Colleges and universities

EPA Kicks Off Third-Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge to Develop Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching its third-annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a prize contest that engages college students in developing innovative green infrastructure systems to reduce stormwater pollution and build resilience to climate change.

Through Campus RainWorks, teams of undergraduate and graduate students, working with a faculty advisor, develop a proposed green infrastructure project for the campus, showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the community and the environment.

Since 2012, Campus RainWorks has engaged more than 300 student teams in developing green infrastructure solutions to urban stormwater management. Campus RainWorks encourages the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses, trains the next generation of stormwater professionals, and develops new knowledge on the performance of green infrastructure.

Registration for the 2014 Challenge opens Sept. 2 and ends Oct. 3. Registrants must submit their entries by Dec. 19. Each winning team will earn a student prize of $1,000-$2,000 divided evenly among student team members and a faculty prize of $2,000-$3,000 to support green infrastructure research or training. EPA will announce winning entries in April 2015.

Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment and contributing to downstream flooding.

Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution while increasing economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings, and open space. Green infrastructure builds resilience to the impacts of climate change, particularly by reducing the burden on local water infrastructure. Green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement or substitute for “gray” infrastructure such as pipes, filters, and ponds.

More information at www.epa.gov/campusrainworks

Prairie hits ‘big turning point’ as volunteers establish native plants

Read the full story in the Daily Illini.

The corner of Florida and Orchard used to be a no-mow zone — a drab collection of tall grasses and weeds — but then the Student Sustainability Committee started a project in 2010 to spruce the area up, transforming it into a prairie.

Last week that same prairie was in a colorful bloom, with two of the most common forbs in the prairie — bee balm and yellow cornflower — flowering across the 2.7-acre field in a sea of yellow and purple.

John Marlin, a volunteer who coordinates the work on the prairie, said this is the best he’s ever seen it look.

Job announcement: Program Manager for the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Penn State University

Penn State’s Sustainability Institute seeks a highly motivated, organized, and action-oriented individual to manage program activities for the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC).

The Program Manager will oversee operational activities associated with the SCC, a large-scale, innovative university/community based collaboration that engages PSU faculty and students in existing courses from across the University through real world, community- and campus-identified sustainability projects.

  • Serve as primary point of contact with faculty members and community partners for projects, monitor progress and address any issues that emerge, to ensure projects stay on track and, provide presentations to classes of students associated with projects.
  • Develop, administer, and maintain appropriate project documents needed to support the program, including Program Agreements for each project, project activity spreadsheets, and overall program management tools.
  • Develop and maintain descriptive information about SCC, to include presentations, website information, and other collateral materials.

The Program Manager will serve as convener of a team of Sustainability Institute-affiliated faculty, staff, and students to lead the SCC initiative and ensure that projects are successfully initiated, planned, executed, completed, and assessed each semester.

  • Plan and oversee the development of annual program reports, the major deliverable of the university to the community, incorporating the work of all classes focused on SCC projects during the year.
  • Manage SCC budget and supervise graduate students and undergraduate interns.

This position will need to interface effectively with senior local government officials and community business and organization leaders, as well as faculty members and students across multiple colleges. As this program is replicated at other Penn State campuses, the Program Manager will be the primary contact between University Park and coordinators at other campuses. The Program Manager will ensure that SCC activities are aligned with program goals and contribute to positive community, student, faculty and University impact and, is responsible for impact assessment, and stakeholder reporting.

Typically requires a Master’s degree or higher plus three years of related experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. A Doctorate degree preferred, in education, regional planning, business administration, sustainability, or a field related to SCC work. Experience in university-community engagement, service learning, community and economic development, program management and assessment, sustainability planning, grant-writing, budget management, and fund-raising is highly desirable. Review of applications will begin July 21. This is a fixed-term appointment funded for one year from date of hire with excellent possibility of re-funding.

From ‘Blue’ to green: Utah State learns how to win over critics

In this article for GreenBiz, members of Utah State University’s sustainability team detail how they used a marketing campaign to turn resistance to a new campus sustainability fee into support for the projects that the fee funds.

Campus garden sprouts at U of M Crookston

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota.

Between the seemingly interminable June rains, ground was broken and crops began to sprout in the Allen and Freda Pederson Garden near the U of M Crookston campus. 

Dan Svedarsky, director of the Crookston Center for Sustainability, says completion of the project is “due in no small measure to support of the garden suppers,” funded through an Institute on the Environment Mini Grant.

The project also received a $25,000 grant from 98-year-old Allen Pederson to honor his wife, Freda. The couple were active gardeners, often sharing their bounty with the community.

