Archive for category Sustainability

Solar Planes & Sustainability

The NAU Green Fund is an integral part of our campus’s sustainability community. However, it needs student participation in order to thrive! The idea of submitting a project proposal can seem rather daunting, but in reality the Green Fund is here to help out in any way they can! A great example of a past proposal success involves a group of engineering students, solar panels, and the power of flight.

In 2016, a group of Engineering majors came to the Green Fund with an idea. Their goal was to create an Ultra-Lightweight Solar Aircraft, controlled by remote and able to fly by only utilizing power from photovoltaic solar panels. The plane was also equipped with the technology to record energy production and consumption rates from the solar cells! The capstone group put together a website that expands onto the more intricate details of designing and building this solar plane.

That being said, the Green Fund is open to project ideas of all kinds! From this solar plane project in 2016 to the OZZI reusable container system being implemented on campus next year, the Green Fund is an ideal place for student innovation. Sustainability is a broad concept, and the Green Fund is here to help make student dreams for a greener world a reality. To submit a proposal, check out the Green Fund website!

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NAZPHI Accomplished First Goal – 10 Gardens Away from Second Goal!

The Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative (NAZPHI) began in January, 2017 with big plans for their first year! They defined their mission as promoting the creation, protection, and registration of pollinator habitat across Northern Arizona and set multiple goals to accomplish their vision.

Their first goal was to create two more pollinator gardens in the community. They have officially established a garden at NAU’s student-run SNAIL garden, and with help from a APS grant, a garden on APS’s substation on E Pine Knoll Drive.

Their second goal for this year is to increase the number of registered pollinator gardens within the greater Flagstaff area by a factor of ten, all the while working to reverse the plight of pollinators. At the start of the year, only five gardens were registered at the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and now there are 40!

With your help, NAZPHI can reach its goal by the end of year – register in three minutes today at http://pollinator.org/mpgcmap/register!

Help NAZPHI reach its goals by registering your pollinator garden today!

 

After securing start-up grants from both APS and NAU’s Green Fund, NAZPHI is happy to announce that they’ve just been awarded an Arizona Community Foundation grant to fund their director Tyler Linner’s part-time wages through summer 2018. This has made possible exciting new possibilities, including achieving their ultimate goal of creating a replicable Pollinator Regional Plan which includes important resources such as a pollinator commitment and a “Pollination Information Station” website that is now in early development.

NAZPHI has gotten involved in hands-on projects as well. On top of building several pollinator gardens here in Flagstaff, they’ve distributed native wildflower seed packets provided by the Flagstaff Arboretum to help community members attract pollinating friends to their own gardens. The NAU-led gridLESS micro-dwelling team will be debuting their pollinator-friendly sustainable mobile meeting space next February in Scottsdale. They are also discussing creating a pollinator corridor right in Flagstaff in cooperation with Terra BIRDS.

On the horizon NAZPHI is planning a pollinator related event in the summer of 2018. They are looking to include everything from expert speakers to hands-on workshops.

Wondering why everyone’s been talking about pollinators lately?

Pollinator insects, such as domesticated and native bees, butterflies and moths, play an essential role in the US food supply. Many commodity crops could not exist without them; in fact, insect pollination makes possible a third of our food! Therefore, threats to pollinators, such as poor nutrition, loss of forage lands, and pesticides threaten the entire food system.

Such threats contributed to devastating recent losses of commercial honey bee colonies and a dramatic 90% population loss of Monarch butterflies in the last 20 years. Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand local and regional efforts to help restore populations to healthy levels. Increasing the area and quality of pollinator habitats is a crucial step in solving several of these problems.

Keep up with NAZPHI on Facebook under “Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative” or email us at nazpollinators@gmail.com to join our listserv.

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Landscape Master Plan

Did you know that NAU has sustainable landscaping tactics to keep our campus green in every sense of the word? I had a chance to talk with Janel Wilcox, one of the people behind the Landscape Master Plan.  She explained the plan to me, with particular focus on how this plan contributes to the culture of sustainability on campus! The goal of the Landscape Master Plan is four-fold; its guiding principles are landscape architectural design, sustainability, winter considerations, and accessibility. These factors each contribute to the overall aesthetic and function of the landscape you see across the NAU campus, including plant life, benches, and the multi-modal pedways.

