WWU Sustainability Programs

Western Sustainability is engaged in a wide variety of educational experiences for students while engaging our faculty and staff in broad community, national, and global activities. Western has a forty-year history of involvement in sustainability studies and research, under a number of names. Below is an on-going listing of the array of sustainability experiences and programs offered at Western (click the for more info):

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Expand Me Vehicle Research Institute (VRI)
Housed in the College of Science and Technology, Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) strives to offer the best total car design curriculum in the world. The program focus is on complete vehicle design and fabrication with special emphasis on: power plants, including alternative fuels; transmissions; chassis design; and component materials. All courses are laboratory-oriented. The VRI has produced dozens of innovative, fuel-efficient cars that have won international awards and captured the attention of top automobile manufacturers. The VRI offers two Bachelor of Science degrees and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Vehicle Design. Thousands of students have been trained over 35 years by Dr. Michael Seal and now Eric Leonhardt, the present Director of the VRI.

Expand Me Sustainable Design Minor
The Sustainable Design minor program, emphasizing planning and design that promote long-term economic, social, & ecological values & equity, is the result of collaboration among Engineering Technology, Huxley College, and Fairhaven College. The program enables students to gain complementary skills in environmental studies, urban planning, & design in order to pursue sustainable design careers. A multidisciplinary team from the original group of students was awarded one of three national grants of $40,000 from the Industrial Designers Society of American/Proctor and Gamble for their proposed water quality project in Greece.

Expand Me Shannon Point Marine Center
The Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, Washington supports and promotes the academic mission of the Western Washington University through academic programs and related research which offer applied learning opportunities for both undergraduates and Master's students in state of the art field and laboratory investigative techniques. For decades, faculty from the Center have been researching Northwest waters for effects of urban and manufacturing contamination on marine life. Shannon Point's nationally acclaimed mentoring program offers Western undergraduate students, especially minorities, women, and disabled high school students, opportunities for active involvement in ongoing research.

Expand Me Waterfront Innovation Zone (WIZ)
Western's College of Sciences and Technology has joined with the Port of Bellingham, Bellingham Technical College, and private companies under the auspices of the Northwest Consortium for Technological Innovation and Development (NCTID) in development of the WIZ, which will be housed on the industrial waterfront property vacated by Georgia Pacific. The goal is to develop a new 10,000-square-foot facility that will meet community LEED Gold standards and will house Huxley College of the Environment, graduate business programs, and community-related programs from the Woodring College of Education, College of Sciences and Technology, and College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The WIZ is envisioned to be a partnership between the marine industry and the two schools for research and development, where WWU and BTC students can train and work on the challenges of marine sustainability. Concentrating on the marine trades industries, the objective of the Zone project is the sustainable balancing of economic vitality, environmental stewardship and community livability.

Expand Me Campus Sustainability Planning Studio
Huxley College's Campus Planning Studio course (ESTU 471) was designed to engage students in using the campus as a laboratory for actively learning about environmental issues. It began in 1996 as a vital way to engage student support and talent in the University's campus master planning efforts and in the development of the final Institutional Master Plan in 2000. Offered each quarter, the Studio provides an opportunity for student teams to investigate options for steering Western's plan for future development toward a university community that embodies the principles of sustainable development, stewardship of community resources, and the nurturing of an inclusive social and physical environment. These efforts played a key role in the WWU student alternative transportation initiative, the WWU Sustainability Report, and institutional paper conservation practices. Off campus projects include a sustainable landscaping plan and waste reduction plan for St. Joseph's hospital and a sustainable paper purchasing guide for the Bellingham Food Coop.

Expand Me Cascadia Center for Sustainability Education
Premised on the belief that K-12 teachers will be instrumental in helping to bring about the social, political, economic, and environmental conditions necessary to create a positive and just future, the program aims to have all teachers become "sustainability literate" through the creation of the Cascadia Center for Sustainability Education. As a part of Woodring College of Education, the Center will support the professional development of teachers and school administrators in sustainability awareness and practice at all phases of their careers. It will sponsor graduate and licensure courses, professional development workshops, summer institutes, field-based research, and special projects involving such partners as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Environmental Education Association of Washington. An effective and successful first step in the Center's development was Woodring's co-sponsorship of the Sustainability Education Summer Institute, held July, 2009 at Islandwood.

