Kind Wine Competition Finds Its Winner!





Green NAU’s Kind Wine Competition (KWC) concluded Sunday (11/6/16) night with a list of winning wines and a room of smiling faces. The event’s mission was to improve the sustainability of wine packaging around the world. Although glass is an age old staple in the wine industry, it has a few environmental drawbacks that don’t make it ideal for transporting liquid. For example, it is very energy intensive to make glass, it’s very heavy so there are increased emissions associated with its transportation, it’s shaped in a way that is not conducive to shipping, and in Flagstaff it is not easily recycled nor is their a local glass recycling facility.

Wine in boxes, cans, or even kegs have been shown to have less than half to carbon impact of glass bottles. 

At the KWC, 15 select judges tasted 66 wines from boxes to bring attention to these issues.

This event helped to highlight sustainable packaged wine in many ways:

  • by calling wineries and asking them for their sustainably packaged wines we started a conversation around these issues. Hopefully more wineries will move in this direction and participate next year.
  • through advertising the event and through event attendance individuals became more aware of these issues.
  • attendees were also able to sample the 66 wines and find their favorites, removing the stigma of boxed wine and increasing the chances of them making more sustainable wine purchases moving forward.

Thanks to all those who came out and participated!

And the winners are!

Sweepstakes Winners:

Peter Vella Delicious Red

Fish Eye Moscato
Black Box Pinot Noir
Peter Vella Sangria

Peter Vella Moscato

A huge “thank you” to Sodexo and all our sponsoring partners!


KWC’s GOLD: Peter Vella Delicious Red

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Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” Rating Announces NAU as a National Leader in Sustainability!

Northern Arizona University’s Gold Sustainability Ranking
Gets it Listed on Sierra Club’s Cool School List

Student Sustainability Leaders

In 2015, student sustainability leaders Brandon Vanbibber, Dylan Lenzen and Jessica Lazor helped lead NAU to a huge year of sustainability accomplishments.

Sierra magazine, which is the official publication of the Sierra Club, released its annual “Cool Schools” ranking of the greenest higher education institutions in the nation. After assessing 100’s of schools that participate in an extensive sustainability survey created by the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), NAU ranked 51st in the Nation! The magazine ranks universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards and implementing projects and initiatives that demonstrate this commitment. Innovative research and development, renewable energy installations, educating students in the most advanced thinking on sustainability, and other innovative initiatives and projects gain institutions points and higher positions in the ranking.

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Kind Wine Competition and Tasting

Sunday, November 6, 2016, 3-6pm

1899’s Grand Ballroom on NAU’s Flagstaff campus

NAU is hosting the first and only sustainable packaging wine competition in the world. Wineries are jumping on the bandwagon as the growing trend for premium or even super premium, appellation-specific, vintage dated, boxed wines increase in availability. You be the judge, and vote for your favorite “People’s Choice Award.” The public tasting follows the sustainable packaging wine competition which will have a panel of professional judges as well as student and alumni participants.  

The wine industry is becoming more involved in developing packaging systems that minimize carbon emissions, with recyclable, reusable, and compostable containers. Wines must come in boxes, tetra packs, cans, or kegs to qualify for the competition. Learn how sustainable packaging impacts our environment and how small changes you make will manifest into an enormous difference.  

The millennial factor demonstrates how the largest generation of consumers is influencing today’s packaging landscape. Stella Carr, an NAU student reflects this sentiment precisely, “I’m really excited for our campus to be leading the way by creating a sustainable packaging wine competition. College campuses should be on the frontline of sustainability and education of the public, both of which will be accomplished at this inaugural community wine tasting. Building interest for sustainably packaged wines will help to support this new movement where the industry is already headed. I’m glad I can be a part of something trailblazing like this.”

Tickets are $25 for the general public and $20 for students. You must be 21 to enter. Entry includes tasting of dozens of wines, a commemorative wine glass, appetizers, and there will be local crafts and merchandise at the silent auction.

