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Below are sustainability-related news items throughout the Western Washington University and Bellingham-area. These items correspond to Energy & Climate.

Students talk about the future of sustainability at Western

April 22, 2016 |
The Western Front
Western students gave feedback on the university’s sustainability at an event on Wednesday, April 20. Mitchell Thomashow, author of “The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus”, spoke in Wilson Library’s Reading Room about sustainability on college campuses. “You have a lot to celebrate. So the point is, how can you do even better at what you do well now? That’s what the challenge is,” Thomashow said. Western’s Office of Sustainability displayed the ten chapters of their sustainability action plan around the room. After the presentation, students placed multicolored dots indicating approval or disapproval on sections of the draft and filled out comment cards. A “what’s missing” board was left open for general comments. Junior Stephanie Cheng attended the event. “I think by not divesting from fossil fuels, they’re not upholding [their pledge],” Cheng said. “Western does talk a lot and prides itself on sustainability and how we talk about the environment, but without action behind it, Western’s not living up to our core values.” In 2013, 86 percent of students voted for divestment, Cheng said. “This is still a big problem.” Thomashow discussed challenges to sustainability, including what he called the planetary emergency. He broke this concept down into an imminent extinction, dramatic declines in biodiversity, changing climatic circulation and “biogeochemical imbalances” – or disturbances in the carbon cycle.

On a smaller scale, Thomashow described the challenge of student attitudes. “The best sustainability initiatives are those that are integrated campuswide, so that you don’t even need a sustainability coordinator, but everyone understands the value of moving forward,” Thomashow said. Junior and environmental policy major Sarah Voth said she agreed. “There’s still a lot of people here who just don’t care enough. Once everyone gets on board, it’s really easy to move forward.” Voth works in the dining hall and explained all food waste goes to compost. She said other improvements still need to be made. Voth said classes should go more digital to avoid having to print so much. Junior and environmental science major Devon Kaufman said other schools in the Northwest like The Evergreen State College use food grown on campus for their cafeterias. “So why isn’t Western doing that, if they have a farm here? I think that would be an awesome thing to do,” Kaufman said. Kaufman said produce from Western’s Outback Farm is less accessible to students. Junior and Fairhaven student Aleyda Cervantes, also attended the event. She said including students of color in the sustainability movement is an important priority. She also said student voices are generally not being heard. Even with rallies and meetings about sustainability, Cervantes said she still feels like students are not given the power to make changes at the university. Students of color face layers of oppression and sustainability often can’t come first, she said. On the same theme, Thomashow said student voices are vital to the movement. “Students can play a very important institutional role in ensuring that the value of sustainability permeates the entire campus culture. And the best way they can do it is by providing living examples of how you get it done,” Thomashow said.

Swapping clothes for sustainability

March 5, 2016 |
The Western Front
Instead of throwing away pants that will never be wore again, or holding on to a shirt sitting in the closet, Western students decided to donate their old clothes in exchange for others. Created by eight Western students, the Western Clothing Swap allowed students and Bellingham residents alike to browse through a unique collection of apparel, all brought in by participants of the event. Held March 1 in the Viking Union, the swap welcomed those coming in with boxes full of outfits, as well as people with only a single article of clothing. No one left empty-handed. The students — Holly Knutson, Molly Johnson, Edwin Smith, Hyelim Won, Jake Regge, Jessica Martin, Amanuel Mamo and Amy Yasutake — worked together to create the event as part of an environmental studies course, according to the Facebook event. They designed it as their final project for the class, deciding it would be a good way for students to exchange clothes they might not personally like, but somebody else would, Knutson said. “We wanted to do an event where the community can get involved,” Johnson said.

Knutson said she remembers getting hand-me-downs from her parents and always wanted to turn the concept into a larger project. She was inspired by the creative recycling techniques of Ragfinery, a local Bellingham business that sells fabrics and other sewing materials recovered from unwanted clothing. She had taken a class there that taught her how to make baskets out of string from old carpets. Clothes with holes or stains were donated to Ragfinery. One of the goals of the clothing swap was to apply sustainability by reducing consumerism, according to the event page. “There always seems to be some sort of [talk] about child labor, what are people using, how are they paying the people making this stuff. I think everyone really wants to purchase things that are made in the U.S.,” said Kim Masser, who attended the swap. Masser works in the Underground Coffeehouse and won the 2015 Sustainability Award in Community Partnership for her work in the Soap for Hope program, which collects laundry soap and personal care items. The items are donated to non-profit organization, according to the Western Sustainability page.

Western’s sustainability organizations come together for Bellingham conference

Feb. 11, 2016 |
The Western Front
Western is home to several environmental and conservation-based clubs and organizations. Many of them have similar goals, like slowing climate change, reducing human impact on ecosystems or advocating for environmental justice. But it is rare that those groups come together to focus their collective efforts on one project. The Local Impact 2016 conference will provide an opportunity for students working on environmental issues to coordinate with each other. It will also feature speeches from professionals working on environmental projects ranging from water management to food to solar energy. It is set to take place on campus and at venues around Bellingham from Feb. 26-27. As the marketing manager for the the conference, Hannah Bouscher would like to open different channels of communication, break down barriers and be able to spark students to make changes in their community. “Our mission is to empower the next generation of student innovators and entrepreneurs who want to make change in the world, and so that’s what students will leave with,” Bouscher said.

Senior Julianna Fischer is an environmental policy major and said it would be a missed opportunity if she didn’t attend. Participants will have opportunities to network with the professional speakers and other participants throughout the conference. The conference starts with a networking dinner at Kombucha Town. The second day of the conference will start with a networking breakfast and ends with a happy hour at multiple locations, including Aslan Brewing Company. The idea for the conference began to develop in November 2015, Bouscher said. Ten students from Western attended the national Net Impact conference in Seattle, said conference coordinator Callum Dickerson. Bouscher and Katie Thompson, Western’s Net Impact club leader and conference coordinator, decided to do a smaller scale conference at Western, Bouscher said. The event is geared toward encouraging student-led environmental changes around Western but also beyond campus. Dickerson said they are trying to bring new ideas on how to improve the community to the Bellingham area. “We want students there but we also would really want the community there,” he said. The conference will have four main themes: energy and environment, climate and social justice, engineering and design, and social entrepreneurship and marketing.

Program to conserve energy, save money

Oct. 15, 2015 |
The Western Front
A new student-led project to promote sustainable-energy use will be testing the waters on Western’s campus this fall. Funded by the Sustainable Action Fund grant, which all Western students’ tuition pays into, Project RENT aims to educate off-campus students about how to conserve energy in their homes and reduce their monthly energy bills. Project RENT, which stands for Reducing ENergy with Tenants, was founded by graduate student Stefanie Neale, 23, and fifth-year senior Joey Cilinceon, 22. Both are studying fields related to energy and sustainability. Cilinceon and Neale were Eco Reps in Buchanan Towers when they were freshmen at Western, Cilinceon said.

"We notice there [wasn’t similar energy programs] for off campus,” Neale said. “We wanted to have a program that reached out to these students who are now transitioning into their own homes, where they are actually paying energy bills.” Assistant professor Thomas Webler of Western’s environmental studies department and junior Kate Thompson are also project coordinators. Project RENT is a pilot program. The success of the project, over the course of this this fall, will determine whether it becomes a permanent program or not, Neale said. The project’s goal is to get a minimum of 200 households involved by the end of the quarter, Neale said..

Concert Hall plans to go green to cut costs

Oct. 4, 2015 |
The Western Front
Students, musicians and community members use the Concert Hall in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) on a daily basis. As a result, its lights stay on for most of the day, giving off large amounts of heat while continuously using energy. A few Western students are trying to change that, however.

The current lighting system, which uses incandescent lighting, will be replaced with LED lights by the end of Feb. 2016. If the grant the project received through the Sustainable Action Fund (SAF) will cover it, there is potential for the new lights to have color mixing technology, Fred Ramage, the operations manager for performance facilities, said.

Researchers cautious about slow sea star recovery on North Olympic Peninsula while hundreds of new juveniles crop up elsewhere

May 28, 2015 |
Peninsula Daily News
The North Olympic Peninsula's remaining sea stars may be holding their own, but there is no evidence yet of a remarkable recovery of young sea stars seen elsewhere along the Pacific coast, researchers say. With nearly all of the mature sea stars dead and gone, rarely seen juvenile sea stars — popularly known as starfish — have been seen emerging by the hundreds at locations previously devastated by a malady known as sea star wasting syndrome during the past 18 months. Two surveys near Everett found a total of about 600 juvenile ochre stars — one of the hardest-hit species. Five other Puget Sound surveys found hundreds more.

However, sea star colonies on rocky outcroppings along North Olympic Peninsula shorelines not are part of that good news, researchers in Clallam and Jefferson counties say. Staff and volunteers at the Feiro Marine Life Center in Port Angeles and Port Townsend Marine Science Center have spent many hours since late 2013 tracking the progress of sea star wasting syndrome in their respective areas. Feiro researchers found that the disease, believed to be caused by a densovirus, has obliterated 98 percent of sea stars in the Freshwater Bay area west of Port Angeles. Port Townsend observers are making another survey Monday after pessimistic winter sightings that suggested the pathogen's presence. The disease causes sea stars to “melt” into a white goo.


May 26, 2015 |
AS Review
If you’ve taken any Environmental Science classes at Western, you may have participated in a LEAD work party outing. “It’s an active way to make change through work parties by removing invasive species, planting and mulching,” LEAD Assistant Coordinator Luke Gillespie said. LEAD stands for learning, environment, action and discovery. The campus-based organization focuses on environmental conservation and restoration in Bellingham, which up until now, predominantly was through work party groups made up of student volunteers. “About 6,000 of our 10,000 volunteers come from Environmental Science classes,” said LEAD Coordinator Wendelin Dunlap. Dunlap however, is working to make the organization a destination for students of all kinds.

“We realize that just because students aren’t involved in Huxley, doesn’t mean they aren’t environmentally conscious or interested,” she said. She is doing this by working hard to develop the LEAD Associated Students club, which, although carries the LEAD name, functions in a much more collaborative and open-ended level than the experience students get participating in class-credit work parties. “The great thing is members are from all different majors,” Dunlap said. There’s so much you can gain from different perspectives,” she said. Unlike the work parties, the LEAD club experience offers students much more input on what they would like to discuss, learn about, and focus on in regards to environmental learning and action. “We are hoping that students will bring ideas that they would like to take on, and as a club, we can organize how to make those ideas come to fruition,” said Gillespie.

Western Washington University professor completes study of mercury contamination in South River

May 26, 2015 |
Augusta Free Press
The South River flows along the western foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, coiling its way across bucolic rolling farmlands and through small towns, marching north to join first the Shenandoah and then the Potomac before eventually emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. With its load of fresh water drained from lush mountain valleys with names like Cool Spring Hollow and Gum Springs, the South River carries with it a toxic tide: mercury, dumped into the watershed for more than 20 years from the DuPont Chemical Co.’s Rayon plant in Waynesboro.

For the past five years, Wayne Landis, director of Western Washington University’s Institute of Environmental Toxicology and professor of environmental sciences, has worked to understand how the mercury in the South River affects humans as well as the fish and animals that live in and along it. Assisting him has been a corps of graduate students, each adding their research to the work of a team consisting of state and federal environmental agencies; the Army Corps of Engineers; environmental nonprofits such as Save Our Streams and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; DuPont; and other academic institutions such as Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and the University of Delaware. Tasked with providing the funding needed for research and remediation of the South River, DuPont contacted Landis to work on an environmental assessment of the river as well as to put together a framework strategy for how the river could be most safely used for fishing, boating and recreation.

Living green: Project with WWU professor looks underground for Alaska energy

May 26, 2015 |
The Bellingham Herald
The possible answer to the energy needs of a small town on a small island in Alaska lies just below their feet. Akutan sits in Alaska’s remote Aleutian chain and is home to Mount Akutan, a 4,275-foot volcano that erupted as recently as 1992. With that fresh volcanic activity, there’s plenty of hot water below ground that could be used to generate electricity for the town’s 100 year-round residents and for Trident Seafood’s production plant, the largest such plant in North America, with up to 1,400 employees during peak season.

For power now, more than 4 million gallons of diesel fuel are shipped to the island every year, at a cost of $14 million. Pete Stelling, assistant professor of geology at Western Washington University, is working to make Akutan much less dependent on the fuel by tapping the island’s renewable geothermal energy. “While we can’t entirely eliminate fuel imports to the island, we can reduce the amounts,” he says. The island setting is familiar turf for Stelling. The Boulder, Colo., native studied igneous rocks and volcanoes for his doctorate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As part of his graduate work, he helped create a geologic map for Akutan.

Tucker to lead tours of Point Whitehorn Beach June 6

May 22, 2015 |
Western Today
Dave Tucker, a former research associate in the geology department at Western Washington University, will lead guided tours along Point Whitehorn Beach at Cherry Point June 6, telling the landscape backstory of moving glaciers and changing sea levels, including the important ecological role of formations like the area’s feeder bluffs. The tours, at 1 and 3 p.m., are part of a special "What's the Point?" event being put on by Whatcom Land Trust and the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, at Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.

A negative tide will allow for intertidal zone exploration in an extraordinary stretch of shoreline teeming with wildlife. In addition to Tucker's tours, naturalists with North Cascades Audubon Society, Koma Kulshan Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society and more will be stationed along the wooded wetland trail. Marine life specialists will be on the beach providing information about plants and animals in the reserve’s intertidal zone. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn from professional marine biologist Michael Kyte, who has observed and documented beach and marine conditions along the Cherry Point shoreline for over 30 years.

Story of German renewable energy on display starting April 20

April 17, 2015 |
Western Today
Academic West at Western Washington University will be a hub for learning about the progress Germany has made with renewable energy beginning on April 20, 2015. “RENEWABLES: Made in Germany” is a 26-poster display detailing the innovative renewable energy practices Germany has used over the past decade. The WWU Institute for Energy Studies will be hosting the display in Academic West beginning on April 20, 2015 until May 7, 2015. An opening reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. April 24.

The full-color posters are on loan from the Consulate General of Germany. Information on solar, hydro, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and renewable energy in buildings and remote areas will be on the displays. Faculty from the Institute for Energy Studies will be at the opening reception to discuss modern renewable energy technologies, and explain the new courses and degrees in energy that will be coming to Western next fall. The Institute now offers a Bachelors in Arts in Energy Policy and Management, minors in Energy Science and Energy Policy, and an energy concentration in electrical engineering.

Western students to present solar window in D.C.

April 9, 2015 |
Western Today
Windows that collect solar energy? It's possible, and a team of Western Washington University students have built a prototype to prove it. They'll travel to Washington, D.C., this weekend to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s “P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability.” At the conference, the team will present a smart solar window based upon a recent series of advances in luminescent solar concentrator technology at Western and the University of Washington. The interdisciplinary team of eight students includes one student from the University of Washington. The students' to date have been supported by a $15,000 grant from the EPA, and depending on how the competition goes, as much as $75,000 could be awarded in additional funding to help the students turn their design into a real-world application and potentially move it into the marketplace.

The luminescent solar concentrator consists of a thin, polymer film containing luminescent quantum dots that can be applied to a glass window pane, allowing it to collect ultraviolet light and concentrate it at the edges of the window. Thin strips of photovoltaic cells attached at the edges convert the concentrated sunlight into electricity. The window appears transparent, but instead of reflecting UV light, it harvests it to generate power. This power is used to run sensors and actuators which intelligently open and close the window, synergistically providing cooling and airflow in wireless coordination with the building’s HVAC system

Pedaling for a purpose

April 6, 2015 |
The Western Front
The second floor of the Wade King Student Recreation Center is a place that’s all about expending energy. But Sean Petersmark, junior and business and sustainability major, recognized the cardio area also has massive potential for energy generation. This spring, Petersmark and two other classmates are competing for the $300,000 set aside each year to fund sustainability projects on campus through Western’s Sustainable Action Fund. This would be enough to fund new cardio machines capable of producing enough energy to sustain themselves. “I looked around [the rec center] and saw that it was a lot of people working out on all of these machines and it’s cardio heaven up there,” Petersmark said. “I just thought to myself, ‘that’s a lot of energy being used and a lot of kinetic energy not being harnessed.’”

