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

EV JL Awards

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:

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.


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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Seth Cauman

Seth Cauman

NAU’s Climate Science and Solutions Masters Program student Seth Cauman and friend Amy Huva Guest Writes this Moving Post on Climate Change:

What do the pope and the fossil-fuel divestment movement have in common? This may sound like the start of a joke, but the answer is revealing: They are promoting a moral imperative to act on climate change.

This month, Pope Francis is gearing up to give his first encyclical (advice that is sent out to all bishops) on the topic of climate change. The broad message is likely to be that Catholics have a principled duty to protect God’s creation, which includes taking steps to address climate change and protecting those who stand to lose the most to climate inaction.

Given that approximately one in six people worldwide are Catholic, and nearly seven in 10 Catholics in the U.S. think global warming is happening, this is a big deal. As climate writer David Roberts at Vox outlined recently, the climate movement has so far failed to convincingly appeal to Americans on moral grounds, preferring to talk about climate change as a policy or scientific issue, forgetting that facts are interpreted through the lens of one’s own beliefs and worldviews and stories are one of the best tools for motivating action. It seems the pope may be on to something.

Vatican Solar

Solar Array Outside the Vatican

The moral frame around climate change has many things going for it. It avoids bickering about the science, because you don’t need to debate data when you’re talking about shared values like responsibility, stewardship and equity. It also grounds the issue in things you care about and then calls on you to protect them, which is a much easier sell than getting people excited about acronyms they don’t understand. The pope is a trusted messenger who has the power to cut through political polarization and frame climate change in the content of our responsibilities to one another and to the planet we depend on.

(Check out the Climate Access tip sheet for guidance on how to communicate climate action as a moral imperative.)

Another group using ethics to spur action on climate change is the fossil-fuel divestment movement, led by At its core, divestment aims to dissuade investors from holding shares in fossil fuel companies on the grounds that it’s immoral to invest in an industry causing so much harm to people and the environment. It’s a unique blend of principled impetus and economic strategy. From the beginning, has focused on college and university campuses as a place to promote divestment campaigns, taking a stand against the hypocrisy of post-secondary institutions profiting from the destruction of the future health and well-being of their students.

The divestment movement has seen an increasing number of victories including commitments to divest by 31 colleges and universities, 42 cities, 70 religious institutions and 33 foundations around the globe. This was most recently punctuated by divestment commitments from large organizations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Guardian Media Group and the Church of England. The Guardian’s Keep it in the ground is targeting the two largest charitable foundations in the world: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. Safe to say, divestment is gaining ground.

The pope’s encyclical on climate change will bolster the moral argument for acting on climate. It will reach new audiences with messages that resonate with those who don’t consider themselves to be environmentalists, and inspire others to take their own moral stand. Specifically, in the U.S., this presents an opportunity to reach white Catholics, who predominantly vote Republican as well as Catholics who make up a large percentage of the population in shoreline states in New England, as well as drought-stricken states like New Mexico and California.

The pope will be speaking to the U.S. Congress and the UN about climate change in September before the next round of UN climate change negotiations in Paris in December, leaving space for a growing chorus of faith groups to call for action on climate change because it is morally the right thing to do.

The heart of the moral argument for climate change is shared values, for the places we live, the people we love and the things that mean the most to us. The addition of more voices calling for climate action in their own way, combined with the leadership of the pope can only add to the growing climate movement.

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Rethinking Trash Cans

Rethinking and Repurposing Trash Cans

In the fall of 2014, Northern Arizona University invested 1 million dollars to provide about 130 “Big Belly” outdoor recycling and trash receptacles across campus.  This positive change provides outdoor recycling across campus and has established more efficient use of staff time for trash and recycling collection because the Big Bellies include internal trash compactors and provide electronic notification when they are full and need to be emptied.  However, this transition created a problem:  what to do with the 80 stone trash cans being replaced.  The creative reuse solution generated by Tom Yazzie, Residence Life Grounds Crew Chief, was to turn these into planters for summer landscaping.    Not only are we diverting potential waste from the landfill, but we continue to make NAU an even more beautiful campus and eliminate the need to purchase planters.  Currently, planters have been placed north of Allen Hall and by the Sechrist Hall entrance.  There are plans to continue identifying locations across campus to add these new planters.


The original containers


Ready to be painted, placed, and planted!


The final product, north of Allen Hall


From cigarette holder to cactus holder


A row of summer flowers


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NAU Reaches 100 Energy Mentors!

The Green NAU Energy Initiative is Excited to Announce it’s Trained 100 Energy Mentors!

Mark Crawford Energy Mentor

Energy Mentor Mark Crawford, Fiscal Operations Manager at Facility Services, happily turns off his light before leaving for lunch


The Green NAU Energy Initiative (GNEI) has recently reached its goal of having 100 trained Energy Mentors on the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Flagstaff campus! Energy Mentors are faculty and staff who volunteer to support and advance the culture of sustainability at NAU by advocating and promoting energy conservation habits among peers.

