UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


Leave a comment

Come Join UConn’s Earth Day Celebration!

Each spring the OEP along with the UConn Department of Dining Services’ Local Routes Program, EcoHusky Student Group and EcoHouse Learning Community organizes a sustainability festival called Earth Day Spring Fling (EDSF). The event features a multitude of student groups and campus departments as well as eco-friendly vendors/exhibitors. This year’s celebration will be held on April 18th from 11:00am to 2:00pm with an inclement weather date of April 19th.

Last year’s event generated heavy foot traffic as students, faculty, staff, and Mansfield community members stopped by to check out the Earth Day celebration.

Last year’s event generated heavy foot traffic as students, faculty, staff,
and Mansfield community members stopped by to check out the Earth Day celebration.

Located on Fairfield Way, students can easily stop by for a quick bite to eat on their way to and from class. Dining Services provides delicious local food (including vegetarian/vegan options) purchasable by either a flex pass or $9.00 in cash. All dishware is reusable to assist in achieving a low-waste event—with the bulk of waste being either recycled or composted. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and Mansfield community members are expected to attend. A diversity of vendors will be attending (approximately 35 to 40), including UConn’s very own EcoHusky Student Group, Kicks for Africa (a non-profit created by UConn student Chibuikem Nwanonyiri that collects lightly used shoes to send over to children in Africa), the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Lili D Magpie Creations (sustainable jewelry), Capitol Clean Cities (an organization dedicated to increasing the use of eco-friendly vehicles) and much more.

 EDSF is a low-waste event.

EDSF is a low-waste event.

UConn was recently ranked 5th on Sierra Club’s Cool School Survey this past year and we aim to continue improving sustainability on campus so we can reach our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Students are encouraged to come and learn more about what they can do to help promote sustainability on campus. This event offers the opportunity to learn more about environmental initiatives implemented at UConn as well as general sustainable practices. Some vendors will be selling products or handing out free samples while others may provide informational pamphlets.

Students can sit amongst their friends in the lawn area surrounding Fairfield Way and simply relax or seek out Jonathan the Husky who will be posing for photos to attract students toward our fundraising initiatives as part of the Ignite Challenge (Students 4 Sustainbility). Live acoustic music will be performed by two local bands named Skychase and Research n Development. There will also be a tree planting at 1:00pm on the east side of Budds Building.

edsf5

Come join us and help UConn celebrate its biggest environmental awareness event of the year. With spring in the air, let’s cross our fingers and hope for warm weather. We hope to see you there!

For more information please visit our website.


Leave a comment

Basketball Green Game Days: Spring 2013

Click on a picture to learn more about our green game days this spring! Thank you to everyone at the games who donated to Kicks for Africa. Collection of lightly used sneakers will continue throughout the semester at bins placed around campus.

 


1 Comment

UConn Participates in 10th Annual Campus Sustainability Day

by OEP intern Skyler Marinoff

This past October 24th was the 10th annual Campus Sustainability Day (CSD). CSD is an occasion for college and university campuses to celebrate the unique role they play in the movement towards a sustainable society. Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), CSD is a national event with 151 institutions participating from coast to coast. This was the first year that the University of Connecticut joined in.

As a center of higher learning and forward thinking, UConn has a growing culture interested in practicing and spreading awareness about sustainability. From student organizations to faculty and staff initiatives, UConn has distinguished itself as one of the “greenest” schools in the country (as we were proudly recognized by the Sierra Club!). The contributors to UConn’s CSD were equally diverse, including sustainability staff from the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP), the EcoHouse Learning Community, Green Grads, EcoHusky Student Group, Spring Valley Student Farm, and even Ballroom Dancing Club.

The first part of CSD focused on sharing information about the various opportunities available for students to get involved in the green movement on campus. This was a great opportunity for these groups to advertise their ongoing activities and projects. Tables, tents, and displays were set up on Fairfield Way. Participants brought games, produce, and a range of information for students to take on their way through campus. The fair-style event provided a physical representation of the sustainable movement at UConn.

The second component of CSD was a review of UConn’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) by sustainability intern Emily McInerney. The CAP is a guidance document that is a product of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) intended to outline steps to lead UConn to carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Emily gave a brief presentation on the history of the CAP, its progress since implementation in 2009, and what the future holds in light of the goals it sets out.

The talk set the stage for a breakout session in which the (mostly undergraduate) crowd formed groups to discuss the student-centric aspects of UConn’s CAP and sustainability initiatives. Conversation focused on ways in which students can learn about and get involved with sustainability programs on campus. Groups identified information gaps, including the general lack of awareness about electronic waste recycling and car share programs, and pressing campus issues like food waste, recycling, and sustainable transport.

Finally, the discussion turned towards ways to address these problems or promote the progress that UConn has made. Including sustainability-related information early in students’ UConn experience such as during freshman orientation or campus tours received widespread support, as did adjusting the parking fee structure to encourage alternative transit or carpooling. Students suggested that simple relatable messages could be effective in addressing issue like food or electricity waste.

