UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Fall 2014 – A Semester in Review

Another fantastic semester has come to a close! Several key events took place this fall, and many more are underway for the coming year.  Below is a brief summary of the activities that the Office of Environmental Policy hosted and participated in, encouraging sustainability and environmental awareness.

Green Game DayDSC02987

On September 7th, almost 50 volunteers gathered to promote recycling at the Green Game Day for UConn Football versus Stony Brook.  Everyone who came to the game enjoyed seeing a closely contested 19-16 UConn victory.  The volunteers teamed up in groups to pick up recyclables at each of the tailgating lots.  This allowed for an interactive learning opportunity for the wider community regarding everything that UConn does to be more environmentally conscience. For more information, click here.

Climate March

1On Sunday, September 21st, over 80 UConn students participated along with 400,000 others in the People’s Climate March (PCM) in New York City. The march was organized, leading up to the UN Climate Summit on September 23rd, to raise awareness about and form a united front against climate change. UConn’s participation in the march was a reflection on both the university’s goals to protect our local environmental and our planet.  To see more pictures and read one of our interns’ perspective on joining the march, please click here.

EcoMadness

2Two all-time EcoMadness records, the most volunteer Eco-Captains we’ve had in the past five years, and a lot of UConn Dairy Bar ice cream highlighted this year’s EcoMadness Competition. The winners cut down water usage to an incredible 17.9 gallons of water used per student (Grange/Hicks), reduced water consumption by 20% per capita (Troy/Shakespeare), and conserved energy by 23% (Buckley). These impressive reductions were made possible by increased collaboration with residence assistants and student leadership through Eco-Captains. If you would like to learn more about this year’s competition click here!

Sustainability Report

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This fall also saw the release of UConn’s very first sustainability report. Through a collaborative effort, the report highlights both the university’s environmental outreach efforts as well as a wide range of sustainability metrics from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) survey. Click here to access the 2014 Sustainability Report.


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Arbor Day 2015

UConn will celebrate Arbor Day in a big way in 2015!

Stemming from the enthusiasm of the UConn Arboretum Committee, UConn has a deeply rooted tradition of campus tree care and species diversity.  By branching out and becoming the first school in Connecticut to receive the Tree Campus USA recognition, UConn has committed to sprucing up campus and increasing public outreach in regard to campus trees.

Tree Campus USA Celebration from Arbor Day 2014

The process of completing our re-certification application for the National Arbor Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program is currently underway. In addition, the UConn Office of Environmental Policy recently submitted a contest application to the National Arbor Day Foundation outlining how we would celebrate Arbor Day in 2015. Through this competition, UConn had a chance to win $500 of funding and outreach materials to celebrate Arbor Day on campus. UConn was selected as a finalist by the Arbor Day Foundation and was eventually voted a winner after receiving almost 3,000 votes nationwide! This was a great accomplishment considering the hundreds of Tree Campus USA schools competing. Ten schools in total won the contest, divided based on campus population into small and large school categories.

Winners in the large school category include Colorado State University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Vermont, University of Connecticut, and University of Alaska-Anchorage. Winners in the small school category include Berry College, University of Alaska-Monticello, Washington & Jefferson College, Wabash Valley College, and Morrisville State College.  Check out the official winner’s page here!

Student volunteers help plant the 2014 Arbor Day Tree

The contest prizes will ensure an even larger audience for UConn’s Arbor Day Celebration than last year. In 2014, the Arbor Day Celebration was held on Earth Day (April 22nd) in conjunction with Earth Day Spring Fling, a campus-wide environmental event showcasing various student organizations, campus dining, and eco-friendly third party vendors. This year, UConn plans to utilize the contest prizes to hold an outreach event focusing on campus trees and their maintenance.

We are currently working on some exciting ways to celebrate Arbor Day 2015 and hope you will be excited as well! With your help, our sports teams won’t be the only seeded programs in April.  If you have any questions or ideas for how we could celebrate Arbor Day or would like to participate, please contact UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy at EnvPolicy@uconn.edu.