 Tallgrass native meadow at Babbitt Admin bldg. (in South Mountain Campus zone), installed one year ago. AZ Fescue is the primary grass in this mix

The Landscape Master Plan considers the sustainability aspects in each of its individual projects. In terms of plant life, each species is chosen based on water intensity, overall appearance, and locality. Most of the plants on campus are native to the Northern Arizona region, and some are even chosen for campus in order to support preservation efforts. Ponderosa pines are a great example; they are ideally suited for a low-rainfall climate, are native to the area, and need a little extra love. Aside from regional inspiration, some of the campus plants are chosen and placed to serve alternative purposes. The ornamental grasses outside of Campbell Hall were designed to enhance the landscape’s appearance as well as to mitigate flooding during heavy storms and snowmelt periods. This way, the storm water can be collected and used as a resource instead of being wasted.


Ornamental grass swales at Campbell Hall, designed to be a landscape feature as well as mitigate flooding and treat stormwater as a resource

Along the same vein, building materials and features are selected with the same care as the campus plants. Part of the Landscape Master Plan involves limiting the amount of stark gravel areas around campus, with the intention of decreasing the heat island effect (link to a definition) and increasing beauty. The materials used to build benches, tables, and chairs around campus are selected with environmental impact in mind. Many of the new standard benches on campus are crafted using sustainably harvested bamboo wood, rather than wood sourced from rainforests! Not only does this help NAU pursue its sustainability goals, it helps save our natural world.


Bamboo bench at Liberal Arts, which is one of our new standard benches. It was chosen partially because it is made out of sustainable bamboo rather than rainforest sourced Ipe.

NAU is committed to sustainability in many ways across campus. If you have any questions about the Landscape Master Plan, email Janel Wilcox at janel.wilcox@nau.edu. Interested in seeing us feature a specific topic on the blog? Email Green@nau.edu with your requests and suggestions!

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#FLGTreeTag Project Raises Awareness About Varied Benefits of Trees

NAU’s Tree Campus Advisory Committee and the City of Flagstaff’s Open Space Program and  have partnered for the #FLGTreeTags project, an educational installation aimed at raising awareness about the many values urban trees provide to our community. This installation will run from Oct. 9 – 16, 2017 and include 23 price tags in Wheeler Park and NAU’s North Quad that will describe the financial contributions these trees provide as a result of their various ecosystem services and health benefits.

Trent DeBeare, a Forestry graduate student and member of NAU’s Tree Campus Advisory Committee is excited about the project, “NAU already has such a well-regarded forestry tradition. The Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation represents the next chapter in that tradition, and the Tree City designation shows that the Flagstaff community appreciates the role forestry plays in shaping our culture and environmental stewardship.”

Forestry student Michael Daugherty and Sustainable Communities student Laurel Westendorf place tree tags up on N. Quad.

 

 

In addition to purifying our air and water, trees provide valuable wildlife habitat, sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provide important human health benefits in terms of reducing stress and increasing creativity.

Betsy Emery, Open Space Specialist with the City of Flagstaff, expressed her enthusiasm for the project, stating, “…these types of projects are great opportunities to enhance the public’s understanding of the many benefits natural resources provide to our community. Flagstaff is surrounded by incredible natural landscapes, but our quality of life is also greatly enhanced by the natural resources available within our City limits, including our urban trees.”

Follow our Facebook pages @FlagstaffOpenSpace and @GreenNAU for more detailed information about these benefits and updates about the project. Don’t forget to share your #FLGTreeTag photos and posts with us on social media.Learn more about the benefits neighborhood trees provide by using the National Tree Benefit Calculator at www.treebenefits.com.

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GMO’s – Where Do You Stand?

Genetically modified organisms are a popular environmental topic, but many people are on the fence of how to feel about them. Are GMO’s bad for the planet, or are they the solution to our food- related problems? With World Food Day coming up this month, Green NAU decided now would be an excellent time to showcase this important issue. In order to help people figure out their stance, 2 of this year’s 4 Better World Film Series events will be dedicated to GMO-related films. Later in the month, the Green Jacks will be hosting a community debate about GMO’s. By learning about both sides, our hope is to promote a more thorough understanding of genetic engineering and the way it impacts our food systems. If you’re interested in joining us on this educational journey, check out all three of our GMO focused events:

Oct 4: Food Evolution // 6:00pm // NAU International Pavilion

Oct 11: GMO OMG // 6:00pm // NAU International Pavilion

Oct 23: GMO Community Debate // 6:00pm // NAU International Pavilion

Make sure to check out the rest of the Better World Film Series, happening through the rest of October!
https://nau.edu/green-nau/calendar/

 

 

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NAU Wins Award of Merit at Arizona Forward’s Environmental Excellence Awards!

At Arizona Forward’s 37th Environmental Excellence Awards NAU presented education awards and received the Award of Merit in the category of Innovation.

