Working toward a sustainable UW-EC

news, updates, events and announcements from throughout the campus community

Thursday, October 14, 2010

UWEC Bike/Ped Friendly Research Project

I am working on a proposal to the UWEC EEC grant program and would like to find two students to work with me on the proposal and the project. The project will involve researching the present situation and creating a vision of the future of the bike/pedestrian friendliness of UW-Eau Claire. I have been working on bike/ped issues on campus and with the City of Eau Claire for several years and have some ideas about how we can change the culture and the infrastructure to make walking and biking to be more important part of our multimodal transportation system here in our fair city. Please contact me at if you have an interest in a bike/ped friendly UWEC.

Bob Eierman

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

AASHE - Student Summit Breakout Sessions

Following a motivating speech given by professional snowboarder, Gretchen Bleiler, over five-hundred AASHE 2010 student attendees split into a series of learning sessions centered around topics such as waste management on campus, financing sustainability projects on campus, and connecting campus to the wider community.

During the sustainable success stories session, students from UC San Diego and the University of Alberta shared their experiences in taking action to promote and build sustainable habits on their campus.

Wyatt Tauberman of UC San Diego created the website, Think Green, Live Clean (TGLC), as a side project. Once the site was established Tauberman was able to sell enough advertisements to replace his current job of providing surf lessons, so that he could devote more time to TGLC. One can tell by browsing through some of the site's features, such as the various green guides and an extensive green shop directory, that Tauberman's time and effort was well spent.

Currently the TGLC is holding a Green Resolution Contest, in which college students from around the country may submit plans for sustainability projects they'd like to initiate on their campuses. The submissions are transparent for anyone online to view, making the competition a valuable resource for other institutions of higher education (HELLO GREEN FUND PROPOSALS). October 18th is the deadline for submitting ideas to TGLC, which is only 4 days before UWEC's Environmental Endeavors Commission's (EEC) call for sustainability proposals are due. As an added perk, the creator of the winning submission for the TGLC contest will receive an I-Pad.

At the national student campaigns session, speakers on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Sierra Club spoke of their current efforts to pool together college youth in the U.S. who believe in environmental legislation reform initiatives.

PowerVote is a non-partisan movement currently being carried out by NWF and the Energy Action Coalition. The campaign strives for voters to be educated of the running politicians' stances on sustainability in the upcoming November 2nd elections. With big oil and coal lobbying hard, it's critical that people are made aware of each party's intentions. NWF Great Lakes Campus Field Manager, Juliana Goodlaw-Morris, brought up the significant point that our strength is in our numbers, and that by 2015 our generation will represent 1/3 of the electoral vote. Ignorance is not bliss in this case since we will hold such a high percentage of constituency.

Another endeavor, which originated out of the Sierra Club, is the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign. It's purpose is to replace coal plants on campuses nationwide with clean energy sources. Being responsible for roughly 38,000 heart attacks, 21,000 hospitalizations, and 24,000 deaths per year, the pollution emitted by coal plants is not to be taken lightly.

To gain more knowledge and become involved in either of these two movements, visit their websites hyperlinked above.

-Joy Larson

Monday, October 11, 2010

AASHE - Gretchen Bleiler Keynote Speech

The student summit session commenced with a keynote speech given by Olympic medalist Gretchen Bleiler. As a professional snowboarder, Bleiler emphasized her first-hand experience with climate change on the slopes. Some of the locations she's observed that have blatantly been affected are Bariloche, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. Typically some of Bleiler's ideal places to shred some powder, the mountains in these regions are often too barren now to board down.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, snowboarders from around the world faced a similar problem. According to Bleiler, a combination of incessant raining, warmer than usual temperatures, and thus an inadequate amount of snow cut their five days of practice down to one.

Even though the hindering of a winter sport may not seem critical in the big scheme of life, it is only one example of how climate change is affecting people. To help stave off any further affects of climate change, Bleiler led the room full of 500+ students from around the country in a pact to follow the 21 Days of Reusables Challenge. Closing the speech in a momentous way, we agreed in unison to boycott the use of plastic disposable water bottles, the use of plastic shopping bags, and the use of Styrofoam to-go food containers for the average amount of time it takes one to form a habit--21 days.