NAU has ambitious carbon neutrality goals, and as a major first step, Facility Services launched a large energy efficiency retrofit program in 2012 that seeks to reduce the cost and the environmental impacts associated with the University’s day-to-day operations. This project focuses on improving energy efficiency of campus buildings and it stands to save Northern Arizona University $1.5 million per year and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “However, upgrading buildings can only go so far” said Nick Koressel who is a GNEI program coordinator. “We need to improve the energy awareness of the entire university community”.

“Our Energy Mentors are doing great things” said Avi Henn who is the co-coordinator for GNEI. “From arranging events and mentoring fellow building users on energy conserving habits to obtaining Green Fund grants for projects that improve and make practices more sustainable”. The Environmental Caucus recently recognized a number of Energy Mentors during the Sustainability Awards Ceremony held as part of this year’s Earth Week.

“We need and can to do more” said Koressel. “We constantly recruit and train new Energy Mentors and we would like to see this great community grow”. Energy Mentor trainings are held frequently and only last about an hour and a half. Energy Mentors learn about the ins and outs of the University’s energy consumption and are given tools to help promote campus sustainability through energy conservation. To learn more about the Energy Mentor program or to become an Energy Mentor, email Avi Henn at

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NAU Designated CONFERENCE CHAMPION in EPA’S College & University Green Power Challenge

Northern Arizona University Recognized as the Big Sky’s Largest Green Power User!

NAU announced today that it was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a 2014-2015 Individual Conference Champion of the College & University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Big Sky.

Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use in the nation. The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that has the largest individual use of green power within a qualifying conference.

“NAU has many initiatives to conserve energy on campus, and we’ve just finished a huge, 18 million dollar investment in energy efficiency upgrades but we still recognize that we use a lot of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels.” Explains Ellen Vaughan, NAU’s Manager of Sustainability. “I’m really proud that NAU has become a national leader in offsetting our carbon use by purchasing green power and spurring the renewable energy industry.”

Northern Arizona University 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. NAU is buying a combination of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and utility green power products from Arizona Public Service (APS) and Renewable Choice Energy. In addition, NAU is generating green power from an on-site renewable energy system using solar 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 nearly 800 average American homes annually.

Thirty-nine collegiate conferences and 90 schools competed in the 2014-2015 challenge, collectively using nearly 2.4 billion kWh of green power. EPA will extend the College & University Green Power Challenge for a tenth year, to conclude in spring of 2016. EPA’s Green Power Challenge is open to all U.S. colleges, universities, and conferences. 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. 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.

About EPA’s Green Power Partnership

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The Partnership currently has nearly 1,300 Partner organizations voluntarily using billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500® companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities. For additional information, please visit

For more information about EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge, visit the Challenge website at

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LEED Gold Awarded to the Native American Cultural Center


NAU’s Native American Cultural Center was recently awarded LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED rating system is an internationally recognized program that provides certification for buildings, communities, and homes with exceptional environmental and health performance demonstrated throughout the design, construction, and operational processes.

This project was completed in 2011, thanks to allocations from general university funds, and approximately $3 million in donations—including a $2 million donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. The building integrated Native American design and sustainability principles provided by input from neighboring Native American tribes throughout the design and construction phases of development.

The original concept for the center was to create a space that serves a bigger purpose, and provides an avenue for individuals and groups to be educated about the traditional knowledge of Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples. “This is reflected within the environmental elements of the center,” says Kathleen Frank, director of the Native American Cultural Center. “Preserve what is around you, and utilize the resources that surround you.”

The center is a one-of-a-kind gathering place for Native American students and organizations from all Arizona tribes. These students can visit the center to receive tribal mentorship, connect with their peers, and re-connect with their cultures and traditions. It is an important resource for the Flagstaff community and all students on campus.  Workspaces, computers, academic support resources, and meeting spaces are available to all students who visit the cultural center.

Some of the sustainable elements incorporated into the Native American Cultural Center are highlighted below.

Passive Solar Design

  • Exterior blinds and interior roller shades help to mitigate solar heat gain in the summer months.

Energy Efficiency

  • Daylighting throughout the building reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day.
  • High-efficiency light fixtures and occupancy-sensing technology optimizes lighting power density and energy use throughout the facility.


  • More than 75% of construction material waste was diverted from landfills.
  • Use of building materials with recycled content and that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered, as well as manufactured within 500 miles.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality

  • Fresh outdoor air is delivered to all regularly occupied spaces at levels 30% greater than building code requirements to maximize occupant comfort and reduce indoor pollutants.
  • Low VOC materials are used throughout the facility to maximize the indoor air quality.

Reduced Building Impact

  • In-house recycling programs divert building-occupant waste from landfills.
  • The site’s use of native vegetation complements a network of landscaping elements that capture rainwater to recharge the aquifer with naturally treated stormwater.

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Green Fund 2014 Accomplishments!

