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!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Publication in Sustainability Education

I've added a link for a new publication, The Journal of Sustainability EducationAccording to the on-line journal's home page, it "serves as a forum for academics and practitioners to share, critique and promote research, practices, and initiatives that foster the integration of economic, ecological, and social-cultural dimensions of sustainability within formal and non-formal educational contexts."

You can find more about their policies for publishing at their "About Us" page.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Week/Global Youth Service Day Opportunity

 In honor of Earth Day and Global Youth Service Day, the Campus Kitchen Project at UWEC and the Phoenix Garden are holding a volunteer work day at the new downtown Phoenix community garden.  We will be working in the garden to prepare the soil, build beds, and do a little planting!  No experience needed, just be prepared to get a little dirty. 

Friday, April 23rd from 1:00pm-4:00pm

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sustainability Showcase - Green Careers Forum

On Tuesday, April 20th UW-Eau Claire will host a Green Careers Forum. In light of the recent economic slowdown, many point to the emerging "Green Collar" jobs market to provide the careers of tomorrow.

Four, industry specific, guest speakers will be shedding light on the “Green Collar” jobs of the future. Speakers include:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eau Claire Transit to Participate in Sustainabilty Showcase

The Clean Cummute Initiative has received confirmation that Eau Claire Transit will be taking part in the Sustainability Showcase to be held on the Campus Mall April 22. They will have bus route maps and other goodies to hand out, as well as offer assistance in scheduling rides around campus and throughout the city! This will be a great opportunity for students, faculty and staff to learn how easy and convenient it is to use this "no-cost-with-an-ID" service!

Clean Commute Initiative Plans Future Undertakings

The Clean Commute Initiative had a meeting on March 11th and developed a list of possible undertakings to be pursued in the upcoming months. These efforts are aimed at improving opportunities for students, faculty and staff to utilize transportation methods outside of automobiles.

Ideas discussed include 1) contacting local bike shops to perform bicycle tune-ups at reduced prices or at free clinics on campus, 2) develop methods for weatherized (read "dry") storage and parking for bikes, 3) bike lockers for secure bike storage, 4) integrate alternative transportation ideas with any new building design and siting, 5) improve pedestrian/bike/board/blade friendliness around campus to allow for safer use of existing facilities. Discussion also included alternative transportation promotional poster campaigns and bicycle loaning programs.

While these ideas are formulative, our enthusiasm is buoyed by the success of our Clean Commute brochure which outlines the transportation alternatives available in our community and the letter to incoming freshman signed by the Chancellor in which he promotes a car-less stay while here in Eau Claire. Both of these items are included in the packets sent to new students upon their acceptance to the University.

Contribute Ideas for Sustainability in New Education Building!

The committee for UW-Eau Claire's "Education Building," the first new academic building since the Human Sciences and Services Building, invites your input on sustainable practices you would like to see considered in the siting, design, furnishing, and operation of the building.  

You can provide your ideas on-line at this site.

The ideas we receive will contribute to the Sustainability Discussion that will take place on April 21, 2010, from 3:00-5:00 PM in the Presidents Room of Davies Center.

Want to learn more before you respond?  Check out "Green Building: Basic Information," hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sustainability Website!

Hi everyone. I'm Lauren Oas, the Student Sustainability Coordinator for UWEC housing. We have just created a sustainability page on the UWEC housing website. Students, you can find information about recycling in the residence halls, how to make your room more environmentally friendly, tips to make your life more green, and much more. Check it out at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

UW-Eau Claire Bicycle Program

The UW-Eau Claire Environmental Adventure Center (EAC) is pleased to announce the acquisition of 15 new mountain bikes from Trek Bicycle Company. The funding for these bicycles was generated from proceeds from the Fifth Annual Aldo Leopold Banquet sponsored by the EAC in support of the UW-Eau Claire Clean Commute, Chippewa Valley environmental organizations and sportsman's groups, and UW-Eau Claire sustainability efforts. The purchase of these bicycles will assist in university efforts to transition student, faculty, and community persons to more sustainable means of transportation. The EAC thanks all university students, faculty, and community persons that were involved with the fifth annual banquet and looks forward to hosting the Aldo Leopold event in 2011 in the UW-Eau Claire Davies Center.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From the Sustainability Fellow

The work of sustainability happens all over campus, initiated and carried out by many people.  I feel so privileged to work with the great folks I've gotten to know in the past year and a half, many of whom have become not just colleagues but friends.  I hope we'll soon be hearing about their good work!  As Sustainability Fellow I want to take a few minutes to share what are right now some largely behind-the-scenes projects that will make their debuts at various points over the next six months.