-Chris Bruno


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EcoMadness 2014

Two all-time EcoMadness records, the most volunteer Eco-Captains we’ve had in the past five years, and a lot of UConn Dairy Bar ice cream wrapped up UConn’s 8th annual, world-famous EcoMadness Competition!  Congratulations to Troy/Shakespeare, Grange/Hicks, Buckley, and Chandler/Lancaster, winners in each of the four coveted award categories during this one-month, inter-dorm, energy and water conservation competition!

2014 reduction 2014 per capita

A big shout out to residents of Grange/Hicks, who set an all-time EcoMadness record for water conservation with an incredible 17.9 gallons of water used per student over the course of the competition, earning a resounding first place in this category!  That’s just over half the gallons used per day, per student by most previous EcoMadness winners in this category and about a quarter of the daily water consumption for the average college student in the U.S.! Sprague/EcoHouse (East) and Russell (Northwest) claimed 2nd and 3rd place in the water usage per student category. Sprague also broke the previous EcoMadness record.

In the overall per capita rate of water reduction category, Sprague held onto first place through most of the competition, with Terry (Northwest), Alsop (West), and Troy/Shakespeare (West) following closely behind.  However, in the final week of the competition, Troy/Shakespeare (West) overtook the competition, leaving EcoHouse out of a first place finish in any of the four  EcoMadness categories for the first time in five years.  Tory/Shakespeare claimed first place with an outstanding 20% reduction.

In the energy reduction category, Buckley, the first-year Honors program dorm in East, surged from second place to first in the last week, finishing with an impressive 23% energy use reduction, also a new EcoMadness record! A pair of Buckley Eco-Captains created an Honors Eco Tie Dye event to raise awareness and team spirit. They focused their tie-dye discussion on simple ways to conserve resources in their daily lives — given their record energy-saving results, must have succeeded. Chandler/Lancaster (West) took first place in the energy usage per student category with 3.23 kWh of energy used per student.

2014 trend

Needless to say, in this the 8th annual EcoMadness competition, the 2014 winners have raised the bar! Compared to EcoMadness 2013, the winners particularly excelled in two categories:

  • Energy use – reduction from 6.4% (2013) to 23% (2014)
  • Per capita water use – from 31.9 gallons per student (2013) to 17.9 gallons per student (2014)

These impressive reductions can be explained by a number of factors, the most important of which was increased collaboration and student leadership. This year, the Office of Environmental Policy focused more on meeting directly with area councils and residence assistants to help spread the word. Additionally, more students got involved as Eco-Captains this year than in the previous 4 or 5 years, helping to boost awareness and friendly competition among their fellow student residents.

Looking back eight years ago, during the first EcoMadness, only seven dorms from South campus were included in the competition. With a 6% reduction in energy and water computation, their results seem feeble compared to the over 20% reductions seen in recent years.  It was not until 2007, when the competition expanded to 23 dorms, including Northwest, Towers, and Shippee, that Eco-Captains became part of the event.  The effects of the Eco-Captains could be seen in 2008 when the energy and water reduction increased to 10%.  Since then, percentage reductions have been on the rise.  The dramatic increases in energy and water reductions over the years reflect Eco-Captain involvement, proving the importance of peer-to-peer student engagement and leadership.

Thank you to student Eco-Captains: Haley Brennan, Emily Napear, Haris Qureshi, Adrianna Antigiovanni, Benjamin Breslau, Kassra Farahbakhshian, Kimberly Armstrong, Esther Kim, Joan Bosma, Miranda Squillace, Brianna Costello, and Christopher Tan! Without your support, hard work, leadership and passion during the competition, EcoMadness would not have been as successful. All of you were outstanding!

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Although the competition is over, continue to keep up the great work and remember to continue conserving water and energy! To the four winners, congratulations again and we hope you enjoyed your ice cream party – check out scenes from a few of the parties below! You should all be very proud of yourselves for demonstrating excellent conservation and sustainable lifestyle practices. Great job, everybody!