Facility Services Operations: Inspector Tablet Green Funds Project
In the last decade Facility Services has been utilizing inspectors to ensure contractors do a good job when building and remodeling on our campus. We employ inspectors for every piece of construction necessary on campus to include: Electrical Inspectors, HVAC Inspectors, Plumbing Inspectors, Gas Inspectors, Building Inspectors, ADA Inspectors, Fire Life Safety Inspectors, Sprinklers Systems Inspectors, Structural Inspectors, Roof Inspectors, Blue Stake Inspectors, Building Access Inspectors, Landscape Inspectors, Utility Inspectors, Fire Marshall, and Code Authority Inspector. These inspectors use many reels of paper to look at different blueprint plans that change on a regular basis.
This Green Fund project entailed implementing 12 tablets for the management inspectors to decrease the amount of paper used for their jobs. Going forward FS Operations hopes to also utilize these devices to allow inspectors to digitally sign off on plans instead of using carbon sheets. By using tablets in the field we minimized and in some cases eliminated the printing of as many as a dozen different plans a week that are measured at 3’ by 4’ for the 12 different inspectors. That is 144 different site plans each week and almost 600 a month that no longer need to be printed due to digital access to the blueprints. An additional efficiency we have seen is with the reduction in back and forth driving trips to the office to print new plans.
Thanks to the Green Funds and these tablets, the Facility Services department is furthering sustainable goals across campus by empowering the inspectors to use less paper, reduce fuel consumption, and create more efficient processes. Without the support and reimbursement from the Green Funds this project would not have been possible.
Facility Services IT: Thin Client Green Funds Project
This project consisted of two green initiatives involving technology and student worker development within the Facility Services department, namely the implementation of Thin Client desktop computers and increased server virtualization. Both of these items have quantifiable metrics in terms of energy consumption reduction and furthering the sustainability goals established on campus. In addition to lowering energy usage, these reductions represent a lessened carbon footprint, waste minimization, and ongoing cost savings to the department and institution. Hands-on involvement of the two existing Facility Services IT (FIT) student workers was a critical component to this project, as is the outreach and awareness generated as part of the work.
The primary impact from these units will be in the amount of energy saved as well as the longevity of the devices. Over the expected life span of 10 years, the direct energy savings of each device will be approximately 1145.8 Kw/hr, or $100.83. Additional capital savings of roughly $1,821.43 per device is also expected due to a traditional desktop being replaced twice within the life span of a Thin Client. These projected savings are multiplied with the initial deployment of 12 devices made possible with the Green Funds. The sustainable gains for the server portion of the project is just as considerable with a projected savings of 180,500 Kw/hr, or roughly $15,887.84, over the six year life cycle of the equipment.
This project also provided a proof of concept for further deployments in that we ascertained the usefulness of the Thin Client for a variety of different workloads, from light administrative and managerial to intensive data entry. Based on the success of this implementation, the ongoing goal will be to find further departmental funding to transition additional users to the Thin Client plat form. This will continue the trend of reducing consumption across the department and allow FIT staff to more easily maintain equipment.
Thanks to the opportunity afforded us by the Green Fund Committee FIT was able to move forward with the implementation of the thin clients as well as the new host server. Without the support and reimbursement from the Green Funds this project would not have been possible. This project provided an exceptional learning opportunity for FIT student workers and allowed the department as a whole to continue to meet its sustainability goals.
NAU is increasing its purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from 13% to 15% to help move towards climate neutrality and support the renewable energy industry. NAU will be working with 3Degrees to provide us the Certificates from a wind farm in Idaho. Jacob Dottle, Environmental Caucus communication aid, interviews Ellen Vaughan, NAU manager of sustainability, to better understand NAU’s purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
Jacob: So what are RECs?
Ellen: Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) were created to track renewable energy generation because, no matter how Green Power is produced, once an electron from a renewable facility is delivered to a power grid, that electron is indistinguishable from an electron generated at a fossil fuel plant. RECs represent the environmental attributes associated with the production of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. There are two things happening when a wind, or solar, or other renewable energy installation produces electricity. First, electrons supplied from an installation are sent out over distribution lines to the nearest demand for that energy, like a town or city. These electrons, which again are indistinguishable from other electrons, are sold as grid-average electricity. Second, the Renewable Energy Certificate for one MWh of this green power has the ability to be sold on a national market. The RECs are a legal instrument, and essentially represent the ownership claim to the environmental benefits associated with the generation of renewable energy, which we have no way to convey through the physical electric gird.
Jacob: What does that do?
Ellen: Have you taken an Economics 101 class yet?