Overall, CSD proved to be a success. The greatest accomplishment of 2012’s CSD was the collaboration and communication that occurred between the diverse factions of students and organizations. Networking, conversation, and education were focal points of the day’s events and these exchanges between the different parties will be a platform for which UConn can continue to build itself, both in practice and in philosophy, as a school dedicated to long-term sustainability. We look forward to participating in 2013!


2 Comments

UConn’s Sustainability Mural Is Unveiled in McMahon Residence Hall

Over the past few years UConn has emerged as a national leader in the collegiate environmental scene. From its cogeneration power plant to its sustainable dining initiatives, the green movement has been gaining momentum in Storrs. Despite significant progress, however, many current and prospective students remain unaware of what UConn has been doing regarding environment sustainability. In order to address this information gap, the Office of Environmental Policy collaborated with Angel House Design over summer 2011 to develop an informative display on campus that would educate people on UConn’s environmentally progressive actions.  The result was a wall size mural to be featured in the newly renovated lower levels of McMahon Residence Halls. The display is a collage of pictures and short text paragraphs explaining what UConn has done to reduce its environmental impact. Elements of the piece are three dimensional, increasing visual appeal, and making it possible to edit the material in order to keep up with the latest developments. The display is strategically placed near the McMahon Model Room, where tour groups of new and prospective students pass by many times a day, thus providing relevant information to interested individuals. This unique presentation also features sections dedicated to student involvement, such as a showcase on the EcoHouse learning community. It was installed during the last week of October for UConn to enjoy. We are proud to be involved in both this project and the many other sustainability initiatives currently on campus.


Leave a comment

EcoMadness. Saving the planet one water drop at a time

Ever hear the phrase “Every bit counts”? Well whether you believe it or not, small changes can add up to make a big difference. Even if you aren’t involved with any eco-friendly groups on campus you can still make an impact on the environment on your own. Large volunteer events and organizational movements are great, but people don’t always realize how significant their daily routines can be in affecting the environment.

One way that we try to raise awareness of this on campus is by holding an annual EcoMadness competition. During EcoMadness select dorms on campus compete against each other to see who can reduce their consumption of energy and water the most. The winning dorm receives a free ice cream party and an energy or water offset certificate based on which category they win. You don’t need to invent a spectacular eco-friendly machine to do your part. All you need to do is make small changes in your daily lifestyle and the results can be amazing! In just the first two weeks of the competition, Buckley has reduced their water consumption by 15.6%!

So please just flip the switch next time you leave a room, or save 5-10 gallons a minute by shortening your shower. Unplug your cell phone charger when you’re not using it, and only wash your clothes when you have a full load of laundry. Be smart, do your part, and always remember that just a little can go a long way!

Check out this year’s EcoMadness competition at the official EcoMadness webpage and find a few more tips on how to conserve energy and water.


Leave a comment

Green Game Day: UConn vs Iowa State

On Friday, September 16th, the Office of Environmental Policy and UConn Athletics co-hosted Green Game Day, an environmental awareness campaign that encourages fans to do their part in reducing the footprint of UConn Athletic events. Thirty volunteers collected recyclables from tailgaters and educated fans about the importance of recycling. As much of the estimated eight tons of garbage produced at each Husky home game is recyclable, this event significantly contributes to reducing UConn’s environmental impact. Additionally, a student-run booth featuring a green initiatives display further enthused fans by providing them with recycling bags of their own.

A group shot of the Green Game Day volunteers.

A group shot of the Green Game Day volunteers.


2 Comments

Being a Member of the EcoHouse Living and Learning Community

Were you worried about fitting in when you came to college? I was. I mean for most of us, moving to college means leaving home for the first time, it’s intimidating. How will you meet people? How will you make friends? How will you know what the heck is going on around campus? One way I found to get involved right away was to enroll in a living and learning community. During orientation they told us a little bit about living and learning communities (LLCs) as an option to get involved on campus and be a part of a community. LLCs are interest based communities so hopefully you’ll have something in common with your fellow residents before you even move in! I figured joining one was worth a shot because what did I have to lose? Not only would being in a LLC give you a community of your peers with similar interests, but it can also give you a chance to participate in activities you might find enjoyable. For example in EcoHouse, I am constantly getting notifications about any green events taking place around campus or informational sessions that are relevant to sustainability.

For me living in EcoHouse has been such a great experience thus far. We kick off each year with an EcoHouse camping trip which is not only a fun way to enjoy nature and get off campus for a couple of days, but camping also creates the perfect environment for getting to know new people. We get to do hands on volunteer work which can sometimes be hard to come by on campus, and one of Goodwin State Forest’s naturalists brings us on a guided nature walk which I personally find fascinating. When we aren’t doing planned activities we get to hang around the camp site and get to know each other a little better by playing cards, sitting by the fire, star gazing, or just chilling out. Throughout the year EcoHouse also sponsors other activities such as an alternative spring break trip and in the past we have even gone white water rafting! Once you get involved in EcoHouse you can propose your own trip or even something simple like going on a hike in the UConn Forest and inviting anyone who wants to come. I made a ton of friends living in EcoHouse last year which is why I’m in EcoHouse again as a sophomore and still loving it! So if you’re an incoming freshman, a transfer, or even just someone who hasn’t found the right place on campus yet, consider joining a Living and Learning Community.