UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


Leave a comment

Happy Earth Day, My Husky Friends!

earthdayThis past Tuesday marked the 44th annual Earth Day!  Despite my original nervousness due to some uncertainty concerning the weather (it was, after all, a Tuesday in Storrs), I am happy to report that April 22nd was a gorgeous day on campus, which made UConn’s yearly Earth Day Spring Fling a fantastic success.  Sun shined down over the thousands of students, faculty, community members, and environmental exhibitors, all gathered to celebrate sustainability.

From 11am to 2pm, vendors ranging from student organizations to state departments, NGOs to sustainable stores and businesses, all set up camp on Fairfield Way.  They provided recycling games galore, scrumptious free samples, environmentally friendly products, and information on a wide variety of environmental issues and practices.

Appealing to the many music lovers out there, we were lucky enough to have Dave Wanik and Meredith Rose perform.  Their beautiful acoustic compositions set the perfect background vibe for the chatter between curious attendees and knowledgeable table hosts, as well as diners drawn in by the aromas of grilling.

The mouthwatering zero-waste barbeque, provided by our good friends from Dining Services, proved just how delicious local and sustainable foods can be.  Diners strolled down the line, choosing from hamburgers and hotdogs from Connecticut, vegan veggie burgers from New Jersey, vegetarian Italian sausage from Massachusetts, and more.  By keeping menu items to this New England crew, we shortened each food’s journey to UConn, reduced our carbon footprint, and helped promote local businesses!  Once finished with their meals, attendees headed over to our sustainable waste stations, where they learned which parts of their waste were compostable and recyclable.

Finally, thanks to the help of our intern, Andy Bilich, we were able to plant a Quercus alba (or white oak, for those of you who are like me and don’t understand Latin) next to the Student Union.  The tree stands as a tribute to Arbor Day (which is today!), as well as an informal symbol for the university.

Overall, the event was a great one.   If you didn’t get a chance to come out and celebrate with us this year, be sure to come check out Earth Day Spring Fling next year!


Leave a comment

CIMA 3: Climate Change Conference

On March 31st, we held the third annual Climate Impacts, Mitigation, and Adaptation conference, known as CIMA 3.  Faculty, staff, and students from all over campus attended the event to discuss climate adaptation and impact. The event helped kick off a month of environmental programming, ending with Earth Day Spring Fling on April 22nd.

CIMA 3 logo

The event was headed by a keynote address from the EPA Administrator for Region 1, Curt Spalding. Mr. Spalding spoke about the challenges facing New England with regards to climate change, and specifically severe weather events and sea level rise.

EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding. Photo by Eric Grulke

EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding. Photo by Eric Grulke

He focused on what the region was doing as a whole, but also how some local governments in New England are working proactively to better adapt to climate change and its effects. Mr. Spalding also talked about the need to frame the issue of climate change for local policy makers in order to make adaptation more of a priority for the New England towns.

Keynote Address Curt Spalding. Photo by Eric Grulke

Keynote Address Curt Spalding. Photo by Eric Grulke

After the keynote, a panel of UConn faculty from a variety of disciplines presented on the wide reaching impacts of climate change. Each faculty member discussed climate change impact in the context of a specific system. Included in this discussion were impacts on water resources, agriculture, human health, biota, infrastructure, economics, and political systems.

CIMA 3 Panel 2

Faculty panelists Michael O’Neil, Mark Urban, and Carol Atkinson-Palombo (right). Photo by Eric Grulke

Faculty panelist Merrill Singer  Photo by Eric Grulke

Faculty panelist Merrill Singer Photo by Eric Grulke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an audience question and answer session with the panel, there was a networking lunch and poster session for the attendees. The posters represented some of the climate-related initiatives and research at the University of Connecticut. The relaxed atmosphere of the poster exhibition and lunch provided a unique opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to not only talk about the issue of climate change as a whole, but also what is being done at UConn.

Professor John Volin (left) and UConn students enjoy the Poster and Networking Lunch. Photo by Eric Grulke

Professor John Volin (left) and UConn students enjoy the Poster and Networking Lunch. Photo by Eric Grulke

The final session of the day was a closing presentation from Eban Goodstein – Director and Faculty, Center for Environmental Policy and Sustainability MBA at Bard College (Organizer of Power Shift, Focus the Nation and 350.org). Mr. Goodstein talked on the immediacy of needed action on climate change. In this talk, he focused on the current generation of students and how their actions will be pivotal in influencing the course of climate change over the next fifty years.

Eban Goodstein’s closing presentation. Photo by Eric Grulke

Eban Goodstein’s closing presentation. Photo by Eric Grulke

Overall the event was well received by the attendees. It provided an excellent forum for discussion on what needs to happen regionally, globally, and at the University of Connecticut going forward to adapt and respond to global climate change.

