Welcome to the November WSU Sustainability Newsletter!
As we enter the season of giving, consider helping to support the community programs that we offer.
We will announce the focus of our next program in the December newsletter.
Hint- it relates to improving air quality!
Weber State is excited to accept the Utah Division of Water Resources' H2Oath Scholarship, awarded to support campus water conservation improvements. Water is a crucial but limited resource here in Utah and conserving water forms an integral part of Weber State's broader sustainability goals. Under the leadership of the Energy and Sustainability Office, Weber State earned the H2Oath Scholarship through the Division of Water Resources' Utah Water-Wise Pledge Drive, which asked students, faculty, and staff from Utah's higher education institutions to pledge to implement water-wise practices at home. Thanks to the support of students and employees, pledges from Weber State outnumbered pledges from nine other Utah institutions. Well done, Wildcats!
This achievement represents the Weber community's commitment to water conservation. The $5,000 scholarship will fund continuing conservation projects on campus. Water conservation is just one additional way that WSU strives to lead the region and nation in campus sustainability.
As part of their efforts to reduce landfill waste, Grounds for Coffee on 30th Street and Harrison Boulevard is throwing what most of us put into our garbage cans all over their back lot.
Coffee shop owner Suzy Dailey has always cared for the environment, so when she learned about the Zero Waste business designation she started to examine strategies on how she could reduce the shop’s garbage by 90 percent.
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, businesses that cut the amount of garbage sent to landfills or incinerators by 90 percent can be considered a Zero Waste business. That led Dailey to take an extensive look into what went into their garbage. “We sorted our trash for half a week to see what was in there,” said Dailey. Knowing garbage content gave her the ability to make a waste-reduction plan.
Much of what they found were items that customers brought in from other locations. To combat this garbage incursion, they removed the trash bins from outside and opted for trash receptacles that were small enough to place on their countertop. These small containers, called tiny trash, made it inconvenient for people to drop garbage off at the store.
“Tiny trash cuts down trash so much,” said Dailey. Grounds is still willing to accept trash from patrons, but people generally don’t want to bring it into the shop.
In addition to tiny trash, patrons can place all unwanted items in a bussing tub next to the condiment table. Employees sort through the dishes, recyclables, food waste and other items several times an hour.
Barista Melanie Collett sorts the tubs. She says that she hears a little griping from her colleagues about the task, but not much. Personally, she supports the efforts Grounds is making.
“We only have one planet, and we’ve made a huge imprint on it in the amount of time we’ve been here,” Collett says. She loves the Zero Waste goal.
Although Dailey has her employees sort out the recyclables from the trash, it hasn’t been easy to recycle what they have recovered. “We had to beg to get recycling bins,” said Dailey. Dailey was able to get the bins because her business was on a residential route, but recycle bins are unavailable to most businesses. In addition, Dailey found that items Ogden City accepts as recyclable still ended up in the landfill. This frustrates Dailey.
Grounds for Coffee patron Nick Emmerson is glad for the shop’s efforts. “I think that it sets the example for the way people should operate. It makes you think twice when you leave the store about where you put your trash,” said Emmerson.
One way that Grounds is excelling in its waste reduction goal is by composting. Composting is part of Grounds for Coffee’s culture. Five years ago Dailey turned the lot at the back of the business into a community garden. Having a garden makes it easy for employees to compost. “They either dump it in garbage or in the garden, it is all the same to them,” said Dailey. Collett agrees, saying, “Composting is something we’ve always done here. It is so much of a habit, it is super easy.” Even though Grounds for Coffee is still working out the challenges toward their Zero Waste goal, they have turned a parking lot into a productive garden.
Old coffee grounds and food waste that could have ended up in the landfill are now a part of the fertile soil, where over two dozen gardeners grow food.
Weber State University has many exciting courses addressing issues related to sustainability being taught during this upcoming spring semester! There are nearly 50 courses for students to learn about sustainability across 20 different departments on campus. A few examples below highlight the broad range of courses being offered:
Environmental Issues and Economic Policy (ECON 1100) offers opportunities to learn how to address environmental issues through the economic lens.
Sustainability in Thought & Practice (WSU 1560) explores ways in which humans may live more lightly on the Earth in terms of our impact on the air, water, and land while still maintaining a good quality of life and healthy economy.
Adventure Travel and Sustainable Tourism (OREC 3450) discusses sociocultural, economic, and environmental dimensions within adventure travel and sustainability tourism.
Hybrid and Alternative Fueled Vehicles (ATTC 3760) examines six alternate fuel systems, and how each system impacts the environment.
Selling Emotion, Buying Feeling: Emotions, Work and Consumption in America (HNRS 3900) explores consumerism and sustainability in our society.
The full list is available at https://www.weber.edu/sustainability/Sustainability_Courses.html.
We look forward to seeing you in class next semester!
