NAU’s Renewable Energy Certificates Explained

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NAU is increasing its purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from 13% to 15% to help move towards climate neutrality and support the renewable energy industry. NAU will be working with 3Degrees to provide us the Certificates from a wind farm in Idaho. Jacob Dottle, Environmental Caucus communication aid, interviews Ellen Vaughan, NAU manager of sustainability, to better understand NAU’s purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Jacob: So what are RECs?

Ellen: Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) were created to track renewable energy generation because, no matter how Green Power is produced, once an electron from a renewable facility is delivered to a power grid, that electron is indistinguishable from an electron generated at a fossil fuel plant. RECs represent the environmental attributes associated with the production of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. There are two things happening when a wind, or solar, or other renewable energy installation produces electricity. First, electrons supplied from an installation are sent out over distribution lines to the nearest demand for that energy, like a town or city. These electrons, which again are indistinguishable from other electrons, are sold as grid-average electricity. Second, the Renewable Energy Certificate for one MWh of this green power has the ability to be sold on a national market. The RECs are a legal instrument, and essentially represent the ownership claim to the environmental benefits associated with the generation of renewable energy, which we have no way to convey through the physical electric gird.

Jacob: What does that do?

Ellen: Have you taken an Economics 101 class yet?

Jacob: I have, but a long time ago.

Ellen: That’s ok. Let’s see if you got one of the very basics. What happens when demand for a product starts to rise?

Jacob: The company can charge more money and they can make more money.

Ellen: Yes. Almost all of the time. What happens when other companies see that a product is in demand?

Jacob: They want to get in on it. They start making that product.

Ellen: Exactly, you remember what’s important from Economics 101! Increased demand leads to increased supply. This is exactly what the world needs, an increased supply of renewable energy. REC’s are a market signal to renewable energy developers and investors that there’s this additional source of income attached to renewable energy that will make their development or investment more competitive with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Environmentalists and humanitarians have been fighting for a policy that would act like this at the national level for decades. We know fossil fuels have billions of dollars’ worth of environmental and health related negative externalities so a simple solution would be to tax fossil fuels and use that money to subsidize clean renewable energy. Here at NAU, we recognize our electricity use has an unaccounted for societal cost associated with it so we’re offsetting 15% of our electrical consumption with RECs and remaining the Big Sky Conference Champion in EPA’S College & University Green Power Challenge.

Jacob: So that’s why NAU buy RECs?

Ellen: Definitely. It’s a great thing to do. NAU’s made a commitment to reach climate neutrality and this significantly helps reduce our emissions.

Jacob: So we’re offsetting our emissions, does this have anything to do with those projects that plant trees?

Ellen: No. Not at all. The key words in Renewable Energy Certificates are renewable energy. We are only supporting renewable energy that can be completely verifiable. There is a national standard for verifying RECs that’s called “Green-e Energy” certification. We made sure our RECs were certified, in our national grid, and produced from a specific, new renewable energy source. Specifically, we’re getting our RECs from a 100% wind farm called Meadow Creek in Bonneville, Idaho.

Jacob: Sounds good, why don’t we offset all our emissions with RECs?

Ellen: Well the one bummer about RECs is they don’t have any financial return on investment for the university. Although they provide a lot of positives to the renewable energy industry and climate change, I think it’d be everyone’s preference to invest in energy efficiencies and renewable energies on campus that provide us a financial return. Unfortunately, large scale, on campus projects take a large amount of upfront money that we don’t have right now. RECs are the perfect option for being able to move towards our goals economically.

Jacob: Thanks so much, I’m glad we’re doing it!

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Career Development and Environmental Caucus Preparing for Careers With Impact

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The third annual Careers With Impact event will occur on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 and Career Development and the Environmental Caucus have been hard at work preparing for this year’s event. Here at NAU, we see sustainability as an interdisciplinary challenge that extends beyond the key environmental issues of our age, such as climate change, and into the realm of social and economic justice. Careers With Impact is meant to help students connect to careers in sustainability. Many students know what kinds of impacts they want to make, but they don’t know how to go about finding work that will allow them to do so after graduation. Some students might not know which direction they want to go, but with the help of professionals in these positions, we intend to increase awareness of sustainable jobs by introducing students to positions that have sustainable implications, but may not necessarily say ‘sustainability’ in the title. Careers With Impact is an event that is meant to bring students together with professionals from social, economic, and environmental backgrounds or experiences.

