Western Sustainability Newsletter: Volume 1.2
During November and December, Facilities Management implemented a 2-degree setback pilot program in several buildings on campus. This pilot program is one of many ideas that have been inspired by the Climate Action Plan and the 10X12 Program, both of which are closely tied to university-wide budget reduction strategies.
With collaborative efforts between FM and the Office of Sustainability, and crucial support and participation from members of the Western community, the University successfully lowered the base daytime temperature in the majority of on-campus, state-funded buildings to 2-degrees below the previous winter's setting, with 68 degrees being the target minimum. In order to be as accurate as possible with such a finite reduction, the project leaders chose building areas that are connected to computer-automated climate-control systems. Buildings with manual climate adjustment controls were not included in the pilot project but they may be rolled into a campus-wide initiative if the Degree Set-back program becomes a regular part of Western's operations. Nighttime heating setbacks were included in the pilot wherever practical.
Initial savings estimates for the approximate 2-degree adjustment were in the neighborhood of $42,000 dollars annually, and 10 percent less natural gas consumption overall during cold weather months. Utility monitoring data for November and December shows that the total drop in natural gas expenditures was over $15,000 dollars and a 13 percent drop in natural gas use for a two month period, suggesting that annual savings may be higher than the original estimates. Colder winter temperatures were taken into account for savings calculations, and several other minor changes to building operations were made during the 2-degree setback testing period, but FM Energy Management staff attributes almost all of the savings to the setback.
The OS and the FM Energy Management Team are providing information and guidelines and tips for maintaining comfort and function while minimizing energy-waste on the OS website at www.wwu.edu/sustain/programs/10x12.
This past October saw the completion of Western's 3rd Annual Sustainability Week. Lauren Squires, the commencement speaker for the December 2011 graduating class and former Coordinator for the AS Environmental and Sustainability Programs Office, organized the week's events, speakers, and volunteers. Some of these events were focused on local food, farmers, and regional concerns, others on the history of sustainability at Western and in the campus curriculum. The year's Sustainability Week concluded with something a little different than its predecessors, and something uniquely special, the 1st Annual Sustainability Awards. The awards categories included Academics, Operations, Student Life, and Community Partnership. Ballots for nominating award candidates were circulated throughout academic departments, student clubs and organizations, and among individual students and staff. Those who received sustainability awards were chosen according to their achievements in innovation, leadership, community engagement, and metrics. Once the ballots were submitted, a selection committee came together to choose one overall accomplishment in each category.
"The committee received numerous excellent applications" said Office of Sustainability Coordinator Seth Vidana, "Not only did they receive excellent applications for individuals, but groups as well. While we recognize that many applicants have provided long-standing support for sustainability at Western, the committee focused on submissions that demonstrated significant advancements over the past year." Award presentations were made by prominent university administrators, including Vice Presidents Steve Swan and Rich Van Den Hul, Vice Provost Steve Vanderstaay, and the Associated Students President Anna Ellemeier. "The simple fact that these people took time out of their busy schedules to be here speaks a lot about the importance of this topic to our University," Vidana said.
In the category of Academics, the Award recipient was Dr. Victor Nolet for his recent work crafting environmental and sustainability education standards for Washington State. In the category of Operations, the Award recipient was Academic Custodial Services for their advancement in Green Cleaning practices, primarily through incorporating Activeion Cleaning Solutions, a technology that uses electrical charges to temporarily alter tap water into a powerful cleaner. In the category of Student Life, the Award recipient was "Students for Sustainable Food" for their efforts in researching Western's local food purchases, working with Administration to adopt the Real Food Challenge, and securing funds to create the Viking Field where Western can grow their own produce. In the category of Community Partnership, the Award recipient was "Urban Transitions Studio: A Community Partnership in Sustainable Development." The Studio has been central in helping students to participate in shaping Bellingham's commercial development as well as connecting Western's faculty in the process of integrating transdisciplinary curriculum.
