materials. Under the advisement of Drs. Brandon Burnett, Colin Inglefield, and Kristin Rabosky, these researchers have been looking into a new material called perovskites to create highly efficient, environmentally friendly, and low cost solar cells. Perovskite materials made from lead and iodine have received international attention, as they replace expensive silicon-based solar cells that are currently used commercially. In under a year, the research group got its supplies and made its first working solar cell! This puts it in league with the best research teams in the nation. The team’s initial results are included in a manuscript for publication in the Materials Research Society Proceedings journal.  Now the group is working on improving the efficiency of its cell and making the materials in a more environmentally friendly way.

Interdisciplinary research team (from left to right): Andrew Sandoval, Nicholas Allen, Dr. Kristin Rabosky (back), Heather Browning (front), Dr. Colin Inglefield, Charles Smith, Dr. Brandon Burnett, and Meagan Parker.

Working solar cell created by research group.