NAU Removes All Retail Plastic Bags from its Operations!

Reusable Bag Student

Students across campus are using reusable bags more and more

NAU is excited to announce that no retail store on campus will be giving out plastic bags!

NAU’s Bookstore (operated by Follett) is the latest concessionaire to stop handing out plastic bags for retail operations. Instead, they will be opting for a more environmentally friendly paper bag. The new bags are made from 100% Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) Recycled material and are themselves, recyclable. 95% of the recycled content comes from post consumer waste. To further reduce their environmental impact customers can request to not receive a bag with their purchase. “The NAU Bookstore team is proud to join the Northern Arizona University community in discontinuing the use of plastic bags. Since launching our “skip the bag” program in 2009, we’ve found that many customers are happy to pass on plastic bags for their purchase. Discontinuing plastic bags at the store reinforces our encouragement to all NAU Bookstore customers to either carry their purchased items or place them in a reusable bag. Together, the NAU community can make a big difference,” said Diana White, Store Manager for the NAU Bookstore.

Among its many sustainable initiatives, NAU’s Campus Dining (operated by Sodexo) decided to stop using bags back in 2010. “At first, it seemed like a huge endeavor,” explains Casey Fisher, Sodexo’s director of Strategic Planning and Marketing “we have 29 Restaurants and convenience stores across campus. But Sodexo has a strong commitment to sustainability and we were excited to work with NAU on a project that was pretty innovative at the time. Six years later, we’re happy to report we’re keeping approximately 33,000 plastic bags a year out of circulation. The whole endeavor was definitely a success, there was never really much negative push back at all” Fisher concludes.

In Flagstaff, plastic bags can be recycled at grocery stores that participate in Bag Central Station – Where Bags Belong. They are not recyclable through the residential recycling system. Going plastic bag free is the latest in the bookstore’s “green” initiatives. The NAU Bookstore also recycles books at the end of the fall semester and continually recycles electronics from the computer store.

Ban the Bag

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Northern Arizona University, Sodexo composting food scraps for a greener campus

Composting Green Fund Picture

A new student-lead collaboration between Northern Arizona University (NAU) and food service company Sodexo is leading to high-volume recycling of the school’s food waste.

The program kicked into gear with the acquisition of machines that grind and dehydrate food waste from the school’s dining services into an easily compostable form. Through a waste audit, students discovered that the school’s dining halls and other food service facilities generate up to 1,500 pounds of food waste each day. Once those scraps have been composted, school landscaping crews add it to the on-campus landscaping.

“The new system is an exciting venture for NAU and Sodexo as we work together to continually strive for advances in the sustainability of our dining operations,” NAU Executive Director of Campus Services and Activities Thomas Eberly said. “We hope that this system will pave the way for further waste reduction initiatives by working with students to create solutions that help meet university goals. And, if in the process, we can provide a case study for other universities looking to invest in similar systems, we’ve accomplished significant progress in our journey toward creating a culture of sustainability at NAU and beyond.”

The school also diverts and tracks its organic waste through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge and helps move food to food banks through the Food Recovery Network.

NAU’s Green Fund contributed $60,000 to help make this project a reality.

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NAU brightens sustainable outlook with major solar panel agreement!

Rooftop Solar Dedication

Jessica Lazor, Fletcher Wilkinson, John Morris, NAU President Rita Cheng and Brandon Vanbibber at the ceremony Tuesday.

Northern Arizona University took its latest step toward long-term sustainable operations today by announcing that the university will host a large solar panel system on campus.

NAU President Rita Cheng signed documents at a ceremony on campus to mark the project’s launch. Student representatives and officials from Arizona Public Service also attended.

“There are many people to thank for making this day possible,” Cheng said. “They include a group of dedicated staff in Facilities Services, the student leaders of NAU Green Fund and our friends at Arizona Public Service. Today’s signing honors our collective commitment to sustainability and the university’s mission to use all resources responsibly. This solar project symbolizes what can be achieved by working together toward a common goal.”

The project features a 704-kilowatt system that will be built atop the San Francisco Parking Garage under an agreement with BriteStreet Energy Group. NAU will purchase the electricity generated by the system from BriteStreet for a period of 20 years.

“We are excited to be working with NAU,” said Tim Kubes, vice president of Commercial Development for BriteStreet. “The team at NAU is outstanding and we appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this project.”

