Archive for May, 2016

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 562-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!

NAU WINS TWO YEARS IN A ROW!

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: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/college-and-university-challenge.

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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