Jacob: I have, but a long time ago.
Ellen: That’s ok. Let’s see if you got one of the very basics. What happens when demand for a product starts to rise?
Jacob: The company can charge more money and they can make more money.
Ellen: Yes. Almost all of the time. What happens when other companies see that a product is in demand?
Jacob: They want to get in on it. They start making that product.
Ellen: Exactly, you remember what’s important from Economics 101! Increased demand leads to increased supply. This is exactly what the world needs, an increased supply of renewable energy. REC’s are a market signal to renewable energy developers and investors that there’s this additional source of income attached to renewable energy that will make their development or investment more competitive with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.
Environmentalists and humanitarians have been fighting for a policy that would act like this at the national level for decades. We know fossil fuels have billions of dollars’ worth of environmental and health related negative externalities so a simple solution would be to tax fossil fuels and use that money to subsidize clean renewable energy. Here at NAU, we recognize our electricity use has an unaccounted for societal cost associated with it so we’re offsetting 15% of our electrical consumption with RECs and remaining the Big Sky Conference Champion in EPA’S College & University Green Power Challenge.
Jacob: So that’s why NAU buy RECs?
Ellen: Definitely. It’s a great thing to do. NAU’s made a commitment to reach climate neutrality and this significantly helps reduce our emissions.
Jacob: So we’re offsetting our emissions, does this have anything to do with those projects that plant trees?
Ellen: No. Not at all. The key words in Renewable Energy Certificates are renewable energy. We are only supporting renewable energy that can be completely verifiable. There is a national standard for verifying RECs that’s called “Green-e Energy” certification. We made sure our RECs were certified, in our national grid, and produced from a specific, new renewable energy source. Specifically, we’re getting our RECs from a 100% wind farm called Meadow Creek in Bonneville, Idaho.
Jacob: Sounds good, why don’t we offset all our emissions with RECs?
Ellen: Well the one bummer about RECs is they don’t have any financial return on investment for the university. Although they provide a lot of positives to the renewable energy industry and climate change, I think it’d be everyone’s preference to invest in energy efficiencies and renewable energies on campus that provide us a financial return. Unfortunately, large scale, on campus projects take a large amount of upfront money that we don’t have right now. RECs are the perfect option for being able to move towards our goals economically.
Jacob: Thanks so much, I’m glad we’re doing it!
The third annual Careers With Impact event will occur on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 and Career Development and the Environmental Caucus have been hard at work preparing for this year’s event. Here at NAU, we see sustainability as an interdisciplinary challenge that extends beyond the key environmental issues of our age, such as climate change, and into the realm of social and economic justice. Careers With Impact is meant to help students connect to careers in sustainability. Many students know what kinds of impacts they want to make, but they don’t know how to go about finding work that will allow them to do so after graduation. Some students might not know which direction they want to go, but with the help of professionals in these positions, we intend to increase awareness of sustainable jobs by introducing students to positions that have sustainable implications, but may not necessarily say ‘sustainability’ in the title. Careers With Impact is an event that is meant to bring students together with professionals from social, economic, and environmental backgrounds or experiences.
This year Career Development and the Environmental Caucus are expecting to see an increase in student participation and attendance and a significant increase in professionals attending. Students will be given the chance to ask these professionals questions about their career, to get advice for student’s own careers, and to network with professionals. If you know of a professional in the field who would want to participate, please contact Jessica.Lazor@nau.edu.
On Monday, November 30th, reusable water bottles were hand delivered to the President’s Cabinet by Caitlyn Burford (Chair, Environmental Caucus), Brandon VanBibber (Student: Co-chair of Green Jacks), and Jessica Lazor (Student: Chair of Green Fund). The President’s office made an inquiry to the Environmental Caucus about a donation of reusable water bottles for the Babbitt Admin conference room, specifically for the President’s Cabinet, which is comprised of about 45 people. By gaining reusable water bottles, they could eliminate all plastic water bottles from their conference room. The Environmental Caucus purchased these bottles from a local producer in Arizona who produces the bottles right here in the US. As the reusable containers were being distributed to the President’s Cabinet, President Cheng said her recent visit to the Dominican Republic with the women’s basketball team reinforced the importance of their availability. Cheng continued by saying, “we saw plastic bottles all over the streets and on the beaches. It was a stark reminder that these things don’t go away. NAU is a leader in sustainability efforts, and each of us sets the example by making responsible choices that reflect our understanding of the wider impact on the world.”