A separate 20-year agreement with Arizona Public Service provides an incentive of 6 cents per kilowatt hour produced by the system.

In addition, the student-funded NAU Green Fund will contribute $100,000 a year for the first 10 years to offset the cost of purchasing the generated electricity. Both the APS incentives and student funding ensured the economic feasibility of the project by reducing the cost of electricity.

Sky Construction and Engineering will install the system. Construction will begin in June with final completion scheduled for September.

The NAU Green Fund was created in 2010 when students voted to support a fee of $5 per student per semester that would go toward making campus more sustainable.

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NAU Designated Conference Champion in EPA’S College & University Green Power Challenge!


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized NAU as an Individual Conference Champion of the 2015-16 College & University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Big Sky Conference.

Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use within the program. The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that uses the most green power in a qualifying conference.

NAU beat its conference rivals by using more than 8 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 13 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage last year. NAU has recently revisited its purchases and is now buying 15% of its electricity through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from wind.

In addition, Northern Arizona University is generating green power from an on-site renewable energy system using solar and wind resources. This demonstrates a proactive choice to switch away from traditional sources of electricity generation and support cleaner renewable energy alternatives.

According to the U.S. EPA, Northern Arizona University’s green power use of more than 8 million kWh is equivalent to the electricity use of more than 700 average American homes annually.

Learn more about NAU’s RECs purchases here.

In the 2015-16 challenge, the 41 collegiate conferences and 94 schools competing collectively used nearly 2.5 billion kWh of green power. EPA’s Green Power Challenge is open to any collegiate athletic conference in the United States. In order to qualify, a collegiate athletic conference must include at least one school that qualifies as a Green Power Partner, and the conference must collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. EPA will restart the 11th season of the College & University Green Power Challenge in the fall of 2016 and conclude in the spring of 2017. For more information, visit:

Green power is zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, eligible biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints.

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Sustainability Leadership Awards 2016

Each year the Environmental Caucus (EC) hosts the Sustainability Leadership Awards. These awards are presented to students, faculty, and staff who have been nominated by their peers for going above and beyond in enhancing our Culture of Sustainability at NAU or in the community. This year the Environmental Caucus received over 30 nominations covering their six different categories. The award ceremony began with a presentation from Dr. Rita Cheng, the President of NAU, and continued with award presentations from Jennus Burton, NAU’s VP of Finance and Dr. Jim Coleman, NAU’s Provost. Preceding the main event the Caucus held presentations from Green Fund Project Managers, which included John Morris, NAU’s AVP of Facility Services.

Congratulations to all of the winners and a special thank you to all Administration members who attended. Also, thank you to Caitlyn Burford, the EC Chair, and Jessica Lazor, the EC Graduate Assistant for hosting and organizing such an important event!


NAU Undergraduate Student

Undergraduate 1st Place Winner, Cassandra Leone with presenter Jennus Burton, VP of Finance

Undergraduate 1st Place Winner, Cassandra Leone with presenter Jennus Burton, NAU VP of Finance.

Cassandra Leone, 1st Place

Cassandra Leone has been dedicated to creating a culture of sustainability since the ripe age of 7. In elementary school, she raised awareness for Earth Day by organizing school-wide trash pick-ups and participating in informational plays, which she wrote. Cassandra has gained even more momentum as an Environmental Studies student at NAU. She continues to show her leadership skills through countless Green initiatives on campus. You can always catch her at the open-air market or volunteering for the Food Recovery Network. She works for Campus Dining as the Student Sustainability Coordinator and serves as Vice Chair of the Green Fund. She was also an intern for AZ Green Living Magazine. Cassandra has attended the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference twice- in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, she represented NAU by presenting her work on two separate subjects: waste reduction strategies and interdepartmental success due to partnership between Campus Dining and Health Promotions. She has also presented at the Undergraduate Symposium.  Cassandra wrote a successful Green Fund proposal for her current project, a podcast called At Its Roots.

2nd place: Stella Carr

3rd place: Sara Tilford


NAU Graduate Student

Graduate 1st Place winner Dara Marks-Marino with presenter Jennus Burton, NAU VP of Finance.

Graduate 1st Place winner Dara Marks-Marino with presenter Jennus Burton, NAU VP of Finance.