Expand Me Alternative Transportation
The efforts of Western's Alternative Transportation Coordinator and the Parking and Transportation Office in providing critical alternatives to single occupant vehicles has yielded State and national recognition. In 2002, Western was recognized as the State agency/institution with the most effective commute trip reduction program. In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated Western as one of the "Best Workplaces for Commuters" in the country.

Expand Me Student Bus Pass
With the overwhelming passage of the Student Xpress Bus Pass in 2006, every student at the University purchases a bus pass that allows them full access to anywhere the Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) travels, including travel to Mt. Vernon in Skagit County. This student-led effort has brought WTA national recognition as the fastest growing public transit authority in the country. The student leaders, with Associated Student support, researched and designed the program over several quarters through the Huxley Campus Planning Studio. Administrative support was given to the student leaders, and to WTA, through Western's office of Sustainable Transportation.

Expand Me Sustainable Investing
In 2008, the University's Endowment Investment Committee sponsored a forum on "Principles of Sustainable Investing" which brought together Western faculty and administrators with national experts on sustainability and social justice who presented recent research and models. Subsequently, the committee approved a strong sustainable investing policy for the University's portfolio.

Expand Me Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GGI)
Competing the first requirement of the President's Climate Commitment, the GGI provided a snapshot of WWU's FY 2007 emissions from electricity use, natural gas combustion, transportation and other sources. The GGI is being used in formulation of the Climate Action Plan for the University.

Expand Me Climate Action Plan
The OS is currently engaged in conversations with the six Wahington public baccalaureate institutions on a joint "Climate Action Plan" workshop to provide mutual assistance in pursuit of climate neutrality throughout the State. The signing of the American College and University President's Climate Commitment has set WWU on a path toward climate neutrality.

Expand Me Faculty Sustainability Academy
Beginning in Fall 2008 a number of faculty and academic administrators started an initiative to form a faculty academy for sustainability convening periodically to foster sustainability education at WWU, develop an inventory of existing sustainability classes, consolidate WWU's library resources on the topic, host bi-monthly brownbag discussions, and design curriculum proposals for interdisciplinary studies in sustainability. Western faculty and students have made a strong commitment to the academic study and exploration of sustainability, having already created courses and academic programs (including the new Sustainable Design minor) across campus that focus on issues related directly or indirectly to sustainability. The academy is positioned to support communication, matching of complementary interests, research and teaching collaborations, curricular models, and linkages with community efforts and resources. Professor Gene Myers of Huxley developed a list of WWU faculty who has some teaching or scholarly interest in some aspect of sustainability. A faculty-wide survey ascertained that at least 60 faculty members have such professional interests, not counting any faculty at Huxley.

Expand Me Renewable Energy Degree
Huxley College of the Environment and the College of Business and Economics, under the direction of Dean Brad Smith and Dean Brian Burton, are developing a curriculum track that will lead to a major in Renewable Energy. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) recently donated $50,000 to spearhead the development of the program.

Expand Me Food Services
In 2008, Dining Services initiated funding for a student coordinator to identify opportunities for purchasing a larger proportion of foods produced in Whatcom County by coordinating between Western and local food producers.

Expand Me Resident Resource Awareness (ResRAP)
ResRAP was established to promote awareness and leadership in energy and material conservation in campus residence halls through elected sustainability representatives, known as EcoReps. In 2009, the ResRAP coordinator and EcoReps saved the University over $17,000 in electrical energy costs. EcoReps promote sustainable choices to their fellow residents, and create opportunities for positive impacts in their hall and local communities.

Expand Me SEEDS (Social, Ecological, Economic Development Studies)
Under the SEEDS banner, students, staff and faculty come together to work on ground-breaking, progressive, and often visionary projects. Modeled after the successful program at the University of British Columbia, WWU SEEDS coordinates internships or applied research opportunities relating to sustainability. WWU students earn academic credit for their work. Instructors become more fully involved in the community, and staff gain experience supporting sustainability in their area of operation. Since 2007, over ten SEEDS projects have been completed involving many academic programs such as Environmental Education, Marketing, Exercise Science, Computer Science and Electronics Engineering.