Proceeds benefit NAU’s Office of Sustainability, dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship on campus and throughout the world.

For more info and to purchase tickets visit:

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Student and Academic Services Wins Two Awards from Interior Lighting Campaign

Photo credit: Kyle Zirkus Photography

Photo credit: Kyle Zirkus Photography

The Student and Academic Services (SAS) building won two awards from the US Department of Energy’s Interior Lighting Campaign (ILC) in two categories: Best Use of Lighting Controls in a Single Building and Exemplary Higher Education Sector Site. The Interior Lighting Campaign is “a recognition and guidance program designed to help facility owners and managers take advantage of savings opportunities from high efficiency interior lighting solutions.”

All lighting in the building is LED technology and there are varying controls that make it even more energy efficient. In offices, occupancy sensors will automatically turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Building occupants also have the ability to dim the lights to their preference. Areas with natural daylighting from windows have light harvesting controls that automatically dim lights when there is ample light coming in from the outside.

The SAS building, which opened in January, is anticipated to be certified LEED gold. In addition to the energy efficient LED lighting throughout the building it has many sustainability features including water efficient fixtures, reclaimed water usage, energy efficient building construction, and green cleaning.

More information about the Interior Lighting Campaign can be found on its website.

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Reflecting on our Accomplishments: Green NAU 2015-2016 Academic Year

Green NAU becomes stronger each day, consistently reaching the lengths of campus and into the community of Flagstaff with our Culture of Sustainability. The collaboration between faculty, staff, students, and administration has been phenomenal and we have made great progress that will step us closer to our sustainable goals. It is with the support of our student body that we are able to make such tremendous strides towards campus wide sustainability. 


President Rita Cheng at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

NAU President, Dr. Rita Cheng at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Assistant Vice President, John Morris at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Facility Services, AVP, John Morris at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Vice President, Jennus Burton at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Finance and Administration, VP, Jennus Burton at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Provost, Jim Coleman at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Provost, Jim Coleman at the Sustainable Leadership Awards

Green NAU


During the academic year of 2015-2016, Green NAU was very busy! They assisted in reaching a solar agreement that will put solar panels on top of the San Francisco Parking Garage. In a joint effort with everyone, Green NAU is extremely proud of that agreement. They hired two Communications Interns that worked to enhance Green NAU’s social media platforms as well as organize and plan Earth Month. They worked to keep Green NAU’s calendar up to date with the latest events and speakers and increased Green NAU’s Facebook by 150+ likes, while simultaneously revitalizing Green NAU’s Instagram account. Our Communications Interns also worked to advertise the Better World Film Series and NAU’s first Green Game. Green NAU also sponsored the Earth Day speaker, Chad Pregracke.

Green NAU rolled out new digital graphic elements for a handful of its branches and formed the Green Groups who meet with the president every semester to develop communication between sustainability initiatives and administration. There were general updates to the Green NAU website, which included new sustainability initiative pages and an orientation video for new employees, in an effort to communicate our Culture of Sustainability at NAU. Green NAU supported Lights Out Flagstaff and was present at the City of Flagstaff Earth Day as well as the Open Air Markets on campus. Green NAU hosted an Inaugural Wine Competition at Vino Loco in an attempt to decrease bottled wine and increase the use of more sustainable boxed and canned wines at NAU tailgating events. Along with Green NAU’s general conservation efforts, the Energy Mentor program increased participation across campus.

Green NAU received the Coconino County Sustainable Building Award, Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Award for Energy and Technology Innovation for their solar hot air heating technology on the Property Surplus building, EPA’s “Big Sky Conference” winner for their Green Power Partnership Challenge, USGBC LEED Platinum Certification for the Native American Cultural Center, and applied for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Award. Green NAU continues to recycle at all tailgating events, continues to meet quarterly with sustainability leaders in the City and County, and support and participate in campus garden growth. 

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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!


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!

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