UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Changing the World, One Step at a Time – The People’s Climate March

By Brianna Church

The best thing about little kids is that their dreams have no limitations. Back when I was about eight years old all of my friends dreamt of being the next big pop star, the likes of Britney or the Spice Girls. The vast majority of those same friends have now abandoned the thought of singing to any audience outside of their shower heads.

My big childhood dream was a little different, though. My dream was to save the world, singlehandedly, through medicine. I know now that no individual can save the planet without help from others and, more importantly, that even very basic medical procedures make me queasy. I still have not given up my dreams of changing the world, however. I am now studying environmental engineering and hope that in doing so I can make a difference, even if only in some small way.

My passion for environmental issues has led me to two different internships as well as to a number of different clubs and activities at UConn and through all of these means I learned about the People’s Climate March.

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The People’s Climate March will take place on September 21st, mere days before the UN Climate Summit is held in New York City. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is encouraging the participating governments to unite and support global goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Tens of thousands of people are anticipated to march in the streets of New York City in the largest environmental march in history to demonstrate that we, the people, are demanding a change.

This march will offer me the chance to show the UN and our country that both climate change and socioeconomic equality matter to me. This march will offer me the opportunity to change the course of history, one step at a time. This march will offer me the possibility to realize my dreams.

That’s why the People’s Climate March is so important to me.

Please join me and the UConn community in standing up for what is right; an economy that works for both the people and the environment. Join the tens of thousands of people that will be in the streets of New York, proving to our governments that we deserve a safe, just world to live in. Join the People’s Climate March on September 21st for the price of just one bus ticket.

If you would like to RSVP to the People’s Climate March and purchase a bus ticket from Sierra Club for $24.20 as a student or $29.48 as an adult, follow this link. For more information about this event, contact Brianna or Emily at brianna.church@uconn.edu, emily.mcinerney@uconn.edu, or at (860)486-5773.


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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.


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Weathering the Storms – UConn Leads in Climate Adaptation (Part 2)

(Part 1 of this two-part blog looked at how a unique Adaptation amendment to UConn’s Climate Action Plan, approved by President Herbst in 2012, created a roadmap that has helped guide UConn to a leadership position on resiliency research and public service, especially with the creation of the ICRCA at Avery Point. Part 2 focuses on adaptation research, from clean energy microgrids to roadside forestry, with a preview of the half-day CIMA3 conference on March 31st.)

UConn’s Microgrid – A Model for Clean and Resilient Energy Infrastructure

Most residents in the state will remember the challenges of being without electricity for up to 10 days in the aftermath of at least one of the major storms we’ve experienced in recent years.  In response, Connecticut now leads the nation with its innovative microgrid program, which once again features UConn as a key player and potentially as a statewide center of excellence.  Under its three phase, multi-year microgrid program, DEEP provides grant funding for high-tech switchgear, independent distribution systems and automated controls that enable on-site, efficient, and preferably clean, energy-generating sources to operate in “island mode,” separate from the utility-owned grid.

Last year, UConn was in the initial group of nine, including municipalities, hospitals and other college campuses, to receive a phase one incentive grant. In our case, $2.14 million in funding will be used to convert our 400 kW ClearEdge fuel cell, a source of combined heat and power to most of the UConn-owned and occupied buildings at the Depot, along with a small PV solar array, into a clean energy microgrid.  In turn, when this system is installed and operating this fall, it will ensure continuous power to certain facilities that can meet public needs during extended grid power outages, like electric vehicle charging stations, a communications command center for UConn police and fire departments, and community warming centers, with kitchens and restrooms.

Installed in 2012, the fuel cell generates heat and power through an electrochemical reaction, similar to a battery, not through combustion. Our Depot Campus fuel cell reduces UConn’s carbon footprint by more than 800 tons a year compared to receiving power from the grid or using more conventional fuel-burning sources of energy.  Thus, UConn’s microgrid not only makes for a more resilient and reliable energy infrastructure but also helps promote the use of cleaner, renewable, and more efficient energy sources.