This year Career Development and the Environmental Caucus are expecting to see an increase in student participation and attendance and a significant increase in professionals attending. Students will be given the chance to ask these professionals questions about their career, to get advice for student’s own careers, and to network with professionals. If you know of a professional in the field who would want to participate, please contact Jessica.Lazor@nau.edu.

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President’s Cabinet Requests Reusable Water Bottles, Green NAU Delivers

 

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On Monday, November 30th, reusable water bottles were hand delivered to the President’s Cabinet by Caitlyn Burford (Chair, Environmental Caucus), Brandon VanBibber (Student: Co-chair of Green Jacks), and Jessica Lazor (Student: Chair of Green Fund). The President’s office made an inquiry to the Environmental Caucus about a donation of reusable water bottles for the Babbitt Admin conference room, specifically for the President’s Cabinet, which is comprised of about 45 people. By gaining reusable water bottles, they could eliminate all plastic water bottles from their conference room. The Environmental Caucus purchased these bottles from a local producer in Arizona who produces the bottles right here in the US. As the reusable containers were being distributed to the President’s Cabinet, President Cheng said her recent visit to the Dominican Republic with the women’s basketball team reinforced the importance of their availability. Cheng continued by saying, “we saw plastic bottles all over the streets and on the beaches. It was a stark reminder that these things don’t go away. NAU is a leader in sustainability efforts, and each of us sets the example by making responsible choices that reflect our understanding of the wider impact on the world.”

By providing reusable water bottles, which can be refilled using the water refill station in Babbitt Admin, the Environmental Caucus was able to assist the President’s Cabinet in eliminating plastic water bottles from the conference room completely. NAU is a leader in sustainability and steps like these will keep us at the forefront of sustainable efforts. “It was a powerful feeling to hear the president of our University talk about how these plastic bottles don’t go away and how important it is for us to make an effort to battle these negative influences,” said Brandon VanBibber of the Green Jacks. “By having President Cheng initiate this change, she is further contributing to NAU’s Culture of Sustainability, and that’s important,” said Jessica Lazor of the Green Fund, “this is exactly what we need.”

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NAU’s First Green Game! October 31st: HallowGreen

Recycle Dumpster

Residence Life Eco-Reps show off all the recyclable material they saved from the landfills

 

By Jacob Dottle, Environmental Caucus Communication Intern

Green games have been a trend sweeping collegiate athletics by a storm in the past decade, in an effort to greatly reduce the amount of waste that would normally enter landfills. Many people do not know that a large majority of the waste from these games can either be recycled or composted. Some of the colleges that are leading the way in green games are University of Boulder Colorado, Penn State, and Ohio State University.

Beth Vechinski, Associate Athletic Director explains the importance of the game, “NAU Athletics is proud to be partnering with the Office of Sustainability and Campus Dining for the first ever “Green Game”.  The football game on October 31 will provide a great opportunity to share with our fans how the University and NAU Athletics is committed to creating a culture of sustainability. The volunteer team will once again be out in the parking lot at tailgate promoting and encouraging recycling and the concessions stands will be stocked with all compostable materials in order to minimize waste. There will be educational messages running during the game promoting the campus-wide programs and resources for existing sustainability initiatives.”

NAU started recycling at tailgates for the first time last year during home football games and has continued these efforts during this year’s games. In addition to continuing to recycle at these events Green NAU held its first Green Wine of the Year Contest. The Green Wine Contest is an effort to reduce the amount of glass that is brought to the tailgate events because NAU does not recycle glass. Also it is more environmentally friendly to use aluminum products compared to glass.

NAU has its first Green Game on October 31st (HallowGreen!) where we will not only be recycling during the tailgate party but also recycling and composting waste from inside the stadium. Our hopes are to drastically reduce the amount of materials that would be thrown away. It is important to have a green game because it will show that everyone as a whole can help to reduce the massive amounts of waste that we create. Also reducing the amount of materials thrown into landfills will also help NAU become a more sustainable and healthy campus.