By providing reusable water bottles, which can be refilled using the water refill station in Babbitt Admin, the Environmental Caucus was able to assist the President’s Cabinet in eliminating plastic water bottles from the conference room completely. NAU is a leader in sustainability and steps like these will keep us at the forefront of sustainable efforts. “It was a powerful feeling to hear the president of our University talk about how these plastic bottles don’t go away and how important it is for us to make an effort to battle these negative influences,” said Brandon VanBibber of the Green Jacks. “By having President Cheng initiate this change, she is further contributing to NAU’s Culture of Sustainability, and that’s important,” said Jessica Lazor of the Green Fund, “this is exactly what we need.”
By Jacob Dottle, Environmental Caucus Communication Intern
Green games have been a trend sweeping collegiate athletics by a storm in the past decade, in an effort to greatly reduce the amount of waste that would normally enter landfills. Many people do not know that a large majority of the waste from these games can either be recycled or composted. Some of the colleges that are leading the way in green games are University of Boulder Colorado, Penn State, and Ohio State University.
Beth Vechinski, Associate Athletic Director explains the importance of the game, “NAU Athletics is proud to be partnering with the Office of Sustainability and Campus Dining for the first ever “Green Game”. The football game on October 31 will provide a great opportunity to share with our fans how the University and NAU Athletics is committed to creating a culture of sustainability. The volunteer team will once again be out in the parking lot at tailgate promoting and encouraging recycling and the concessions stands will be stocked with all compostable materials in order to minimize waste. There will be educational messages running during the game promoting the campus-wide programs and resources for existing sustainability initiatives.”
NAU started recycling at tailgates for the first time last year during home football games and has continued these efforts during this year’s games. In addition to continuing to recycle at these events Green NAU held its first Green Wine of the Year Contest. The Green Wine Contest is an effort to reduce the amount of glass that is brought to the tailgate events because NAU does not recycle glass. Also it is more environmentally friendly to use aluminum products compared to glass.
NAU has its first Green Game on October 31st (HallowGreen!) where we will not only be recycling during the tailgate party but also recycling and composting waste from inside the stadium. Our hopes are to drastically reduce the amount of materials that would be thrown away. It is important to have a green game because it will show that everyone as a whole can help to reduce the massive amounts of waste that we create. Also reducing the amount of materials thrown into landfills will also help NAU become a more sustainable and healthy campus.
The Green Jacks have been a big help with finding volunteers for the event. Dylan Lenzen, Chair of the Green Jacks says, “It will be a great opportunity to bring our message of sustainability to an audience that might not normally hear it. We can show people just one of the possibilities we have to make our campus a better place. As Green Jacks, we will be there to make sure the effort is a success. We also hope to make our club visible to all of campus.”
Catherine Sullivan, Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator, explained that, “The NAU HallowGreen Game is an important step in our campus goal to reduce waste generation on campus as well as partake in the EPA’s GameDay Recycling Challenge. We’re excited to see how this first game goes and how much waste we can divert with the help of our volunteers and support from Athletics and the Office of Sustainability. To reduce waste throughout the game, our concession stands will offer recyclable and compostable packaging for our refreshments and food items, along with bulk condiments. Within our Suites, reusable chinaware will be used to cut down on waste as well. A three bin system for recycling, compost, and landfill will be provided throughout the concourse with volunteers to help fans properly dispose of their waste.”
James Yurkovich, a NAU Eco-Rep, explained that, “I have volunteered at five tailgating events over the course of two years. I think volunteering, as a Tailgate Recycling Helper is a very rewarding job. I feel it’s rewarding because I know that I am properly educating people about where to place their recyclables, and I feel great when they come up to me and ask questions! It is also rewarding because I get to see how much recyclable waste is generated at these events when they are over.” The Eco-Reps have provided essential help at the events, if you live in a residence hall, talk to your Eco-Rep about getting involved.
The Green Game will depend on volunteers at stations to help educate people on what can be recycled or composted. We will need approximately 100 volunteers for this event and anyone who is interested in helping may contact Allyson Kenna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many universities across the nation participate is recycling events for their home football games. In 2011, Ohio State launched a bold initiative to move the fourth largest stadium in the country, Ohio Stadium, towards zero waste. The first season of Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium was a huge success. In 2011, trash sent to the landfill decreased by 61.2 percent, the diversion rate for the season increased 28.8 percentage points, and an 82.4 percent diversion rate was achieved. In recent years the events have been even more successful by diverting 95.2% of materials from Ohio Stadium.
Since 2008, Folsom Stadium at the University of Boulder Colorado has been converted to a Zero Waste venue during all home football games, making it the first Zero Waste collegiate sporting venue in the nation of its size. Since the stadium capacity is close to 50,000 people, this has been no small task and took the partnership of Athletics, Levy Restaurants, Facilities Management and the Environmental Center to make this program a success. In 2014 the stadium diverted 46,530 pounds of material that would have normally ended up in a landfill.
