UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Energy Summit-hosted by Connecticut Light and Power

On Tuesday, February 18, representatives from CL&P hosted an energy summit at the Nathan Hale Inn to collaborate with UConn’s energy employees as well as members from other departments and determine next steps for the University’s energy goals.  The summit started off with a recap of what UConn is currently working on and what successes the University has accomplished thus far.  For example, in the past three years UConn has prevented 39,370 tons of coal and 117,985 barrels of oil from being burned.  Additionally, we were ranked #1 in 2013 for Sierra Club’s Cool Schools Survey.  Going forward UConn plans to mitigate the impact of a growing university through behavior change in the community, retrocommissioning of old buildings, and making sure that all new buildings are as energy efficient as possible.

CL&P invited Walt Henry, a former professor at MIT and current energy consultant to share his experiences at MIT with UConn.  According to Henry, an energy efficient building does not have to cost more than a standard building. “A building is like a cake,” he said “the ingredients in the cake itself are what’s most important, not the frosting and cherry.”  What he means by this is that all you need to do in order to make an energy efficient building within budget is to spend your money in the right places.  Instead of focusing on fancy extras that may seem important, you should focus on using the right materials in the right places.  For example, instead of spending money on limestone, use cast stone.  It is less expensive and works just as well.  You should however invest the money on good spray foam insulation and windows since air tight walls increase efficiency.

Henry ended his presentation with some key take-aways that may help UConn when making the designs for new buildings. For one thing, architects and engineers must collaborate so that the structure of the building and the internals work together.  Also it is important to take intelligent risks, knowing what could possibly go wrong, but not being afraid to be a leader in sustainable building.  Finally, Henry noted his opinion on how LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-a current ranking system for many green buildings) should not drive the design of a new building.  The planners should make the best building they can and then use LEED as a yardstick.  This way, they have the chance to be innovative and possibly even make a better building than LEED calls for.

Going forward, UConn still has many things to consider and there is always room for improvement.  However, meetings like this increase collaboration among UConn departments, our partner CL&P, and other universities to help turn the best ideas into reality one step at a time.

-Katie


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Katie’s pumped for Green Game Day!

Is everyone ready for Green Game Day this Saturday???  I certainly hope so!  So, what can you do to make the most of this year’s football Green Game Day?  Start your game experience right at home by packing only reusable and recyclable materials for your tailgating party.  When you arrive at the game keep an eye out for EcoHusky and EcoHouse volunteers who will be promoting eco-friendly behavior and collecting recyclables from fans.  If you’ve got a minute between barbecuing and swapping stories with fellow fans, take a walk over to the Fanfest area where more volunteers will be waiting to educate you about UConn’s green initiatives (there are even some fun giveaways!  Honestly, who doesn’t like free stuff?) During the game keep an eye and ear open for any messages that will let you know all of the great ways that Rentschler field is going green.

My experiences at past Green Game Days (GGDs) have always left me with a positive feeling.  At Rentschler, I’ve gotten the chance to both collect recyclables from tailgaters and work the booth, both of which I found to be rewarding experiences.  I was so encouraged by how fans were completely on board with our efforts and gladly handed over their empties for recycling.  Several fans even wanted to know more about our mission and I was happy to give them a little insight into the efforts of the OEP and our affiliated student groups.  At the booth I thought it was great educating fans of all ages and interacting with them through fun little games and just general conversation.  I have also had the opportunity to orchestrate two Basketball GGDs and I would just like all the fans to know, it takes a lot of work!  I sincerely hope that everything we do behind this scenes pays off and that you as fans feel like the green message has shown through and encourages you to be more eco-friendly in your endeavors even after you leave the game.

So gear up, get pumped, and get ready to recycle!

-Katie


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Cleaning Green

Our intern Katie, just moved into campus apartments instead of a traditional dorm.  Consequently, she’s been researching how to live more greenly, including cleaning.  Here is the result of her research!