The Green Jacks have been a big help with finding volunteers for the event. Dylan Lenzen, Chair of the Green Jacks says, “It will be a great opportunity to bring our message of sustainability to an audience that might not normally hear it. We can show people just one of the possibilities we have to make our campus a better place. As Green Jacks, we will be there to make sure the effort is a success. We also hope to make our club visible to all of campus.”

Recycling Table

Stop by the recycling table to learn exactly we can and cant recycle at tailgating

Catherine Sullivan, Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator, explained that, “The NAU HallowGreen Game is an important step in our campus goal to reduce waste generation on campus as well as partake in the EPA’s GameDay Recycling Challenge. We’re excited to see how this first game goes and how much waste we can divert with the help of our volunteers and support from Athletics and the Office of Sustainability. To reduce waste throughout the game, our concession stands will offer recyclable and compostable packaging for our refreshments and food items, along with bulk condiments. Within our Suites, reusable chinaware will be used to cut down on waste as well. A three bin system for recycling, compost, and landfill will be provided throughout the concourse with volunteers to help fans properly dispose of their waste.”

James Yurkovich, a NAU Eco-Rep, explained that, “I have volunteered at five tailgating events over the course of two years. I think volunteering, as a Tailgate Recycling Helper is a very rewarding job. I feel it’s rewarding because I know that I am properly educating people about where to place their recyclables, and I feel great when they come up to me and ask questions! It is also rewarding because I get to see how much recyclable waste is generated at these events when they are over.” The Eco-Reps have provided essential help at the events, if you live in a residence hall, talk to your Eco-Rep about getting involved.

The Green Game will depend on volunteers at stations to help educate people on what can be recycled or composted. We will need approximately 100 volunteers for this event and anyone who is interested in helping may contact Allyson Kenna at akk75@nau.edu

HallowGreen Prizes

Check out the awesome prizes for the winners of the Green Lumberjack Costume Contest!

Many universities across the nation participate is recycling events for their home football games. In 2011, Ohio State launched a bold initiative to move the fourth largest stadium in the country, Ohio Stadium, towards zero waste.  The first season of Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium was a huge success. In 2011, trash sent to the landfill decreased by 61.2 percent, the diversion rate for the season increased 28.8 percentage points, and an 82.4 percent diversion rate was achieved. In recent years the events have been even more successful by diverting 95.2% of materials from Ohio Stadium.

Since 2008, Folsom Stadium at the University of Boulder Colorado has been converted to a Zero Waste venue during all home football games, making it the first Zero Waste collegiate sporting venue in the nation of its size. Since the stadium capacity is close to 50,000 people, this has been no small task and took the partnership of Athletics, Levy Restaurants, Facilities Management and the Environmental Center to make this program a success. In 2014 the stadium diverted 46,530 pounds of material that would have normally ended up in a landfill.

Penn State, with the second largest university stadium in the nation, has one of the largest recycling programs for their home football games.  The stadium has a capacity of 107,282 people and even more people show up for the tailgate parties. With such large numbers of people attending these events, more than 100 tons of waste can be generated in a single day. Not only does the stadium drastically reduce the amount of waste that would end up in a landfill, but also saves money. It costs $70 to dispose of one ton of waste but it only costs $15 to dispose of 1 ton of bagged recycled goods.

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Northern Arizona University Named a Top Performer in 2015 Sustainable Campus Index

AASHE Index

Northern Arizona University has been recognized as a sustainability leader in the 2015 Sustainable Campus Index, achieving the “top performer” ranking in the areas of both Campus Engagement and Coordination & Planning. The 2015 Sustainable Campus Index highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

The Campus Engagement subcategory recognizes institutions that provide students with sustainability learning experiences outside the formal curriculum, and support employee engagement, training, and development in sustainability. The Coordination & Planning subcategory recognizes institutions that are dedicating resources to sustainability coordination, developing plans to move toward sustainability, and engaging the campus community in governance. NAU has achieved 100 percent of the available points available in both of these sections of STARS.

