UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Volunteers Needed: Green Game Day

This September 14th will be our first Green Game Day of the Fall 2013 semester. UConn’s Football team will be playing Maryland at 7:30 PM and volunteers are needed to help promote recycling. Volunteers will be picked up at approximately 2:00 PM at Sprague Hall and brought over to Rentschler Field. They will be provided FREE football tickets to get into the game. Volunteers will be paired up and assigned a parking lot to collect recyclables from and educate the fans on the importance of recycling. Volunteers will be provided dinner before entering the stadium. The bus will leave at half time for those who do not want to stay the entire game. Other student buses can be taken back to UConn for those who wish to stay for the second half.

Participating in Green Game Day is a great way to meet other students interested in environmental outreach and it is a very rewarding experience. Tailgaters greatly appreciate the hard-work of the volunteers and it serves as an opportunity to inform others on how to be more mindful of the environment. It is events like Green Game Day that has set UConn as a leader of sustainability and has enabled the university to earn a #1 ranking for Sierra’s 2013 Cool Schools Survey.

Please contact Emily McInerney to sign-up. 


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Cleaning Green

Our intern Katie, just moved into campus apartments instead of a traditional dorm.  Consequently, she’s been researching how to live more greenly, including cleaning.  Here is the result of her research!

Simple Switches

We all want to live a little greener so we try to recycle and save energy, but what about those necessities of life that may include harsh chemicals or other substances that are unfriendly to the environment?  Fear not, there is a solution!  Many people are still unaware that there are a variety of green cleaning and personal hygiene products available in the market today.  All it takes is a few simple switches and knowing which brands to buy.  Some key words to look for are “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly,” and “eco-safe.”  However you must be careful and take a look at the ingredients just to be sure the product is actually what it claims to be because many companies merely use these buzz words as a marketing ploy.  In addition to buying greener products you should also consider replacing old sponges and mops with products made from recycled or post-consumer materials.  Next time you go shopping for a fresh batch of cleaning supplies look for these brands or order them online:

  • The Honest Company
  • Green Works
  • Seventh Generation
  • ECOS
  • Method
  • Simple Green

You can also check this list for several brands of Eco-friendly cosmetics and soap:

http://www.greenlisted.org/personal-care.htm

If home remedies are more your style, check out this link for some great formulas and substitutes:

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

– Katie


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Sustainability Roundup: Green Sports

In honor of our preparation for Football Green Game day in the upcoming weeks (Add it to your Calendar – 7:30PM September 14thn at Rentschler Field), here is some information about how to “green” sports.

The NRDC has put together a report about ways that College Sports are becoming more sustainable, including highlighting UConn’s Burton Family Football Complex and Shenkman Training Center, which was the first LEED Silver football training facilities in the US, the first LEED certified facility in the NCAA, and the first LEED Silver building at UConn, which led to our LEED Silver policy for all new construction on campus.

The NRDC also has a report about how professional sports can be sustainability leaders that you can check out!

Right now, as you read, the Green Sports Alliance Summit is going on in NYC, with stakeholders meeting with sustainability leaders to collaborate on how to make sports greener.

Just because you’re at a sporting event, doesn’t mean you get to ignore the environment.

Go Green! Stay Blue!


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UConn Sustainable Programs: Water Reclamation Facility

For today’s focus on sustainable programs at UConn, we look at the new Water Reclamation Facility on campus.  Here’s a great write up of how the water reclamation facility works, as well as a repost of Corinne’s visit to the Water Reclamation Facility.

You may not know this, but if you see a purple pipe, it indicates that the water inside is recycled or reclaimed water!  Reclaiming water is a great way to promote conservation, and also to reduce the overuse of potable (drinkable) water.  Water gets used for all sorts of things at UConn – irrigation, flushing toilets, industrial uses, cooling, heating, and (most importantly in this hot weather) air conditioning!  None of those uses actually require potable water – just water.  At UConn, we actually have a Central Utility Plant (the CUP) which provides cogeneration, heating, cooling, fire protection and emergency electrical backup power to the campus.  Today we had an event to celebrate the opening of UConn’s Reclaimed Water Facility, which in the summer, provides water primarily for cooling to the CUP.  Today, all of the water necessary for cooling has been provided to the CUP, and all of the energy needed on campus so far today has been provided by the CUP!

A picture from my tour of the UConn Reclaimed Water facility today

A picture from my tour of the UConn Reclaimed Water facility today

In order to recycle water, storm water and waste water are collected, filtered and cleaned, and then piped to the CUP.  Right now, water for cooling is the primary use for reclaimed water at UConn, but there is the possibility for duel piping in new buildings to use reclaimed water for toilets, and permits are currently under review to allow us to use reclaimed water for irrigation.  In the winter, the reclaimed water will continue to be used for the lower cooling needs of the university, as well as to provide water for the boilers to produce steam to heat the university.  After the water is used at the CUP, it then flows back to the reclaimed water facility to be filtered, cleaned, and used again.

Reclaiming water is an important step towards environmental sustainability, even in a relatively water-rich region.  Reusing waste water (or grey water), or reclaiming water is critical for basic health and survival in many water-poor regions of the world where there is not enough potable water to use it for sanitation, irrigation, or industrial uses, as well as for drinking water.  In the developing world – where 800 million people lack access to clean water and 2.5 billion people lack access to proper sanitation – infrastructure can be designed and built to support reclaimed water, rather than adding it after the fact.