Dara Marks-Marino, 1st Place

Dara is completing her graduate degree in the Climate Science and Solutions program and she continues to seek ways to help NAU identify realistic waste reduction strategies.  Dara is a part of the Waste Minimization Action Team and has been an important part of ensuring that recycling at tailgates happened on campus. Dara was also a key organizer for the Zero Waste Hallow-Green Game this year. Dara’s passion and high level of engagement for the Green Game made her a catalyst for the long list of action items that needed to be completed before the Oct. 31st game. Without her leadership and enthusiasm, the Green Game would not have been the success that it was. On top of the Green Game and tailgating events, she also attends many of the Environmental Caucus Energy Action Team meetings, Green Team meetings, and the Waste Minimization Team Meetings. Dara has also volunteered to do a project assessing the potential for NAU to develop a waste-incineration plant. She is also an active sustainability leader in the community and is now part of the City’s Sustainability Commission.

2nd Place: Karina Gonzales

3rd Place: Leann Leiter

NAU Leadership

Kendra Petersen

Kendra Peterson received multiple nominations and is this year’s winner for the NAU Leadership Award.  Kendra wrote a thorough, well-researched proposal for the College Health Education and Food Sustainability (CHEFS) Garden for Green Fund consideration. Kendra was determined in her desire to write a proposal for an on-campus garden that would grow food that followed the Sodexo garden guidelines, allowing NAU Sodexo to purchase and use food grown right here on campus. Over a period of multiple months, Kendra revised her proposal to ensure that she had the legalities and support needed to make the CHEFS Garden a reality. Kendra’s proposal covers all the necessary logistical, legal and personnel aspects for such a garden and demonstrates that such a garden can be started for the nominal amount of just over $10,000. Kendra not only worked with Sodexo employees to navigate through the necessary Sodexo regulations and legal issues, she also gained their monetary support, found a faculty sponsor, many faculty supporters who pledged their assistance, as well as graduate student and Action Learning Team support. Kendra found classes that committed to writing business plans, research and education tools, vegetable planting guidelines, logo design, and a marketing plan. She identified a matching grant that would allow the study of industrial food reduction as a result of implementation. In addition, Kendra found supporters off campus including the Flagstaff Master Gardeners, Flagstaff EcoRanch, and the Flagstaff CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

NAU Faulty/Staff

Rosemary Logan with presenter Dr. Jim Coleman, NAU Provost

Rosemary Logan with presenter Dr. Jim Coleman, NAU Provost

Rosemary Logan

Rosemary Logan formed the Integrative Food Systems Initiative this fall to bring together faculty and staff from across departments and fields to collaborate curriculums focusing on food system sustainability at NAU. Food sustainability is taught through several curriculums and this collaboration was the first time that faculty and staff were able to come together to learn about each course’s syllabus and campus events that all compliment one another’s learning objectives. Through Rosemary’s drive, a core group of faculty and staff focusing the various areas of the sustainable food movement came together to weave their many perceptives on the subject to create a unique learning opportunity. The Integrative Food Systems Initiative is an exciting new development that will have lasting impact to increase sustainability on campus. It’s a clear example, if not the next level, of the Global Learning Initiative created here at NAU with the help of the Environmental Caucus. Beyond this work, Rosemary’s own teaching for the First Seminars and support for the Kilip Elementary garden program speak volumes to her positive impact as an educator and Flagstaff community member to increase awareness and action for sustainability on campus and in the community.

NAU Organization

Brandon VanBibber and Dylan Lenzen, Green Jacks Co-Chairs with presenter Jessica Lazor, Environmental Caucus Graduate Assistant.

Brandon VanBibber and Dylan Lenzen, Green Jacks Co-Chairs with presenter Jessica Lazor, Environmental Caucus Graduate Assistant.

Green Jacks

The Green Jacks are a crucial organization for the student voices of sustainability on campus. The Green Jacks have been involved in a variety of events on campus. The first of the many is the Better World Film Series. The Green Jacks assist the Office of Sustainability and the Better World Film Series Intern to advertise, organize, and host a monthly film series on a variety of environmental topics, creating interactive discussions after each film, and increasing student participation and attendance this year. The Better World Seminar Series is another series of monthly events almost exclusively organized by the Green Jacks. They have worked to advertise and promote a monthly seminar series, having nearly 100 students in attendance at each event thus far. In addition to monthly events, the Green Jacks have also been crucial in sustainability efforts in conjunction with athletics, working with promoting the Green Game and Tailgate Recycling at home athletic events. The club is solely responsible for the work that goes into Earth Jam, an important and memorable event for students, especially those not typically involved in environmental programs and projects on campus. Lastly, the Green Jacks have been a central player in organizing and advocating for solar on the San Francisco Parking Garage as well as the Green Fund Fee Increase Campaign.