2014 was a busy year for Northern Arizona University’s Green Fund! The Green Fund, a campus committee supported by student fees and governed by both student and faculty members, holds the primary vision of creating a culture of sustainability on campus, increasing student engagement, and boosting energy and water efficiency on campus.

In the last year, the fund approved projects that led to many groundbreaking university-wide improvements.

2014 accomplishments include:

The Centralized Irrigation Project, a $53,626 project that supplements the universities efforts to increase resource efficiency and minimize unnecessary water use. This cutting edge technology monitors soil moisture levels to prevent overwatering.

“The purpose is to reduce the water consumption of NAU landscaping through the installation of a centralized irrigation system.” —Nick Koressel, Program Coordinator for Green NAU Energy Initiative

The Global Peace and Tolerance Garden to be constructed at the new International Pavilion, addresses the aspiration for civic engagement that is at the heart of the Green Fund’s mission. The $157,705 project supports this LEED Platinum building through the construction of a water efficient garden and installation of environmental signage.

“The idea is to engage students in a conversation about bringing down cultural barriers.” —Dylan Rust, Director of Global Student Life

The Solar Hot Air Heaters is a $10,352 project that funded a technology that supplements the traditional natural gas heating system. Located on Property Surplus, the six solar-powered hot air heaters reduce NAU’s CO2 emissions by 3 tons a year. This project is the start of a new renewable heating option for the campus.

“[This project is] a great step in lessening our dependence on fossil fuels for our heating needs.” —Scott Perelstein, Director of NAU Operations

The Eco-Reps serve as representatives for their peers and community by providing education on how to live a more sustainable life in campus residential buildings. This $24,085 project assists and encourages students in their everyday lifestyle choices and increases awareness on individual environmental impact.

“The goal is to promote behavior changes that will continue throughout their time at NAU and beyond the time they live on campus.” —Cori Cusker, Residence Life Sustainability Coordinator

Greening Supplemental Instruction is a $8,689 project that reduces the use of paper by limiting paper handouts  and providing digital information instead. The supplemental instruction program’s efforts to reduce paper acts as an environmental example across campus.

“[The] goal was to reduce paper usage by ⅓ in the first semester and we exceeded our goal by an additional third.” —Evin Deschamps, Assistant Director, Student Learning Centers

The Weigh Scales are scales added to trash trucks that measure the solid waste and recycling created on campus. This $78,771 project quantifies the amount of waste and renewables in order to strive for improvements for a better waste-reduction program.

“One of the major goals for being able to quantify solid waste and recycling is to improve our waste minimization strategies.” —Avi Henn, Program Coordinator for Green NAU Energy Initiative

The Oil Refinery uses containers and pumps to store most of Facility Service’s Transportation grades of oil allowing them to use a vendor that recycles the oil. This $3,500 project, requires less oil to be extracted, transported and thrown away; thus, contributing to the conservation of oil.

“What’s great about this project is that the oil is rerefined, so we can use it over and over again at the same quality.” —Susan Williams, Professor of Management Science

In the last two semesters the fund has made major strides towards reductions in energy consumption campus wide. The projects approved this year have been striving to make NAU a more sustainable campus and improve the campus’ environmental impact on the community. Perhaps more noteworthy is the achievement of actively engaging students and faculty in the conversation of what sustainability means for the future of Northern Arizona University.

What’s in store for the Green Fund in 2015? 2015 sparks the evolution of the NAU Green Fund from a static fund to a revolving fund mirroring the work of a hundred campus’ nationwide. The Green Fund sees the prospect of major solar projects in the near future. In order for the Green Fund to grow and continue to make progress they need students and faculty to participate in these important endeavors.

Green Fund Committee 2014

Submit a project proposal and/or apply to be on next year’s committee by visiting NAU.EDU/GREENFUND.

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NAU surpasses water reduction goal!

 Water jpeg

NAU has decreased its potable water usage by 30 percent, greater than the original goal of 20 percent announced when the university created its first Climate Action Plan.

In the water section of the plan created in 2010, NAU’s first goal was to “Reduce the gallons of potable water per square foot of building space used annually by 20 percent by 2015 (using 2002 as the baseline year).” In 2002, NAU used 261,559,640 gallons of potable water and in 2014 it used 182,045,145 gallons, a decrease of 30.4 percent.

We are very conscious that Flagstaff is in an arid region, and NAU has to lead by example in saving this precious resource,” NAU President Rita Cheng said. “Our investment in water-saving initiatives will pay dividends in multiple ways for years to come.”

NAU has been taking aggressive measures to save water. The university has implemented a campus-wide conservation campaign asking students to “Strive for Five,” which urges students to take shorter showers. Facility Services has also invested in a variety of water efficiency upgrades as part of a recent $18 million efficiency upgrade.

“It may not be noticeable to users, but by switching out old shower heads and installing aerators on faucets, we’re making a considerable dent in our water use” said John Morris, associate vice president for Facility Services. “With financial assistance from the Green Fund, we’re also switching over to a state-of-the-art irrigation system that will not only save water but also save staff time.”

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