Penn State, with the second largest university stadium in the nation, has one of the largest recycling programs for their home football games. The stadium has a capacity of 107,282 people and even more people show up for the tailgate parties. With such large numbers of people attending these events, more than 100 tons of waste can be generated in a single day. Not only does the stadium drastically reduce the amount of waste that would end up in a landfill, but also saves money. It costs $70 to dispose of one ton of waste but it only costs $15 to dispose of 1 ton of bagged recycled goods.
Northern Arizona University has been recognized as a sustainability leader in the 2015 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving the “top performer” ranking in the areas of both Campus Engagement and Coordination & Planning. The 2015 Sustainable Campus Index highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
The Campus Engagement subcategory recognizes institutions that provide students with sustainability learning experiences outside the formal curriculum, and support employee engagement, training, and development in sustainability. The Coordination & Planning subcategory recognizes institutions that are dedicating resources to sustainability coordination, developing plans to move toward sustainability, and engaging the campus community in governance. NAU has achieved 100 percent of the available points available in both of these sections of STARS.
“Northern Arizona University’s participation in STARS and strong performance in the areas of Campus Engagement and Coordination & Planning demonstrates significant leadership and commitment to advancing sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We are pleased to recognize NAU for working to secure a brighter future by incorporating sustainability into campus operations, academics, administration and engagement.”
Some of the institution’s achievements in these areas include NAU’s Eco-Rep program. The role of the Eco-Rep is to provide peer to peer education on how to live more sustainably in NAU residential communities. Topics will include energy and water conservation, recycling, and other relevant environmental issues. Eco-Reps will serve as a resource that role models and promotes environmentally conscious behavior within their residential community/area.
Another achievement recognized by STARS is the creation and recent revision of NAU’s Sustainability Action Plan. “This Plan has helped us revisit every aspect of operations, academics, and research on campus.” Explains John Morris, chair of the Coordinating Committee for Sustainability, “by utilizing the Plan’s clear objectives and detailed actions we’re able to systematically advance sustainable initiatives on campus through participation from departments all across campus.”
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit stars.aashe.org.
About the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
AASHE empowers higher education faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit www.aashe.org.
(Don’t Bring Glass to Tailgates!!)
Since last year, Green NAU has been recycling at home football game tailgate parties. Before we started recycling, hundreds of pounds of recyclable materials and glass ended up in the landfill.
NAU cannot recycle glass at these events, so we encourage everyone attending the tailgate parties to purchase beer in aluminum cans, as well as canned or boxed wine.
In an effort to educate tailgate attendees about the benefits of canned or boxed wine, Green NAU partnered with Vino Loco to hold a wine tasting event to determine the best boxed/canned wine to bring to NAU’s tailgate parties.
Besides being recyclable at tailgates, boxed wine has a carbon footprint that is less than half of the equivalent bottles (Source) and less packaging = less waste (85% less waste). Also, aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable!
Jacob Dottle, the communication intern for the Environmental Caucus, interviewed Gabriel Holden from Vino Loco about the Green Wine of the Year event, and Carole Kennelly from the Grand Canyon Wine Co. about their winning canned wine.
Vino Loco’s Gabriel Holden explained that, “our culture at Vino Loco has always strongly supported hosting events promoting a progressive cause such as Green NAU’s Green Wine of the Year. Boxed and especially the higher quality canned wines have been increasing in sales at Vino Loco and I would expect them to become much more mainstream in the coming years. I would expect to see them at every gas station and liquor store around the country sooner than later. The event at Vino Loco sponsoring Green NAU’s Green Wine of the Year was a success! There were about fifty people who participated and voted in the Year’s winner – Grand Canyon Traveller Red Blend & Grand Canyon Traveller White Blend—both a canned wine.”
Carole Kennelly, from Grand Canyon Winery explained their efforts to make a more sustainable product, “We decided to do the wine, which came out about two months ago, and is 100% Arizona wine. All of our grapes come from seven vineyards in Arizona, predominantly from the Wilcox area and the Verde Valley. Many other wine companies get their grapes from California or from overseas. This contributes to large amounts of air pollution due to the transportation process. Obtaining our grapes from local vineyards helps reduce our impact on the Earth.”
“Our main reason for making wine in a can is because we love mountain climbing, river rafting and other outdoor activities, where bringing wine in a bottle is not very practical. Many river rafting trips do not allow people to bring glass bottles, due to the possibility of the glass breaking in the river. The wine in a can allows people to bring smaller portions of wine with them, while minimizing on weight and trash.”