Petersmark, along with sophomore Kate Thompson and senior Drew Swisher, now have a power-generating elliptical machine on loan from Bellingham Fitness Gear and Training that students are free to try in the rec center. The monitors of the Technogym brand machines Petersmark and his teammates rented display the power someone generates in terms of how many electrical appliances their workout could have powered. For example, the number of watts produced as someone exercises would be measured in number of lightbulbs that could be illuminated. The team is pushing for four new bikes if they receive the grant: two standard bikes and two reclining bikes.

Low snowpack means hot water for Spring Chinook salmon

March 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
The lack of snowpack will cause trouble for Whatcom County salmon this summer. With less snowmelt, the south fork of the Nooksack River will be much more shallow, meaning higher than average water temperatures in the late summer. “It’s bad news for salmon,” said James Helfield, professor of environmental science. This is because salmon are cold-water fish. When water temperatures climb above 63.6 degrees Fahrenheit, it negatively affects the salmon’s metabolism. The warmer water also doesn’t allow for as much oxygen to dissolve. This causes a problem called hyperoxia in the salmon, Helfield said. The combination of stress on salmon’s metabolism and lower oxygen levels weaken the salmon’s immune system, making them more susceptible to parasites and diseases, he said.

“The projection is for continuing winters of lower snowpack in the Cascades and Olympics,” Dr. David Beatty of the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association said in an email. “The snowpack effect can coincide with ocean changes affecting temperature, currents, upwelling effects on food supply,” Beatty said. “There will be effects on all freshwater life stages of salmon.” One or two mild winters is just weather, but more than that means a steady pattern of more mild winters in the Northwest, he said. “We are already planning for some pretty dismal conditions this summer,” said Tom Chance, a hatchery biologist at Lummi Natural Resources. “We’ll have to adapt to the conditions. We are considering trapping adult Chinook lower in the river since they may not be able to come all the way upstream.” The fish would be collected lower and then brought to the Skookum Creek Fish Hatchery, where the milt and eggs would be used to start the next generation of Spring Chinook, Chance said.

Communal living minimizes carbon footprint

March 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Nestled in the fields of rural Missouri, the entire Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage uses only 10 percent of the resources used by an average American. The 280-acre planned residential community produces its own solar and wind power needed to run and rent is $200 a month, according to the Dancing Rabbit website. Its 62 members eat food either grown directly on site or purchased from local, organic co-ops. Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig, executive director of Dancing Rabbit Inc., is coming to Bellingham to show how fewer resources doesn’t mean living anything short of a 100 percent life. Ludwig will be sharing her experience of sustainable living within the Missouri-based Dancing Rabbit intentional community as a part of a larger national tour 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, at Explorations Academy at 1701 Ellis St.

Her talk will focus around three main topics: How the Dancing Rabbit operates sustainably, the importance of cooperative culture and the urgency of climate change. Ludwig’s father was an ecologist, so she has always had a heightened environmental awareness. She was teaching composting classes and advocating for climate change when she was 20 years old, and thus began her journey into living more sustainably, she said. “When I visited some friends living in an intentional community, I saw that people living there actually found a way to embody the values I was talking about and advocating for,” she said. Since then, she has lived in seven different intentional communities and has been an environmental educator game for the past 25 years. The Dancing Rabbit has been her home for the past eight years, which she calls a “special sweet spot” between reality and idealism.

Graduating students may sign sustainability pledge

March 5, 2015 |
Western Today
Western Washington University seniors once again have an opportunity to sign the Sustainability Graduation Pledge while picking up their caps and gowns March 19 in Viking Union Multipurpose Room. By signing this voluntary pledge and pushing themselves toward a responsible future, graduating students will receive a pledge card for their wallet, a green ribbon to wear on their cap or gown and optional recognition on the Office of Sustainability website. Pledge passage: "I pledge to use the knowledge and experience I gain at WWU and beyond to actively work towards a more socially and environmentally responsible world. I pledge to consider intergenerational equity, minimization of consumerism and the preservation of the biotic community within my future endeavors. I will bring integrity, stewardship, and social justice into any organization of which I work or affiliate."

This is a third time Western has given the opportunity to sign the pledge, following the examples of many school across America and beyond. Last year’s event turned out to be a grand success; more than 200 graduates have already signed the pledge. The Office of Sustainability continues to provide a paper-less version of the pledge, which can be signed via iPads provided at the event. Online signup also is available. For more info contact Masha Szaro at Office of Sustainability at 360-650-4575 or

Four students win NOAA scholarships

March 2, 2015 |
The Western Front
Four Western students were awarded $22,500 from both academic aid and paid internships at top scientific research facilities for 2015. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) awards the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program annually to approximately 100 students from all over the country. “I was on the bus when I got the email,” Daniel Woodrich, one of the winners, said. He found out in April. “I saw the first line that said ‘we are excited to inform you’ and I just started grinning like an idiot,” he said. Woodrich is a junior studying biology with a marine emphasis. This summer he will complete a paid internship at the Northeastern Fisheries Science Center in Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts. He will be working on the development of a device that acoustically tracks whales. The device will be used to track the North Atlantic Right Whale, which is one of the most endangered whales in the world, with only about 400 remaining. “Specifically what I’ll be doing is evaluating the validity of the detector,” he said. Woodrich will be helping with the development of an automator for these devices in order to gather data more quickly, he said. One thing Woodrich can do with his studies is be able to tell where certain whale species are and what they’re doing, he said. “Doing marine mammal work is a dream for a lot of people,” Woodrich said. “It feels really good, it feels like I’m really doing something.”

Woodrich knew he wanted to study marine biology after he attended Western’s Marine Science Scholar program at Shannon Point Marine Center. The program is for out-of-state students, and is a two-week immersive program that students enroll in the September before the start of their freshman year. Another winner was Timothy Anderson, a junior studying Environmental Science and a minor in math. Anderson will also be interning at the Wood’s Hole facility, but he will help in building and deploying satellite-tracked drifters that will follow planktonic particles and pollutants. “I’m really interested in how math can apply to environmental science,” said Anderson. The particles that Anderson will track with these drifters will help define current patterns. “I just want to get my feet wet in any way I can,” he said. Anderson credited much of the success in his application to the help of Western’s Fellowships Office, and particularly Tom Moore, a professor in the Honors department. “I can’t emphasize how lucky I am, especially in regard to getting this scholarship, and that this college has this fellowship professor,” Anderson said. The Fellowships Office provides advice and direction when applying for scholarships, and is open to any student at Western.

Excess phosphorous, algae blooms hamper water cleanup process

March 2, 2015 |
The Western Front
Pending approval, Lake Whatcom could see extensive cleanup efforts during the next five years that would cost $45.7 million. Since 1998, Lake Whatcom was listed as an impaired body of water by the Washington State Department of Ecology. In a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Lake Whatcom Policy Group confronted the pollution by sharing a new proposal to clean up the lake. The lake’s impaired status is measured by a variety of target categories. Lake Whatcom was specifically labeled impaired for its deficiency in dissolved oxygen because of phosphorus runoff, causing problems for the water supply system and recreational users of the lake, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. Lake Whatcom is the source of drinking water for nearly all of Bellingham and at least half the county. Around 100,000 residents depend on it, according to the Lake Whatcom Management Work Plan.

Many drinking water sources do not allow any recreation in, on, or around them, Bellingham Stormwater Manager Bill Reilly said. Lake Whatcom is an exception and allows recreation. “There is a cost that’s paid for Lake Whatcom to be a recreational facility,” Reilly said. “It is unlike any other reservoir that’s used for water consumption in the state to have as much use as we do around it, but it’s historical.” The lake cannot be completely closed to public activity. Because the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns the land under the lake, they determine the recreational activity the lake can be used for, Associate Director and Toxicologist at Huxley College April Markiewicz said. “Lake Whatcom has been designated as open to public access…so it cannot be closed to recreational activities, according to DNR,” Markiewicz said. At Wednesday’s meeting, a ten-part plan was presented. The policy board and the public were allowed to give comment.

WWU Geologist Pete Stelling Researching Geothermal Power Sources in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands

February 25, 2015 |
Western Today
Akutan, a small island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, needs 4.2 million gallons of diesel fuel a year to keep the lights on and the houses warm for its fewer than 400 year-round inhabitants, at a high cost both literally and in terms of environmental damage. Western Washington University assistant professor of Geology Pete Stelling is researching how to turn the island’s volcanic core into a geothermal power source that could not only cut the needed amount of imported fuel into a fraction of its current level but transform the quality of life for its inhabitants. Central to the landscape of the island is the 4,275-foot volcano, Mount Akutan, which last erupted in 1992. Beneath its surface, pockets of water are being superheated by the volcano’s magma; utilizing this superheated water and its steam to generate electricity could free the island from its need to import so much fuel, said Stelling.

“The majority of electrical generation today surrounds boiling water and using the steam to drive a turbine, which spins a generator and makes electricity. The fuel – coal, oil, or natural gas, for instance – is used to boil that water,” he said. “Geothermal sources skip the need for a fuel and go to the superheated water right at its source to make the electricity, and this could happen at places like Akutan to make them far more energy independent.” The perfect geothermal source, according to Stelling, occurs when the superheated water, over time, dissolves the surrounding rock and turns it into clay that acts as a cap, keeping the water and steam from escaping or losing pressure. Iceland, for example, is rife with these types of sources, one reason why the island nation is 80 percent powered by geothermal energy.

Yu's poetry translations offer environmental insight

February 24, 2015 |
Western Today
How did poets from centuries ago see their environment? And, more importantly, what did they think about the interactions between people and the earth? Western Washington University Professor of English Ning Yu sought to answer those questions in his new book, “Borrowed from the Great Lump of the Earth: An American Ecocritic’s Translation of Tang Poems,” published by Shanghai Press of the Classics. The book is a compilation of translated Tang poems with environmental themes. Tang poetry was written in China during the Tang Dynasty, often referred to as the “Golden Age of Chinese Poetry.” Because of poetry’s importance in Chinese social life, there are thousands of Tang poems.

In doing his research for his new book, Yu read 45,000 new Tang poems in addition to the 20,000 pre-Tang poems he had previously read. “I read my eyes out in order to understand them in this holistic view,” he said. The unique title, Yu said, was borrowed from one of the famous poets of the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai. According to Yu, the title illustrates how Li Bai understood the earth as the ultimate source of literary inspiration. “Li Bai did not see the earth as something that could be owned, instead he said that the land loans itself to people,” Yu said. He found it astounding that Li Bai was able to come to this conclusion so long ago, and found it to be the appropriate title for the new book.

Western's bottled water ban explained

February 23, 2015 |
The Western Front
Western implemented the Bottled Water Ban in April 2014 to support local water sources and push back against the privatization of water. A year later, students and sustainability groups on campus hope to extend the ban to include other plastic bottles. “Maybe [Western] is just trying to save the environment,” sophomore Alexy Vetkov said. He didn’t know that Western had stopped selling bottled water, Vetkov said. After learning about the ban, the reasoning behind it confused him, since campus still sells other beverages packaged in plastic bottles. “From what I understand, the point of not selling bottled water is to promote students using reusable bottles rather than buying more plastic,” freshman Michaela Vue said. Vue and Vetkov are not far off in their thinking that the purpose for the ban is to improve the environment, but that is not the whole story. Students for Sustainable Water (SSW) released a statement last year when the ban was implemented. The statement claimed the initiative was to support Lake Whatcom and encouraged people to take a stand against water privatization.

SSW is considering pushing Western to add Gatorade, Powerade and flavored waters under the policy. Soft drinks will not be affected. While the plastic consumption was a factor, the overlying issue was that buying bottled water supports big corporations taking away clean water sources, SSW president Cassidy Eklof said. “Water is a basic human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold,” Eklof said. Water privatization is a growing issue, not just in developing countries, but also in the U.S., she said. Corporations are taking clean water sources and turning a profit on the sale of that water, Eklof said. Before the ban was implemented, bottled water accounted for about 10 percent of beverage sales on campus, according to the SSW statement. Other colleges and universities in the U.S. have promised to banning bottled water, and that losing the sale of bottled water did not make an overall financial impact, according to research done by the SSW.

Computer simulation shows where volcanic ash could go if Mount Baker erupts

February 22, 2015 |
The Bellingham Herald
A computer simulation delves 6,600 years into the past to show where volcanic ash would go if Mount Baker blew today. The simulation is on the website of the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center at Bellingham geologist Dave Tucker, who is an expert on the volcanic history of Mount Baker, is the director of the nonprofit research center. The model helps answer the question: “If Mount Baker erupted right now, what would happen?” Tucker said. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory created the animation to show the distribution and thickness of ash from a Mount Baker eruption.

As for the size of the simulated eruption, it’s based on the largest one from Mount Baker preserved in the geologic record. That data came from Tucker’s research, which included finding ash deposits in the soil from 6,600 years ago. Tucker gives talks about the 10,781-foot volcano’s eruption history and hazards. For him, the simulation is about informing the public about the snow-capped volcano that dominates the Whatcom County skyline. “It serves as a wake-up call to people around here,” he said. “It’s an active volcano and it presents a hazard.” To determine ash distribution, the model uses wind directions and velocities at different altitudes from throughout the region. It is updated three times a day with wind data from the National Weather Service.

Submissions open for sustainability challenge; WWU students were winners last year

February 19, 2015 |
Western Today
Free to enter, the 2015 NW Washington Sustainability Challenge is a regional competition designed to stimulate innovation and provide support for entrepreneurs in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan counties. Students from Western Washington University, who made a strong showing last year, are invited to compete. The top prize in the 2014 student category was claimed by WWU’s team NOVA Technologies, developers of the NOVA Solar Window, which combines the power-producing capabilities of a solar panel with the traditional utility of a window.

The NW Innovation Resource Center has created the competition as a means of cultivating a healthy entrepreneurial and economic environment in our area while supporting the growth of business that contributes to local and global sustainability. Teams will compete for cash awards and business support from the NWIRC. All finalist teams will benefit from a chance to share their ideas (not the secret sauce) with the public and a panel of distinguished judges from the sustainability and investment communities. “I was surprised by parts of the challenge,” said James Kintzele, a WWU student member of last year's winning NOVA Team. “As students, we are always presenting in a large group situation. The more intimate conference room setting with a group of accomplished business leaders was somewhat intimidating at first, but became a valuable business experience.”

WWU marine center lets students plunge into science

February 16, 2015 |
The Bellingham Herald
Joel Swisher, the new director of the Institute for Energy Studies at Western Washington University, stumbled across the institute by chance after his son enrolled at Western. At the time, Swisher, 57, was living in Boulder, Colo., where he was an independent consultant and taught graduate-level courses at Stanford University on greenhouse gas mitigation and electric utility planning methods. The Institute for Energy Studies piqued his interest by virtue of what it offers undergraduate students — an interdisciplinary platform with depth and breadth about the science, policy and technology of energy.

Since assuming his new job in November 2014, Swisher is helping to create a new bachelor of arts degree in energy policy and management for the 2015-16 school year, and a bachelor of science degree in energy science and technology for later. Swisher recalls hiring new graduates with general degrees while he was managing director of research and consulting at Rocky Mountain Institute. “Like many other employers, my question to them related to their skill set; what could they offer me today?” “At the institute we’re trying to give students more of an advantage at the initial stage of their careers,” Swisher says. “With the kind of background we’re offering them, our students will be attractive to nonprofits and private firms in the energy field and environmental space; for example, using technology to make energy use more efficient in buildings, factories and vehicles — a very important resource for improving the economy while conserving the environment.”

WWU marine center lets students plunge into science

February 16, 2015 |
Skagit Valley Herald
ANACORTES — It’s a drizzly, February day, but the spirits of the elementary school students at Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center are bright as they scour the beach for signs of marine life. Some of them find limpets and barnacles, others find crawly creatures with claws that cling to their fingers as they bring them to an instructor for identification. Of course, there are also the birds that need identifying: cormorants and loons that bob in the water.

“We’ve been bringing our organisms to the school,” said Shannon Point Director Erika McPhee-Shaw. “This is the first time they’ve gotten to come tiding.” As they head indoors from the beach, the students, mostly in grades 3-6, put on their “scientist attitudes,” pick up barnacle-covered rocks and get ready to learn. For the past four days, the kids have participated in an early-release enrichment program, one that focuses on marine sciences and STEM enrichment classes for elementary school kids.