Shoe Drive!

Leave a comment

Do you have any old shoes you’d like to get out of your closet?  Consider donating them during our UConn shoe drive!  This year we are collecting all types of shoes (adults, children’s, boots, sneakers, heels, etc.) and donating them to the Salvation Army in Hartford.  We would prefer that the shoes only be lightly used since they will be worn again.  So bring your shoes, your friend’s shoes, your neighbor’s shoes or anyone’s to UConn by April 22nd and drop them off in one of our seven collection bins.  Bins are located in the main lobbies of the Student Union, Co-op, Rec Center, Library, Hawley Armory, Rowe Center (CUE), and the AE&S building.

If you have questions please email katherine.e.kelleher@uconn.edu

Shoe Drive


Leave a comment

It’s Official – UConn is a Tree Campus

With Earth Day and Arbor Day fast approaching, UConn recently learned that it is the first college in Connecticut and only the third school in New England to be named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The University joins a group of almost 200 schools nationwide that have earned this distinction for their commitment to tree conservation and preservation.

arbor daytree campus usaThis certification is given by the Arbor Day Foundation to university campuses that effectively:

  • Manage their campus trees
  • Develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders to foster healthy urban forests
  • Strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus and community forestry efforts

 

Pagoda Tree (Styphnolobium Japonicum) near Wilbur Cross. Photos by Mark Brand, UConn Plant Science Dept.

Pagoda Tree (Styphnolobium Japonicum) near Wilbur Cross. Photos by Mark Brand, UConn Plant Science Dept.

Shingle Oak (Quercus Imbricaria)  near Wilbur Cross. Photo by Mark Brand.

Shingle Oak (Quercus Imbricaria) near Wilbur Cross. Photo by Mark Brand.

 

Former Vice Provost and emeritus EEB faculty member, Greg Anderson, co-chairs the UConn Arboretum Committee and was thrilled by this accomplishment. “This impressive recognition for UConn is gratifying.  So many people for so many decades have worked to make the natural environment not only a handsome complement to the ever-improving built environment on our campus, but also an effective way to frame the landscape and a useful tool for educating our students and others about a diversity of tree species.”  The Arboretum Committee’s website includes a Campus Tree Touring Guide to 40 different special trees that can be seen on a leisurely walk around the main campus.   “It’s great to see the long-term and ongoing commitment by so many students, staff and faculty be recognized in this way.”

A Camperdown Elm (Ulmus glabra Camperdownii) on the Great Lawn. Photo by Mark Brand

A Camperdown Elm (Ulmus glabra Camperdownii) on the Great Lawn. Photo by Mark Brand

The Tree Campus designation has five components. The first is a Tree Advisory Committee – the UConn Arboretum Committee fulfills this requirement. The second component of Tree Campus USA is a campus tree care plan. This plan contains information for planting, maintenance, prohibited practices, as well as goals for campus tree preservation. UConn’s plan was developed by the Office of Environmental Policy in conjunction with the campus tree warden and Arboretum Committee member, Eileen McHugh, who also spoke about the tree campus designation. “Tree Campus USA certification is tremendous recognition for the coordinated efforts at UConn to protect and promote the trees that are such a vibrant part of UConn’s character.”

A Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria Japonica) on campus. Photo by Mark Brand

A Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria Japonica) on campus. Photo by Mark Brand

The third component of this designation is a commitment to preservation of the on-campus arboretum, which requires both dedicated annual expenditures for things like planting and maintenance, as well as volunteer time. In 2013, the University dedicated more than $350,000 to campus tree preservation.

The final components of the Tree Campus certification are an Arbor Day Observance and Service Learning Projects. As part of Earth Day Spring Fling, UConn held an Arbor Day Observance and tree planting on April 18th last year. In addition to this event, UConn students, faculty and community members engaged in service learning projects through demonstrations and coursework.

The Dawn Redwood (metasequoia-glyptostroboides) near Arjona Building on Whitney Rd. Photo by Mark Brand

The Dawn Redwood (metasequoia-glyptostroboides) near Arjona Building on Whitney Rd. Photo by Mark Brand

Tree Campus USA is an annual certification, so this year, UConn is developing additional service learning projects, along with outreach events like the Arbor Day Observance.  Join members of the Arboretum Committee and others on April 22nd, during the 2014 Earth Day Spring Fling celebration, in acknowledging this distinction with a tree planting celebration (more details to come)!

– Andy

 

P.S. (From Corinne) – Andy worked incredibly hard to make sure that UConn received Tree Campus USA recognition.  Without his dedication, this project would not have been completed.