Beyond these immediate operational and public benefits, UConn’s microgrid will be another example of a state-of-the-art “living laboratory,” i.e., an on-campus platform for research and a functional demonstration project for education and outreach. Already, a half-dozen faculty members affiliated with the University’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2), led by Dr. Peter Luh in Electrical & Computer Engineering, are preparing and envisioning research grant proposals on hot microgrid topics like energy storage, advanced optimization and ultra-fast programmable networks for virtual energy management.

Courtesy of Dr. Peter Luh (E&CE) and Dr. Peng Zhang (E&CE)

Courtesy of Dr. Peter Luh (E&CE) and Dr. Peng Zhang (E&CE)

There is yet another benefit to UConn for being on the cutting edge of this emerging microgrid technology: corporate R&D partnerships. On February 26th, nearly 60 people, representing dozens of potential industry partners, in Hartford for a three-day “Next Generation Microgrids” conference, visited the Depot for presentations and tours of the University’s C2E2 and recently-established Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation.  This visit was an opportunity to further showcase UConn’s leadership in these important aspects of climate adaptation and sustainable energy. The audience was a representative cross-section of the energy industry, including small and large, regional and international companies, all with an interest in microgrid R&D. The conference brochure touted a “staggering growth” since 2011 in installed microgrid capacity worldwide, with a “market value…likely to reach up to $27 billion by 2022.”

Plenty of good reasons for UConn to stay at the forefront of microgrid research!

UConn Research Helping Connecticut Adapt to Climate Change

Meanwhile, there are many University faculty members, across a variety of disciplines, who are conducting adaptation-related research. To highlight just a few:

  • Dr. Mark Boyer, a Political Science professor who focuses on environmental politics and is the director of UConn‘s new Environmental Studies B.A. degree program, is looking at the drivers and barriers to local governance of climate change.  In particular, he’s studied climate adaptation policies, ordinances and other initiatives adopted by Connecticut towns.
  • Dr. Manos Anagnostou (Environmental Engineering/ENVE), Dr. Brian Hartman (Math), Dr. Marina Astitha (ENVE) and PhD candidate Dave Wanik (ENVE) are working on weather-based damage prediction models for the electric distribution system in CT and MA. The models relate high resolution weather forecasts, distribution infrastructure and GIS data to historic damage observations, and will soon include tree trimming data as a model input.
  • Related research into mitigating tree failure by Drs. Mark Rudnicki, John Volin (Natural Resources & the Environment) and Thomas Worthley (Extension) will further enhance reliability of the grid through management of trees and forest edges near power lines.  Part of their “Stormwise” initiative was recently featured in this Hartford Courant article and this report on WNPR. The total Stormwise initiative is developing a systems approach which integrates the biophysical, economic and social dimensions needed for successfully increasing the resilience of trees, forests and the utility infrastructure to expected future storms. Follow them @StormwiseUCONN

Also, led by Dr. Jim Edson (Marine Sciences), nearly two dozen faculty members in UConn’s inter-disciplinary Atmospheric Sciences Group, along with affiliated graduate Research Assistants, met last month to discuss their climate change-related research.  Many are studying the impacts of climate change on everything from terrestrial biota, to coastlines, estuaries and oceans. Much of this research is intended to provide data that will guide the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies, pursuant to the mission of UConn’s new Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation.

You can learn more about this research by attending UConn’s third annual Climate Impact Mitigation & Adaptation (CIMA3) conference, scheduled for March 31st at the Student Union Theater and in the SU’s Room 104, across from Chuck & Auggie’s and the Blue Cow.