TREES: New reforestation program seeks to revive the jungle

February 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Guatemalan environmental activist Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol came to Western to discuss the recycling and clean up work he does through his project, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project. “Trees are sacred to us. From the tree comes oxygen. It offers shade when it’s hot out and it gives us warmth when we are cold,” Pocol said through a translator. “What we have is a respect for nature.” Pocol grew up in Kiche Maya, an indigenous community in Guatemala, he said in his discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 11. The Guatemalan government does not support the reforestation project, and views it and the Kiche Maya community as rebellious because of their activism against the mining projects and privatization of water, Pocol said.

The Chico Mendes Project not only focuses on reforestation and planting trees, but they take a strong stand for recycling, saving the native plants and natural habitats in the area, he said. Professor Shirley Osterhaus coordinated the discussion held in the Fairhaven Auditorium. Osterhaus brings many different guest speakers to talk about contemporary issues for her Fairhaven World Issues class. She invites other Fairhaven and Western students to join the forum. “I hope that people will see that the concern for our planet Earth is global, and people in Guatemala are doing something very concrete,” Osterhaus said. During the discussion, Pocol spoke in Spanish and used translator Max Granger to help communicate his message to the audience.

Students stage oil spill

February 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Students for Renewable Energy (SRE) is hosting a human enactment of an oil spill Friday, Feb. 13 at 11:45 a.m. in Red Square to protest Western’s decision to not remove fossil fuel stocks from their university investment portfolio. This protest is part of Global Divestment Day of Action, senior Galen Herz, a member of SRE, said. People dressed in black will act as a moving flow of “oil” in Red Square for a short time while students are passing through, followed by a march. Students will display signs calling for Western’s divestment from fossil fuel industries, senior and SRE president Marika Weber said. The club has planned for at least 100 participants and handed out fliers inviting anyone on campus to join the event.

Western is not living up to their environmentally-friendly reputation by investing in fossil fuel companies like BP, Exxon, Mobil and Chevron, Herz said. “The purpose of actions like these is to cause a scene, make a statement and be creative about it,” junior Zack Bursell said. “Symbolically, by bringing an ‘oil spill’ to Western, we are bringing the ill effects these investments have to the people who get to make the decision and profit from them,” he said. Western’s investment in fossil fuel companies makes Western compliant with injustice, Bursell said.

Eight new offices receive sustainability certification

February 09, 2015 |
Western Today
Eight new offices at Western Washington University have achieved sustainable office certification from the WWU Office of Sustainability, bringing the total to 25 offices out of 137 university-wide, or 18 percent of all campus administrative, clerical, services and operations offices. Departments recognized at a ceremony Feb. 5 on campus were Public Safety, Map Collection, Tutoring Center, Environmental Sciences, WWU Everett University Center, Biology Stockroom, Human Resources, Huxley College Office of the Dean and Woodring College Office of the Dean.

Ceremony attendees had the opportunity to learn more about Western’s sustainability actions, including energy conservation. Staff from the Sustainable Action Fund, Western’s Energy Management Team, and Western Gallery answered questions about campus energy-conservation projects. Attendees tested Belkin watt-meters and energy-saving switches available to SOC offices and departments and participated in a guided tour of Western’s Steam Plant, a noted regional example of energy-efficient district heating. The Western Gallery lighting system was recently re-fitted to all LED lamps, resulting in annual energy savings of 89 percent.

Oceanography: Erika McPhee-Shaw

January 30, 2015 |
The Oceanography Society
I seem to have a lot of dreams about crashing waves and tumblingrivers, and my favorite college physics courses were those in electromagnetism, so perhaps it was inevitable that I would end up working in the science of waves and Earth’swater systems. One focus of my research has been the physics of internal waves on continental margins and how theymove sediment around on fairly vast scales. Over time, my interests widened to include more general coastal oceanographic dynamics, and my research became more interdisciplinary. My students and I have worked to understand how weather systems, upwelling, downwelling, surface waves, and internal waves all work together to move nutrients, oxygen, sediment, and low-pH water around to affect ecosystems in coastal waters.

In the 2005 “Women in Oceanography” issue, I described having just made the transition from postdoctoral researcher to faculty member. I was learning to juggle teaching, research, and the new demands of motherhood. In the decade since, I have had one more child, guided many amazing MS students successfully through the doors of my research group at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, taught dozens of classes, obtained tenure and made full professor at San Jose State, worked with brilliant colleagues all over the country, and invested a great deal of time in state and national leadership toward stabilizing our integrated ocean observing systems (US IOOS and CeNCOOS). I obtained funding from the National Science Foundation, and had the great satisfaction of working at sea and ashore with a passionate and incredibly skilled set of scientists trying to figure out just what was going on out there on the continental slope and shelf.

Fish mapping helps preservation of wildlife

January 29, 2015 |
The Western Front
Steelhead trout, a local industry and heavily fished animal, are mapped for conservation efforts and population control. Biologists, agencies, tribes and nonprofits with knowledge of current steelhead habitats came together Wednesday, Jan. 28. The goal was to update a statewide steelhead map at the Hood Canal Coordinating Council in Poulsbo, Wash. Tyson Waldo, a fish habitat biologist at Western’s Huxley Spatial Institute, said updating information on where steelhead are found helps to preserve the fish population by providing information on where the fish are dispersed. “I think everybody got what they wanted out of the mapping. We were able to update the map, which is great, and we were able to identify some areas where we can visit for more information,” Waldo said.

There are no specific quantities of fish at this level of surveying, simply an understanding of location, he said. Data was collected and assembled to update an interactive web map that the public can view online. With this updated information, the user can select which species of fish to view and the map shows areas where that fish is found. Susan O’Neil, project manager for Long Live the Kings, a salmon recovery nonprofit, said steelhead are classified as “at risk” and no recovery plan is established yet. A declining steelhead population harms the economy by decreasing the vitality of tribal, commercial and recreational fishing, O’Neil said.

Researchers produce two biofuels from a single algae

January 28, 2015 |
A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study published in the journal Energy & Fuels. The researchers, led by Greg O'Neil of Western Washington University and Chris Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, exploited an unusual and untapped class of chemical compounds in the algae to synthesize two different fuel products, in parallel, a from a single algae. "It's novel," says O'Neil, the study's lead author. "It's far from a cost-competitive product at this stage, but it's an interesting new strategy for making renewable fuel from algae."

Algae contain fatty acids that can be converted into fatty acid methyl esters, or FAMEs, the molecules in biodiesel. For their study, O'Neil, Reddy, and colleagues targeted a specific algal species called Isochrysis for two reasons: First, because growers have already demonstrated they can produce it in large batches to make fish food. Second, because it is among only a handful of algal species around the globe that produce fats called alkenones. These compounds are composed of long chains with 37 to 39 carbon atoms, which the researchers believed held potential as a fuel source.

Playing towards sustainability

January 26, 2015 |
The Western Front
A young Tanzanian girl sits in a concrete classroom crammed full of blue steel desks. In her hands is a clarinet, the sun reflects off its shiny keys as she shifts her hands to form an F note. The sound of music fills the room. Although the African Blackwood, known as Mpingo, used to craft the clarinet is indigenous to Tanzania, it was only weeks ago that the girl had first seen or heard a clarinet. This is the case for the majority of Tanzanians, said Michele Von Haugg, founding director of Clarinets for Conservation.

Clarinets for Conservation is an organization that aims to teach children in Tanzania and the U.S. sustainability through musical education. The organization focuses on the importance of the endangered African Blackwood. On Thursday, Jan. 15, founder Von Haugg and Western alumna Audrey Miller visited Western to perform and raise awareness for their cause. Miller travelled with Von Haugg when they spent the summer of 2013 in Tanzania working alongside each other. Every summer, from May to the end of July, clarinet musicians visit Tanzania to teach students how to play.

Bellingham selected as semifinalist in $5M Georgetown University Energy Prize

January 14, 2015 |
Western Today
The city of Bellingham has advanced to the semifinal round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, which challenges small- to medium-sized towns, cities and counties to rethink their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. Each community has submitted a plan to reduce energy use in homes and city and school district facilities that can be replicated elsewhere in the United States. The community with the best plan that most effectively reduces energy use over the 2015-16 period will be awarded a $5 million prize.

The prize provides a platform for communities to showcase local innovations to a national audience. More than 70 communities participated in the quarterfinalist rounds during 2014, but the field has been winnowed to a group of 50 select cities and counties who will be competing to reduce their energy consumption to make it into the finalist round in 2017. The semifinalist communities hail from 27 states throughout the country. In Washington, Bellingham is joined by Anacortes, Bellevue, Walla Walla and San Juan County. These communities will share information and best practices.

Western brings electric vehicles to campus for testing

January 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Electric vehicles will be test-run on Western’s campus from Jan. 12 to 19 to determine how they can be used across campus to reduce carbon emissions. Facilities Management employees will try out the vehicles and give feedback on whether the vehicles can be used in their daily work. Several kinds of electric vehicles will be tested. Vehicles start arriving on campus Monday, Jan. 12, said Tom Krabbenhoft, program manager of Facilities Management.

Due to the large number of vehicles used on Western’s campus, Facilities Management has been considering alternative-fuel vehicles for years, to help reduce fossil fuel consumption on campus, Krabbenhoft said. “The entire campus is a classroom and everyone who is working and learning here is contributing to the development of others, whether it is directly or indirectly,” Krabbenhoft said in a Facilities Management press release. “We are looking for what types of applications and uses will make sense [and] where we are able to accomplish the job and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint.”

Heritage Resources: partners in teaching, learning

November 26, 2014 |
Western Today
The instruction plan for Western Libraries Heritage Resourcesarticulates the goal of ensuring that Western students “are able to find, understand, and interpret a wide variety of research sources in various contexts throughout their lives.” With that in mind, Heritage Resources staff work closely with instructors to meet specific course needs and learning objectives by providing access to a wealth of materials that can enhance, enrich, and enliven research in nearly any subject area.

For example, this past August, a new cohort of Environmental Education graduate students visited Western’s campus and spent time working with archival and primary source materials at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS). As part of the M.Ed Residency program partnershipbetween the North Cascades Institute (NCI)and Western’s Huxley College of the Environment, these students live at the Environmental Learning Center located in the North Cascades National Park for one year, during which time they are able to immerse themselves in place-based pedagogy.

Sustainability Challenge

NW Washington Sustainability Challenge
NW Innovation Resource Center is sponsoring this competition to foster the development of businesses which provide economic impact while contributing to global sustainability. The Challenge creates opportunities for both students and affiliates of the participating colleges to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas in Northwest Washington. Innovation teams are invited to submit their best ideas for products that will create positive environmental impact and show high potential for commercialization. (Applicants will apply as individual teams – not official representatives of the education institutions.)

The competition is open to both student and affiliated business teams (staff/students/faculty/alumni of a participating school) of no less than 3 members. Student teams must contain at least 3 members enrolled at a participating institution. Business Division teams must contain at least one staff, student, faculty, or alumni member from a participating institution. Students are welcome to compete in the Business Division, provided they meet the requirements. (Please note that the teams will not be representing their college in any official capacity.) All team members must reside in or attend school in Snohomish, Skagit, or Whatcom County.

Transformer removal ends decade-long utility upgrade project

November 17, 2014 |
Western Today
A little known but vital piece of Western Washington University's history was removed from campus this past week. The antiquated 4,160-volt transformer at the Steam Plant, once the single power feed from Puget Sound Energy for the entire campus, was lifted by crane and transported to Oregon to be safely disposed of. The beast was manufactured in 1975, weighed nearly 40,000 pounds, contained 1,700 gallons of oil and produced 7,500,000 volt/amps.

Under the North Campus Utility Upgrades project, the existing, more-efficient 12,470-volt system was extended to feed the north end of campus. The effort to replace the old campus distribution system with the new one has taken more than a decade to complete. The removal of the old transformer finishes up the Electrical Utility Campus Master Plan. With the old system, a single failure would disconnect power from the entire north end. The new looped feed configuration allows Western to isolate single buildings to minimize total impact in the event of failure. The last of the buildings on campus to be operating on the 4,160-volt system (Old Main, Edens Hall, Edens North, Higginson, Nash Hall and Mathes Hall) are now hooked up to the new system.

Western environmental groups celebrate sustainability at expo

November 13, 2014 |
The Western Front
Carbon-lite bikes, foraging and recycling clothes were among the four pillars of sustainability discussed at Western’s Sustainability Expo on Thursday, Nov. 13. The expo was put on by Western’s Office of Sustainability, the Green Energy Fee Grant Program and the Environmental and Sustainability Programs with the theme, “the earth is a shared environment.”

“We want to get people engaged in a kind of non-traditional sense with sustainability,” said Victoria Monreal, a Western alumna who helped organize the event. “We wanted to cover the four pillars of [sustainability]: transportation, food, housing and clothing.” The expo included booths on topics such as foraging and trying out carbon-lite bikes. Students also brought their unwanted clothing for a clothing swap.

Western's green energy fee works to make campus sustainable

November 13, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western's Green Energy Grant Program, which allows students and faculty to design and implement their own green projects, is starting the first wave of idea pitches. The $7-per-student green energy fee funds projects such as water bottle refill stations, LED lighting for concert halls and parking lots to encourage energy sustainability on campus. SAF provides small and large grants from their annual budget of about $300,000, according to the SAF website. The SAF also subsidizes clean energy, SAF Education Coordinator Colin Ridgley said. “We’re funding enough clean energy to match the amount of energy that Western uses on campus,” Ridgley said. “That’s why the fee was created.”

The SAF was implemented in 2005 to encourage clean energy and amended in 2010 to fund the grant program. Alyssa MacDonald, the SAF outreach coordinator, said the projects must involve sustainability, reduce energy consumption or the university’s environmental impact and engage the campus community. “We fund small and large grant projects,” MacDonald said. “A small project is anything from $500 to $5,000. Anything above $5,000 up to $250,000 is considered a large grant.” The process begins when a student or faculty member has a project idea. Then, they build a team with a couple of other students and an advisor. Their project is then submitted to a committee for approval.

Calling All Majors: Sparking Clean Energy Interest from Students in Washington

November 6, 2014 |
Energy is everywhere. From the food we eat, to the plants we grow, to our daily exercise routines—energy is at the root of all of these processes. That is why Western Washington University (WWU) developed its Institute for Energy Studies, which prepares students to shape our clean energy economy with a comprehensive understanding of how energy fits into our lives.

The Institute for Energy Studies at the University offers undergraduate programs that incorporate multiple disciplines into the study of energy, focusing on four essential components to address national energy security and global climate-disruption challenges: science, technology, policy, and business. Specifically, students have the option to minor in energy policy or to pursue an energy concentration within the electrical engineering program. Over the next year, the University will also develop programs for a Bachelor of Arts and a minor in energy science.

NW Colleges Showcase Innovations In Campus Sustainability

November 6, 2014 |
Oregon Public Broadcasting
In the Reuse Room at Portland State University, everything is free and the door is always open. Students and staff can walk into the converted mailroom anytime to donate or take supplies, ranging from three-ring binders to iPods. Though the tiny space may not look impressive, the program is a point of pride for PSU as an innovation in waste reduction. Last year the Reuse Room turned over $45,000 worth of supplies and diverted more than 10,000 pounds of trash from going to the landfill.

Like PSU, colleges across the country are trying out new approaches for making their campuses more sustainable. This means educating students and others in higher ed about the impact they are having on the planet and its resources as well as finding ways to reduce that impact.

Sustainability expo Nov. 13 to feature local food, clothing swap, bike tests

November 5, 2014 |
Western Today
"Survival Skills for a Small Planet," a sustainability expo set to take place Nov. 13 on the Western Washington University campus, will showcase sustainable options for food, clothing, shelter and transportation.

Free local food samples: 10 a.m. to noon. Demonstrations and displays will include cooking sustainably on a budget, canning and preserving, and farming...

WTA test drives electric bus, not ready to transition

October 20, 2014 |
The Western Front
The Whatcom Transit Authority tested an all-electric bus last week, but is not considering purchasing one for county use. Build Your Dreams Motors Inc. has been traveling around the state, offering transit agencies an opportunity to test the electric buses. BYD approached WTA with the same opportunity, said Maureen McCarthy, WTA’s community relations and marketing manager.