Expand Me 10x12 Program
WWU's 10x12 Program is a university-wide effort to reduce utility use across campus and conserve funds through sustainability education, utility monitoring, improved building performance, and monetary incentives. This new investment requires one Departmental Sustainability Program Coordinator, one Graduate Assistant, and communications cost. The 10x12 campaign aims to implement conservation measures to realize a 10% reduction in University-wide utility consumption by the end of 2012.

Expand Me Building Dashboard
Continual feedback on the consumption of energy and material has been identified as key to instilling conservation behaviors through the 10x10 Campaign. Potential solutions to monitoring and reporting technologies for use on campus are under review.

Expand Me WWU Office of Sustainability
The Office of Sustainability (OS) was established in 2006 by Business and Financial Affairs to focus efforts to promote & coordinate with campus sustainability initiatives. The office has been a resource and outlet for organizations, projects, and the ideals of having sustainable practices. The office prepares the Campus Sustainability Report, monitors the Resident Resource Awareness Program (ResRAP), building assessment studies, & other projects. It has provided sustainability consultation to University departments and off-campus clients, and has coordinated a wide array of programs and activities developed on Western's campus, including:
  • Carbon Neutrality-- Reducing and offsetting our carbon emissions;
  • Purchasing and Policy -- Promoting sustainability with green business practices;
  • Energy Efficiency— Increasing energy efficiency and minimizing harmful emissions;
  • Food Services – Waste reduction, pollution management, energy, and water efficiency.
  • Transportation – Trip reduction, alternative modes of travel, fuel-efficiency, alternative fuel vehicles;
  • Waste and Recycling – Decrease waste while increasing proportion of waste diverted from landfills.

Expand Me Alternative Transportation Fee
An overwhelming vote by the student body in favor of the fee, puts a quarterly Viking Xpress Bus Pass in the hands of every student with more than six credits, creates the Western Student Transportation office, & provided for a WWU Late Night Shuttle Service.

Expand Me Woodring College of Education Prioritizes Sustainability Literacy
Sustainability has been identified for education as a priority in long term education planning and fund development in Washington State. Teacher education courses must begin to include sustainability literacy as a learning outcome. To meet these new requirements, Woodring established the University's first college level sustainability committee: Woodring Initiative for Sustainability Education (WISE).

Expand Me International Sustainable Development Studies
Planning Professor Nicholas Zaferatos established a sustainability development studies program on the Greek island of Kefolania. Over a three year period, students were exposed to a real-life planning and development of a sustainable community through research and instruction. The developed plan will serve as a model for future inter-cultural efforts world-wide. The program was accomplished with funding from Huxley and sources from around the world.

Expand Me Energy Resources Scarcity/Peak Oil Task Force
The City Bellingham and Whatcom County formed a community task force in 2008 to address local impacts of uncertain energy supplies. It is charged with examining the energy-related vulnerabilities of local economic, social and environmental infrastructure and recommending strategies to ensure the community's resiliency during declining energy supplies and rising costs. Professor Gigi Berardi of Huxley, and Director of the Energy/Resiliency Institute, and Dr. Hart Hodges, of the College of Business & Economics, and Director of the Economic and Business Research Center were selected as members.

Expand Me Lincoln Creek Restoration Project
Students from Huxley participated in the technical research and design for the restoration of Lincoln Creek on University property at the Lincoln Creek Transportation Center. The design for the restoration project won the Gold Award in 2008 for Social, Economic, and Sustainable Design sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Contractors of Washington.

Expand Me Canyon Lake Creek Community Forest
In partnership with BP Cherry Point Refinery, the Whatcom Land Trust, the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation, and Western, 2,300 acres of ancient trees, including 600 acres of old growth, have been set aside in a managed. Many corporate gifts, including those from Recreational Equipment, Inc., ConocoPhillips, and Alcoa Primary Metals, have been garnered to afford students and faculty the use of the forest for research, while creating recreation opportunities for the general public.

Expand Me Cloud Mountain Farm
In partnership with Huxley College of the Environment, faculty, student researchers, and farmers are learning how to manage the impact of urban sprawl on small farmers through sustainable agriculture. Several farms in Whatcom County have demonstrated how Western can impact a critical industry in a positive way.

Expand Me Sustainable Connections
Sustainable Connections is a network of community-focused businesses, farms, organizations, and individuals committed to sustainable business practices, local purchasing, and economic and cultural diversity. Western is a charter member of the group, and provides educational and professional support for many of its initiatives.