President Cheng presenting at the ceremony.

President Cheng presenting the NAU Environmental Education & Communications (Public & Private Sectors) to the Recyclery project at the i.d.e.a. Museum.

NAU sponsored two education/communication awards, one for the public and private sectors and one for educators, students, and nonprofits. President Cheng presented the awards, highlighting the importance of providing recognition for innovative and successful projects in this field.

To compete in the awards, NAU’s Office of Sustainability partnered with a graduate student in the Climate Science and Solutions program and the Green Fund to install an innovative Phase Change Material in the Blome building.

All of these groups are constantly looking for innovative ways to help the university move towards a clean energy future. Multiple classes have assessed the potential for reducing campus emissions and all of their analysis has come to the same conclusion: We have multiple options for cleaning up our electrical load (like solar and wind) but not as many viable options for reducing our natural gas heating demands.

Sitting at 7,000 feet at the foothills of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff has a huge heating load! People across the nation are always surprised to hear how cold we get here in Arizona, especially because our desert like environment gets warm during the day and cooler during the night, particularly during one of our 266 days of sunshine. The students poised to themselves a very difficult question: How can we utilize the heat of the day to offset the cold at night or utilize the night’s cold to cool the heat of the day. After extensive research into energy and heat storing technologies, Green NAU was ecstatic to find an innovative technology that economically met this challenge.

Infinite-R is a toxic free, non-flammable, easy to install, and economical, energy storage phase change material (PCM) that has demonstrated¹ dramatic energy savings in buildings (up to 50%). By absorbing excess daytime heat and radiating that energy in the evening, combined with the ability to perform the opposite cycle in warmer climes, peak temperatures can be eliminated and dramatically reduce the load on existing HVAC systems. More specifically, projected results include: 1) Optimize the benefit of solar gain 2) smooth out fluctuations in internal temperatures to increase occupant comfort 3) reduce heating energy by 25% or more 4) reduce energy for cooling by 50%, or even eliminate need for AC 5) delay peak temperatures in offices and classrooms until occupants have left 6) help adapt buildings for climate change.

 

 

My office is in one of the oldest buildings on the NAU campus and does not actually have heat. Before the PCM installation, my office was an ice chest and I was dependent on an electric space heater to be able to work.  Following the install, my office is now a consistent 72 degrees, benefiting from sun capture in the morning and steady all day!

Sheila Margaret Anders
Director, Center for International Education
Blome Building, NAU

 

 

Those skilled in the metrics of renewable energy payback will understand the attraction to a technology which can be fully installed for less than $0.12 per watt of automatic, zero maintenance energy absorption/radiation with paybacks in the 2-4 year time-frame.

The ease and economics of retrofitting this temperature balancing technology into existing buildings looks to be a game changer for reducing fossil energy use and associated GHG emissions for NAU and all universities across the country.

At last year’s awards, the Green Fund sponsored Solar Hot Air Heaters on the new Engineering Laboratory won the Crescordia award for Innovation.

THANKS GREEN FUND!!

(1) NREL and US Military studies available upon request

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Congratulations Sustainability 2015 Award Winners!

The purpose of the campus sustainability awards is to recognize those who have enhanced the culture of sustainability on the NAU campus and surrounding community. For the Environmental Caucus, sustainability means increasing the health of our community and our planet through actions to enhance the stability, resilience, and diversity of our intertwined natural, social, economic, and cultural systems.

Congratulations to our 2015 Sustainability Award winners! Special thanks to Dr. Laura Huenneke for presenting the awards, to Scott Perelstein for being the Master of Ceremonies, and to Kristina Aksenova and the Environmental Caucus for organizing the event.

Kristina Aksenova with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Kristina Aksenova with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Hooper Sustainability Award

Kristina Aksenova – Graduate

Kristina is a student in the Sustainable Communities Masters Program. She is focused on making an impact here in Flagstaff and then continuing into a career of consulting with organizations around the world to become sustainable by switching to renewable energy production. She launched a Sustainability Course Directory, she lead a group of volunteers aiming expression at sustainability-related career opportunities at each Career Fair, and she wrote a Green Fund proposal that allowed 6 students to represent NAU and attend the AASHE Conference in Portland. She brings her previous experience in project management with a sustainability focus in the international community to the NAU campus. Her projects make sustainability a more sound concept at NAU for its internal and external environments.