Simple Switches

We all want to live a little greener so we try to recycle and save energy, but what about those necessities of life that may include harsh chemicals or other substances that are unfriendly to the environment?  Fear not, there is a solution!  Many people are still unaware that there are a variety of green cleaning and personal hygiene products available in the market today.  All it takes is a few simple switches and knowing which brands to buy.  Some key words to look for are “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly,” and “eco-safe.”  However you must be careful and take a look at the ingredients just to be sure the product is actually what it claims to be because many companies merely use these buzz words as a marketing ploy.  In addition to buying greener products you should also consider replacing old sponges and mops with products made from recycled or post-consumer materials.  Next time you go shopping for a fresh batch of cleaning supplies look for these brands or order them online:

  • The Honest Company
  • Green Works
  • Seventh Generation
  • ECOS
  • Method
  • Simple Green

You can also check this list for several brands of Eco-friendly cosmetics and soap:

http://www.greenlisted.org/personal-care.htm

If home remedies are more your style, check out this link for some great formulas and substitutes:

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

– Katie


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Carpooling at UConn

Attention UConn commuters! This year, parking services is offering a carpooling program available to commuter students at the University of Connecticut.  The aim of the program is to encourage students to reduce their carbon footprint with the incentives of saving gas and money by riding to school together.  Carpooling is also a great way to save some money on your parking pass!

Students may choose to share a permit for North or South Garage, commuter lots, W Lot, or C Lot.  The great thing about this permit is that you’re sharing the space, not just one car.  Because each carpooler’s vehicle is registered, you can rotate who’s on driving duty.  Additionally, parking services provides 2 complimentary day passes per carpooler into this deal that can be used in any commuter lot, just in case you can’t make the carpool sometimes.  If 2 days isn’t enough, additional permits may be purchased at a low price.  So if you’ve got a couple of friends who also commute to UConn from your area, then get together and purchase a carpool permit!  Check out the parking services webpage to learn more about how you can sign up for this great program.  http://web2.uconn.edu/parking/carpool.html

 

– Katie


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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


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EcoMadness Final Results 2012!

The final results on EcoMadness 2012 are in!

Energy

Throughout the competition, Buckley has held the number one spot for lowest daily per capita usage of energy, at 3.7 kWh per student per day.  Their hard work and dedication kept them in the lead, and as a reward they will have a free UConn Dairy Bar ice cream party in addition to bragging rights!

In the energy reduction category, Sherman/Webster of Towers held the lead for three weeks. However, during our double or nothing final week of competition, Whitney scrambled ahead in the final moments! They had held a top three position throughout the competition, but Whitney beat out Sherman/Webster by a slim 0.03% finishing for a 20.5% total reduction in energy consumption.

Of the 23 participating dorms, 21 successfully reduced their energy consumption by a total average of 8.5%. The average per capita use was 4.4 kWh per day.

Water

Sprague, the new home of EcoHouse, was the clear winner for water reduction with an incredible final reduction of 21.0%! For some perspective on what a major accomplishment this was, the second place dorm reduced by 13.0%. Since the second week of competition, Sprague held its leading spot with steady improvements each week.   Another winner who held their position consistently throughout EcoMadness was Hamilton/Wade/Fenwick/Keller of Towers with an average per capita consumption of 32.0 gallons of water per day throughout the course of the competition.

Nine of the 23 dorms reduced their water consumption by an overall average of 2.9%.  Excluding the dorms whose water consumption was unchanged, the average reduction in water consumption was 7.1%.  The average per capita use of water was 39.9 gallons per day. (Converting that to its weight, the average per capita use is 334 lbs of water daily!)

An honorable mention goes out to our second and third place dorms for all four winning categories:

Per Capita Energy: Holcomb (2nd Place) and Batterson (3rd Place)
Energy Use Reduction (%): Sherman/Webster (2nd Place) and Hollister A/Hollister B (3rd Place)

Per Capita Water: Terry (2nd Place) and Spraque (33.4)
Water Use Reduction: Alsop A/Alsop B (2nd Place) and Whitney (3rd Place)

The overall final results are as follows:

Water Reduction Winner:
Sprague (21% Reduction)

Energy Reduction Winner:
Whitney (East) (20.5% Reduction)

Water Usage Per Capita Winner:
Hamilton/Wade/Fenwick/Keller (32 gallons)

Energy Usage Per Capita Winner:
Buckley (3.7 kWh)

Congratulations to all the dorms that successfully reduced their water and/or energy consumption during the course of EcoMadness.  Keep up the good work and remember to keep conserving!