Working toward a sustainable UW-EC

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

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!