 

Brandon Pence with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Brandon Pence with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Hooper Sustainability Award

Brandon Pence – Graduate

Brandon is a facilitator of the Immigration Action Research Team and works on linking environmental and social sustainability. 2015 was his first year at NAU and he went above and beyond by making relationships with community and campus partners such as No More Deaths, Flagstaff Living Wage Coalition, Art through All Mediums Action Research Team, and the Market of Dreams. He recently went on a trip with students in the Immigration Action Research Team to the US-Mexico border. Upon returning, Brandon has been facilitating conversations with students about the work conditions of migrants and the environmental impacts on the farms near the border.


Cassandra Leone with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Cassandra Leone with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Hooper Sustainability Award

Cassandra Leone – Undergraduate

Cassandra is an Eco-Rep for Gillenwater Hall, which means she is constantly facilitating changes around her hall, and campus, to increase sustainability. She contributes to NAU and Sodexo’s sustainability by transporting the basil, tomatoes, and other garden products that are grown on campus to the Green Scene Café. She is a sustainability coordinator and works for Catherine Sullivan, who is a sustainability specialist for our campus. She is also a volunteer for the campus organization, the Food Recovery Network, that collects and donates unused food to local charities, helping both the community as well as making sure the food on campus is not wasted.


 

Leah Manak, photo by Alex Gaynor Photography

Leah Manak, photo by Alex Gaynor Photography

Hooper Sustainability Award

Leah Manak – Undergraduate

Leah is a leader in the sustainability movement on campus. She has illustrated initiative, productivity, and dedication as Chair of the Green Jacks and founder of Students for a Better World. She has illustrated leadership in her participation in the Global Science and Engineering Program and in research, travel, and internships all focused on sustainability efforts. In her work with Green Jacks and Students for a Better World, Leah has helped to organize and publicize activities related to Ban the Bag and NAU Solar as well as the upcoming Earth Jam for Earth Week. She is also working on the International Pavilion project as an intern, and in doing so, she is spreading the news about environmental building techniques and the benefit these techniques represent for our community.


 

Howard Coldwell with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Howard Coldwell with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

NAU Faculty/Staff

Howard Coldwell

Howard’s support and active participation in the NAU composting program is without a doubt invaluable to its success, its expansion over the past three years, and its positive impact on the campus’s sustainability goals. He developed the plot area, now known as Howard’s Mesa, volunteers his time to turn piles, provides resources to support the program, and worked with the compost technicians on a variety of ratios for materials during its first year. From a first year seminar course researching food waste, and post-consumer compost, to engineering students working on a biomass project, attending the ARTs symposium, and Green Jack’s meetings, Howard goes above and beyond. He is a great advocate for the NAU Composting Program and supporter of NAU students. We couldn’t see the composting program being what it is today without him.


 

The Green Fund committee with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

The Green Fund committee with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

NAU Organization

Green Fund

2015 Members: Sara Leibold, Ellen Vaughan, Avi Henn, David Miller, Abrahan Garibay, Anastasia Cheifetz, Karlie Andrews, Shelby Compton, Sheila Anders, Michelle James

We were extremely impressed with the way this group of students and staff members handled the complex negotiations and remarkable engagement of the NAU community rotating around NAU solar in the fall of 2014. This was a project near and dear to their mission and to their hearts and we were inspired by their deliberative process. Their decisions in the negotiating rounds with VP Jennus Burton showed thoughtfulness and flexibility, as well as principled judgment about what was too much for the administration to ask for with these student funds. They were resourceful in doing their homework, effectively communicative about the negotiations to the wider campus community, and phenomenal public speakers.


 

Caitlin Fader with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Caitlin Fader with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

NAU Leadership Award

Caitlin Fader

Caitlin began attending NAU in August of 2014. She is a highly engaged, motivated and empowering facilitator in the New Economy for Northern Arizona Action Research Team. She has connected students to new forms of knowledge, rethinking business and opportunities to engage both traits. In 2015, she took on a leadership role at the Market of Dreams (Mercado) a market that creates opportunity for cooperative entrepreneurship and individual growth to stimulate local economy and promote a vibrant multi-cultural market on the east side of Flagstaff.


 

Friends of Flagstaff's Future with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Friends of Flagstaff’s Future with presenter Dr. Laura Huenneke

Flagstaff Community Organization

Friends of Flagstaff’s Future

2015 Members: Moran Henn, Kati Pantsosnik, Hannah Perkins, David McCain, Stacey Hamburg, Mary McKell, Mike Caulkins, Terry Dunn, Robert Henderson, Naima Shuller, Adam Shimoni, Eli Cohen

2015 marks the 20th year that Friends of Flagstaff’s Future has been working to make Flagstaff a more environmentally sustainable, socially just, and economically prosperous community. This organization is the only multi-issue organization in town working to protect open spaces and their ecological diversity, supporting locally owned businesses, encouraging the democratic process, and promoting civic engagement in local issues. Being a community organization, it has strong ties to NAU and works hard to connect students to local issues. Two board members are NAU faculty and five board members, along with its director, are NAU graduates. Some of 2014-15 highlights include; launching the Speak Up Initiative, following the threat of eviction of Arrowhead Village residents, helping in coordinating a large collaborative campaign to educate consumers about the importance of shopping locally, and much more.