“The green wine event was great! It really helps to pull the community together and to have a great time. It is really great to team up with local businesses,” Carole concluded.
“The wine can be bought at the Barrel and Bottle House, which is located on the corner of Cottage and San Francisco. The wine is sold in single 8oz cans or in 4 pack of cans. Proper Meats and Provisions serves up delicious local fare at the Barrel + Bottle, so this gives people a chance to try our wine, beer and have a little bit of food.”
By Rachelle Berry
The Enterprise Carshare program provides access to Hybrid cars for young students and staff. In the beginning of the semester I signed up for the program during a promotion for $5 and was given a card to access the car. I was able to use the Carshare program to move, do laundry, and drop off items for donation at the end of the semester.
The two cars available live outside of the Union and the Dub. A few minutes before my registration time, I arrived at the shiny red Prius in front of the Union around 3:10. You can reserve your time in increments of 15 minutes and arrive up to 5 minutes early to take possession of the red or silver Prius. I took out my card and held it above the card reader to open the car. The keys are in the glove compartment and you have to pull them out of the key holder. After this process I checked my mirrors, turned on the radio and pressed the start button. The Prius has a peculiar start you just get used to. The car starts silently, after you press the brake, press start and then move the shifter to drive or reverse. The park is a button you press to engage. Sometimes if you do not start the car correctly you have to put the car in park and try again. After moving beyond this series of steps the car silently moves along.
I did my errands, which used the entirety of the space in the car to pack up my room. The car is very roomy and can hold 5 to 6 suitcases and a few boxes of varying sizes. In fact, the seats lay completely down for oversized items. It easily stows a bike and other items while still leaving room for another passenger in the front. After running some of my errands around the city I realized I needed an extra 45 minutes for my reservation. I took out my phone opened the reservation email which directed me to my Carshare reservation. I was able to easily pick the time I wanted to extend to, the car was available, and my extension was granted. I returned the car on time and parked it in its dedicated spot outside of the Union. I put the keys back in the key holder, and locked the door with my card. This ends the reservations and records when you return the car.
All in all it was a great experience. I didn’t have to think about gas or insurance, as they are included in the program. If you need a car for a few errands or to move a few or a lot of things the cars are of moderate size and the price is great at 7.50-9.50/hr.
On September 12 in Phoenix Arizona, NAU’s Office of Sustainability and NAU’s Green Fund was recognized for submitting the Solar Thermal Hot Air Technology which won Arizona Forward’s award for Energy and Technology Innovation. They also took home the Award of Merit for the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future for installing the technology on campus.
In January, 2015 NAU installed the first known multi-panel solar thermal hot air system on a university’s campus in the nation. See original blog post: http://www2.nau.edu/green-p/index.php/2015/01/29/nau-installs-novel-solar-thermal/.
NAU’s Office of Sustainability was attracted to the new technology because although there are many available renewable energy options like solar PV and wind that can reduce net electrical use, there are not many options for directly reducing fossil-based heating (natural gas). Recognizing that heat and hot water comprise nearly half the energy demand in the country, the opportunity for cost effective solar thermal technology is massive.
The technology was discussed at the Environmental Caucus’ Energy Action Team and was then submitted as a proposal to NAU’s Green Fund. The Green Fund committee (predominately comprised of students) was excited about this project because it will pay for itself in a small fraction of the time. The Green Fund chooses projects it thinks will reduce NAU’s carbon footprint and innovative projects that will prove the effectiveness of new technologies to the university and the world. This solar thermal air heating installation (purchased through SolarThermiX) is helping to achieve both these goals. Another top criteria the Green Fund evaluates is “visibility.” “Because NAU strives to be a Living Laboratory, we’re excited that this project is available to all our students, particularly engineering students, for monitoring and class projects” says Jessica Lazor, Climate Science and Solutions (CSS) graduate student and chair of the Green Fund. The technology has already been evaluated by a CCS student and SolarThermiX will be donating more panels to NAU for engineering research this fall.
“NAU is particularly proud of this installation because through this contribution of proving the quality and efficiency of this technology we hope to demonstrate a solution to over 18,000 off-grid Native American homes in Northern AZ that face heat insecurity,” states Ellen Vaughan, manager of NAU’s Office of Sustainability.
There is a crisis in providing heat for reservation elders and this technology could dramatically help stretch the limited propane budgets and/or scarcity of wood for heat.
Simply, solar thermal hot air technology has the potential to do for fossil-based heating what PV has done for electrical energy; albeit with more compelling economic and environmental justification.