On November 2nd Weber State had the fantastic opportunity to hear two talks from the world's only "Stand-up Economist." Dr. Yoram Bauman is co-author of the Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change and the founder of Carbon Washington, which in 2016 placed the first-ever carbon tax measure on the ballot in the United States. Dr. Bauman, speaking on “Civility, Comedy, and Carbon Taxes,” held a standing-room-only presentation that engaged the audience with both humor and hard science. Later, at a second event in the Hurst Center, Dr. Bauman spoke about the necessity of corporate social responsibility in our modern world and how to engage the business field with civility and comedy.
The day's events were brought to Weber State thanks to the generous support of the Center for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility, the Center for Community Engaged Learning, the Weber State Department of Economics, and the Sustainability Practices and Research Center.
Weber State’s facilities team and SPARC hosted two campus tours in October, highlighting Weber’s sustainability projects.
Justin Owen, head of energy management at WSU, led the tours. He showed that the strides Weber has been able to make to cut carbon emissions while cutting utility cost are awe-inspiring.
The first tour brought over a dozen faculty and staff together to learn about Weber’s leading role in carbon neutral capable buildings and electric charging stations. Most of the attendees were there as representatives from their department’s WSU Green Team. The tour atmosphere was encouraging. This may have been because of the amazing facilities, the warmer than expected weather, or the group’s enthusiasm.
The second tour was part of the Utah Climate Action week’s events that highlighted people and organizations making progress toward reducing climate emissions. Experts on energy management from the University of Utah, Leaders for Clean Air, Utah Clean Energy and others came with an interest in Weber State’s energy plans and actions. Ogden City Council member Luis Lopez commented: “Weber State University is a leader in energy sustainability efforts. I witnessed their incredible programs and infrastructure that has saved the University millions of dollars…Thank you, Weber State, for your innovative and responsible contributions to creating a world with less pollution.”
Since the 2009 Climate Action Plan was developed, WSU has cut its carbon footprint by half, saving over $10 million for the university in avoided utility costs. This achievement debunks the argument that sustainability comes at too great a price. Weber’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The university is well ahead of schedule. WSU energy management has been thriving because of the focus on these four key principles of energy management:
- Efficiency first
- Renewable energy sources
- Revolving investments
A highlight of the tour included the Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) cooling and heating systems, which will be included with every new building, including Lindquist Hall. Owens explains: “Environmentally, the primary benefit is these are efficient electric systems that allow us to get away from fossil fuels on the building level. They share energy between rooms, floors, buildings, and ultimately pull energy from or push energy to the ground source fields. They are quieter than traditional systems, allow for increased comfort because every space gets their own thermostat, allow us to harvest heat from energy intense spaces like data centers, and require less plenum space, which allows us to raise ceilings.”
Community members, faculty, and others in energy management were able to see the extensive efforts Weber has made, and will continue to make, in order to reduce our carbon footprint. Through these new applications to make the campus more efficient, we also make it safer and overall a more enjoyable environment to be in.
The 2017 Alternative Fall Break, led by the Environmental Ambassadors and Center for Community Engaged Learning (WSUSA Service Team), brought together students from various educational backgrounds to build sustainable housing for people in need.
Building with Sustainability in Mind:
Having a home to call their own is a major goal and accomplishment for many; however, several families in and around Moab, UT, struggle to find affordable housing. Community Rebuilds (CR) was founded to help people build affordable and well-constructed homes that are also sustainable. Working alongside potential homeowners, CR constructs homes with straw bale—a natural and cheap insulation material. They also construct the homes with low carbon output in mind, which reduces utility costs. Sixteen students worked with CR in Moab to help build these sustainable homes through a hands-on educational experience. Students learned the basic foundations of sustainable house building and the important measures they can take in their own living spaces. The Environmental Ambassadors thank CR for educating them during the fall break weekend as well as continuing to advance the housing industry on a sustainable path. For more information on Community Rebuilds and available internships with them, please visit: https://www.communityrebuilds.org.
Megan Moulding was instrumental in helping her department, Honors, become the first Double Green certified department (certified under versions 1.0 and 2.0). Under her leadership, Honors racked up a whopping 76 points. Fifty are needed to obtain Green certification under version 1.0 and 66 are needed to be certified under version 2.0.
To achieve Double Green certification Honors reduced its paper consumption by over 60% and transitioned over to all green supplies (office, cleaning, and dining). Over 50% of all office commuting trips are made using alternative transit and 20% of the classes offered through Honors contain sustainability-related content. Their signature achievement was creating a comprehensive green purchasing policy that they are happy to share. The Energy & Sustainability Office interviewed Megan about her interest in sustainability and her experience with the Green Department Certification program. She had some great insights to share.
ESO: What first interested you in sustainability?
Megan: Growing up in Plain City I had easy access to nature in the surrounding fields and pastures, and spent a lot of time outdoors. This childhood time outside gave me a deep appreciation for nature and instilled a desire in me to protect my environment as I grew and witnessed the open fields, trees, and animals irreversibly replaced by housing subdivisions. In junior high and high school I had great science teachers that made me more aware of our need to be good stewards of the environment. I worked on science fair projects that examined water pollution. Working on these projects enhanced my understanding of the scale and scope of environmental issues. Local decisions can have global impacts.