THE CAMPUS CARBON EMISSIONS INVENTORY:  Our first inventory was completed in 2008 by eight students working under the direction of Dr Kristina Beuning; they nicknamed themselves the  "Carbon Neutral Team."  During their October visit to campus, the Board of Regents got to hear from several wonderful students, including two who spoke about their work on that first inventory, Isaac Borofka-Webb and Robyn Fennig.  Isaac and Robyn also work with me as campus sustainability interns.  Additionally, both of them are contributing to Carbon Neutral Team 2010.  Isaac, who is studying in Sweden this semester, posts to our class blog with photos of amazing winter biking and offering suggestions or information in some of our on-going discussions.  Robyn works directly with the class as a peer mentor;  having her experience and energy to draw on is wonderful!  After opening weeks in which we discussed Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe, began to learn about climate science from Dr. Jim Boulter, and managed to figure our individual carbon footprints with the guidance of Dr. Jim Phillips, our team of 15 students is hard at work gathering information for this year's report.  The campus will be hearing from them soon after spring break.  Their work will take its final form this summer, and will be presented to the campus community after fall semester begins; it will also be submitted to the Presidents' Climate Commitment reporting site where it will join the CNT '08 report.

Bicycle Pedestrian Plan Goes to EC City Council

On Monday, March 15, the EC Plan Commission passed a recommendation to forward the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan to the EC City Council for consideration. The Council will consider approval of the Plan at its meeting next Monday, March 22, at 7 PM in the EC City Hall Council Chamber. If approved, the plan will become part of the Eau Claire Comprehensive Plan that guides city planning decisions for the next 20 years. The plan can be viewed at the Eau Claire City webpage.

The purpose of the plan to create facilities and policies in Eau Claire that enable biking and walking to become integral components of a multi-modal transportation system. The plan includes background materials, a series of maps showing existing and future transportation facilities, a series of recommendations and a set of study areas, all of which will be used by the City to move toward the goal of becoming a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city. The plan was created by the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC) in collaboration with city engineers. BPAC spent over three years developing the plan, which has received input from the public, neighborhood associations, the WI DOT along with other groups. Three members of BPAC, Bob Eierman, Chair of BPAC, Ann Hoffman, Secretary of BPAC, and Walter (Doc) Reid, work at UWEC.

University community members are encouraged to read the plan and (assuming you support it) to attend the City Council meeting next Monday show your approval of creating a bike and pedestrian friendly Eau Claire.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

UW-Eau Claire Coal-Fired Heating Plant

ENPH Student Pat Bloecher has done some nice faculty-student research with me on risks from the coal-fired heating plant. Here's our Research Day abstract:

Estimates of Mortality and Morbidity from the UW-Eau Claire Coal-Fired Heating Plant
Combustion of coal to produce heat and electricity releases particulate matter, mercury, sulfur and global warming gases into the air. A recent finding by the DNR that coal plants around the UW system are in violation of the Clean Air Act has generated consideration of biofuels and natural gas as substitute fuels at UW-Eau Claire. We used the coal plant’s emission rates, the SCREEN3 air dispersion model, and Google Earth to estimate the increased rate of death and disease from inhaling particles from the plant. The estimated breathing zone concentrations were similar to those established in the DNR permit for emissions. Rates of increased mortality (death) ranged from 0.058% per year at 500 m, to 0.045% per year at 2,000 m from the plant.

Our heating plant director has been testing biofuels (sawdust pellets) as an alternative cleaner fuel. The principal concerns he has in this regard is building enough space for pellet delivery, and providing a consistent feed to the boilers.

Student/Faculty Research Project on Climate Change Opinion Survey

Global warming has become a hotly debated topic with much discussion occurring in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. appears headed toward passing new legislation mandating reductions in carbon emissions possibly coupled with tax policies and perhaps even a cap and trade permit system. But how much do people really know about global warming?

For the past few months, a group of four students have teamed up with Economics Professor Eric Jamelske to complete a report analyzing opinions on Global Warming/Climate Change. To find out we began with a survey to assess the perceptions and general understanding of global warming/climate change issues among UWEC students and Chippewa Valley households.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beyond News: Labels to Begin With

At the top of the blog under "Keeping Track of Our Work," you can see the list of labels we'll begin with (and a little more explanation to go with them).  Remember that the point of using the labels is to help us find information quickly in the blog archives.  So think of them as similar to search terms or keywords.

Labels can also be tweaked later if you change your mind.  We'll get that all smoothed out by the time Earth Day rolls around!