 

 


 

Scott Perelstein with presenters Ellen Vaughan and Kristina Aksenova

Scott Perelstein with presenters Ellen Vaughan and Kristina Aksenova

Special Recognition

Scott Perelstein

Scott has held the position of Environmental Caucus (EC) Chair for 2 years. He has initiated and assisted with many projects that have gone through the EC. He also has lead every EC meeting with thoughtfulness and consideration while keeping the atmosphere of the meetings flexible and informative. Scott never hesitates to offer his assistance and has been a phenomenal mentor for the Environmental Caucus Graduate Assistant, Kristina Aksenova. Between being the Chair of the EC and being the Director of Operations for Facility Services, Scott has made immense strides towards NAU and its dedication to sustainability.

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NAU Sustainability Course Directory Has Been Launched

The NAU Office of Sustainability is excited to introduce the NAU Sustainability Course Directory – a new online database system for all the courses from any department that are focused on sustainability or simply have a sustainability component in them. Both undergraduate and graduate students can now enjoy a constantly updated list of classes that cover a wide range of topics related to environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability.

The challenge of spreading awareness about sustainability and creating an environmentally conscious behavior always comes down to nurturing eco-literacy. In order to provide a deeper understanding of the global climate change challenges we face nowadays, NAU is attempting to ease an access to the list of classes that serve as an educational tool about that issue. The introduction of this course database is a great contribution towards cultivating a culture of sustainability in the Northern Arizona University, bringing a better understanding of the need for a more environmentally responsible behavior to its students.

The courses are submitted by their instructors using a specially designated online form. The NAU Office of Sustainability offers its faculty members the undermentioned guidance to self-identify whether the classes they are submitting are sustainability-focused or sustainability-related. Please see below:

  • A “sustainability-focused” course concentrates on the concept of sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions, or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens.
  • A “sustainability-related” course incorporates sustainability as a distinct course component or module, or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue.

After being approved by our administrator, the course appears in the online database and can be looked up using a convenient search engine that provides 3 criteria options that helps a student find a better fit.

Useful links:

For NAU students – NAU Sustainability Course Directory

For NAU course instructors – Sustainability Course Submission

The list of classes is constantly being updated so make sure to check back regularly!

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The NAU Sustainability Course Directory Has Been Launched!

The NAU Office of Sustainability is excited to introduce the NAU Sustainability Course Directory – a new online database system for all the courses from any department that are focused on sustainability or simply have a sustainability component in them. Both undergraduate and graduate students can now enjoy a constantly updated list of classes that cover a wide range of topics related to environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability.

The courses are submitted by their instructors using a specially designated online form. After being approved by our administrator, the course appears in the online database and can be looked up using a convenient search engine that provides 3 criteria options that helps a student find a better fit.

The challenge of spreading awareness about sustainability and creating an environmentally conscious behavior always comes down to nurturing eco-literacy. In order to provide a deeper understanding of the global climate change challenges we face nowadays, NAU is attempting to ease an access to the list of classes that serve as an educational tool about that issue and offers diverse strategies of addressing it. The introduction of this course listing system is a great step towards creating a culture of sustainability in the Northern Arizona University, bringing a better understanding of the need for a more environmentally responsible behavior to its students.

Useful links:
For NAU students – NAU Sustainability Course Directory
For course instructors – Sustainability Course Submission

The list of classes is constantly being updated so make sure to check back regularly!

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It’s Time to Leave Green!

Leave GreenNow that the end of the semester is rapidly approaching, many students who live in the residence halls will be moving out in a few short days. What do you do with those perfectly good items? Don’t throw them away! Donate your unwanted goods and Leave Green!

Donation bins can be found in the main lobby of your building or in the clubhouse/office for the apartment areas. Make sure the food you donate has not expired. We cannot accept futon mattresses, mattress toppers, or hangers.

The clothing, furniture, book, and household items donations will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. The non-perishable food donations will benefit Sunshine Rescue Mission. Since the Leave Green program started in 2010, students have donated over 130,000 pounds of items. Last year was our biggest year ever with over 44,000 pounds of donations!

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