For one week, the public was open to ride one of these all-electric buses with no charge, according to a WTA press release. This gave WTA the opportunity to test what BYD is promoting as the first environmentally-friendly bus technology. “Environmentally speaking, these are a whole lot cleaner than anything that burns diesel,” McCarthy said. “[However], it’s much more expensive to purchase. ... It definitely costs a lot more than a standard diesel bus.”

Joel Swisher hired as director of WWU Institute for Energy Studies

October 13, 2014 |
Western Today
Joel Swisher has been hired as director of Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies. “Dr. Swisher brings a wealth of insight and experience in the energy field to Western. He is the right person to build on the outstanding foundation we have in the Institute for Energy Studies. His work in private industry, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and Stanford University all will inform our next steps to help students in this critical field,” said Brian Burton, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Western.

Swisher, who starts at Western on Nov. 3, was hired following a national search. He succeeds Institute for Energy Studies founding director Andy Bunn, associate professor of Environmental Science at Western. “I want to thank Andy Bunn for taking the lead in developing the Institute and the energy curriculum. His energy, enthusiasm, and expertise have been and will continue to be important in the Institute’s work,” Burton said.

Students continue to push for the WWU Foundation to divest from fossil fuel

October 11, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
The Western Washington University Foundation announced in September it would not end investments in fossil fuel companies, but some students at the university are not willing to accept that stance. Responding to a request made by Western’s student government in May to freeze investments in fossil fuel companies and commit to divestment within five years, the foundation announced Sept. 16 that it would not change its investment policy. Leaders did, however, create a climate-friendly investment fund in their portfolio as an option for donors.

Students for Renewable Energy, a student government club at the university, released a statement Oct. 6 denouncing the foundation’s answer to their May request. “To invest funds on behalf of an institution into a reckless and unsustainable business strategy is not consistent with any fiduciary duty,” read the statement from the Students for Renewable Energy.

Bellingham advances in energy prize

September 27, 2014 |
The Western Front
The City of Bellingham has advanced to the final stages of a national competition for energy efficiency, which puts it in the running to win a five million dollar grand prize. The Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP) is a competition that began accepting applications in April 2014 and announced the 52 quarterfinalist communities in August.

Bellingham is competing against other communities with populations ranging from 5,000 to 250,000. Among the quarterfinalist communities there are complete newcomers and seasoned pros. “Bellingham has a pretty good historical record of energy efficiency efforts,” said Mark Gardner, legislative policy analyst for the Bellingham City Council. “Now it’s a matter of seeing what we can do to get the whole system working together.”

Carbon-rich tidal wetlands down, but not out

September 25, 2014 |
Western Today
About a hundred years ago, the Snohomish estuary was dominated by Sitka spruce forested wetland. Downed logs and driftwood occupied much of the channel in large rafts of diverse species. Historical accounts report that it was possible for some of these floating natural structures to remain in place for long periods of time. New trees up to 3 feet in diameter were reported to grow on top of the rafts. Some were over 25 feet deep, consisting of many layers of large logs, 3 to 8 feet in diameter.

Today, the Snohomish estuary is much changed. The estuary was logged and miles of dikes and levees were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, the Snohomish estuary has been used for agriculture, wastewater treatment, and as a site for several landfills.

Elwha: A River Reborn' on campus Oct. 6 to Dec. 30

September 24, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Libraries and Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment will host Elwha: A River Reborn, a new traveling exhibit from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, from Oct. 6 through Dec. 30 in Western Libraries Special Collections on the 6th Floor of Wilson Library.

Based on a Mountaineers book of the same name by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman, the exhibit takes viewers to the Northwest’s legendary Elwha River Valley to discover the people, places, and history behind a remarkable regional story – and the largest dam removal project ever undertaken. Through first-person accounts, stunning photographs, and informative text printed on free-standing banners, follow the Elwha’s journey from abundant wilderness to economic engine – to an unprecedented experiment in restoration and renewal that has captured global attention.

President Shepard updates Sustainability Advisory Committee on 2014-15 priorities

September 24, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard sent the following memo to Steve Hollenhorst and John Furman, co-chairs of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

As noted in my recent blog posting, action by the Western Washington University Foundation has, appropriately I believe, put the University front and center and responsible for meaningful actions to address issues of climate change.

Western professor studying how butterfly populations reflect global warming

September 21, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard sent the following memo to Steve Hollenhorst and John Furman, co-chairs of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

As noted in my recent blog posting, action by the Western Washington University Foundation has, appropriately I believe, put the University front and center and responsible for meaningful actions to address issues of climate change.

WWU Foundation Responds to Request on Fossil Fuels Divestment

September 19, 2014 |
Western Today
The Western Washington University Foundation Governing Board of Directors on Sept. 16 decided not to change its investment policy regarding divestiture from investments in fossil fuel companies.

The Foundation Governing Board’s decision was in response to a request by the Western student government.

WWU’s Troy Abel to lead NSF-funded climate governance study

August 27, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental Policy Troy D. Abel and his research team have been awarded a $545,000 National Science Foundation grant that will allow him to lead the team in a three-year study on state and local climate-risk governance.

Abel helped launch a new Business and Sustainability degree at Western and was recently appointed the director of Huxley College of the Environment’s Peninsula program located at Western Washington University Center at Olympic College, Poulsbo.

WWU 19th on EPA Green Energy List

August 8, 2014 |
The Snohomish Times
Western Washington University is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s top 30 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western, which is 19th on the EPA list, annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs).

Students for Renewable Energy meet with WWU Foundation

June 4, 2014 |
Western Today
Associated Students President Carly Roberts presented on AS divestment efforts to the WWU Foundation board May 16. The presentation included a student-produced video and 75-plus handwritten letters from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Roberts asked the WWU Foundation Board to commit to an immediate freeze of new investments in fossil-fuel companies and a five-year divestment plan for any existing investments in 200 specific companies. The AS has asked for a decision by the end of 2014.

Huxley Spatial Institute develops interactive map of rail lines used to ship crude oil in North America

June 4, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University’s Huxley Spatial Institute recently completed a collaborative project with the organization Oil Change International. The Institute’s Jacob Lesser and Tyson Waldo spent months developing an online map that allows users to explore the rapid expansion of crude oil being shipped by North American rail lines.

The Crude-By-Rail map was created as an online companion to “Runaway Train: The Reckless Expansion of Crude-By-Rail in North America,” a report published by Oil Change International in May 2014.

New processing center brings more local produce to Whatcom County schools

June 3, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
The Caesar salads served up in some school cafeterias are about to cut their commute time, as a new processing center will allow more local produce to be served in schools.

Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson recently completed a new processing center, which will provide prepared local produce for the Bellingham and Nooksack Valley school districts and Western Washington University starting this fall.

WWU, Ecology team to train future cleanup experts

June 2, 2014 |
As a college student, Susannah Edwards toured the Everett Shipyard cleanup site on Port Gardner Bay. Now she's working on cleaning up the shipyard as an Ecology employee.

Susannah, a sediment specialist in training in the Toxics Cleanup Program, joined Ecology in October 2013. She graduated in 2012 from Western Washington University with a bachelor of science degree in environmental science with environmental toxicology emphasis.

Climate change dries out Whatcom

May 30, 2014 |
The Western Front
Major trends caused by climate change in the Northwest are water-related challenges, including changing stream flow and an earlier snowmelt, which can increase the likelihood of drought, according to the United States National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in May.

The report was gathered and reviewed by more than 300 experts on the topic, including scientists and federal agencies.

Guest column: Pledge to be sustainable

May 30, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University seniors once again have an opportunity to become more socially and environmentally responsible by signing the Sustainability Graduation Pledge.

Students picking up their cap and gown for the spring commencement may stop by the Office of Sustainability table and sign a pledge.

NOVA wins $35,000 for solar window invention

May 30, 2014 |
The Western Front
A team of six Western students known as NOVA received a total of $35,000 in the past month from different competition prizes and grants for their NOVA Solar Window, the first completely transparent solar window.

On May 23, the team was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, said team member Joshua Bennett. The rest of the money was won from business competitions this year.

Graduation pledge commits students to environmental responsibility

May 27, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University seniors once again have an opportunity to pledge their commitment to social and environmentally responsibility by signing the Sustainability Graduation Pledge.

Students picking up their cap and gown June 11 and 12 in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room may stop by the office of Sustainability table to sign the pledge.

Expo highlights teams' Green Energy Fee projects

May 23, 2014 |
Western Today
The Green Energy Fee Grant Program at Western Washington University held its second annual expo May 14 in the Miller Hall Collaborative Space on campus. The event highlighted 10 teams that have been working hard to formulate new and innovative sustainability projects for campus.

The applicant teams that presented at the expo have been actively researching or implementing a wide variety of campus projects. More than 70 students, faculty and staff attended the expo.

County enlists WWU students in disaster planning

May 21, 2014 |
Go Skagit
BURLINGTON — In the event of a natural disaster, the ability for individuals and families to take refuge and protect themselves is extremely important. And for that, preparation is key.

“For the most part people are not prepared and that’s why hazards become disasters,” Western Washington University student Pam Melton told the Skagit Valley Herald Tuesday.

Students protest for clean investing

May 20, 2014 |
The Western Front
Five students from the Students for Renewable Energy (SRE) and Divestment group met with President Bruce Shepard Monday, May 19, to discuss the possibility of Western divesting $1.5 million from the fossil fuel industry in the next five years.

The SRE, Divestiture Study Group and Associated Students are asking Western Foundation Board to commit to a divestment plan by the end of 2014. Shepard suggested moving that decision to the middle of fall quarter due to the urgency of the campaign, said senior Jenny Godwin, president of the students for Renewable Energy.

Students use ice blocks to show climate change

May 15, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western students were doing more than enjoying the sun at Boulevard Park Wednesday, May 14. Three students were also demonstrating the current climate changes and the need to make changes to protect our planet.

With a display of more than 20 melting ice blocks hanging between two trees, they also had a sign in large red print that said “climate change is here now.”

Students to present geology research findings

May 13, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western students and faculty are preparing to present their geological studies on a variety of topics, ranging from poverty to tree rings. Western senior Tyler Black has been working all quarter on an extensive project with the Whatcom County Health Department mapping vulnerable populations of elderly and low-income people throughout Whatcom County.

Black, along with four other students and Western environmental studies professor Dr. Aquila Flower, will showcase her original work at the Association of Washington Geographers (AWG) Spring Meeting on Saturday, May 17. The convention is hosted on the University of Washington’s campus in Tacoma and features students throughout the state talking about their work in the field of geography.

Pipeline expansion concerns council member

May 13, 2014 |
The Western Front
A rising demand for power worldwide has resulted in a rapidly expanding industry of non-sustainable energy sourcing including fracking and extraction. Pipeline infrastructure, which allows for the movement of fuels such as oil and natural gas, is spread out like a flammable underground spider web across the country and is still growing.

Potential pipeline safety concerns and details of the industry, which moves resources around the country, were the topics of Thursday, May 8, Huxley College Speaker Series lecture.

Pilot project provides students with sustainable, energy-efficient room

May 8, 2014 |
Western Today
A residence in Buchanan Towers is showcasing modern sustainability practices demonstrating ways to cut energy and water consumption in one’s daily living.

In the winter of 2012, two Campus Sustainability Planning Studio students wrote a report on how to include energy saving technologies and practices into Western’s residence halls in efforts to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In the Spring of 2013 two students used information from that report and then applied for, and were awarded a Green Energy Fee Grant to modify a Buchanan Towers room, into the Sustainable Energy Efficiency Dorm Pilot room.

NOVA Solar Window invention prompts student team to create business

May 5, 2014 |
The AS Review
After the shortcomings of Western basketball, it’s comforting that at least one team from Western reached a sweet 16. But this team’s uniform is a suit and tie, its game is solar energy and the tournament is the University of Washington Business Plan Competition.

Western students Blake Bishop, Christian Erickson, Josh Bennett, James Mayther, Sarah O’Sell and Jim Kintzele make up the team behind NOVA Solar Window, a transparent material that can function as a solar panel on the outside of a clear window.

Divestment Teach-In: Letters and Jill MacIntyre Witt

May 5, 2014 |
The Western Front
The Students for Renewable Energy (SRE) are asking students to write letters to President Shepard and the foundation board to start divesting from fossil fuels. SRE promotes the use of renewable energy usage and divestment would support change in sustainability.

Jill MacIntyre Witt, of The Climate Reality Project and, held a “Divestment Teach-In” Thursday, May 1, on why divestment is important. The Climate Reality Project was formed to bring passion and awareness to peoples about the climate crisis. Climate change is the global temperate rising due to human resources such as fossil fuels.

Kenmore student helps WWU team wins $10,000 in Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 21, 2014 |
Bothell/Kenmore Reporter
Kenmore resident Sarah O’Sell helped a team of six Western Washington University students win $10,000 for their NOVA Solar Window plan during the Sixth Annual Environmental Innovation Challenge on April 3 at the Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall.

The Western team won the $5,000 second-place prize sponsored by Puget Sound Energy and the $5,000 Clean Energy Prize sponsored by the University of Washington Clean Energy Institute. The annual Environmental Innovation Challenge encourages interdisciplinary student teams to define an environmental problem, develop a solution, produce a prototype, and create a business summary that demonstrates the commercial viability of their product, process or service. More than 90 collegiate teams competed in the contest.

Student group demands university divests from fossil fuel

April 18, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western currently invests approximately $2.3 million in the fossil fuel industry. The Students for Renewable Energy wrote letters to Western Monday, April 14 urging the university to divest these funds by removing university money from fossil fuel companies. The Western Foundation Board of Directors yet to make a decision.

Freshman Chiara D’Angelo said Western’s eco-friendly appearance is ironic. She said Western is supposedly a sustainable campus but invests in fossil fuels, which support the destruction of the planet.

Clubs, Environmental and Sustainability Programs prepare for Earth Week

April 15, 2014 |
The AS Review
While Earth Day is traditionally celebrated on one day of the year, Western students are eager to expand the celebration across a week with an array of events and activities.

“This year we wanted to focus on diversity in the environmental movement and celebrating that and trying to increase the diversity in the people coming to the Environmental Center events,” said AS Environmental Center Coordinator Monica Tonty.

Power down for spring break

March 20, 2014 |
Western Today
If your office or workstation will be vacant for even one day during the upcoming break or holiday, please take the following actions to reduce “phantom” energy consumption while you are away.

Shut your windows; Shut curtains/lower your blinds; Turn off and unplug your computer and your monitor; Shut off power strips; Unplug all appliances not plugged into power strips, including speakers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, microwave and toaster ovens, water coolers, etc...

Western wins award from PSE for Best Outreach Campaign

March 14, 2014 |
Western Today
Puget Sound Energy presented Western Washington University an award for best outreach campaign at the PSE Annual Resource Conservation Management Program Meeting in late January. The award, nicknamed a “RCMmy,” is given to a conservation customer that excels in communication to occupants and the community.

Western Washington’s “Sweater Days,” “Power Down,” and “Go for the Green” behavioral campaigns were called out as specific examples for the award. All three campaigns are managed by Western’s Office of Sustainability.

AS votes to pull fossil fuel investments

March 14, 2014 |
The Western Front
The Associated Students Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of divestment on Western’s campus in a meeting on Wednesday, March 12.

With AS approval, the proposal will be presented to President Bruce Shepard, and then to Western’s Foundation, which will be the party deciding the ultimate verdict for the divestment movement.

Landmark Study Demonstrates Climate Benefits of Estuary Restoration

March 12, 2014 |
Restore America's Estuaries
WASHINGTON - Restore America’s Estuaries has released the findings of a groundbreaking study that confirms the climate mitigation benefits of restoring tidal wetland habitat in the Snohomish Estuary, located within the nation’s second largest estuary: Puget Sound. The study, the first of its kind, finds major climate mitigation benefits from wetland restoration and provides a much needed approach for assessing carbon fluxes for historic drained and future restored wetlands which can now be transferred and applied to other geographies.

Frontline: Western’s green entrepreneurs must bring home the gold

March 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
The world’s finest ideas and inventions all began as a single thought. But a brilliant idea is not successful on its own — it must be followed through to the end.

Western students have been offered a new chance to turn an idle thought into a reality, as long as that idea promotes sustainability. If your group’s idea trumps the rest, $10,000 and a bright future will be headed your way. We can change the world for the better — and those at Western can be a direct cause of it.