- Joy Larson

Sunday, October 10, 2010

AASHE Conference 2010

Members of the Environmental Endeavors Commission (EEC)--Director Ben Ponkratz, Isaac Borofka-Webb, and myself (Joy Larson)--embarked to Denver last night to attend the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2010 Conference. After a slightly unpleasant, but quite suiting ROCKY plane ride, we made it here safely, and as of now are diligently awaiting the student summit session.

The theme of this conference is "campus initiatives to catalyze a just and sustainable world." Working together is key to bringing about positive and effective change. Therefore, throughout the next couple of days we will form connections with students and faculty from around the country, as well as various private sector companies. With a common goal of promoting sustainability, we will collaborate and exchange ideas to bring back to our campus communities. Stay posted, for I will be reporting our experiences and discoveries several times daily.

Your humble narrator,
Joy Larson

Monday, October 4, 2010

Battery Disposal: Reminder

Just a reminder that if you have dead batteries, the bookstore has bins located on its lower level for the proper disposal of batteries. While the batteries, themselves, are not recycled, it is important that they do not find their way to regular landfills.

Batteries may produce the following potential problems or hazards:
  • Pollute lakes and streams as the metals vaporize
  • Contributes to heavy metal contamination of land and water
  • May cause burns or irritation to eyes and skin
  • Contains concentrations of lead and acid

So, whether you are replacing batteries in your I-Clicker or calculator, camera or laptop, please consider sorting from the rest of your trash and dropping them at the bookstore.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Greetings From Iowa! (Update from former Sustainability Intern, Robyn Fennig)

Greetings UW-Eau Claire! I am writing from the University of Iowa, where I am currently a graduate student in the Urban and Regional Planning Master's Degree Program. Working at a Big 10 school certainly differs quite a bit from UW-Eau Claire.

The Office of Sustainability is housed directly within the University Service Building, to aide in cooperation between the Office and Facilities Planning and Management. The picture on the right is a snapshot of the UIowa Energy Control Center. In this room, the energy usage of any building on the UIowa campus can be pulled up and dissected from a variety of levels. The first screen on the left is a mini-map of campus buildings. The middle two screens are examining the usage in the Pharmacy School building (on Thursday August19 at 10:05 am), while the third compares energy use in several buildings on campus. One of the largest ongoing projects at UIowa is to reduce energy usage across campus. 

The Office of Sustainability employs several student interns who all work independently on projects of their interest. This semester I look forward to finishing up the 2009-2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report and working on an ongoing project with environmental/sustainability indicators on campus. The first project differs a bit from my work at UWEC, as UIowa has not become an official signatory of the President's Climate Commitment. The second project is working on a project modeled after a project at the University of Michigan, called "Environmental Metrics." (To read more about the project at Michigan, click HERE)

I just returned from the Freshman Convocation, where the Office of Sustainability sponsored the event as a "zero-waste" event. All organic wastes and corn-plastics were deposited in compost bins, while all the remaining materials were 100% recyclable, in theory generating zero waste going to landfills. Maybe some of these practices can be implemented at UW-Eau Claire in the future. (Picture to the right, I am sorting through compost with Devin, another sustainability student).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cardboard Corrals

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Office of Housing and Residence Life is working to make campus more sustainable every day. This year during student move in they will be running a program that aims to prevent cardboard from ending up in the landfills. Students can bring their cardboard to the Cardboard Corrals, where it will be broken down by housing staff, stored, and taken away to be recycled. The Corrals will be located in tents near residence halls. There will be tents set up from August 23rd to September 1st, with five tents located on upper campus and one on lower campus. Cardboard Corrals will be staffed August 29th and 30th during designated move in times; however that doesn't mean students can't bring their cardboard to the corals when no one is present. Housing staff will be monitoring the tents and breaking down cardboard as necessary. In 2009 the University was able to recycle over twelve tons of cardboard and would like to further our success this coming year!