“Northern Arizona University’s participation in STARS and strong performance in the areas of Campus Engagement and Coordination & Planning demonstrates significant leadership and commitment to advancing sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “We are pleased to recognize NAU for working to secure a brighter future by incorporating sustainability into campus operations, academics, administration and engagement.”

Some of the institution’s achievements in these areas include NAU’s Eco-Rep program. The role of the Eco-Rep is to provide peer to peer education on how to live more sustainably in NAU residential communities. Topics will include energy and water conservation, recycling, and other relevant environmental issues. Eco-Reps will serve as a resource that role models and promotes environmentally conscious behavior within their residential community/area.

Eco Rep

Eco-Reps celebrating alternative transportation at the Homecoming Parade

Another achievement recognized by STARS is the creation and recent revision of NAU’s Sustainability Action Plan. “This Plan has helped us revisit every aspect of operations, academics, and research on campus.” Explains John Morris, chair of the Coordinating Committee for Sustainability, “by utilizing the Plan’s clear objectives and detailed actions we’re able to systematically advance sustainable initiatives on campus through participation from departments all across campus.”

CoCoSus Stairs 2014

NAU’s 2014 Coordinating Committee for Sustainability

About STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community. The credits included in STARS span the breadth of higher education sustainability and are organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. All reports are publicly accessible on the STARS website. For more information, visit stars.aashe.org.

About the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

AASHE empowers higher education faculty, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation. AASHE enables members to translate information into action by offering essential resources and professional development to a diverse, engaged community of sustainability leaders. We work with and for higher education to ensure that our world’s future leaders are motivated and equipped to solve sustainability challenges. For more information, visit www.aashe.org.

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Green NAU Wine of the Year Winner!

(Don’t Bring Glass to Tailgates!!)

Since last year, Green NAU has been recycling at home football game tailgate parties.  Before we started recycling, hundreds of pounds of recyclable materials and glass ended up in the landfill.

NAU cannot recycle glass at these events, so we encourage everyone attending the tailgate parties to purchase beer in aluminum cans, as well as canned or boxed wine.

In an effort to educate tailgate attendees about the benefits of canned or boxed wine, Green NAU partnered with Vino Loco to hold a wine tasting event to determine the best boxed/canned wine to bring to NAU’s tailgate parties.

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Vino Loco manger Gabriel Holden and green wine tasting attendee Wendy McBride enjoying the event.

Besides being recyclable at tailgates, boxed wine has a carbon footprint that is less than half of the equivalent bottles (Source) and less packaging = less waste (85% less waste). Also, aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable!

Jacob Dottle, the communication intern for the Environmental Caucus, interviewed Gabriel Holden from Vino Loco about the Green Wine of the Year event, and Carole Kennelly from the Grand Canyon Wine Co. about their winning canned wine.

Vino Loco’s Gabriel Holden explained that, “our culture at Vino Loco has always strongly supported hosting events promoting a progressive cause such as Green NAU’s Green Wine of the Year.  Boxed and especially the higher quality canned wines have been increasing in sales at Vino Loco and I would expect them to become much more mainstream in the coming years.  I would expect to see them at every gas station and liquor store around the country sooner than later. The event at Vino Loco sponsoring Green NAU’s Green Wine of the Year was a success! There were about fifty people who participated and voted in the Year’s winner – Grand Canyon Traveller Red Blend & Grand Canyon Traveller White Blend—both a canned wine.”

Green Wine Winner

Winner of Green NAU’s Wine of the Year: Grand Canyon Winery’s Arizona Red Wine

Carole Kennelly, from Grand Canyon Winery explained their efforts to make a more sustainable product, “We decided to do the wine, which came out about two months ago, and is 100% Arizona wine.  All of our grapes come from seven vineyards in Arizona, predominantly from the Wilcox area and the Verde Valley.  Many other wine companies get their grapes from California or from overseas.  This contributes to large amounts of air pollution due to the transportation process.  Obtaining our grapes from local vineyards helps reduce our impact on the Earth.”

“Our main reason for making wine in a can is because we love mountain climbing, river rafting and other outdoor activities, where bringing wine in a bottle is not very practical.  Many river rafting trips do not allow people to bring glass bottles, due to the possibility of the glass breaking in the river.  The wine in a can allows people to bring smaller portions of wine with them, while minimizing on weight and trash.”