Student chemist creates silicone lunchbox

March 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
Mt. Baker Bio company is producing silicone lunch boxes and reusable lunch bags as a sustainable alternative to plastic.

The company looks to produce 5,000 kits of the ZemePur lunch boxes, aiming to raise $275,000 in 30 days on Kickstarter, a fundraising site.

Western senior Alex Culter, 23, co-founded the company and works as a chemist to produce a product rooted in sustainabilty — a field he’s passionate about, he said.

Students lobby legislators for action on oil, climate change and energy

February 20, 2014 |
The Western Front
A group of 20 Western students traveled to the state capital in Olympia Monday, Feb. 17, taking part in the first Associated Students-sponsored environmental lobby day.

The students spoke with legislators about four issues relating to the environment: reducing tax loopholes on oil companies, supporting the oil transportation safety act, pressuring lawmakers to take action on climate change and speaking out against a bill that would allow private energy companies to count federal government energy efficiency upgrades on dams as an upgrade to renewable energy sources.

$25,000 sustainability challenge offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to go global

February 17, 2014 |
The Bellingham Herald
This month Western Washington University hosted the Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference, which focused on how educational institutions can create sustainable practices. The topics covered a broad range from sharing best practices in teaching sustainability to how to ban bottled water on campuses. With this diversity of topics, it really made me wonder: what is sustainability and how do we as a community benefit?

Frontline: Do we want to bleed the earth dry?

February 11, 2014 |
The Western Front
A menacing snake of oil and steel threatens to worm its way through the heart of the United States, carrying 83,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The outcome of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline has been up in the air for the past few years, causing fevered clamor from environmentalists and stubborn just-the-facts responses from the pipeline’s supporters.

Western’s first sustainability conference draws more than 500

February 11, 2014 |
The Western Front
A 16-foot wide and 8-foot high fortress of hay rests inside a compost tube. As the internal temperature rises, the energy is converted into enough power to heat an entire building for a year.

Sustainability practices like this are taking college campuses across Washington state by storm and are the reason about 500 people gathered on Western Washington University's campus for the first Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

Sustainability conference a success at WWU

February 7, 2014 |
Western Today
The first annual Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference was held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 6 and 7, at Western Washington University. More than 500 attendees from 38 state institutions visited the Western campus for the event.

Featuring a diverse range of speakers from throughout Washington state, the conference explored how those in higher education could enhance sustainability at their institutions and looked at ways to build leadership capacity. The conference also highlighted the role of colleges and universities in driving advancement on environmental issues and building sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Students rally against oil investments

February 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
Students throughout the state gathered in Western’s Red Square on Thursday, Feb. 6, to show support at a divestment rally.

Divestment is the process of pulling money invested in fossil fuel companies, such as Exxon Mobile, Lukoil Oil Company and Chevron, and investing instead in renewable energy companies.

Sustainability conference kicks off

February 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
The Western Office of Sustainability is hosting the first Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference. The event is taking place on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 6 and 7, in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room.

The conference also includes the student summit, which facilitates discussions on a range of topics, from “sustainable food and dining” to “making sustainability sexy,” according to the event program.

Western ranked lone university in state for green energy

February 4, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University is the only Washington state public university or college on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list for green energy purchases in higher education, Paul Cocke, the director of university communications, said in an email.

Western Ranked 19th among the Top 30 College and University green energy list.

WWU 19th on EPA green power ranking

February 3, 2014 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s top 30 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western, which is 19th on the EPA list, annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs).

Western is the only college or university in the state of Washington on the EPA list, updated on Jan. 8.

Coal: EIS may be underway in February

Febraury 1, 2014 |
The Western Front
The environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal is expected to be officially underway beginning in February.

The co-leading agencies in charge of conducting coordinated environmental reviews regarding the terminal have yet to begin the actual study process of examining what environmental impacts the coal-exporting terminal will have on the Cherry Point Industrial Urban Growth Area. .

Students, staff and faculty need to register to attend sustainability conference

January 28, 2014 |
Western Today
The Office of Sustainability at Western Washington University is proud to support the inaugural Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference taking place Feb. 6 and 7 on the WWU campus.

Though the conference is being held at Western, WWU students, faculty and staff still must register if they want to attend.

Fairhaven environmental forum kicks off

January 22, 2014 |
The Western Front
Fairhaven College is currently holding its annual World Issues Forums in the Fairhaven College Auditorium at Western Washington University.

Every Wednesday during winter quarter, a new guest speaker talks about a different facet of global climate change and environmental justice. The title for this year’s forum is “Environmental Justice and Climate Change.”

Damming the Skykomish River: a resurfacing battle

January 14, 2014 |
The Western Front
A new hydroelectric dam may be erected in the South Fork of the Skykomish River — one of the last free-flowing rivers in Washington.

Snohomish Public Utilities District (SnoPUD) is planning the installation of a 7-foot-tall inflatable dam that would stretch across the river above Sunset Falls, a 114-foot-tall waterfall that marks the end of natural fish migration up river, said Rich Bowers, northwest coordinator at Hydropower Reform Coalition.

Power down for winter break

December 13, 2013 |
Western Today
Anyone leaving the Western Washington University campus for even one day during the upcoming break (and with the Christmas holiday coming up on the 25th, that should be everyone) should take the following actions to reduce campus electricity and natural gas consumption and costs:

Shut your windows; Shut curtains/lower your blinds for extra insulation; Turn off your computer and the monitor(s); Shut off power strips; Unplug all appliances not plugged into power strips, including speakers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, microwave and toaster ovens, water coolers, etc.

Putting Air Pollution Data on the Map

December 4, 2013 |
Window Magazine
Want to figure out your neighborhood's relative potential risk from pollution? It's easy as going online, thanks to a new web-based data visualization project by graduate students and faculty at Huxley College of the Environment.

Toxic Trends, an interactive, color-coded map depicting air pollution sources throughout the United States, is the work of Troy Abel, associate professor of Environmental Studies, and Jacob Lesser and Ben Kane, graduate students in Huxley's Spatial Institute.

Save electricity by powering down over Thanksgiving break

November 25, 2013 |
Western Today
Before you leave for the Thanksgiving holiday, remember to power down.

Faculty, staff and students can help Western Washington University reduce its standing electricity load by: Turning off computers, monitors and printers; Unplugging chargers and small appliances (but not the refrigerator); Leaving the thermostat at its normal setting; Closing all windows and shades; Turning off lights and shutting windows in unoccupied rooms.

Washington residents deck the halls with energy efficiency

November 13, 2013 |
Intelligent Utility
With the holiday season just around the corner, neighborhoods across the Northwest will glow with strings of lights. But whether residents choose more energy-efficient LEDs over traditional incandescent bulbs may depend on where they live, according to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll.

The Seattle-based insurer found that, of those who say they decorated with outdoor lights last December, Washington residents were more likely than their Portland, Ore., neighbors to display energy-efficient LEDs. Half of Washington residents (51 percent) said they chose the more efficient LEDs, while just 43 percent of Portlanders say they did the same.

It's getting hot in here: Solar power to heat pool

November 5, 2013 |
The Western Front
Starting next spring, sunlight will heat the water in the Wade King Student Recreation Center pool. Thanks to the Green Energy Fee Grant Program, solar water heaters will be installed on the roof of the recreation center, said Stephen Harvey, Western Washington University student and project lead.

The Green Energy Fee Grant Program awarded a group of students $219,511 to pay for the project. Western students Harvey, Brian Maskal and Nina Olivier proposed the project to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and increase awareness of solar thermal energy at Western.

Western's Office of Sustainability hosts Sustainability Week 2013

October 31, 2013 |
The Western Front
For one week, the Office of Sustainability will share with Western Washington University students the opportunity to pause and reflect on their own sustainable practices in discussions, lunches, tours, workshops and labs.

The week will begin at noon Monday, Nov. 4, with an information fair in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room at which students can learn how to get involved in sustainability on campus. They can take their ideas and potentially put them into action with the help of the Green Energy Fee Grant Program idea lab, as described in the flyer released by the Office of Sustainability.

Submission deadline for sustainability conference moved to Nov. 8

October 30, 2013 |
Western Today
Due to popular demand, the 2014 Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference is extending the presentation proposal submission deadline to Nov. 8 in order to give everyone time to get their proposals completed amidst the demands of a new school year.

This is an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and staff to let their work shine at the conference and inspire others. Submit proposals online here.

Professor: As estuary health weakens, greenhouse gases increase

October 29, 2013 |
Western Today
At a pair of research projects in Snohomish County, Western Washington University Professor of Environmental Science John Rybczyk is looking to find out more about the relationship between river deltas and estuary systems and their ability to lock in carbon.

Carbon is a naturally occurring element found in all living things, and the soft, oxygen-free sediments of estuaries are natural sponges that lock in carbon. When these estuaries and river deltas are drained or impounded, that sediment becomes exposed to oxygen and combines with the newly-freed carbon to form carbon dioxide, perhaps the world's top cause of global warming, as it enters the atmosphere.

Calif., Oregon, Washington, British Columbia sign climate change pact

October 29, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
Saying that the West Coast must lead the way in battling climate change, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with the premier of British Columbia, signed an agreement Monday committing the Canadian province and the three states to coordinate global-warming policies.

Sustainability Week starts Nov. 4 on campus

October 25, 2013 |
Western Today
Sustainability Week kicks off Nov. 4 on the Western Washington University campus. For more information, visit the Office of Sustainability online.

Check out what's happening: Sustainability Info Fair: Noon to 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room. Come find out how you can get involved in sustainability on campus.

'National Chemistry Week' celebrates sustainable resources

October 25, 2013 |
National Science Foundation
From waste prevention to energy-efficient design to safer manufacturing processes and substitutes for rare natural resources, sustainability considerations are key to meeting projected global needs and encouraging a safer tomorrow.

It is likely then that National Chemistry Week 2013 would choose a theme of "Energy: Now and Forever! Exploring chemistry and energy with a focus on sustainable resources." This is a good opportunity for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to announce its inaugural awards for the Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering and Materials (SusChEM) initiative that invests $49 million in 101 groups of scientists and engineers.

The $1 million election: Coal issue heats up Whatcom County race

October 24, 2013 |
The Seattle Times
Whatcom Brendon Cechovic thinks the two most important elections in the nation this November are the race for governor of Virginia and the battle for control of the Whatcom County Council. "I know it sounds crazy, but that's our assessment," he said.

Cechovic is executive director of the Washington Conservation Voters, the biggest of three political groups that have helped pump more than $1 million into races for four council seats that pay an annual salary of $21,000 and govern a county of 201,000.

Western students head to Pennsylvania to protest

October 18, 2013 |
The Western Front
Five members of the Western Action Coalition will march through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh with thousands of other college students on Monday, Oct. 21 to protest environmentally damaging practices by banks, corporations and elected officials.

The march will conclude the Power Shift 2013 conference, which will host thousands of climate change activists for three days of panels, workshops, training, speakers and music Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 20.

Students provide $340K to make campus greener

October 16, 2013 |
Western Today
Looking to make the Western Washington University campus more green, sustainable and energy efficient? Students, faculty and staff are invited to submit proposals for the 2013-14 Green Energy Fee Grant Program. The campus community can apply for a small grant of $500 to $2,000 or a large grant of $2,000 to $300,000.

This year, there are four opportunities to submit a small grant application, with the first proposal due on Oct. 23. Up to $40,000 in small grants will be awarded in the 2013-14 academic year.

Coal: Hearing in Longview draws a crowd

October 12, 2013 |
The Western Front
Environmental and community impacts of the proposed coal train were some of the topics discussed at a public hearing held in Longview, Wash., Wednesday, Oct. 9. About 1,000 Cowlitz County residents attended the six-hour public forum, where both the opposition and supporting sides of the issue were given opportunities to make their claims.

Police stop coal protest at energy company offices

October 8, 2013 |
The Western Front
A protest against coal-fueled power came to an abrupt end on Monday, Oct. 7, when Bellingham police were called to the scene at Puget Sound Energy on State Street.

About 25 Western Washington University students entered the PSE building at 4:30 p.m. to hear the reading of a letter written by student Winter Harms and addressed to the PSE Board, before police escorted the protesters out of the building.

Grants to go to Western students for 'green' projects

October 4, 2013 |
The Western Front
Starting in November, Western Washington University will award $340,000 in grants for student projects that aim to lessen the school's carbon footprint, an effort that has involved many students and has already saved the school thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity.

The grants, funded by the student-initiated Green Energy Fee, have been used in the past for projects such as the solar array installed on the Environmental Studies building. The array has saved more than 8,300-kilowatt hours over the last 14 months, said Regan Clover, program coordinator for the Green Energy Fee Grant.

Panelists debate potential impacts of coal terminal

October 4, 2013 |
The Western Front
Panelists at a discussion about the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal went rounds arguing for and against the terminal at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 in Western Washington University's Academic West building.

Opponents cited environmental concerns such as coal dust, while proponents argued that stopping the terminal would not slow the use of coal, but would impact job growth.

Energy institute gets $150K from Alaska Air

September 30, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University's Institute for Energy Studies is receiving a $150,000 gift of support from Alaska Airlines and $100,000 in various gifts from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation and Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand.

Western established its multi-disciplinary Institute for Energy Studies last spring. The Institute program, the first of its kind in the country, combines science, technology, economics, business and policy and is designed to prepare students to become the leaders, managers and entrepreneurs of the new energy economy.

Nearly 200 graduates sign first-ever sustainability pledge at Western

August 13, 2013 |
Western Today
Nearly 200 Western Washington University seniors picking up their caps and gowns for commencement June 12 and 13 chose to be part of Western's first-ever sustainability pledge.

The "Western Sustainability Graduation Pledge" was available to any spring 2013 graduate. Students could stop by the pledge table before picking up their cap and gown to pledge for social and environmental responsibility beyond college.

Green Energy Fee grant will fund solar energy to heat the pool at Wade King

July 25, 2013 |
Western Today
The University of Pennsylvania is the top Green Power user in higher education, and the Chicago public school system is the top user among K-12 systems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. The EPA released its latest Green Power Partnership rankings earlier this month—the top 20 K-12 school systems, and the top 20 colleges and universities. Six universities report annual green power use of more than 100 million kilowatt hours.

Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash., 40,000,000 kilowatt hours.

EPA unveils updated lists of education institutions using green power

July 24, 2013 |
American School and University
The University of Pennsylvania is the top Green Power user in higher education, and the Chicago public school system is the top user among K-12 systems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. The EPA released its latest Green Power Partnership rankings earlier this month—the top 20 K-12 school systems, and the top 20 colleges and universities. Six universities report annual green power use of more than 100 million kilowatt hours.

Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash., 40,000,000 kilowatt hours.

Graduating students may sign first-ever sustainability pledge at WWU

July 12, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University seniors picking up their caps and gowns for commencement June 12 and 13 have the opportunity to be part of Western's first-ever sustainability pledge.

The "Western Sustainability Graduation Pledge" is available to any spring 2013 graduate. Students may stop by the pledge table before picking up their cap and gown to pledge for social and environmental responsibility beyond college.

Turning greenhouse gas into good energy

June 14, 2013 |
Window Magazine
While he might not be working on turning lead into gold, Chemistry's John Gilbertson and his research team of graduate and undergraduate students might be unraveling something even more valuable – a way to take the increasingly abundant greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – and transform it into useful compounds such as synthetic fuel or methanol.

Gilbertson, who was just awarded a prestigious five-year, $470,000 Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (Western's third in three years) for his work, said he is basically just doing what nature does on its own.

NWIC's Salish Sea Research Center to open July 1

June 6, 2013 |
Bellingham Business Journal
The Northwest Indian College's new $2.2 million Salish Sea Research Center will be fully operational by July 1, according to an announcement from the college. The facility, located on NWIC's main Lummi Reservation campus, will support an array of research programs and areas of study, including the college's Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science program. The 4,200-square-foot building includes five main laboratories, a biology room, a wet lab, a live lab, an ecology room and an analytical chemistry room.

WWU student, alumna awarded 'Best Cleantech Idea' in UW Business Plan Challenge

June 5, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University student Joe Meyer (Economics and Environmental Studies, Seattle) was a member of a team that won "Best Cleantech Idea" and $2,500 in the University of Washington's Business Plan Challenge.