Some honorable mentions in the Awards Ceremony included Alexis Tahiri for waste reduction measures in the Journalism Department, Scott Stilts for metals recycling efforts at Facilities Management, Tim Wynn for his administrative support of campus-wide sustainability initiatives, Neil Baunsgard for his work on the Green Fee Project and other green designs on campus, Rich Brown for challenging students to walk or bike to school, "Students for Renewable Energy" for awareness raising sustainability events, Daniel Espinoza-Gonzalez for his work with the Teaching/Learning Academy, and The Hybrid Bus Project Team for designing and developing an alternatively fueled, lightweight, modular hybrid buses in the Greater Puget Sound region. Many other excellent groups and individuals made the list. Our thanks go out to every one for continuing to move Western toward a sustainable future.
Western Viking Athletics, the AS Recycle Center, and the Office of Sustainability are teaming up to make all home basketball games "Green Games" this season, with an emphasis on waste reduction. This program exists thanks to the initiative and efforts put forth by Katie Rothenberg, Assistant Marketing Director of Athletics. The AS Recycle Center is providing recycling and compost barrels in the Carver Gym foyer for each game. The barrels are monitored by Western staff and volunteers who are there to provide education about recycling and waste sorting. So far staff members have had few volunteers in the initiative, but they are hoping the project will continue to build momentum. As an incentive, the Athletic Department is offering free admission to basketball games for anyone who volunteers to monitor sorting barrels pre- and post-game, and during half-time. Athletic Interns are getting involved by sweeping grandstands after each game and sorting discarded materials into recycling or compost barrels. The "sorting process" is the central focus, putting different types of waste into an appropriate disposal container. Proper sorting emphasizes the "reduce" and "reuse" aspects of recycling. Most concession items and containers are either compostable or recyclable but they usually end up in a landfill.
The Green Game effort is contributing to campus goals to eliminate landfill materials, a program also known as the Zero Waste Western initiative. Since the commencement of the 2011-2012 Basketball Season, waste sorting has improved, and plans to continue the Green Games initiative into the 2012-2013 Volleyball and Basketball seasons are currently underway. "The difference in the amount of recyclable waste that is being diverted from landfill is very impressive and encouraging" said Western's 10X12 Project Leader Carol Berry, "The training is simple and quick, and a free pass to the games is a great perk!" The Athletics Department and the Office of Sustainability are extending an invitation to anyone who would like to volunteer their time, both to learn more about recycling and composting and to help WWU and the Athletics Department educate others. "Being a volunteer at the barrels is fun and gratifying" Carol Berry remarked, who regularly volunteers at the basketball games, "the experience is helping me learn small details that can support or sabotage a recycling program." Berry emphasized that more volunteers are needed for the remaining games of the 2012 basketball season. At present no one has accepted this invitation.
Western's efforts in recycling continue to have a positive effect the immediate campus environment, but they can also directly improve environmental conditions in the surrounding region. Our landfill material is ultimately deposited near Roosevelt, WA in Klickitat County, about 337 miles southeast from Bellingham. The Green Games initiative is a good opportunity to be more responsible with our waste at home, but also an opportunity to let our actions communicate Western's values to others in our region. Reducing the quantity of materials that we deposit in Klickitat County is a positive step toward promoting sustainable behavior on a larger scale. And we could reduce that quantity by almost ¾, according to statistics from the Waste Monitoring Staff at the OS. At the present time, an estimated 73 percent of university waste is compostable, such as concession items at athletic events. If sorted properly at the source, Western could divert the vast majority of its waste stream to Whatcom County's Green Earth Technologies, a local industry, which converts compostable waste into clean compostable material that can be reused for natural soil enrichment rather than landfill deposition.
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- Western Sustainability Newsletter
- Volume 1.3: March 2012
- Volume 1.2: February 2012
- Volume 1.1: November 2011