“The green wine event was great!  It really helps to pull the community together and to have a great time.  It is really great to team up with local businesses,” Carole concluded.

“The wine can be bought at the Barrel and Bottle House, which is located on the corner of Cottage and San Francisco.  The wine is sold in single 8oz cans or in 4 pack of cans.  Proper Meats and Provisions serves up delicious local fare at the Barrel + Bottle, so this gives people a chance to try our wine, beer and have a little bit of food.”

 

 

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NAU Employee Explains Enterprise Car Sharing Experience

By Rachelle Berry

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The Enterprise Carshare program provides access to Hybrid cars for young students and staff. In the beginning of the semester I signed up for the program during a promotion for $5 and was given a card to access the car. I was able to use the Carshare program to move, do laundry, and drop off items for donation at the end of the semester.

The two cars available live outside of the Union and the Dub. A few minutes before my registration time, I arrived at the shiny red Prius in front of the Union around 3:10. You can reserve your time in increments of 15 minutes and arrive up to 5 minutes early to take possession of the red or silver Prius. I took out my card and held it above the card reader to open the car. The keys are in the glove compartment and you have to pull them out of the key holder. After this process I checked my mirrors, turned on the radio and pressed the start button.  The Prius has a peculiar start you just get used to.  The car starts silently, after you press the brake, press start and then move the shifter to drive or reverse. The park is a button you press to engage.  Sometimes if you do not start the car correctly you have to put the car in park and try again. After moving beyond this series of steps the car silently moves along.

I did my errands, which used the entirety of the space in the car to pack up my room. The car is very roomy and can hold 5 to 6 suitcases and a few boxes of varying sizes. In fact, the seats lay completely down for oversized items. It easily stows a bike and other items while still leaving room for another passenger in the front. After running some of my errands around the city I realized I needed an extra 45 minutes for my reservation. I took out my phone opened the reservation email which directed me to my Carshare reservation. I was able to easily pick the time I wanted to extend to, the car was available, and my extension was granted. I returned the car on time and parked it in its dedicated spot outside of the Union. I put the keys back in the key holder, and locked the door with my card. This ends the reservations and records when you return the car.

All in all it was a great experience. I didn’t have to think about gas or insurance, as they are included in the program. If you need a car for a few errands or to move a few or a lot of things the cars are of moderate size and the price is great at 7.50-9.50/hr.

Learn more about the program here.

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NAU Wins Big at Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards

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On September 12 in Phoenix Arizona, NAU’s Office of Sustainability and NAU’s Green Fund was recognized for submitting the Solar Thermal Hot Air Technology which won Arizona Forward’s award for Energy and Technology Innovation. They also took home the Award of Merit for the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future for installing the technology on campus.

In January, 2015 NAU installed the first known multi-panel solar thermal hot air system on a university’s campus in the nation. See original blog post: http://www2.nau.edu/green-p/index.php/2015/01/29/nau-installs-novel-solar-thermal/.

NAU’s Office of Sustainability was attracted to the new technology because although there are many available renewable energy options like solar PV and wind that can reduce net electrical use, there are not many options for directly reducing fossil-based heating (natural gas). Recognizing that heat and hot water comprise nearly half the energy demand in the country, the opportunity for cost effective solar thermal technology is massive.

The technology was discussed at the Environmental Caucus’ Energy Action Team and was then submitted as a proposal to NAU’s Green Fund. The Green Fund committee (predominately comprised of students) was excited about this project because it will pay for itself in a small fraction of the time. The Green Fund chooses projects it thinks will reduce NAU’s carbon footprint and innovative projects that will prove the effectiveness of new technologies to the university and the world. This solar thermal air heating installation (purchased through SolarThermiX) is helping to achieve both these goals. Another top criteria the Green Fund evaluates is “visibility.” “Because NAU strives to be a Living Laboratory, we’re excited that this project is available to all our students, particularly engineering students, for monitoring and class projects” says Jessica Lazor, Climate Science and Solutions (CSS) graduate student and chair of the Green Fund. The technology has already been evaluated by a CCS student and SolarThermiX will be donating more panels to NAU for engineering research this fall.