"The project is a lot of what Huxley [College of the Environment] has been teaching in classes on making environmental and social benefits," Meyer said. "It shows promise that business leaders are taking time out of their day to review and judge these plans as potential business models."

Power down during break to save energy

June 3, 2013 |
Western Today
If your office or workstation will be vacant for even one day during the upcoming break, please take the following actions to reduce WWU energy consumption.

Through collaborative university-wide effort to encourage and implement utility reduction, individual actions can make a significant reduction in total power consumption.

Washington needs trained workers for new energy economy

May 30, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
Rapid changes in a wide range of energy industries will be key components for the growth of our state's economy for decades to come. What is missing from today's workforce are individuals who can think across disciplines - from understanding the science of climate change to product commercialization to the policy landscape - and can apply a diverse set of skills to solve real-world problems.

Western Washington University's new Institute for Energy Studies Program is a unique, innovative program that can do just that. As the Legislature continues deliberations in special session, we will continue advocating for this modest investment to meet the needs of Washington state's employers.

How green is Western? June 5 event to give answers

May 29, 2013 |
Western Today
The Office of Sustainability is presenting the results of Western's standing in the national Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS) framework created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education at 4 p.m. June 5 in Academic Instructional Center Room 204.

Ian Collicott, a research associate with the office, will present the culmination of two years of his cross-campus research within the three main STARS areas: Education/Research, Operations, and Planning Administration & Engagement.

Green Energy Fee awards expo to be held May 30

May 29, 2013 |
Western Today
The Green Energy Fee Awards Expo will take place at 4-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 at Western Washington University's Academic West Sky Bridge.

The event is free, open to the public and light refreshments will be served. Western's President Bruce Shepard will introduce the eight project teams who were awarded over $225,000 in grant funding, and the teams will speak about their projects.

Guest Column: Divestment is a course of action

May 21, 2013 |
The Western Front
We disagree with the implication that challenging the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry is less impactful than making modest reductions in electrical consumption. Lifestyle choices are necessary but insufficient measures to address the impending crisis. Reducing our energy consumption is progressive only if energy sources are being substituted with renewables.

Energy companies are intentionally slowing the transition to a sustainable energy infrastructure, partly through massive spending on legislative lobbying and electoral campaign finance. But time is running out to make this transition.

Guest Column: Frontline editorial inaccurate, misleading on 10X12 Program

May 14, 2013 |
The Western Front
After reading the recent editorial "Divestment is a delusion," I'd like to address some inaccuracies within this opinion piece, starting with the statement: "Western's Office of Sustainability has been nothing short of shameful in its handling of the 10X12 Initiative, a program that was supposed to reduce campus utility consumption by 10 percent by the end of 2012." The view that the Office of Sustainability exhibited "shameful handling" stems from the displeasure of the Western Front staff, who were informed (multiple times) that our office was delaying release of the results of the program until we had the time to analyze those results completely. In the real world, projects – or analysis of projects – can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

From first to nineteenth

May 14, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western fell from first to nineteenth on a list of the top 20 colleges or universities that are the biggest purchasers of renewable energy credits, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which compiled the list.

A common misconception is that Western is directly receiving wind-generated power by purchasing green energy, said Seth Vidaña, campus sustainability manager.

David Suzuki Lectures on Sustainability

May 13, 2013 |
AS Review
The root word "eco" has its origin in the Greek language and stems from the Greek word "oikos," or "home." In English, two of the most common hosts for this root are ecology, "the study of home" and economy, "management of the household." Though these two words are etymologically similar, the motives and interests behind each are often conflicting.

Popular Canadian environmental activist, broadcaster and geneticist David Suzuki delivered his lecture "Time is Running Out: Ecology or Economics?" last Monday, May 6 at the Performing Arts Center Main Stage. Suzuki discussed the value and connectivity of the environment and questioned the majority of the western world's misguided prioritization of the economy over nature and the environment.

Students speak out against coal train

May 12, 2013 |
The Western Front
Amid an audience of 200 people, two Western Washington University students took proactive steps toward raising awareness about the hazards of coal after traveling to Charlotte, N.C. May 5 to speak at a Bank of America shareholders meeting.

As interns for Power Past Coal, an organization working to stop coal exportation on the West Coast, Eddy Ury and Karlee Deatherage were recommended by their supervisers to the Rainforest Action Network to speak as representatives for the Whatcom community, Ury said.

10x12 results still uncertain: Coordinator gives unofficial results in online comment

May 10, 2013 |
The Western Front
Results from one of Western Washington University's Sustainability projects have yet to be officially released, and the program coordinator refuses to comment.

The project is known as the 10x12 program. It was implemented to encourage utility reduction across the campus both through operational and behavioral change. The goal was to reach a 10 percent reduction in electricity, natural gas and water consumption and landfill waste production by the end of 2012, according to the Office of Sustainability website.

Activist speaks about importance of earth elements

May 7, 2013 |
The Western Front
David Suzuki spoke in the Performing Arts Center about the negative impact of humans on the planet.

Suzuki, internationally recognized environmentalist and activist came to Western May 6 and gave his lecture, "Time is Running Out: Ecology or Economics," to a packed room at the Performing Arts Center. View entire lecture here:

Green Energy Fee Brings Eight New Projects

May 6, 2013 |
AS Review
Each year, the student body pays the Green Energy Fee, which is used to fund the Green Energy Fee Grant Program. These grants are allocated to teams of students, staff and faculty who have created a conceptual proposal to promote sustainable learning and practices on campus.

The Green Energy Fee Committee, also composed of students, staff and faculty, is in charge of selecting which teams are awarded the grant money, and this year they have selected three large-scale projects and three smallscale projects.

Students rally against fossil fuels

May 3, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University students gathered in Red Square on May 2 to participate in the Fossil Freedom Day of Action, a national movement that encourages universities to divest in fossil fuels.

Coal, gas and oil are fossil fuels created from the organic remains of prehistoric plants and animals. When burned, their high carbon concentration pollutes the air, adds to the greenhouse effect and warms the Earth, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology website.

Green Tie Gala renews energy

May 3, 2013 |
The Western Front
Coal trains and divestment were hot topics at this year's Green Tie Gala. The evening included a colorful dinner and speeches from representatives of Western Washington University's environmental clubs. Many attendees wore floral dresses or emerald bow ties.

Representatives from the Students For Renewable Energy, Students for Renewable Food and many others were in attendance. In addition to fundraising for the clubs, the Gala was also a chance to recognize each club's achievements and attract students who don't belong to clubs.

Frontline: Divestment is a delusion

May 3, 2013 |
The Western Front
The Associated Students divestment initiative, which aims to eliminate Western Washington University's investments in fossil fuel-related companies, will probably pass. Of course it will — we fancy ourselves a green school and most students will vote to approve the initiative without giving it a second thought. But remember, giving the decision very little thought does not make it a no-brainer.

Divestment: Students Call To Remove Fossil Fuel Investments

April 29, 2013 |
The AS Review
Over the last nine months, more than 250 college campuses have committed to removing fossil fuel stocks from their university stock portfolio, a movement known as the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign. With a goal of separating university money from the fossil fuel industry, the student demand of replacing dirty energy stocks with sustainable alternatives has become a national discussion on climate change and reclaiming power from the fossil fuel industry.

Western ranked in top 20 'green' schools

April 23, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University ranked 19th in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 20 largest green power universities in the country and was listed as one of the most environmentally conscious American universities by the Princeton Review.

The Review published the "Guide to 322 Green Schools" on April 16, listing 320 American and two Canadian universities that exhibit notable sustainability practices, according to a Western press release.

WWU's Green-Energy Fee Grant Program To Fund Eight Campus Projects

April 22, 2013 |
Western Today
The Western Washington University Green Energy Fee Committee announced that it will fund eight campus projects.

Three large projects, which range in funding from $9,000-$185,000, represent the second round of funding allocated to student, staff and faculty teams.

AS elections to end May 3: Sustainable energy measure on ballot

April 16, 2013 |
The Western Front
Ballot measures include a proposal to move away from Western's investments in companies involved in fossil fuel production in favor of sustainable energy.

Additionally, the Real Food Campus Commitment would annually increase the use of "real-food," defined as ecologically sound food as determined by the Real Food Calculator, to 30 percent by 2020. The plan would also increase the responsibility of staff and students to maintain that percentage through establishing a reporting system with an annual progress report.

WWU's Western Reads Selects 'Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North' as its 2013-14 Book

April 12, 2013 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM — Western Reads, a campus-wide reading program at Western Washington University, has chosen "Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North," by Nancy Lord, as its 2013-14 reading selection.

The book will be given to all incoming Western freshmen and will be available for sale at the Western Associated Students Bookstore. Programming related to the book topic will be held through the academic year.

Simplici-tea: Nomadic tea specialist brews up good feeling at Western

April 12, 2013 |
The Western Front
The 'Edna Lu' rolls into Bellingham the morning of Saturday, April 6, leaving the distinct aroma of tea on the wind. Guisepi Spadafora turns on his portable stove and sets a kettle to boil. Throwing open the doors to his home-on-wheels, he waits with a smile on his face to serve tea to anyone who comes by, completely free of charge.

The bus is also built with an eye for sustainability, running on a waste vegetable oil system. Spadafora takes unused oil from restaurants he comes across, and utilizes it as a free and clean power source. By outfitting the bus with a secondary fuel system, the oil is spun in a device to separate it from unneeded food particles. The engine wakes up with biodiesel, and then transfers to the vegetable oil as the secondary power kicks in.

Carbon emissions report release delayed: Thinly spread staff pushes back Western's sustainability report

April 5, 2013 |
The Western Front
The results of Western Washington University's 10x12 program have been delayed for several more weeks, despite being scheduled for release over spring break.

The 10x12 program was designed to reduce Western's carbon emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2012, according to the Office of Sustainability's website. To do this, the university reduced its baseline building heat, encouraged faculty, staff and students to shut off their electronics and took measures to reduce landfill waste, such as installing recycle and compost bins around campus.

WWU Professor Part of Global Research Team Shedding New Light on the Changing Arctic

March 11, 2013 |
Western Today
An international team of 21 authors from 17 institutions in seven countries, including Western Washington University's Andy Bunn, has just published a study in the journal "Nature Climate Change" showing that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased, causing a reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality in this area.

Western students discuss removing university investments in fossil fuels

March 8, 2013 |
The AS Review
More than 70 students gathered Thursday in the Academic Instructional Center West to discuss what has been called "the largest student movement of this generation" — a movement away from university investment in fossil fuels and toward investment in renewable energy.

Western invests $1.5 million in fossil fuel companies, said Jenny Godwin, president of the Students for Renewable Energy club. Godwin and other like-minded students are hoping to steer Western toward divestment — freezing investment in fossil fuel companies and making the switch to investment in renewable energy.

Green studying tsunami's impact on coastline debris

March 6, 2013 |
Western Today
Approximately 6,700 miles away from Misawa, Japan, one of the Port of Misawa's 65-foot long docks is battering the Washington coast.

Rebekah Green, associate director of the Resilience Institute at Western's Huxley College of the Environment, and two of her students are trying to determine what else beach visitors might expect to see washed up on the shore.

Ecology Class Works to Remove Dam

March 5, 2013 |
The AS Review
Throughout the Pacific Northwest there is a growing trend for ecological restoration projects. From tree planting to riverbed reconstruction, Whatcom County, Washington State and the Pacific Northwest are helping to lead the charge in a movement to restore environments to their historic and natural state.

WWU chemist hopes to turn algae into biofuel

February 25, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
Ask consumers about the idea of switching from fossil fuel to biodiesel and two questions are likely to come up: Will biodiesel production hurt the environment? How much will the cost at the pump pinch their wallets? Scientists are trying to produce biofuels that will answer both questions the same way: "As little as possible." For now, soybean oil is the most widely used oil in biodiesel, but an easy-to-grow crop is being studied extensively as a possible fuel source - alga.

Western's Rebekah Green Receives Grant to Study Tsunami's Impact on Coastline Debris

February 20, 2013 |
University Communications
Approximately 6,700 miles away from Misawa, Japan, one of the Port of Misawa's 65-foot long docks is battering the Washington coast. Rebekah Green, associate director of the Resilience Institute at Western's Huxley College of the Environment, and two of her students are trying to determine what else beach visitors might expect to see washed up on the shore.

Warmth without the waste: Western's Office of Sustainability asks campus to bundle up to save energy

February 8, 2013 |
The Western Front
Rows of sweet, cranky and guilt-tripping grandmas line Canada's National Sweater Day website. Grannies with names like Gladys and Dorothy wear sweaters with poinsettias, snowmen and ruffles while they remind participants to turn down their thermostats and warm up with a sweater.

"I'm not hanging up until you put on that sweater!" scolds a granny in a cream-colored cardigan.

Hybrid buses roll into Bellingham

February 5, 2013 |
The Western Front
Eight new hybrid buses entered the Whatcom Transportation Authority's fleet Monday, Feb. 4. The hybrid buses are electric and diesel, and will cycle through all routes, excluding the 80X to Mount Vernon.

The buses offer 40 percent higher fuel economy, a 30 percent reduction in maintenance costs and a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the WTA website.

WWU 20th on EPA green energy list of top higher ed purchasers of renewable power

January 31, 2013 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the nation's top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western, which is 20th on the EPA list, annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits.Western was the only college or university in the State of Washington on the recently released EPA list.

Western professor receives grant for hurricane research

January 25, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western environmental science professor Scott Miles was awarded a $32,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to study power outages caused by Hurricane Isaac.

Hurricane Isaac hit the Louisiana coastline in August 2012. Miles ultimately hopes the research will help form a universal means of evaluating the performance of power companies in emergency situations.

Sweater Days last throughout winter quarter

January 25, 2013 |
Western Today
The WWU Society for Photographic Education student club is collaborating with the Office of Sustainability, shooting professional-quality photographic portraits of Western students, faculty, and staff as a part of the Western Sustainability 10x12 Winter 2013 Energy Awareness campaign. All members of the campus community are invited to participate in the photo sessions. Photos will be published on the Sweater Days website.

Miles awarded $32K grant from NSF to study fallout from Hurricane Isaac power outages

December 14, 2012 |
Western Today
Scott Miles, a professor of environmental studies at Western Washington University, has been awarded a $32,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impacts and reactions to the power outage related to Hurricane Isaac, which struck Louisiana on Aug. 29.

Miles has completed field work for the grant, but the rest of the work will be done over the next year.

Help Western save energy during the winter break

December 14, 2012 |
Western Today
Many Western Washington University students, faculty and staff are leaving campus for an extended break through the end of the year. Taking the time to check power-using devices before leaving can make a big difference in Western's standing energy load, reducing energy consumption and costs during the intersession.

The 10x12 Program is a collaborative effort of WWU Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, to coordinate, encourage and implement utility reduction efforts throughout campus. The goal is a 10-percent reduction in electricity, natural gas and water consumption and landfill waste production by the end of 2012. We believe small actions make a difference.

Chemistry research highlights sustainability

December 2012 |
WINDOW Magazine
Western Chemistry students are studying whether algae can be part of a cheap biofuel and creating new ways to break down harmful greenhouse gasses.

Students Josh Corliss of Vashon Island, Aaron Culler of Spokane and John Williams of Battle Ground are working with Associate Professor Greg O'Neil to explore new ways to create a less expensive biofuel. O'Neil's research is funded by a $430,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Biologist's research warns of the growing global impacts of extinction

December 2012 |
WINDOW Magazine
Loss of biodiversity appears to harm ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other forms of environmental calamity, according to a new study from an international research team headed by Western Biology Professor Dave Hooper and published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature last summer.

Save electricity by powering down before you leave

November 9, 2012 |
Western Today
If you will be away from the office for the long weekend, help reduce Western Washington University's standing electricity load (also known as power drain or vampire load): Before you leave, please turn off computers, monitors and printers, unplug chargers and small appliances (but not the refrigerator), leave the thermostat at its normal setting, close the windows and shades, turn off lights and shut windows in unoccupied rooms and remind colleagues and students to "power down" before leaving. Enjoy the weekend!

Power down for the Thanksgiving break

November 21, 2012 |
Western Today
If your office, lab, or workstation will be vacant for even one day during the upcoming holiday break, please take the following actions to reduce campus energy consumption.