Webinar: Creating a Culture of Sustainability: Planting the Seed

July 29, 2014 11 am-noon CDT
Register here.

GreenerU recognizes that cultivating a culture of sustainability is not always the easiest thing to do. Tackling these issues with incoming students at the start of every academic year plants the seeds early on. Our speakers will discuss different ways to make this happen.

By joining our webinar, you will learn about different techniques used by Boston University and Babson College that will help you address sustainability at:

  • Move-in
  • Orientation
  • Freshman seminar classes
  • Start of semester events

How collegiate sports can score with sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

At the College Sports Sustainability Summit held in June, the Natural Resources Defense Council released our NRDC Greening Advisor for Collegiate Sports, a free online guide to greening collegiate athletics and recreation.

This free tool aims to help any college or university interested in greening its sports facilities and operations. NRDC’s guide provides information about implementing environmental initiatives at collegiate athletic and recreation departments. It offers the first compilation of collegiate sports greening resources in one place and showcases a wide variety of success stories, including case studies profiled in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

Former state senator Ellen Anderson to head new Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota

Via the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Our energy system is in the midst of a major transition. Our power sources are shifting from coal to more natural gas and renewables. We need to upgrade our aging grid to accommodate those new sources. As our grid becomes “smarter,” we need it to be responsive and reliable. And new greenhouse gas emissions regulations and the need to make our grid resilient as the climate changes add further complexities.

This energy transition has the potential to spark innovation in business and the public sector, leading to new jobs and better outcomes for the community and our environment. Reaching that potential requires strong leadership. To provide that leadership, the University of Minnesota is launching the Energy Transition Lab with former state senator Ellen Anderson (J.D. ’86), senior advisor on energy and environment to Governor Dayton, as its inaugural executive director.

A strategic initiative of the University’s Institute on the Environment with funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Energy Transition Lab will bring together leaders in government, business and nonprofit organizations to develop new energy policy pathways, institutions and regulations. As executive director, Anderson will work with the lab’s faculty director, Law School professor Hari Osofsky, to build collaborations, establish and monitor projects, and develop the lab into a focal point for innovative solutions.

“Ellen Anderson has been a leader in Minnesota’s energy transition for over two decades, and I cannot imagine someone more qualified to serve as the Energy Transition Lab’s inaugural executive director and help this lab make a major impact,” Osofsky said. “Her experience as a legislator crafting our key renewable energy legislation, as the chair of the Public Utilities Commission regulating energy in the state and as a senior
advisor to Governor Dayton on these issues will be invaluable to this new initiative.”

“We need the University of Minnesota’s great researchers and thought leaders to help our energy system transition to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Anderson said. “I am thrilled to lead this critical endeavor, and look forward to working with the public, private and community sectors to catalyze innovative solutions.”

The Energy Transition Lab will focus on four core strategies: boosting energy efficiency; increasing use of clean, renewable energy sources; improving systems that move energy to where it’s needed; and advancing energy and environmental justice. The lab will address these by taking on projects in partnership with community leaders, moving from problem to tangible solution through consultations, research, public meetings, and outreach initiatives. An annual conference will bring together business, public policy and thought leaders to report on progress and identify next steps—which could include other high-impact activities. Specific products will include policy reports, legislative testimony, model legislation and regulations, as well as valuable learning opportunities for students, who will participate in shaping solutions through class activities and capstone projects. Public events will build awareness of the energy transition and of the lab’s activities.

According to Osofsky, the Energy Transition Lab aims to become the “go-to” place for experts and leaders beyond the University to work with University faculty, students and staff toward solutions to energy challenges.

“We have already begun the process of collaborating with key leaders in business, government and non-governmental organizations to develop projects that will help advance the energy transition in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, nationally and internationally,” Osofsky said. “We are excited to continue work with these and other leaders to make the Energy Transition Lab’s efforts as helpful as possible. We are aiming to find the leverage points in which our work can fill a gap and make a difference in important law and policy areas.”

The University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment seeks lasting solutions to Earth’s biggest challenges through research, partnerships and leadership development. For more information, visit environment.umn.edu.

Lighting Research Center Issues New Report: LED Lighting in a Campus Building

Read the full story from  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently evaluated a newly constructed building at Siena College—Rosetti Hall, a 25,000 square foot, 3-story, contemporary brick building that includes classrooms, meeting rooms, and offices. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded funding to change the lighting specification from the originally specified conventional fluorescent lighting to all light emitting diodes (LEDs), designed by Engineered Solutions of Clifton Park, N.Y., and to have the project evaluated as a DELTA demonstration project by LRC. The 20-page full color, illustrated report, “LED Lighting in a Campus Building” detailing the project evaluation and findings, is available for free download from the LRC website.