As part of UConn’s commitment to sustainability and to human rights, I hope that the reach of our reclaimed water facility goes beyond just reducing our water use, but helps provide an example of responsible and sustainable water use for others across the globe.


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The Difficult Road to #1

UConn’s recent achievement in reaching the #1 ranking in this year’s Sierra Club “Cool Schools” Survey is, without a doubt, a success to be celebrated by the entire campus community. The sustainable practices implemented by faculty, staff, and students, as well as generous donations to the University’s Campus Sustainability Fund, have  supported green initiatives here at UConn.

However, as one of the newest at the Office of Environmental Policy, it especially excites me to have been a part of such an outstanding accomplishment within my first year as an intern. I can remember the meeting when the previous sustainability coordinator, Jen Clinton, began assigning sections of the Sierra survey for us to review, fact check and update. There was a collective groan that went through the room, and little did I know what I was about to get myself into. The subsequent process of reviewing our designated sections, which took several months, was often stressful. Meeting deadlines while balancing other tasks assigned to us in the office, including planning and running events such as Green Game Day, also proved to be a challenge, and when the survey was finally submitted, all of us could breathe a little sigh of relief.

Still, the long wait for the Sierra club to review our survey and respond to us with our ranking was nerve-wracking. A majority of the other interns had been through the process of submitting the survey before, but although it was my first year, I was able to share their anticipation. We all wanted to see the fruits of our labor pay off, not only because we had devoted hours of hard work, but because we knew UConn deserved nothing but a high ranking. The feeling of excitement that struck us all when we received the great news was indescribable. We were extremely proud of one another, and proud to say that we belong to such a “cool school”! If we were able to achieve this kind of success during my first year at the OEP, I can only imagine the other accomplishments that lie ahead for the University. Congratulations, Huskies!

– Meredith


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Sustainability Roundup: Coming to Campus

We’re about to have thousands of students move in to UConn’s Storrs campus at the end of this week, because classes start on Monday.  This week’s sustainability roundup is looking at some of the ways to stay green during move-in.

George Washington University provides some great tips to start off green in the dorms.

Once you’re on campus, you will probably be walking or biking a lot (which is super green!), so check out the safety guidelines from UConn Police.

The Guardian presented an interesting article this week about how much energy wireless computing and keeping everything in “the cloud” uses.  Although getting rid of excess paper usage through cloud computing is great, it’s not an unmitigated good – it still uses energy.

Don’t forget UConn’s recycling guidelines as you’re unpacking all your stuff!  Remember, with single stream, ALL your recycling can go in ANY recycling container, even if it’s labeled otherwise.


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Energy Dashboards as a Sustainability Tool

There are several ways to measure energy efficiency. Observing trends in the consumption of domestic and chilled water, electricity, steam and greenhouse gas emissions are among the various approaches. Imagine having the technology on campus that would allow anyone to access the energy statistics for a particular building on campus at any time of the day. Anyone would be able to see how many gallons of water were consumed within the past hour, the past day or even the past week. Or, you could find the kilowatt hours of electricity used earlier in the week, and then compare the data figure to the day prior. The University has installed a new form of green technology into Oak and Laurel Halls that will bring this idea to life. The new technology is called an energy dashboard. It is an interactive kiosk that allows anyone to interact with various widgets on the touch-screen display. By touching any of the widgets, students, staff and faculty will be able to explore real-time energy usage statistics, as well as information about the building’s sustainable features and a green campus tour.

Energy Dashboard Display in Laurel Hall

Energy Dashboard Display in Laurel Hall

Alone, the energy dashboards do not save energy. The system displays energy statistics that are in turn left to be interpreted and acted upon by the campus community. For instance, if Oak Hall were to experience a significant spike in water usage from one day to another, it would be the responsibility of the students and staff to be mindful of the amount of water they consume. Therefore, the University hopes to ultimately instill behavioral change. A crucial part of this process is education. The energy dashboards can be incorporated into the classroom environment as professors include them in their curriculum. They can be used as a classroom tool for a variety of courses ranging from Environmental Science, Ecology Agricultural and Resource Economics and Conservation Biology to Civil and Environmental Engineering and Natural Resources. By drawing from actual, real-time data, professors can supplement their lesson plans by having their students analyze certain energy statistics and create their own solutions. For example, if a building experienced an increase in electricity usage, students would be tasked with deducing a probable solution.

At UC Berkeley, the myPower program was launched as a comprehensive program to reduce the amount of energy the campus consumes.  It is also a means to empower the entire campus community to take smart, simple energy saving measures that will shrink environmental footprint and save money. In return, the money saved is sent back as funds for teaching and research purposes. The myPower program also marked the beginning of an online energy dashboard that allows anyone to see how much electricity is being consumed in a particular building at that very moment. The energy dashboard extends to fifty-seven buildings and is a part of the university’s new initiative to reduce energy use. UC Berkeley, like UConn, aims to instill behavioral change in the campus community by launching the myPower program. In turn, case studies and energy surveys have been initiated to highlight how the energy dashboards complement existing sustainable initiatives. UC Berkeley, since the implementation of the myPower program, has experienced high annual savings, enhanced research opportunities and a considerable educational value.

Energy dashboards not only serve as an extraordinary educational tool, but they raise awareness about our environmental impact. By making real-time energy statistics available to the community, both students and staff will be able to apply conservation tips to their own lives and ultimately make a difference in reducing the size of the University’s carbon footprint.

– Meredith