Close your windows; Close curtains, lower blinds; Turn off and unplug your computer and monitor; Shut off power strips; Unplug all appliances not plugged into power strips, including speakers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, microwave and toaster ovens, water coolers, etc...

Campus offices embrace energy-reduction program

November 6, 2012 |
The Western Front
Offices across campus are making changes to be more energy-reducing and sustainable.

On Nov. 1, the Western Sustainability Office Certification, a program that recognizes campus offices' environmentally friendly choices, was made available to all administration offices on campus. Five administration offices on campus participated in the pilot program over the summer.

Photos a century apart document glacial changes on Mount Baker

November 5, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
About seven years ago, when mountain photographer John Scurlock first saw the 1912 photograph of the south side of Mount Baker, he was smitten with its historical value.

When Dave Tucker, a geology research assistant at Western Washington University, saw the photograph, he was intrigued because it showed the rim of Baker's summit crater.

New 'energy studies' minor

October 9, 2012 |
The Western Front
Starting this quarter, students can now minor in energy policy, economics and business through Western's new Institute for Energy Studies.

The institute's director, Andy Bunn, said understanding these subjects are some of the most important issues facing society this century because not enough universities provide an in-depth education on energy.

Western student makes revolutionary discovery

September 28, 2012 |
The Western Front
A discovery recently made by a Western graduate student was published in the science journal, "Inorganic Chemistry."

Zach Thammavongsy spent three years in the lab researching how to inexpensively break down carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using iron, Thammavongsy said.

Western's Greg O'Neil Awarded $430,000 Grant from the NSF to Research Potential Algal Biofuel

September 25, 2012 |
University Communcations
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University Associate Professor of Chemistry Greg O'Neil has been awarded a five-year, $430,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Program in part for his continued research into the development of algae as a potential source for biofuels.

Student pioneers method for breaking down CO2

September 5, 2012 |
Western Today
After three years and thousands of hours in the lab, Western Washington University graduate student Zach Thammavongsy's research into breaking down carbon dioxide, one of the planet's most plentiful greenhouse gases, into the more valuable carbon monoxide has just been published in the research journal "Inorganic Chemistry."

Thammavongsy, a native of Belluevue and a graduate of Interlake High School, began the research when he was an undergraduate at Western and continued while he pursued his master's degree at the Bellingham university.

WWU 18th on EPA list of green energy purchasers

August 6, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is 18th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the nation's top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits.

Environmental Studies Building to get new roof

August 1, 2012 |
Western Today
A project to re-roof the Environmental Studies Building on the Western Washington University campus was recently funded and will begin in August. A contract is still being negotiated.

According to Facilities Management records, the Environmental Studies roof has needed replacement since 2003. Funding is now available to proceed with the work, which includes abatement of the existing asbestos-containing roof material.

Solar observatory atop waterfront's Technology Development Center will help forecast peaks and lulls in solar and wind energy

July 18, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University has joined a network of West Coast universities providing sensor data that will help forecast peaks and lulls in solar energy generation.

The first phase of an innovative instrument cluster has been installed on the roof of the Technology Development Center (TDC) on Bellingham's Central Waterfront; its data will be used to improve our ability to forecast the availability of renewable energy resources.

Capturing the Sun

July 6, 2012 |
WINDOW Magazine
Solar power and the Pacific Northwest – two terms that are mutually exclusive, right? Not if a team of researchers at Western produce what could be a game-changer in the realm of solar electricity.

Western could become a hub of solar research

July 6, 2012 |
WINDOW Magazine
The luminescent solar concentrator research at the Applied Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC) is just one of the projects at Western focusing on sustainable energy and green technology.

10x12 pilot lowers energy use, cost

June 26, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University saved $24,000 during the 10x12 pilot project last year in four campus buildings, and now the successful pilot will morph into two university-wide programs for the coming year.

Because of the pilot's success, departments in in Arntzen Hall, Parks Hall, Biology Building and Chemistry Building shared a total award of $6,787, representing 25 percent of the money saved through the program in the 2011-12 school year.

Website maps a picture of avalanche risks

May 10, 2012 |
Window Magazine
A new website maps out local avalanche dangers for those heading into the mountain backcountry, thanks to a joint effort by Huxley College of the Environment and the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center.

The new site depicts the NWAC's daily regional avalanche forecast on a map of Washington state and the Mount Hood area of Oregon. It's an easier-to-read format that will help backcountry travelers assess avalanche risks.

Get amped

May 7, 2012 |
The AS Review
On March 29, 2012, three Western students from Huxley College of the Environment competed in the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge. The team, named Amped Aquatics, developed the Nexus Buoy, a promising renewable energy prototype that converts wave energy into electricity. Although Amped Aquatics and the Nexus Buoy did not walk away with the cash prizes offered to the top five contenders, they took away in life and team experience that was just as valuable.

WWU Huxley College students' prototype converts wave energy into electricity

April 19, 2012 |
University Communcations
BELLINGHAM – A team of three students in Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment competed in the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on March 29, where they demonstrated their self-designed prototype of a renewable energy technology, called Nexus Buoy. The device converts wave energy into electricity and could be a promising money-saving alternative to burning fossil fuels as an energy source in coastal communities.

Seniors Aaron Ellig of Kennewick, Andrew Wells of Mukilteo and junior Carolyn Wise of Northfield, Minn., who collectively call themselves "Amped Aquatics," went up against 31 other teams in the UW competition that challenges students to design and develop a solution to an environmental problem and produce a prototype and business pitch that demonstrates the market opportunity for a chance to win $10,000.

Solar Forecast: More Power With New Weather Data

April 13, 2012 |
Earth Techling
Three universities have teamed up to create a network of observation points across the West Coast and Hawaii to provide sensor data that will help forecast solar energy patterns. Western Washington University, the University of California and the University of Hawaii are joining forces in a move they hope will eventually make it easier to integrate solar energy into regional power systems.

Western receives grant to create new energy courses

April 10, 2012 |
The Western Front
The Ingersoll Rand Foundation has donated $25,000 to Western in order to help fund an energy program for the university, according to a university press release.

Brian Sibley, campaign communications manager for the division of university advancements, said he believes this program is "quintessentially Western."

The program, intended to teach students how to develop new companies and work in the modern energy industry, is a collaborative effort from Western's College of Business and Economics, the College of Sciences and Technology and Huxley College of the Environment, according to the press release.

Western joins five universities in solar energy research

April 3, 2012 |
The Western Front
Western has become the newest link in a series of six solar and wind prediction sites along the west coast that will help researchers forecast the availability of solar and wind energy sources.

Workers installed specialized data collection equipment Friday on top of Western's Technology Development Center, located at 1000 F St. Brad Johnson, a physics professor at Western, said it has already begun to collect data on Bellingham's solar viability, with wind measurements soon to follow.

Professor receives grant to study snow pollutants

April 3, 2012 |
The Western Front
Associate Professor Ruth Sofield is preparing to study the potential impact of pollutants from snowmobiles on mountain snowpacks with a $4,000 grant she was awarded in January.

Sofield received the grant from the Winter Wildlands Alliance and will focus her studies on Mount Baker and in Wyoming. She will create a report on the potential pollutant levels in the snow for the alliance — a national non-profit organization with a dual mission of conservation and recreation.

Ingersoll Rand Foundation donates $25,000 to WWU Energy Program

April 2, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM –Western Washington University has received a gift of $25,000 from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation. Ingersoll Rand is a world leader in creating and sustaining safe, comfortable and efficient environments and includes Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort systems and services, among its family of brands. The grant from the Ingersoll Rand Foundation will help fund the development of an energy program at WWU.

"We are pleased to help WWU pioneer this program," said Warren Michelsen, district general manager of Northwest-Hawaii Trane district. "As a company we are committed to helping our customers reach their goals for sustainability and energy conservation. This program will prepare its graduates to be leaders in the clean energy economy. We're honored to support the innovation and initiative they've demonstrated and pleased to collaborate in helping guide the launch of this ambitious program."

University Environmental and Cleantech Innovators Awarded $22,500

March 30, 2012 |
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Student teams pitched their innovations at the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge yesterday afternoon, showing the clever ways they would address energy, urban agriculture, recycling, built environment and water-related problems. Now in its fourth year, the Challenge focuses on the development of prototypes that solve some of today's biggest problems and have market impact. The 23 student teams came from universities and technology institutes across the Northwest.

Western Washington University's Perpetuous Innovations team showed a prototype of their Solar Window design for commercial greenhouses. Each window concentrates incoming sunlight and uses it to generate solar power, while still allowing light to come through the tinted plastic pane.

Solar panels installed atop Environmental Studies

March 30, 2012 |
Western Today
A student-funded solar array is being installed atop the Environmental Studies Building at Western Washington University.

The $167,500 project, funded by the student Green Energy Fee and proposed by a team led by Matthew Moroney, is being installed on the building's south-facing roof. The 5-kilowatt array will be visible from the Academic Instructional Center skybridge, where students can view info station on the project and an interactive display of the array's power output. The solar array is one of four projects being installed this year by the Green Energy Fee Grant Program.

Solar panels installed on Environmental Studies

March 30, 2012 |
The Western Front
Western is adding 24 solar panels to the top of the Environmental Studies building. The project is being funded by the Green Fee Grant Program and has a total cost of $167,500.

Preparations for the panels began in December and the first of the panels was installed over spring break, said Kathryn Freeman, Green Energy Fee Grant Program coordinator. Work on the roof is expected to continue into early April, according to an online statement released last year by the Office of Facilities Development and Capital Budget. Dave Willett, manager of architectural and engineering services at Western, said the panels are expected to be operational in mid-April.

Energy efficiency project begins in June; public forum will be April 5

March 28, 2012 |
Western Today
A project to increase energy efficiency in 26 campus buildings at Western Washington University -- and thus reduce Western's utility bills and carbon footprint -- is scheduled to begin in June.

Improvements include better lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls and water conservation devices; the upgrades will be made to 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls.

TDC roof in use as solar- and wind-energy prediction test

March 22, 2012 |
Western Today
Electricians from Western Washington University installed solar- and wind-energy prediction equipment at the Technology Development Center on the Bellingham waterfront Friday, making Western the newest location for testing the gear being developed by Western and a consortium of schools in the University of California system.

Many businesses are transitioning to alternative energy, and this equipment tests if the local weather will be able to continuously produce enough electricity to keep the equipment running, said David Larson, of the University of California at Merced.

Cool 2011 summer helped Lake Whatcom water quality a bit

March 14, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - Scientific measurements of the biochemistry of Lake Whatcom showed some improvement in 2011, but that is probably the result of a cool summer, not human efforts to control polluting runoff.

So says Robin Matthews, the lead scientist on the annual lake water monitoring effort commissioned by the city. Matthews is director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.

Huxley grad creates avalanche danger website

March 9, 2012 |
The Western Front
Anyone who plans to hit the mountains for snowshoeing, hiking or skiing can check out a website that forecasts avalanche dangers.

This follows an incident during winter of 2003, when an avalanche on Mount Baker buried three Western students who were snowshoeing at night. Two of the students survived, but one died.

In 2004, Michael Medler, Huxley associate professor and chair of the environmental studies department, began working with students to map avalanche dangers.

Off campus for spring break? Remember to power down

March 8, 2012 |
Western Today
Those whose offices or computers will be unused for even one day during the upcoming break should take the following actions to reduce phantom energy consumption: Shut your windows; Shut curtains/lower your blinds for extra insulation; Turn off and unplug your computer and your separate monitor; Shut off power strips; Unplug all appliances not plugged into power strips, including speakers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, microwave and toaster ovens, water coolers, etc; Leave refrigerators plugged in, or defrost and clean before unplugging; Shut fume hood sashes (in lab buildings)...

WWU creates new avalanche danger map

March 1, 2012 |
The Seattle Times
Backcountry skiers and snowboarders have a new tool to explore regional daily avalanche danger levels.

A web-based map, created by students and faculty at Western Washington University, takes the regional avalanche forecasts issued by the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center and displays the same information spatially. This allows backcountry travelers to zoom into specific regions and examine the forecast avalanche danger. But it also prevents users from zooming in too closely, because the forecasts are regional, not site-specific.

Western plows ahead in sustainability efforts

February 21, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is on its way to becoming an environmentally sustainable campus. In a presentation earlier this month, Campus Sustainability Manager Seth Vidaña presented to students and faculty the steps taken by Western since the creation of the Office of Sustainability.

Vidaña has been helping the campus become more sustainable through various programs, including those that brought more local foods to campus and encouraging students to take the buses rather than drive to campus.

Latest newsletter from Office of Sustainability is online

February 17, 2012 |
Western Today
The latest newsletter from the Office of Sustainability at Western Washington University is online, full of information about sustainability efforts and projects at Western.

Check out the latest issue for news about the 2-degree turn-down, which saved the university more than $15,000 in November and December. Read also about the home basketball Green Games, a recap of the 2011 Sustainability Awards, and much more.

WWU Makes EPA Green Energy List

February 6, 2012 |
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Western Washington University ranks 17th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) list of the nation's top 20 higher education green energy purchasers. It's the only college or university in the state of Washington to make the list.

Each year, WWU offsets 100 percent of its electrical energy consumption from green sources, by buying renewable energy credits (RECs). Western jumped to the forefront of the country's renewable energy movement in 2004, when WWU students voted to implement a student fee for the purchase of green energy.

WWU 17th on EPA Green Energy List of Top Higher Education Purchasers of Renewable Power

February 2, 2012 |
University Communcations
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University is 17th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the nation's top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education. Western annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs). Western was the only college or university in the State of Washington on the recently released EPA list.

The genesis for Western's renewable energy program began more than seven years ago when a small group of Western students set a goal of having Western offset all of its electrical energy from a 100-percent renewable source. To meet that goal they proposed a student initiative to implement a fee that would offset the cost of purchasing renewable energy.

Western working to increase energy efficiency on campus

January 13, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is beginning a utility efficiency and improvement project in 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls that will cut down on rising energy costs and lead to significant utility savings over time.

The utility improvements will include lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls, and water conservation.

Western will be utilizing a state program to finance the campus construction work, which will be paid for by utility savings. To encourage investment in infrastructure upgrades that lead to reduced energy consumption, the state established the Energy Service Performance Contracting program. Western has used this program on a small scale with very good results, and now plans the expanded utility improvements across campus.

Could a little transparency help curb pollution?

January 12, 2012 |
The Washington Post
On Wednesday, the EPA released a new interactive map letting people check out the biggest stationary sources of global-warming emissions in their area. It's a nifty tool. But could it actually lead to less pollution? Quite possibly, yes, if the past is any guide.

WWU to begin nearly $3.2 million energy-efficiency work

January 12, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
A nearly $3.2 million project to make 26 buildings at Western Washington University more energy-efficient is expected to begin in March. The university is using a state program called Energy Saving Performance Contracting to finance the work to reduce Western's annual use of electricity, gas, water and sewer. That reduction is expected to save $227,000 to $337,000 a year - the higher amount factors in inflation through 2024 - with the savings going to repay a $3.06 million bond.

WWU to Begin Energy Efficiency Project in Campus Buildings

January 9, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University is beginning a utility efficiency and improvement project in 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls that will cut down on rising energy costs and lead to significant utility savings over time.

The utility improvements will include lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls, and water conservation.

Remember to Power Down for winter break

December 7, 2011 |
Western Today
If your office or workstation will be vacant for even one day during the upcoming holiday, please take the following actions to reduce "phantom" energy consumption while you are away.

Sequoia Tree Lighting

November 30, 2011 |
Office of Sustainability
The holiday lights installed by Facilities staff on the Giant Sequoia next to Edens Hall have been switched from incandescent to low-energy LED lights this year.

The new strings of LED bulbs will use a fraction of the electricity, at a cost of $.57(cents) per day, compared to the conventional lighting used previously, at a cost of $4.29 in electricity daily. The tree is lit eleven hours per day, in the morning and evening hours of darkness during the weeks between thanksgiving and New Years Day. The LED lights are also cooler, making them safer for outdoor use.

