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news-iconLocal News: Energy & Climate

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


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: http://youtu.be/5wtUMM8SDws

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 |
KGMI 790-AM
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 http://www.wwu.edu/sii. 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 |
CleanTechnica
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.