By Rich Miller, Director of the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) and Kerrin Kinnear, OEP intern (4th semester, ENVST)

CIMA3/2014

Rapid Responses to Climate Change: The Actions We Need To Take

  • 9:00 – Introductory remarks by Provost Mun Choi
  • 9:15 – Keynote address from Curt Spalding, EPA’s top official in New England
  • 10:00 – A panel of TED talks on the impacts of climate change on environmental systems, featuring a variety of  UConn faculty experts
  • 11:30 – 1:00 – The “CIMA Café” & Plain-Language Poster Session – a free networking lunch – enjoy finger food from Dining Services’ sustainable catering menu as you mingle with other students, faculty and staff during a “plain language” poster session explaining CIMA-related UConn research, centers and programs
  • 12:30 – Closing plenary remarks by Dr. Eban Goodstein, Director of Bard College’s Center of Environmental Policy and Sustainability MBA, best known as lead organizer of Power Shift, Focus the Nation, 350.org and other higher ed-focused climate action initiatives.
  • 1:30 – Conference concludes

Come and see for yourself what makes UConn a leader in Climate Adaptation!  For more information about the event, please contact UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy at (860) 486-5773.

Regional EPA Administrator Curt Spaulding speaks at an event to announce the launch of the Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation held on Jan. 24, 2014 at the Branford House at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus in Groton. Seated from left are Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Provost Mun Choi. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Regional EPA Administrator Curt Spaulding speaks at an event to announce the launch of the Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation held on Jan. 24, 2014 at the Branford House at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus in Groton. Seated from left are Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Provost Mun Choi. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Eban Goodstein

Eban Goodstein


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Clearing the Air – A look at UConn’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On March 25, 2008 University of Connecticut President, Michael Hogan, signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (PCC) promising that the university would aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. This means that the university would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, through new projects and sustainable initiatives. Since the signing of this agreement, UConn has been retro-commissioning and re-lamping many large buildings to save on energy costs and negate greenhouse gas emissions. The university has also implemented an energy efficient fuel cell on the depot campus. So have we made progress?

UConn has reduced its primary CO2 emissions by 4,802 tons per year since 2011 (more than 4%). This is a great decrease considering the increased student population, building space and tough winters (requiring a lot of energy consumption for heating) which Storrs has experienced over the past few years. It should also be noted that our emissions tracking technology and behavior has been improved over the past few years. We expect to see further drops in greenhouse gas emissions each year. To put our expected greenhouse gas emissions decreases into perspective, keep in mind that the retro-commissioning and re-lamping projects from the past few years have expected carbon dioxide offsets of 16,000 tons per year (This would cut out main body of emissions by more than 10%). Although we didn’t see the expected decrease in 2013 due to some  of the above factors, we believe that the general trend will continue to be downward.

GHG 2013 Graph

UConn uses the University of New Hampshire’s Campus Carbon Calculator to calculate emissions. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from campus activity. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from purchasing and related activities.

The greenhouse gas inventory takes a very long time to complete because we have to contact various people from many different departments for emissions data. We put all of this data into common terms, verify it, and enter it into a large greenhouse gas calculator so that we can analyze our results. Let’s just say that we’re happy to be finished with this year’s greenhouse gas inventory, for now.

-Chris


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Weathering the Storms – UConn Leads in Climate Adaptation (Part 1)

Whether or not you believe the overwhelming scientific evidence  about climate change and anthropogenic causation, you will probably agree that it makes sense to prepare for the worst of New England’s sometimes harsh weather.  And regardless of whether you interpret the occurrence in Connecticut, over the past three years, of two 100-year storms, one 50-year storm, and a record-setting blizzard as a sign that the effects of global warming are upon us, or as random coincidence, you probably have done things recently to prepare for storms that you might not have done four years ago.

Raise your hand if, faced with the more likely prospects of downed trees and power lines, you’ve done things like bought an emergency generator or chain saw for your home.  Or if, with the forecast of more stormy weather and the risk of flooding or an extended power outage ahead, you’ve topped off the gas in your hybrid car or stocked up at the grocery store.  If so, what you’re doing is a scaled-down form of adaptation, building personal and family resilience against the effects of what may be our “new normal” weather patterns.

