UConn recently received a 2016 GreenCircle Sustainability Award presented by the CT DEEP, in conjunction with the Hartford Business Journal. The GreenCircle Award Program was established in 1998 to recognize Connecticut businesses, institutions, individuals, and government entities who have gone above and beyond to reduce energy and climate change, water usage, improve waste management and recycling, as well as sustainable civic improvements and innovations.
The GreenCircle award came in recognition of UConn’s many diverse sustainability initiatives and projects to reduce its environmental footprint, consistent with UConn’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). To date, UConn has registered or certified 23 LEED projects (2.2 million sq. ft.) at the main Storrs campus, including 3 LEED Gold-certified buildings. Also, four of UConn’s dining halls are Green Restaurant Certified for serving local organic and third-party verified food and for reducing water, energy, and food waste. UConn also strives to reduce emissions from transportation. In 2015, Rec Services implemented a new Cycle Share program that enables use of bicycles for a week, month, or semester for anyone with a UConn ID, at a nominal cost. In addition, two new electric vehicle (EV) stations are free for use by commuters, and will help power UConn’s fleet that is already 15% hybrid or EV.
To help meet the University’s 2020 carbon reduction target under the CAP, and achieve a goal of net zero energy and water growth, as part of the Sustainability Framework to UConn’s new Campus Master Plan, Facilities began a 5-year re-lamping program to replace all indoor and exterior lighting with ultra-efficient LEDs. In addition, low-flow faucets and aerators were installed in all student residence halls and apartments, saving between 50,000 and 100,000 gallons of drinking water per day.
Beyond operational initiatives, UConn implemented several programs on campus designed to promote more sustainable behaviors and increase engagement. UConn’s Green Office Certification Program enables staff to self-assess the relative sustainability of their offices. By the end of 2015, 30 offices across campus had been certified as Green Offices. Meanwhile, the 9th annual version of UConn’s inter-dormitory EcoMadness energy and water conservation competition inspired students to reduce water and electricity use by as much as 35% in the winning dorms. To raise awareness among faculty about opportunities for engagement in campus sustainability actives, in 2015 UConn also established a Green Campus Academic Network (GCAN). This led to more environmental class projects and research with on-campus demonstration components, like rain gardens and air monitoring stations. Ultimately, GCAN also led to UConn@COP21, whereby a group of 12 students, 4 faculty members, and 2 sustainability staff traveled to Paris, France for the 21st annual UN Conference of Parties climate summit.
In addition to the University winning the 2016 GreenCircle Award, UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) was named a finalist for its work in training environmental professionals. The finalist award specifically recognized the work of NRE professor, Dr. Gary Robbins. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Robbins has trained and educated young professionals, developed the first approved online continuing education courses for Licensed Environmental Professionals, and has provided hands-on field training for DEEP staff.
The 2016 GreenCircle Award and Finalist Award recognize UConn for its comprehensive efforts at reducing the University’s environmental impact and raising awareness for sustainable behaviors. UConn’s continued commitment to sustainability promises to reinforce its growing reputation as one of the greenest universities in the country.
A special thank you to all of the UConn members present to receive the DEEP GreenCircle Sustainability Award on May 23rd in Hartford:
- Office of the Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer
- Scott Jordan, Executive Vice President for Administration & CFO
- Stan Nolan, Director, Utility Operations & Energy Management
- Transportation and Parking Services
- Bill Wendt, Director of Logistics Administration
- Dwight Atherton, Parking Manager
- Charlie Grab, Business Services Supervisor
- Office of Public Engagement
- Julia Yakovich, Program Manager for Service Learning, Office of Public Engagement
- Mike Willig, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Director, Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE)
- Oksan Bayulgen, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
- Tracy Rittenhouse, Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
- UConn Recreation (UConn Cycle Share)
- Jay Frain, Director
- Mike D’Alfonso, Associate Director, Programming & Special Events
- Office of Environmental Policy
- Rich Miller, Director
- Jason Coite, Compliance Manager
- Paul Ferri, Environmental Compliance Professional
- Mark Bolduc, Environmental Compliance Professional
- Sarah Munro, Sustainability Coordinator
- Eric Grulke, Sustainability Coordinator