“NAU is particularly proud of this installation because through this contribution of proving the quality and efficiency of this technology we hope to demonstrate a solution to over 18,000 off-grid Native American homes in Northern AZ that face heat insecurity,” states Ellen Vaughan, manager of NAU’s Office of Sustainability.

There is a crisis in providing heat for reservation elders and this technology could dramatically help stretch the limited propane budgets and/or scarcity of wood for heat.

Simply, solar thermal hot air technology has the potential to do for fossil-based heating what PV has done for electrical energy; albeit with more compelling economic and environmental justification.

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A Year in Review: Green NAU 2014-2015

In the past year, the Environmental Caucus (EC) has continued to grow and demonstrate phenomenal teamwork between students, faculty, staff, and administration. Not only has the EC itself done exceedingly well, but also the Action Teams associated with the EC have continuously moved barriers and pushed Northern Arizona University closer to carbon neutrality. Most importantly of all, the Student Environmental Caucus, the Green Jacks, has exceeded all expectations and has grown to become one of the most powerful student groups on campus.

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Green NAU

Green NAU received two Americorp positions which were funded by the Caucus. These seats were filled by two incredibly hardworking individuals, Rachelle Berry and Alex Gaynor. Rachelle was a great asset to the Green NAU team because she went above and beyond. She researched and presented on various projects such as, rainwater harvesting, a revolving Green Fund, and signage for sustainable landscaping. She not only advised the Green Jacks, but she was also the Staff Leader for Alternative Spring Breaks. She managed outreach for Green NAU and Earth Week as well as assisting in NAU becoming a Tree Campus USA.

Alex Gaynor was an outstanding employee and a great addition to the Green NAU team. His focus mainly revolved around recycling where he presented recycling education in classes and at staff meetings, created a Bblearn module for recycling, assisted in Rio de Flag clean up organizations, and created recycling posters for the new Big Bellies around campus. He also did remarkable work designing bookmarks, bags, stickers, and the like to increase awareness of sustainability around campus. He continued to be involved with the students by orchestrating a Public Relations Capstone project for recycling and creating a campus map that outlined NAU’s recycling potential.

 

Environmental Caucus

The EC has sponsored events such as the Better World Film Series, the NAU Sustainability Leadership Awards, and parts of Earth Week. In addition, they provided funding for seven students to attend the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference in Portland and represent NAU. They also provided funding for two internships in association with the Better World Film Series, as well as a Communications Internship, which assisted in utilizing social media and other advertising outlets to bring event awareness to students. The EC assisted in promotion of the Sustainability Action Plan town meeting, Yellow Bike Crowd Funding Campaign, and Earth Hour. This year they launched a program called Careers with Impact in association with Career Development. At Careers with Impact, students can get one-on-one time with professionals in the sustainable workforce and have the opportunity to ask questions from a panel of professionals. The EC expanded the NAU Sustainability Leadership Awards to include community members, which established a stronger community relationship and presented the Awards with the highest number of nominees per category. Read more about all the EC Sustainability Award winners.

One of the most rewarding accomplishments of the EC was that they successfully eradicated plastic bags from the entire NAU campus. They also launched a home football game tailgate-recycling program where a group of volunteers spent time during tailgating to educate students and visitors on recycling. The volunteers assisted in proper recycling and were successful in diverting a significant amount of waste from the landfill to the recycling centers.

 

Green Jacks

Green Jacks (GJ) is the Student Environmental Caucus and they represent the student voice. Within the past year they have made great strides towards sustainability and have become one of the most powerful student groups on campus. They raised awareness about energy concerns on campus and represented the student voice during the NAU Solar debates. They assisted with the Better World Film Series, held discussions with the community regarding important topics, were active with communication about events and sustainability, and helped the Open Air Market grow. The GJs advocated for a plastic bag free campus and were highly involved in the Plastic Bag Ban in Flagstaff by attending city council meetings and representing NAU. Last spring, they created an event called Earth Jam, which will now be the kick-start event before Earth Week and is a great way for students to get involved and learn about what NAU is doing to become a greener campus. The group worked closely with Dining Services to get eateries across campus to post signage advertising the 50 cent discount customers can get from bringing their own reusable cup.