ESO: Why did you get involved in the Green Department Certification Program?
Megan: Being involved in the program seemed like a win-win opportunity. Participating in the Green Department Program not only got our department moving in a sustainable direction but the program provided a clear and easy path to get there and we were rewarded and incentivized for making the right choices. The program was also appealing because we had control over the direction and approach we wanted to take. We were able to pick and choose the things we wanted to work on and then once those items were accomplished, we could move on to tackle the more difficult items for our department.
I also wanted to get our department involved because it felt like the right thing to do. I view our involvement in the Green Department Program as an opportunity to make my own backyard sustainable. Then, when we recruit others to join, we have an opportunity to act more globally and help make WSU as a whole, more sustainable.
ESO: What Green Department Program accomplishment are you most proud of?
Megan: I am proud of the green purchasing policy we put together. This seemed like one of the more daunting tasks and it seemed like it might take a lot of time. But we decided to carve out some time and just sat down and got it done. It is always easy to avoid these tasks and make excuses about not having time. But I realized that all of these changes don’t take much time if you are willing to just sit down and dedicate some time to getting it done.
The end result is having a policy that impacts so many of our decisions and makes those choices more sustainable. Green products are high quality these days so it was pretty easy to make these changes.
ESO: What was the greatest challenge you faced obtaining certification through the Green Department Program?
Megan: Scheduling the busy people in my department to sit down and work on it was the most challenging. Everyone was on board with participating but we all get busy and it can be tricky to find the time to work on additional projects. But it wasn’t that hard once we started.
ESO: What advice would you give to others who are just getting started through the Green Department Program?
Megan: The program offers plenty of resources and you aren’t doing this on your own. The Energy & Sustainability Office is always there and is willing to help you. Even when you get stuck you don’t have to stay that way. Start with what you are comfortable with and go from there. It may seem like a lot of points to achieve at first but it is not as hard as you think.
I would also suggest that teams focus on purchasing because that is where you can make the biggest impact because you have a lot of control over what you purchase. That is where you have the most choice and can make changes faster.
ESO: What sustainability change could people make in their own lives that would be simple but have great impact?
Megan: Consider switching out your household lightbulbs to LEDs. It is super easy and the pay back is great. Also, when it comes to purchasing things for your home, take some time to compare products and notice where things are created and what materials are used. Be more aware of where they came from, what it took to make them, and what is going to happen to them when you are finished with them.
I would also say that when it comes to environmental issues and problems it is important to not get discouraged. Start small. Start with your own neighborhood or department and work your way up. Small changes add up and can have a global impact.
Points are now available through the Green Department Program for hosting green certified events. To get your event certified simply fill out the Green Event Certification Application located on the program website: https://www.weber.edu/sustainability/GreenDept.html
Each green certified event that you host will be awarded points based on the size of the event in the following manner:
- Fewer than 10 people = 1 point
- 11-30 people = 2 points
- 31-50 people = 3 points
- 51-100 people = 4 points
- Over 100 people = 5 points
If you have any questions or need any help making your event go green do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Bodine at firstname.lastname@example.org or x6421.
Congratulations Certified Departments
The Energy & Sustainability Office is also proud to announce that the following departments have recently achieved certification (since October 1, 2017):
- Application Development Services
- Provost’s Office
- Bachelor of Integrated Studies
- New Green Teams
- Writing Center
- Criminal Justice
- Continuing Education
- Women & Gender Studies
- Social Work & Gerontology
Health Administrative Services
Please congratulate your colleagues on their green achievements when you see them and welcome our new green teams!
Get on the Green Team!
If you are interested in getting your office or department involved in the Green Certification Program, please contact Jennifer Bodine at email@example.com or visit http://weber.edu/sustainability/GreenDept.html. The purpose of the Green Department Program is to engage WSU offices and departments in the work of making the entire university more sustainable and carbon neutral. The program is voluntary and competitive. Participating departments assemble a green team and acquire points through sustainable practices. The number of points achieved determines certification at the bronze, silver, gold, or green levels.
Facilities Management is looking for their new Food Security and Sustainability Coordinator. Students may view the full job description and apply for this position here.
This position will be responsible for the following:
- Serve as the President of WSU's Food Recovery Network.
- Serve as the WSU representative for the Utah Food Summit committee.
- Serve on the Union 6 Column Model committee to help implement the post-consumer composting program and provide recycling/tiny trash program education/outreach.
- Assist with Weber Cares Pantry marketing and education. Provide outreach and education to food insecure WSU students regarding other assistance programs such as WIC, SNAP, utility bill assistance, etc.
- Assist with WSU community garden management and work to make fresh produce available through the Weber Cares Pantry.
- Coordinate with Sodexo to help WSU achieve its food/dining Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS) points; work to source more locally, organically, fair trade, humane, etc., food through WSU's dining services.
- Serve as an advocate to reduce/eliminate food waste and promote composting wherever possible.
- Provide WSU campus community education and outreach regarding healthy and sustainable food choices.
- Provide experiences, programs, and speaker events that promote such efforts (i.e. host campus farmers' market).