Expand Me Western Reads
Western Reads is a campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement, community, and conversation at Western Washington University. It is sponsored jointly by The Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs.

Expand Me Sustainability Internship Program
WWU Sustainability Internship Program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Sustainability and the Sustainability Institute Initiative to pair Western students with partners in the Bellingham and regional community looking to adopt sustainable practices. Business, governmental and non-profit organizations are being asked to "green up" their mission and practices by their consumers, employees and board members. Through the proposed WWU Sustainability Internship Program, off-campus partners will benefit from student efforts, students will gain valuable skills and credit for their work, faculty will become more fully involved in their community and the University will further develop its strategic goal of sustainability.

Expand Me Summer Institute
Teaching for a Positive Future. Practical strategies and resources for integrating sustainability concepts into K-12 curriculum, school operations, and teacher preparation programs.

Expand Me Green Energy
Led by students enrolled in an entrepreneurial management course in the College of Business and Economics, in 2004 Western students took a leadership role in the Green Energy movement with the passage of the Green Energy Initiative. Beginning in 2005, Western has been obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources; Western is now ranked 12th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the nation's top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Expand Me Woodring Initiative for Sustainability Education (WISE)
A branch of Woodring College of Education, WISE will support the professional development in sustainability of teachers and school administrators at all phases of their careers. It will sponsor graduate and licensure courses, professional development workshops, summer institutes, field-based research and special projects. and will include as partners the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Environmental Education Association of Washington.

Expand Me Bellingham Innovation Zone
The Institute will partner with the Port of Bellingham, the Bellingham Technical College, and private companies under the auspices of the Northwest Consortium for Technological Innovation and Development (NCTID) to carry out research and development projects in partnership with regional technology-driven industries. The sustainable nature of this enterprise is the balancing of economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and community livability, concentrating on the Marine Trades industries. It will be housed in a 10000 sq. ft. facility at the Bellingham waterfront.

Expand Me Northwest Education Sustainability Consortium
Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College, and the Northwest Indian College have formed the Consortium for collaboration and partnership in promoting sustainability on campuses and in the community of Whatcom County and in the northwest region of the State through four over-arching goals:
  1. Facilitating communication and dissemination of knowledge and information among the various campus communities;
  2. Develop a working understanding of sustainability among the diverse Consortium communities;
  3. Promote partnerships for advancing sustainability among the broader Consortium communities; and
  4. Increase capacity for the practice of sustainability on Consortium campuses and communities, by building skills, transforming attitudes, and sharing resources.

Expand Me Green Energy Fee
A grant program dedicated to funding innovative student-driven projects focused on creating a sustainable Western.

Expand Me Urban Transitions Studio
Urban Transitions Studio is a collaborative partnership between Western Washington University, Bellingham's Office of Planning and Community Development, Whatcom Transit Authority, and Sustainable Connections.

Beginning in 2010, the Western's Planning Studio class participated in a coordinated service learning curriculum that partnered several WWU classes with the City of Bellingham, Sustainable Connections, and other community and institutional partners in order to develop new urbanism planning concepts to help transition Bellingham into a more urban and sustainable community. Planning Studio is the first in the series of coordinated class investigations that emphasizes the preparation of the plan/design concept. Other classes participating in the Urban Transitions Studio program include: Planning Studio II (Implementation), Sustainable Design Studio, and Environmental Impact Assessment. Each of the participating classes further build upon the concepts developed in planning studio. The program is intended to expand student learning by concentrating planning studies over the course of an entire year and incorporating multiple dimensions of the planning process that aims to effect change towards sustainable community development.

Expand Me Associated Students Environmental and Sustainability Programs (AS ESP)
The ESP is the heartbeat of the student environmental community on Western's campus. The Environmental Center, the Outback farm, and the Alternative Transportation Coordinator are the student-led hubs that make up the ESP. All these positions are committed to serving students by helping them grow their passions and discover what sustainability looks like in their own lives. Our united purpose is first and foremost to create and continue a steady flow of collaboration and dialogue around environmental issues.

Get involved by visiting the AS Environmental Center in Viking Union 424 or email as.esp@wwu.edu. We look forward to meeting you!