In planning for the more frequent and severe storms predicted by climate scientists, UConn was ahead of the curve two years ago when President Herbst reaffirmed the University’s commitment to a carbon-neutral campus and approved the addition of an Adaptation Section to our Climate Action Plan (CAP).  Since that late-March day in 2012, and in collaboration with the State of Connecticut, UConn’s progress on adaptation initiatives in particular has been remarkable.

Sure, our CAP, like hundreds of others at college campuses across the country, contains a multitude of mitigation measures.  By implementing many of them, UConn has successfully reduced its carbon footprint in existing buildings by more than 10% since 2010.  But UConn’s 2012 Adaptation amendment, unique among colleges and universities at the time, offers to others our expertise and resources for adaptive response.  Inherent in these recommended measures is the assumption that the world’s collective actions to reduce carbon emissions are too little, and possibly too late, to prevent damaging, or even catastrophic, consequences.

As Connecticut’s land and sea grant, public research university, UConn can and should play this pivotal role, especially in helping communities throughout the state and region protect property and natural resources, harden infrastructure, and ensure public health and safety. This two-part blog will review some of the activities that have made UConn a true leader in climate resiliency.

New Climate Adaptation Center

An event in late-January marked an important milestone when local, state, federal and University officials, along with environmental advocates, gathered to announce the exciting news that UConn’s coastal Avery Point campus will be home to the new Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation (ICRCA).  The dedication of the new Institute was an event that would make anyone associated with UConn proud to call themselves an EcoHusky.  It featured an impressive line-up of leaders and lawmakers taking turns at the podium, from Governor Malloy, to President Herbst, U.S. Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Courtney, EPA Region 1 Administrator Spalding and DEEP Commissioner Esty.  As coastal communities face the more immediate risks of rising seas from global warming, the historic Branford House on our Avery Point Campus was an apropos setting for this ceremony, with Long Island Sound glistening as a backdrop through the windows of the crowded atrium.

UConn President Susan Herbst speaks at an event to announce the launch of the Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation held on Jan. 24, 2014 at the Branford House at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus in Groton(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

UConn President Susan Herbst speaks at an event to announce the launch of the Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation held on Jan. 24, 2014 at the Branford House at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus in Groton(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Institute in Groton will unite faculty in the natural sciences, engineering, economics, political science, finance, and law disciplines, as well as expert staff from Connecticut’s DEEP and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a front to increase both the resiliency and sustainability of the state’s communities, critical transportation and energy infrastructure, and coastline. It will receive an initial $2.5 million in operating funds from a joint EPA Region 1/DEEP settlement of an environmental enforcement action related to a Connecticut company’s wastewater discharges to Long Island Sound.

Through collaborative research, education and outreach, the ICRCA will help Connecticut areas to withstand these developing climate challenges by focusing on:

  • Improving scientific understanding of the changing climate and its local and regional impacts;
  • Encouraging strategies that will reduce the loss of life, property and natural resources, and limit social disruption from future high impact weather events as well as from sea level rise, flooding, erosion and other hazards;
  • Hardening of the electric grid and other shoreline infrastructure such as roads, bridges, train tracks, and wastewater treatment plants;
  • Designing innovative financial options for property owners seeking to make their homes and businesses more resilient;
  • Conducting workshops and developing on-line decision support tools for regional and local officials;
  • Increasing public understanding of climate issues so that residents and community leaders can make scientifically informed and environmentally sound decisions about climate adaptation.

Given this comprehensive list of public services, which track the goals of our CAP’s 2012 Adaptation amendment, there is no doubt the new Institute will be central to fulfilling UConn’s adaptation promises. For CTN’s public TV recording of the dedication ceremony, please click here.

By Rich Miller, Director Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) and Kerrin Kinnear, OEP Intern (4th semester, ENVST).