Flagstaff Community Project/Organization

Shawn Newell, Citizen's Climate Lobby, with presenter Ellen Vaughan, Manager of NAU Office of Sustainability.

Shawn Newell, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, with presenter Ellen Vaughan, Manager of NAU Office of Sustainability.

Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Shawn and the other members of CCL have shown tremendous leadership and growth over the last year. Through their tireless efforts to grow this grassroots movement towards national legislation on climate change they have: significantly increased membership; garnered hundreds of petitions; lead the organization of the hugely successful week of climate events paralleling the Paris Climate Talks. The week culminated in the Flagstaff Climate March that got over 100 people to rally in front of City Hall. Citizen’s Climate Lobby also wrote numerous letters to the editor; provided ENV internships for four NAU students; had a strong presence at the Flagstaff Farmers Market; brought a resolution to the City’s Sustainability Commission to support CCL legislation, and brought the resolution to the City Council. CCL has gotten out across the community and has presented to City Council, churches, clubs, organizations, and NAU groups like the Environmental Caucus and the Green Jacks – educating all these groups about the danger of climate change and this grassroots solution.

Environmental Caucus Special Recognition

Cat Sullivan, Campus Dining, with presenter Caitlyn Burford, Environmental Caucus Chair.

Cat Sullivan, Campus Dining, with presenter Caitlyn Burford, Environmental Caucus Chair.

Cat Sullivan

Cat goes above and beyond in her work, working with Campus Dining through Sodexo. She is rarely in her office for more than a few hours a day because she meets with countless students each week and is extremely active in her role. If a student is even slightly interested in campus dining, Cat makes time for them between meetings, managing the hydroponics system, visiting composting heaps, and participating in panels. Cat is consistently coming up with new ideas and ways of implementation for sustainable dining. She was also involved in a post-consumer composting project that allows easy composting in the Hot Spot instead of consumer food waste. Cat inspires many students with her passion and enthusiasm and is an incredibly important asset to NAU’s sustainable dining. She stands out to the students she works with as both a role model and a mentor and is an incredible important asset to our Culture of Sustainability.







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Arbor Day Foundation Honors Northern Arizona University with 2015 Tree Campus USA® Recognition

Flagstaff, AZ – April, 22, 2016 – The Office of Sustainability is excited to announce that NAU has been honored with 2015 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

“NAU Grounds department has been working on a variety of sustainable initiatives to improve our campus environment,” said Ralph Padilla, manager of NAU’s Grounds department. “From vastly expanding our composting program to utilizing sustainable landscaping practices we’re always looking for opportunities to improve our operations. Participating in Tree Campus USA is a great opportunity to help make sure we’re always conscious of best tree management and to help educate students about the benefits of our tree campus canopy.”

Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Northern Arizona University achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Currently there are 254 campus across the United States with this recognition.

The Green Fund wanted to support this great accomplishment and has purchased dozens of Tree Campus USA hats for the Grounds department.

Landscape Arbor Day 2015

Phil Patterson gives his annual arboretum tree walk on North Quad

Phil Patterson, manager of the Research Greenhouse explains the next steps for the committee, “An important aspect of the Tree Campus USA designation for NAU is the completion of a campus-wide tree inventory. While the inventory was not a necessary part of the five core standards for Tree Campus designation, it is important for sustaining the Tree Campus status in at least two important ways. First the inventory will make the tree-care plan more effective by tracking needed care for individual trees in a database that will allow prioritization of tasks. It will also allow the ability to track expenditure for each tree or group of trees. Secondly, the inventory will be a tool for ongoing student service-learning projects. The inventory will encompass the NAU Arboretum which is used for student and community tours. Also, we hope to enlist the aid of students to complete the inventory over the next year. Long term there is the possibility of students using the database for undergraduate and graduate research of trees in the urban environment.”