Strings of LED lights, including lamps, cords and attached fixtures are more expensive than standard lighting, requiring a start-up expense of about $1,800 for the 16 strings of blue and white LED lights placed on the tree. LED lamps are reputed to be more durable and longer lasting than incandescent bulbs. LED lamps are projected to last for 50,000 hours before burning out, compared to 2,000 hours for incandescent bulbs. Replacement frequency can be affected by damage from wind and weather in outdoor lighting. Costs for replacement of individual LED lamps are comparable standard outdoor bulbs. FM generally replaces 25-50 light bulbs every year in the array used to light the big tree, and replaces the full strings of lights periodically, due to wear and damage.

Western might save a little money by not lighting the tree at all – however, maintaining the tradition is relatively inexpensive, and is one way to help keep spirits up during the colder season. The lighting on the big tree can be seen from as far away as downtown, and is a cheerful beacon for the community through the winter holidays.

The Coal Pipeline: In Pacific Northwest, A Local Battle Has Global Fallout

November 23, 2011 |
The Huffington Post
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- The flyer and I landed in Matt Krogh's Bellingham office on the same October afternoon. I had stopped by to hear why he thought building the country's largest coal port just north of town was a bad idea; the four-page full-color mailing had arrived to try to convince him otherwise.

That day, tens of thousands of the flyers filled mailboxes in the northwest corner of Washington state. "These people have a lot of money," says Krogh, who works with the nonprofit RE Sources for Sustainable Communities in Bellingham. Indeed, promoting the port is Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, owned by Warren Buffett's holding company; Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company; and SSA Marine, a division of the world's largest cargo terminal operator Carrix, half of which is owned by Goldman Sachs.

Environment and jobs rule coal terminal discussion

November 22, 2011 |
The Western Front
The classic labor-versus-the-environment debate hit home for Whatcom County at a discussion about the Cherry Point Gateway Pacific Terminal project on Monday, Nov. 21.

Bob Ferris, executive director of RE Sources, an environmentally focused nonprofit, and David Warren, former local labor union official, answered questions from the audience Whatcom Community College's Syre Auditorium at a forum hosted by the college's Sustainability Club.

Questions included what the long-term economic impacts were of the project, what environmental effects it would have and how train traffic could be minimized. Audience members expressed concerns about climate change issues as well as the impact increased train traffic would have on Amtrak.

Campus encouraged to power down during the holiday breaks

November 21, 2011 |
Western Today
Offices and workstations that will be vacant for even one day during the upcoming holiday break should be buttoned up and powered down to help the university save energy.

A few courses of action, from the Western Washington University Office of Sustainability and its 10x12 program: Shut your windows; Shut curtains/lower blinds for extra insulation; Turn off and unplug your computer and your separate monitor; Shut off power strips...

1st new hydro dam in Washington in quarter-century

October 19, 2011 |
The Seattle Times
This winter, a little more of the power flowing into Snohomish County homes will be locally grown. The Snohomish County Public Utility District has officially opened its new mini-dam and powerhouse on Youngs Creek south of Sultan.

The $29 million project, south of Sultan, is expected to produce enough electricity on average for about 2,000 homes. The dam, 12 feet tall and 65 feet across, is the first new one in the state in more than a quarter of a century, according to the PUD.

Coal terminal builder could be taken to court

October 18, 2011 |
The Western Front
Debate over the proposed shipping terminal at Cherry Point has not let up between environmental activists and the terminal's builder.

On Monday, Oct. 3, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue SSA Marine for "gross negligence and illegal behavior clearing of 9 acres at Cherry Point this past August." This is filed under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act.

Bikers to ride from WWU downtown Saturday as part of climate change rally

September 22, 2011 |
Western Today
Ten bike rides from ten different schools across Bellingham will converge at Bellingham City Hall at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24 to call for local and national solutions to climate change. Mayor Dan Pike will join rally goers in calling for transition to a fossil fuel-free world.

Lauren Squires, of Western Washington University's Office of Sustainability, will speak at the event to share what Western is doing to lower its carbon footprint.

WWU Ranked 14th on Sierra Club's Annual List of 'Coolest Schools'

August 17, 2011 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University has been ranked 14th in the nation in the Sierra Club's fifth annual "Coolest Schools" ranking of colleges around the country helping to solve climate issues and operate sustainably.

Western's rise to into the Top 20 (it placed 48th last year) among the nation's thousands of colleges and universities was fueled by a host of initiatives on campus, such as being the first university in the nation to have its students impose a green-energy fee to pay for it becoming 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Western buys more renewable energy credits than any other university in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.

$15K from Puget Sound Energy Foundation boosts WWU's new Clean Energy Program

August 15, 2011 |
Western Today
The Puget Sound Energy Foundation today donated $15,000 to support Western Washington University's innovative new Clean Energy Program, which the university is in the process of designing to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding green energy economy.

"We appreciate the generosity and vision of the Puget Sound Energy Foundation," said Western Provost Catherine Riordan. "This new program will help position our state to lead the nation in the next wave of economic expansion and innovation."

Western's Clean Energy Program will integrate research and outreach with a unique interdisciplinary curriculum. The Puget Sound Energy Foundation donation via the WWU Foundation will support development of the program's interdisciplinary curriculum and new courses.

10 x 12 Program encourages WWU to power down for summer

June 7, 2011 |
Western Today
If your office or workstation will be vacant for even one day during break or summer quarter, please take the following actions to reduce your energy use: Shut your windows; Shut curtains/lower your blinds; Turn off and unplug your computer and your separate monitor; Shut off power strips...

Huxley researchers aid in deconstruction of historic dam

June 3, 2011 |
The Western Front
The Klallam people of the Elwha Valley on the Olympic Peninsula once caught fish in the Elwha River year-round. The river was one of the most productive fish runs in the Pacific Northwest and boasted all five species of Pacific salmon.

But the construction of two massive dams in the early 20th century drastically cut the size of runs, destroying the tribe's major food source and leaving the habitat altered.

Community rallies as mayor discusses Cherry Point

June 3, 2011 |
The Western Front
Once again the Cherry Point controversy proved to be a heated one as concerned residents of Whatcom County packed the Municipal Courthouse on Wednesday, June 1, to participate in a public forum held by Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike.

Those who were unable to enter rallied outside the courthouse, signing petitions and speaking with community members.

City remodels 3 buildings to save money, energy: Grant allows energy-efficient lights, heating, windows and solar panels

May 27, 2011 |
The Western Front
Crews began installing solar panels on the rooftop of the Lincoln Square Apartments on York Street.

The Bellingham Housing Authority received a $9.9 million federal grant to start the Green Communities Project last October. The goal of the project is to create an environmentally conscious community.

This January, the housing authority started remodeling the apartments at Lincoln Square, Chuckanut Square on 12th Street, and Washington Square on E Street. Construction workers are using environmentally friendly technology, such as solar panels, an energy-efficient water heating system, green lighting systems and energy-efficient windows.

Abstract of May 16, 2011, Faculty Senate meeting

May 17, 2011 |
Western Today
Presentation: The Future of Sustainability in the Curriculum at Western, from George Pierce, special assistant for sustainability. Pierce and Sustainability Committee members Craig Dunn, Seth Vidana, Nick Zaferatos, Nicole Brown and Victor Nolet answered questions on the Sustainability Initiative, a recent white paper, and the completion of phase one of the project. Phase two seeks a director of undergraduate projects and the creation of a general education sequence in sustainability literacy. Phase three seeks establishment of a fully developed institute with majors and minors and support of faculty and student research. Information is available on the provost's website or at Senators discussed various definitions of "sustainability" that tend to be broad in scope, transdisciplinary by nature and must be applicable across curriculum and applied research both regionally and globally.

A plan for 'the big one:' Professors, students create interactive quake-tracking site

May 17, 2011 |
The Western Front
If an earthquake were to occur off the coast of Washington, an event seismologists consider likely, the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle would crumble. Half the city would be left without power, and fires would erupt along the waterfront due to ruptured gas pipes and fuel spilled from vehicles.

LED lights in parking lots, solar panels among projects to get funding from AS Green Energy Fee

May 11, 2011 |
Western Today
The Associated Students at Western Washington University has announced the projects slated to receive funding from Green Energy Fee grant program, according to a press release from the AS. The money comes from a fee the student body voted to impose on itself; Western's was the first student body in the nation to self-impose this kind of fee.

Gas plant may slash Western's heat bill

May 6, 2011 |
The Western Front
A natural gas power plant on Bellingham's waterfront might cut a third of Western's $1.6 million spent on heat, according to Western Facilities Management.

Puget Sound Energy power plant could heat WWU, waterfront

May 4, 2011 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - The gas-fired electric power plant that once supplied heat to pulp and tissue mills could be harnessed to heat Western Washington University, downtown Bellingham and a redeveloped waterfront.

Western recognized for green energy use: Proposals this week may offer new ways for the university to stay a leader in sustainability

April 29, 2011 |
The Western Front
Western placed No. 17 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of college and university purchasers of renewable energy. The Princeton Review gave Western a score of 96 out of 99 on their "green colleges" list.

College and University Magazine also named Western's custodial services the most sustainable in the nation, said Seth Vidana, management analyst for Western's Office of Sustainability.

On the ballot: Heating Costs Initiative

April 25, 2011 |
The AS Review
Should listings on the off-campus housing registry be required to provide an energy efficiency score or combined heating/electrical total ? informing students about that unit's weatherization and heating costs?

The Heating Cost Initiative was proposed for the ballot by Neil Baunsgard, Matt Moroney and Wil Wrede, with the support of many others. We emailed Baunsgard to ask some questions about the measure.

Student Teams Compete in UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 1, 2011 |
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
University students are creating next-generation clean technology solutions, addressing today's energy problems with novel solutions.

Seventeen student teams from around Washington state pitched their innovations at the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge yesterday afternoon. Now in its third year, the Challenge focuses on the development of prototypes that solve environmental problems and have market impact.

Coal quandary as state plans to send dirty fuel overseas

March 26, 2011 |
Seattle Times
Just as Washington is weaning itself off coal, two companies are pushing to make the state a leading exporter of the fossil fuel. That possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington won't use it, should the state really serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas?

The sandy black gold arrives by rail every day, and piles up in giant mounds on a spit just off shore. From there, it's loaded onto ships bound for Asia.

Eco-friendly endeavors, Go Green campaign reduces energy consumption in dorms

March 11, 2011 |
The Western Front
Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. In sophomore Marye Scott's opinion, students living on campus should take this motto to heart.

"It is all about being aware and conscious about your actions and your personal impact on the environment," Scott said. Scott, a resident of Birnam Wood, is one of 42 Eco Reps who serve year-round throughout Western's residence halls. Her current focus – competing to be green.

The dark side of the moo

February 25, 2011 |
The Western Front
Creating energy, bedding and fertilizer from cow manure and pre-consumed food waste may be the next big thing when it comes to renewable resources.

Eric Powell of Andgar Corp. said it is one of the most recent up-and-coming "green" ideas. In 2000, Andgar partnered with GHD Anaerobic Digesters in Chilton, Wis., to build an anaerobic digester they needed for the Northwest. GHD has the patented design and Andgar builds them.

Bellingham researches alternative energy

February 15, 2011 |
The Western Front
A new power plant in Bellingham could be constructed in 2012, as city officials are researching alternative energy projects over the course of this year. A hydroelectric plant could help to generate electricity and revenue for the city of Bellingham, said Ted Carlson, Bellingham public works director.

The city could spend up to $200,000 from the water fund to research preliminary engineering and permitting during 2011, said Sam Shipp, project engineer for the city. The money for this project is allocated to the public works water fund, or ratepayer money, he said, not additional taxpayer money.

Whatcom County recognized for green energy use

February 11, 2011 |
The Western Front
Whatcom County was recognized on Feb. 3 for being among the nation's leading green power purchasers by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has recognized Whatcom County since 2006 when the county first purchased green power, according to a press release from Whatcom County Executive's Office.

It's on! Residence halls at WWU compete to reduce energy consumption

January 10, 2011 |
Western Today
The 2011 Go for the Green: Total Waste Reduction Challenge has begun at Western Washington University. The contest is a waste-reduction challenge pitting all of WWU's residence halls against each other during winter quarter, with the winner set to be announced April 6 at a party in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

Hundreds of dollars in prizes are up for grabs as students fight to reduce consumption of water, natural gas and electricity while creating the least amount of landfill waste.

Office of Sustainability urges campus to conserve energy during break

December 9, 2010 |
Western Today
The Office of Sustainability at Western Washington University recently has introduced its 10 x 12 Program, a strategic element of the President's Climate Commitment and the WWU Climate Action Plan. The 10 x 12 Program has been created to help coordinate, educate and implement utility reduction throughout campus. The goal is to see a 10-percent reduction in electricity, natural gas and water consumption and landfill waste production by the end of 2012.

Hot Renewable: Wide Interest in Solar Power

November 14, 2010 |
YES! Magazine
The work of activists and researchers, along with shifts in the energy market, may be pushing solar energy toward a tipping point in the United States.

WWU 12th on EPA green energy list of Top 20 higher education purchasers of renewable power

November 3, 2010 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is 12th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of the nation's top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.

Western annually purchases 100 percent of its electrical energy from green sources via renewable energy credits.

WWU researchers say they could dramatically cut cost of solar power

September 14, 2010 |
The Bellingham Herald
A team of Western Washington University researchers have developed a new approach to solar electricity generation they say could eventually cut solar power to 1/10th of its current cost. The team recently won a three-year grant of $970,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue their research.

WWU starts Climate Action Plan

July 9, 2010 |
The Bellingham Herald
Western Washington University, which has long been involved in environmental education and sustainability, now has a plan on how it can help address climate change and be an even better steward of the environment. The university's Board of Trustees recently approved a Climate Action Plan, which commits WWU to meeting goals related to greenhouse emissions and sustainability and provides guidelines on how to meet the goals.

Western works toward climate neutrality

June 25, 2010 |
The Western Front
Western is on track to become the first climate-neutral university in the state, and will aim to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Board of Trustees voted to accept Western's Climate Action Plan (CAP) on June 11.

WWU Students Re-Approve 'Green Fee' to Keep University Powered by Renewable-Energy Sources

May 10, 2010 |
University Communcations
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University students have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new, expanded "green fee" which will continue to finance WWU's purchase of renewable-energy certificates and keep the university running on sustainable sources of energy.

Western ranks high in EPA challenge

April 27, 2010 |
The Western Front
Western emerged as a top contender in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's College and University Green Power Challenge due to its purchase of renewable energy.

Frontline: Vote green, demand Western reduce carbon footprint

April 20, 2010 |
The Western Front
Students and administration should actively support the goals of Western's Climate Action Plan. Western's Office of Sustainability created a draft of its Climate Action Plan a year and a half ago, which has yet to be approved by university administration. The office will present a final draft of the plan for approval to Western's Board of Trustees in June.

Huge Parking-Lot Solar Array Powers NJ Grid With Over a Million Annual Kilowatt-hours

January 14, 2010 |
Alpha Energy, a Bellingham, Washington-based photovoltaic power systems provider, has installed one of the largest parking structure solar arrays in the US; a 1 MW system on the parking lot of an auto auction facility in New Jersey.

The solar panels will supply the New Jersey grid with more than a million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.

Bellingham waterfront wind gear is first step to wind power

January 8, 2010 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM — Wind instruments were installed Thursday, Jan. 7, on the Bellingham waterfront to gauge the feasibility of installing power-generating turbines on the site.

Tackling renewable energy solutions

October 13, 2009 |
The Western Front
Seth Vidaña, coordinator for the Western's Office of Sustainability, receives feedback from students and staff at an open forum on the draft of the Climate Action Plan. Feedback will be considered for revisions as the plan moves toward its next draft. Western's Climate Action Plan, drafted in June 2009, faces public scrutiny this week through a series of on-campus forums as Western attempts to move closer to climate neutrality.

EPA announces collegiate Green Power winners; competition fails to change power buying habits

April 20, 2009 |
The Ivy League is the greenest of them all, according to the EPA, which today announced the college and university winners of the Green Power challenge — a competition to motivate American schools to purchase more renewable energy. Participating schools compete within their athletic conferences to purchase the most certified green power, but conferences only qualify if each purchases more than 10 million kWh in aggregate.

WWU Challenges Residence Halls to Reduce Electricity Use

February 27, 2008 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University's Office of Sustainability is coordinating the "Go for the Green" program in eight of the University's 16 residential communities to reduce electricity use and carbon dioxide emissions.