(Next: Weathering the Storms, Part 2 takes a closer look at UConn’s major climate adaptation research initiatives, from clean energy microgrids to roadside forestry, with a preview of the March 31st CIMA3 conference.) 


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Intern Reflection Essay: Climate Change Inequality

Last summer I studied abroad in Iceland. A country at the forefront of renewable energy, Iceland has the potential to be a global leader in sustainability. Its energy is almost entirely powered from geothermal and hydroelectric and thus it is capable of an exceptionally small carbon footprint. However, there is no drive for this among the Icelandic people. Lights are kept on throughout the daytime and cars are driven for errands just down the street. This contrasts remarkably with an earlier visit I made to Peru. The Peruvians lack many of the resources we take for granted in the United States and yet the environmental devastation they live within—littered streets, polluted air, and dirty water—causes no alarm among its citizens.

There are three dimensions to sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. Strong sustainability requires a balance between these three pillars—without economic stability, the government cannot implement environmental regulations and cannot provide the environmental education necessary to create a “green” movement among its people. The environmental degradation in Peru is largely due to the government’s lack of action. It is the government’s responsibility to provide its people safe, clean resources. Unfortunately, environmental law in Peru is not well enforced. Additionally, Peru has not prioritized developing renewable energy resources (although recently there has been a push for increased solar energy – hopefully that marks a turning point for Peru). And so I experienced countries at very opposite sides of a sustainability spectrum:  one which economically cannot give the attention to environmental awareness that is warranted by the pressing reality of climate change and yet needs it sincerely, and another that is privileged with all that is required of an ecologically conscience nation and without the motivation to push for it among the people and culture.

After travelling to both of these beautiful countries I found myself very frustrated. Climate change looms on the horizon and the consequences of a warming planet are reason for great concern. The extent of climate change is not fully understood but what has been acknowledged is that the amplified rate at which it is occurring can be attributed to anthropogenic behavior. And this is not spread uniformly throughout the globe. Wealthy nations are contributing greatly to greenhouse gas emissions yet it will not be these same countries that most severely feel the threat of climate change. And what is even more upsetting is that the developing nations that will suffer the greatest because they do not have the economic strength and political stability to combat global warming are also mostly unaware of the dangers to come because there are many more pressing issues to confront such as inadequate food and poverty. So if the disparity between developed and developing nations was not already distressingly thick, climate change will surely broaden it further.

It is therefore the responsibility of countries such as the United States, who have the finances and the technologies, to lead our planet to a more sustainable future. The carbon emissions released by the United States does not solely affect our own citizens. It is a global crisis and so every car we drive, every coal power plant we construct, every long shower we take, and every technological device we keep plugged in is slowly yet catastrophically warming the entire planet. So, what should we do to reduce the climate change inequality that plagues our world? It starts at a local level. It requires cooperation and collaboration between leaders, businesses, and residents of a community and it demands environmental education.

Additionally, climate change inequality is not just found on the global scale. Even within the United States itself this disproportion is present. There are coastal cities at risk of flooding from sea level increase and yet they are not any more responsible for greenhouse gas emissions than the nation’s interior cities. Even on the micro scale this disparity is felt where industrial establishments directs emissions towards poverty stricken neighborhoods who cannot afford to fight this discrimation. UConn is committed to doing its part to help these efforts. In 2006 a co-generation plant was constructed to replace the previously used oil-fired utility. The co-gen burns natural gas, a cleaner fuel than oil and coal, and thus capable of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 300,000 tons each year. It captures and utilizes steam to prevent efficiency loss. In 2008 former President Hogan signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). This committed the university to carbon neutrality by 2050. The co-gen plant is just one of many technologies implemented by UConn to help assist in its mission towards carbon neutrality. UConn also has a fuel cell at the Depot campus, a bike and car sharing program, a reclaimed water facility, and much more.

