Colleges and universities

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.

University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment awards four new project grants

Via the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Congratulations to the four latest recipients of Institute on the Environment Project Grants! IonE Project Grants (formerly known as Discovery Grants) help highly innovative, world-class research activities get off the ground with a one-time investment of venture capital funding. The new recipients for fiscal year 2014 are:

Climate, Conflict and Displacement: Shifting Patterns in Kenyan Pastoral Communities

Project Leads: Cheryl Robertson (School of Nursing), Paul Porter (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences), Innocent Rwego (School of Public Health) and Fred Rose (Institute on the Environment)

This project will conduct a focused study to better understand the human experience of climate variability, conflict and displacement due to climate change. It will also build multidisciplinary academic and multisectoral partnerships to develop a program that can improve the health and resilience of climate-displaced communities.

Releasing the Power of Nature for Cleaning Pollutants in Drinking Water

Project Leads: Alptekin Aksan (College of Science and Engineering) and Larry Wackett (College of Biological Sciences)

This collaboration between industry, academia and regulating federal, state and multinational agencies aims to develop a low-cost, low-energy-demand self-sustained bioremediation system that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world.

Food System Design for Resilient Population Health: The Minnesota Model

Project Lead: Matteo Convertino (School of Public Health)

This project will apply a comprehensive approach to designing an integrated, transdisciplinary food transportation system that intends to build resilience into the food web by providing dynamical indication over time of critical pathways, trade suggestions, disease outbreak locations, stakeholder connectivity needs, local investigation needs and real-time updates.

Sustainable Cities: Building an Integrative Research Network to Incorporate Natural Capital Into Design of Urban Systems     

Project Leads: Sarah Hobbie (College of Biological Sciences), Bonnie Keeler (Institute on the Environment) and Stephen Polasky (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences)

The goal of this project is to advance understanding of the role of green infrastructure in sustainable cities and position the University of Minnesota as a leader in the field of urban sustainability and environmental science. The project aims to stimulate new collaborative research on urban ecosystem services through short-term, high-impact research activities; identify key knowledge gaps and barriers to sustainability and develop proposals to address those gaps; and support integration of research and practice through partnerships, opportunities and stakeholder engagement.