Through the efforts of the NAU Grounds Department approximately 40 percent of the campus has been inventoried. The advisory committee is currently preparing to apply for grant funding from the TREE Grant Program run by the Arizona State Forestry Division to assist in completing the inventory. The committee is also developing a plan to inventory the more natural ponderosa pine vegetation on campus with the assistance of the School of Forestry and Professor Tom Kolb.

The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $36.8 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available at

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information is available at

For more information contact any member of the Tree Committee listed on NAU’s Tree Campus USA page:

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Lights for Yellow Bikes – Now Available!


All students and employees can now get lights on their Yellow Bikes for free at the Union!

The Yellow Bike program at NAU enables students to check out bikes for free to travel on and off campus, and Lights for Yellow Bikes campaigned raised more than $6,500 to outfit every one of these Yellow Bikes with a set of front and rear lights.

The culture of bike-riding is heavily ingrained in the Flagstaff community. The town’s dedicated cycling lanes, emphasis on sustainability, and variety of engaging outdoor activities make it an ideal location for cyclists to commute to class, enjoy some exercise, or just contribute to improving the environment.

In fact, the city estimates that nine percent of all commutes are made on bicycles, compared to the national average of 0.8 percent, its clear Flagstaff residents, and Northern Arizona University Students, love to ride.

However, night riding and inclement weather can sometimes present less than ideal situations regarding bike safety. To address this problem, and to ensure students are riding as safely as possible, the university launched the Lights for Yellow Bikes microgiving campaign last year.

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NAU is a Regional EPA Award Winner for the Food Recovery Challenge!

Food Challenge

NAU Campus Dining continues to reduce campus food waste and made new strides during the 2014-2015 academic year. In line with the university’s Climate Action Plan, Dining regularly maintains waste reduction tracking system LeanPath, the on-campus compost program and supports campus waste reduction initiatives such as BYOC: an educational campaign to encourage reusable containers with an incentive from Dining of a 50 cent discount for bringing your own mug and football tailgate recycling. Highlights from the 2014-2015 academic year include the launch of The Food Recovery Network NAU Chapter, NAU Dining presenting for EPA’s Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit webinar series, winning an on campus funding award for post-consumer composting machinery, and NAU Athletics participation in the EPA Game Day Challenge fall 2015.

In October 2014, NAU became the first Arizona college or university chapter of the Food Recovery Network. Through student volunteers, NAU runs donations five days a week to two local food banks in the Flagstaff community. The Food Recovery Network donated over 8,000 pounds of food its first year.

The Office of Sustainability, NAU’s Waste Minimization Team, Dining and Athletics coordinated the first NAU Green Game for the EPA Game Day Challenge for the October 31, 2015 home game, named “Hallo-Green Game.” Concessions utilized compostable items and Eco-Reps helped fans sort waste properly between, recycling, compost and landfill.

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Green Fund is Calling All Applicants!

The Green Fund is looking for student applications, both undergraduate and graduate in all majors, for the 2016-2017 academic year to fill the positions of Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice Chair. Make a difference on campus by joining the committee and voting on how the campus Green Fee is utilized!
The Green Fund is committed to helping students get involved with sustainability at NAU and beyond. This year’s committee has funded numerous impact-producing projects, including implementing tablets into Facility Services operations and funding a sustainable citizen program. All projects funded in 2015 can be found here. Additionally, the Green Fund is extensively involved in Earth Week planning and is in the midst of a campaign to increase the Green Fee.
Please fill out an application found here (under the drop down menu labeled Forms/Applications). Send your application and resume to Members will be required to work 3-5 hours a week and will be compensated a $500 stipend at the end of the semester if all responsibilities are completed. 
Applications are due no later than Friday, April 8. Following the application submission, applicants will take part in a two-part interview with the Green Fund committee. 

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Green Fund Moves Up Application Deadline!

In 2015, the NAU Green Fund allocated half its budget ($100,000 for 10 years) to get a large solar array on the San Francisco parking garage. Operating with half their budget, the Fund is coming close to allocating all of its funds for this academic year. To ensure all proposals are given equal opportunity for funding, the Green Fund is requesting that all applicants submit their proposals one month earlier than originally planned. The new deadline for proposal submission is March 15th, 2016. Applications will be accepted after this date on a rolling bases and will be granted funding within the context of available resources. Please see the Green Fund website to find all applications and information for gaining funding.


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