The GJs planned to launch “Students for a Better World Seminar Series” that will begin in the fall of 2015. They will cover a significant amount of sustainability issues and will give students the chance to learn from professionals and get hands on workshop experience.

 

Environmental Caucus Action Teams

Within the Environmental Caucus are Action Teams. These teams focus more closely on specific topics such as transportation, energy, sustainable landscapes, communication, and waste. These teams then come together at the monthly EC meetings and discuss their projects, plans, and hear feedback.

Transportation Action Team (TransAT)

The Transportation Action Team aims to keep transportation around campus safe and efficient. Within the past year they have identified unsafe, trouble spots and attempted to fix or find a solution for them, worked with NAU Police Department to ensure the safety of NAU, created a partnership between Campus Recreation Services and Parking and Shuttle Services, promoted Bike to Work Week and hosted Bike to Work Week breakfast, and provided feedback on the Transportation section of the Sustainability Action Plan. They continue to develop partnerships and provide feedback to NAU regarding unsafe areas. They also work with the bus systems to create a safe and reliable transportation source to decrease personal car transportation around campus. The TransAT constantly works to increase bike usage and public transportation around campus to decrease car traffic while also making campus a safe traveling community.

Energy Action Team

The purpose of the Energy Action Team is to investigate and pursue clean energy projects that will enable NAU to reach climate neutrality. Within the past year, they have made great strides in reaching that goal by arranging and executing a project proposal for a six panel solar hot air heating technology system on Property Surplus. They also assisted in the NAU Solar debate by reviewing finances of the San Francisco garage and advising the Green Fund, established a relationship between a representative from San Diego Gas & Electric to assess micro-grid potential, established a connection between the NAU community to discuss pros and cons of an NAU biomass plant initiative, and included students in the Action Team to engage them in applied learning and tap into their ability to work on various carbon neutral initiatives. The Energy Action Team has created a partnership with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Director to learn and discuss clean energy allocation of the Hoover Dam. They also created a partnership with the faculty and staff of the environmental sciences and climate sciences programs to discuss collaborations engaging classes in support of the carbon neutrality goals. Lastly, this team consulted on the submittals of two NAU Requests for Proposals. One is for the installation of a solar array on the San Francisco Garage and the other is to assess the purchasing of Renewable Energy Certificates. Learn more about NAU’s green power purchases.

Communications Action Team (CommAT)

The Communications Action Team was created to spread awareness and understanding of the structure and purpose of the sustainability-related organizations on campus. Within the past year they have updated and modified all Green NAU webpages, coordinated a successful Earth Hour, which consisted of fire performers, and created a liaison with Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition to educate students and parents of NAU’s dark skies. They also launched the Green Wall during the spring of 2015, which is located on the back wall at the Green Scene and is an easy way for students to know what is happening around campus regarding sustainability. CommAT also completed a movie to be shown at NAU’s new employee orientation to communicate many of the sustainable initiatives on campus and ways to get involved to all incoming employees.

Sustainable Environmental Practices Action Team (SEPAT)

The Sustainable Environmental Practices Action Team was created to eliminate the use of toxic herbicides, pesticides, and other hazardous materials on NAU campus, and facilitate land-based practices that demonstrate sustainable methods. During this past year, SEPAT recruited students to analyze soil samples, initiated a sustainability signage and map project for campus, began a report on weed barrier experiments conducted by the Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) Team in the NAU green house, and they participated in the Steering Committee for Campus Landscape Assessment where they emphasized chemical-free maintenance. SEPAT also participated in volunteer hand weeding programs on campus lawns and worked with the SLM project to refine the budget for full implementation of an herbicide-free campus. SEPAT is expanding its efforts beyond pesticide studies and will be continuing its work on sustainable signage and investigating the potential to create native pollinator habitat and honey bee habitat on campus. Do to this expansion of goals; the team has changed its name to the Sustainable Landscaping Action Team.

Get involved with the Environmental Caucus and the Action Teams!

Green Fund

As always, the Green Fund had a tremendous year of accomplishments and funded seven projects in calendar year 2014. Learn more about their projects.

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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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