But change cannot solely be acquired through better infrastructure and technology. We must demand a difference. This requires the voices of UConn’s students, staff, and faculty. It necessitates a new university culture that is eco-conscience and environmentally aware. UConn has many sustainability related courses and research opportunities. It has clubs and events that allow student participation. And it has many individuals who care greatly about playing their role in environmental stewardship. UConn is forging a path. It is setting precedence for universities throughout the country and throughout the globe. UConn is a leader in sustainability and is challenging the fight against climate change inequality.

– Emily


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Recycling at UConn

Paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, bottles and cans – what do all of these materials have in common?  Did you know that all of them can be disposed of in the same recycling bin? Three years ago, the University of Connecticut, with the help of WilliWaste, revitalized its twenty-year-old recycling program and adopted a single-stream recycling system. The goals of the new program are to save even more energy, reduce more waste and further the prevention of pollution. In 2010, it was determined that faculty, staff and students at UConn recycle only about 20% of the disposable materials that they use each day. Since then, UConn has set a new goal of at least 58% by 2024. To expedite the University’s progress towards the lofty, sustainable goal, more than one hundred outdoor recycling bins have been added across campus. Just like the indoor recycling bins, any bin can accept any recyclable material.

Data shows that, since single stream recycling was implemented in 2010, the new program has been successful. The amount of waste tonnage by bottles, cans, and newspaper has significantly decreased as students and staff have started discarding all recyclables into the same container. The amount of waste tonnage by mixed paper and corrugated plastic has also decreased. Therefore, the amount of single streamed waste has grown and continues to do so. The University of Connecticut hopes to see the amount of waste tonnage for single stream recycling increase over the next few years. Ultimately, we wish to achieve our goal of having over half of our disposable materials recycled.

More can be recycled than you think!  Books, aluminum foil, and aerosol cans can all go into any recycling container.  There are also e-waste containers in several campus locations (Library, Student Union, Co-op) for printer ink or toner cartridges, batteries, and broken electronics.

Today, in 2013, the University has worked diligently to change the way the campus community views the importance of recycling with various events and programs. If you would like to help UConn further its waste reduction initiatives, get involved in the programs meant to promote the importance of recycling to students and to the community.  Each year, the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) teams up with athletics to host three Green Game Days – one football game during the fall semester and two basketball games during the spring semester.  At these events, student volunteers encourage fans to recycle their used items instead of throwing them into garbage cans. Volunteers also collect recyclables from tailgate areas at football games, as well as lightly used shoes for donation at basketball games.  However, lightly used shoe and sneaker recycling is not a one day event.  Throughout the entire spring semester, lightly used shoes and sneakers are collected and donated to the student group Kicks for Africa. The shoes are then shipped and distributed to less fortunate children in African countries.

For other waste reduction, UConn runs a program called Give & Go at the end of each year. Give & Go is an opportunity for students to donate furniture, clothing, school supplies and nonperishable food items as they move out at the end of the semester (for a list of all collected and donated items, visit: http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/recycling/giveandgo.html) . The recycling and reuse program encourages students to donate unwanted belongings to local charities and non-profit organizations instead of throwing them away.  And of course we have regular surplus sales at the University Surplus store to send items the University no longer needs to a new home! (There’s one on Friday 8/9/13 – check it out!)

We don’t stop at reusing and recycling – we are also trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  The University has also opened a composting facility, and Dining Services has removed all trays from dining halls (with the exception of South Campus) to reduce the amount of food waste produced by students.  In addition to reducing the amount of food waste generated on the front end, any food that is disposed of is composted in eCorect machines located within the dining halls.  By composting organic waste, UConn is reducing the overall volume of waste while re-purposing it to divert waste from landfills.

Next time you have an empty bottle in your hand, remember to recycle it instead of tossing it into a garbage can.  Don’t be afraid to lift the lid of any recycling container and make use of UConn’s single stream program.  If you are unsure of what can and cannot be recycled, visit our recycling guidelines page or call the Office of Environmental Policy!

– Katie and Meredith