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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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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).
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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 arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.
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 arborday.org.
For more information contact any member of the Tree Committee listed on NAU’s Tree Campus USA page: http://nau.edu/Green-NAU/Tree-Campus-USA/
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.
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.
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.
2015 marked a pivotal year for Northern Arizona University’s Green Fund! The Green Fund is a committee governed by both student and faculty members and is made possible by the university’s green fee. The Green Fund holds the primary vision of creating a culture of sustainability on campus, increasing student engagement, and boosting energy and water efficiency on campus. All of which gets NAU closer to achieving its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020 and in creating a more sustainable world for all of us.
In the last year, the fund approved projects that led to many groundbreaking university-wide improvements Including our largest project to date!
2015 accomplishments include:
The Post-Consumer Composting project was funded for $30,000 and will be used in the Hot Spot dining hall. This state of the art system utilizes the waste from both the back of house food preparation facilities as well as the student plate scraping area. This installation allows NAU Dining Services to dramatically reduce its landfill waste, make significant strides toward NAU’s Carbon Neutrality goals, and showcase collaboration between multiple stakeholders including NAU Campus Dining, Campus Services & Activities, the Green Fund, and the campus community.
A Residence Hall Cookbook was put together by the Health FYS and funded for $573. This cookbook was funded to provide students with access to reasonably priced, healthy food options that they can prepare in their own residence halls. The recipes are affordable for students, can be easily prepared, and promote the use of local, fresh produce. By supporting more local food suppliers, the large carbon footprint created by the transportation of food will be minimized.
International Pavilion solar-tubes were funded for $10,000 and placed on the International Pavilion to reduce the need to turn on lights during the day.
The Alternative Spring Break proposal was for $2,047 to support Project Give’s Alternative Spring Break trips. Volunteers will spend time in the experimental Centennial Forest, the Grand Canyon, and Nogales, AZ building trails, cleaning up the environment, and supporting humanitarian initiatives. Those who participate will have a measurable environmental and justice impact on the area in which they are working for the week, and will return to campus with new skills and knowledge to share with fellow students, NAU, and the Flagstaff community. As part of the expectation on their return, or their “reorientation” they will be encouraged to propose new projects and ways to engage here locally based on their experiences and learning on the trip.
Cline Library is installing ten combination water bottle refill station-water fountains for $6,626
Solar Optimization for $3,336 The south campus solar array’s solar panels were permanently repositioned to a tilt of 5° resulting in an estimated increase in annual kWh by 68,071, or $2,723 in savings a year. This project is estimated to have a short payback period of approximately 1.22 years.
Garter snake Vivarium for $55,105 This project funds the rescue of Northern Arizona’s threatened Garter snake native to Oak Creek canyon. The Vivarium creates a refuge for the Garter snakes and promotes both undergraduate and graduate student’s involvement by providing opportunities to experience fieldwork and hands-on research.
At Its Roots Podcast is a $371 project available to the public on Dropbox that features interviews with environmental groups on campus. These podcasts will work to keep the students informed on the various sustainable initiatives on campus and will encourage their involvement in them.
Inspector Tablets 12 computer tablets, for a total of $7,097, were bought for Facility Services inspectors to decrease the amount of paper used for their jobs. By using tablets in the field they were able to minimize and in some cases eliminate 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. Read the original blog post here.
IT Thin Clients will be installed for $11,508 in place of desktop computers by The Facility Services ITS department and will upgrade servers to reduce electricity consumption. Read the original blog post here.
The NAU Sustainable Citizen Program is a program for $8,406 in development that sets the goal of involving students from all backgrounds and disciplines in sustainability for the length of their time at NAU. Students who choose to participate will be joining a new community and engaging in topics of climate change and sustainability to see how they and their work are part of the bigger picture. The program will connect students, introduce them to NAU’s diverse array of sustainability classes, lectures, talks, and service events, and ask them to set goals and consider how their own behavior can make a difference. Students who complete the program will receive recognition at graduation, be able to understand complex sustainability issues as they relate to personal and professional life, and be prepared to make the world a better place.
The San Francisco and Native American Cultural Center Solar Project is the Green Fund’s largest project yet! For an investment of $100,000 a year for 10 years the Green Fund was able to make possible the installation of solar panels on both the San Francisco parking garage and the Native American Cultural Center. The system will be over 700kwhs – almost four times bigger than our existing solar south field.
In the last year the fund has gone to great lengths to improve energy efficiency on campus and in exploring new ways to engage students in the culture of sustainability at NAU. All of the projects accepted in the last year have worked to reduce the environmental impact of NAU and in engaging students and faculty in what sustainability means for the future of Northern Arizona University.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Green Fund in 2016. With the San Francisco and Native American Cultural Center Solar Project effectively taking half of our budget for the next 10 years, the fund will have much less funding for the proposals 2016. Luckily a petition headed by the Green Jacks and Green Fund is well underway to raise the Green Fee to $25. The Green Fund views this as a necessary next step in ensuring that sustainability remains a high priority at NAU and in reaching our goals of climate neutrality.
Submit a project proposal and/or apply to be on next year’s committee by visiting NAU.EDU/GREENFUND.