Welcome to the February WSU Sustainability Newsletter!


Enabling Action at the 2020 Intermountain Sustainability Summit

WSU’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center (SPARC) is hosting the 2020 Intermountain Sustainability Summit on March 19 - 20, 2020, in Ogden, Utah. The Summit is a benchmark event for sustainability professionals, emerging leaders, educators and college students from across Utah and surrounding states. The Summit’s theme is Enabling Action and will focus on energy innovation, transportation, climate action, procurement, green buildings, climate hearty landscapes and community engagement, among other topics. See who is speaking and view the schedule here.  

Thursday, March 19
The event draws hundreds of participants from government, business, nonprofit and academic sectors creating space for making new connections and strengthening your networks. The morning plenaries include Mikhail Davis, from the multi-national company Interface, and Edward Dee of the Navajo Nation. They will co-present Cultural Transformation: The Nexus for Indigenous & Business Perspectives. The afternoon keynote, Hunter Lovins of Natural Capitalism Solutions, is a world-renowned sustainability author whom Newsweek called the Green Business Icon. She will present on her most recent book, A Finer Future: Creating an Economy in Service to Life.

The Eco Expo and Student Poster Contest will be located on the Shepherd Union Mezzanine (3rd floor). Everyone is welcome to come. Vote for your favorite student poster! 

Friday, March 20
Two Summit-affiliated workshops will be hosted and can be registered for separately from the main conference day. Local Landscapes/Gardens & Climate Adaptation will be taught in the morning by representatives from the USDA and other organizations. Increasing Critical Thinking to Understand and Respond to Climate Misinformation will be taught by Dr. John Cook, research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

Scholarships are available for emerging sustainability leaders to connect them with regional and national leaders and to inform them about sustainability trends, resources, careers and jobs. Special registration is available for WSU students, faculty and staff.

Job Openings

Community Garden Coordinator
The Environment and Sustainability Office is hiring a new student Community Garden Coordinator. The position includes operating and maintaining WSU’s community garden, delivering produce to Weber Cares Food Pantry, managing volunteers and assisting with fun sustainability programs, like the annual tree planting. Students in this position will make lasting connections, gain important skills in management and gardening, and improve their community. See the job posting here: https://jobs.weber.edu/postings/10632

Sustainability Practices and Research Center Internship
SPARC will be hiring a new student intern this spring. Look for the job announcement coming soon!

See these and other jobs at https://www.weber.edu/sustainability/internships.html

The Solar Decathlon is Underway!

WSU is a Top 10 Finalist in the 2020 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon collegiate competition to design and build a Net-Zero energy home. Participants design and build complete, functional houses to demonstrate creative solutions for real-world issues in the building industry.  Students from the Department of Construction & Building Sciences make up the senior project team, representing the programs of Building Design & Construction, Interior Design and Construction Management. The team is currently constructing the all-electric home they designed in collaboration with Ogden City at 2807 Quincy Avenue.

Ogden City donated the lot to show their commitment to revitalizing neighborhoods and breathing new life into historic districts. This one has been empty for nearly 10 years since a dilapidated 4-plex was razed. The new house blends with others on the historical avenue as well as demonstrates a net-zero energy lifestyle.

A primary purpose of the project is to make the “True Cost of Ownership” affordable to occupants of Ogden’s east side by eliminating nearly all energy bills.  Estimated annual energy costs will be just over $100, around $9 per month, to be connected to the electrical grid. The house stores excess energy produced, which is put back on the grid for neighbors and the house itself to use when days are overcast or at nighttime. The annual net result of energy export and import is net-zero. The house also showcases technology such as variable refrigerant flow HVAC, air-source heat-pump water heating, and energy recovery ventilation to keep the super-insulated and airtight home continuously sourced with fresh pre-conditioned air.

Teams competing in the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge work during a two-year period to design and build their houses, which culminates with an event in Washington, D.C., summer 2020. Select top-performing teams will also be invited to exhibit at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders Show in 2021.

For more information or pictures of the project under construction, please see our website at www.weber.edu/solardecathlon2020

Geoscience & Society Lecture Series

Learn about the intersections between geoscience and society though a variety of speakers in this special lecture series. Bring a lunch and a friend!

Public lectures: Thursdays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Tracy Hall

Student workshops and discussion to follow.

Feb 20 - Utah's changing energy landscape and fossil fuels
Michael Vanden Berg, Energy & Minerals Program Manager, Utah Geological Survey

Feb 27 - The climate, soil, and geology of wine
Dr. David Wilkins, Boise State University Department of Geology 

Mar 12 - Air quality on the Wasatch Front: Forecasting inversions  
Monica Traphagan, meteorologist, National Weather Service       

Green Spotlight: Jamie Brass, Thank you and Farewell!

The Energy and Sustainability Office says farewell and thank you to Jamie Brass for her leadership in the Green Department Certification Program. For the past year Jamie has helped energize and lead her department, the Counseling and Psychological Center, to Green Certification in the Green Department Certification Program. 

Jamie became interested in the program when a big shift in recycling markets occurred—meaning that much of our daily waste is not recovered and ends up in the landfill. Jamie wanted to reduce her footprint but didn’t know how. With the help of the Green Department program, Jamie and her department implemented a wide range of waste-reduction strategies, including no longer accepting physical copies of counseling referral cards and brochures from off-campus entities. Instead, they ask for digital copies to host on their website. 

When asked about the connections she sees among her field, sustainability and the environment, Jamie points to recent American Psychology Association’s stress rankings, which have found Americans are growing more concerned about climate change. Inversely, being outdoors and connecting with nature reduce both a person’s stress level and environmental footprint.

Regarding challenges and successes Jamie faced with the department’s sustainability goals, she responded that “initially, there was hesitancy around composting and switching to the tiny trash program; however, once we got it down we adapted nicely.” Jamie thought changing to more green policies in the department was going to suffer pushback from other departments, but they felt supported instead.

Overall, Jamie is really proud of what her department is doing and has achieved. She appreciates her department’s open communication and friendly competition towards reaching goals and eventually Green Certification. Her advice for starting out in sustainability: “start with one thing that feels manageable to change,” like choosing to buy one thing in bulk or take a lotion-making class, “then once you get that you can build from there.”

Jamie will be leaving Weber State at the end of February. The Energy and Sustainability Office thanks her for her leadership in sustainability and wishes her well in her new position with Intermountain Health Care.

Dates to Remember!

Sustainability (SUS) Course Attribute Application Deadline for Summer and Fall 2020 courses: March 1, 2020

Faculty Research Awards Deadline: March 1, 2020

April 7, Solve Climate 2030, 5-7 p.m. live webinar hosting and discussion event.  Details to come soon!

February 2020 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Intermountain Sustainability Summit
Thursday-Friday, March 19-20
Shepherd Union

Landscapes, Gardens & Climate Adaptation Workshop
Friday, March 20, 8:00 a.m.-Noon
Shepherd Union, Ballroom C

Understanding and Responding to Climate Misinformation Workshop
Friday, March 20, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Shepherd Union 404

Geoscience & Society Seminar
Thursdays, 1:30-2:20 p.m.
Tracy Hall 217

Sustainable Clubs Meetings
Thursday, February 27 & March 12
3:30-4:40 p.m.
Shepherd Union 331

See our calendar for updates

For more information, contact katherinemeyr@weber.edu