NLRB Rules to Allow Graduate Students at Private Universities to Unionize
In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in mid-August that graduate students employed by private universities are entitled to collective bargaining under National Labor Relations Act. The decision to overturn a prior ruling that denied unionization asserts graduate student assistants can be both employees and students.
Inside HigherEd Covers Tiny Living Spaces for Students
The recent article looks at the College of Wooster and the College of Charleston, which have designed student housing that embraces the concept of tiny living, offering relatively few square-feet per student, while at the same time offering large community spaces to bring students together.
Energy Action Coalition Becomes the Power Shift Network
After the Energy Action Coalition's newly hired (2015) executive director, Lydia Avila, completed a listening tour with stakeholders, it was decided that along with a name change, the Power Shift Network will decentralize itself into "a national network of climate, clean energy, and social justice organizations, including student-led groups, who, together, mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all", Avila says.
Three Universities Participate in Voluntary Carbon Offset Market
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ball State University and Southern Oregon University sold credits produced through carbon-reducing activities to help finance and further their carbon neutrality work on campus. Made possible by Second Nature's Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program, the sale to BP Target Neutral generated over $1 million.
U Nebraska-Lincoln Starts Composting in Student Union
The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska's Environmental Sustainability Committee has worked with administrators, food vendors and a new Lincoln-based company to establish the composting program, which will be established in three phases. The first phase includes pre-consumer food waste, while additional phases will feature promotion and education, and expansion that includes all compostable waste from the Student Union.
Loyola U Students Support Composting at National Festival
In an effort to minimize its environmental impact, Lollapalooza hired 46 Loyola students to guide festival-goers to compost food scraps, recycle appropriate materials and use refillable bottles instead of one-time use containers. The four-day festival included over 400,000 attendees.
Hope College Adds 330 LED Lights to Fieldhouse
Replacing 540 compact fluorescent fixtures with 330 LED ones and dimmers was $200,000 and has been estimated to cut the college's power use by 80-kilowatts per month. The college will receive $16,000 in energy-efficiency rebates.
U British Columbia Publishes 'Carbon Neutral Action Report'
The newly released report summarizes the school's emissions profile, actions to reduce emissions, total offsets and ongoing and future strategies for continued emissions reductions. Highlights include greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 30 percent below 2007 levels despite a 16 percent increase in floor space and 22 percent increase in student enrollment. Reductions were primarily due to a steam to hot water conversion project (District Energy), displacement of natural gas through the Bio-energy Research and Demonstration Facility and optimizing academic building performance.
Business Officers Discuss Sustainability
Business leaders gathered recently after the NACUBO annual meeting to explore how to preserve the core mission and values while ensuring a more sustainable future. The content and discussion was focused on building integrated strategies for affordability, diversity and sustainability for higher education to fulfill its critical role in meeting society's needs.
Eastern Mennonite U & Partners Launch Climate Center
The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions launched in August with a $1 million donation. Led by the university, the center will focus on connecting with a national and global network of like-minded organizations, researching best practices and innovation. Goshen College is a founding partner institution.
Orange Coast College to Fund Scholarship with Cup Recycling Revenue
Starting this fall, the college will use the revenue generated from selling used paper cups toward a new scholarship for an environmental or scientific studies student. This decision coincides with purchasing a new type of paper cup that is manufactured to be more easily recyclable.
2016 American Solar Challenge Announces Results
The 2016 American Solar Challenge, an eight-day, 1,975-mile road course traveling through nine national parks in seven states, provides student teams with an opportunity to demonstrate their solar-powered vehicles in real world driving conditions and test the reliability of all onboard systems. Twelve teams competed with trophies awarded to the top three finishers: University of Michigan, Dunwoody College of Technology and University of Toronto.
Indiana U-Owned Hotel Diverts 6K Pounds of Soap
After seeing a presentation on Clean the World, an organization dedicated to making hygiene products accessible to people worldwide, the university-owned hotel was able to divert nearly two years worth of leftover soap and shampoos, totaling over 6,500 pounds, to the organization.
Pennsylvania State U Institutes Civic Engagement Program
The university's new Scholarship, Sustainability and Civic Engagement Program had 11 students pilot the program in the 2015-16 academic year, which included two semesters of classwork and summer fieldwork. The students worked with various cities across the state to find creative and innovative solutions to various issues, from food access to urban development. The program made a three year commitment to the cities, whereby future groups of students will build upon the work that began this year.
Appalachian State U Becomes 'Workers Rights Consortium' Affiliate
As a result of one student's efforts to transform the university's purchasing practices of logo apparel, the new partnership means that Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) investigates working conditions at factories producing clothing and other products bearing the university's name and logo. Collegiate affiliates of the WRC have a manufacturing Code of Conduct that addresses, among other things, workers' wages and rights, and workplace safety and health.
Michigan State U Implements Campus-Wide Tobacco Ban
The campus-wide ban on the use of tobacco products, to begin mid-August, is part of an ongoing effort to ensure the community can enjoy the healthiest campus possible, which includes not only immediate physical health of humans, but the health of waterways. Cigarette butts release pollutants into the ecosystem as they break down.
U West England to Construct Large Solar Array
(U.K.) To support the nation's decarbonization agenda, increase energy security and enhance local renewable energy capacity, the solar electric system is expected to supply 400-megawatt-hours of electricity, roughly half of the electricity used by the building upon which it will be constructed.
Swarthmore College Assists in Community Solar Array
A satellite ministry of Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia is now using photovoltaic energy thanks to a collective of North Philadelphia residents and Swarthmore College students and faculty, who obtained funding for the project through a series of grants and crowdfunding. Funding is also being used for an apprenticeship program for young people in the community to learn about renewable energy.
U New Mexico Hosts Electric Vehicle Outreach Event
After electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed on campus, the university hosted a Ride and Drive event, an electric and hybrid car show consisting of car manufacturers BMW, Ford, Nissan and Chevrolet. The goal of the event was to promote alternative transportation and raise awareness of the EV charging stations on campus.
U Texas El Paso Earns GBCI Sustainability Award
Achieving Green Business Certification Inc.'s SITES Silver Award for achievement in sustainability, the university recently transformed its 11-acre, campus center into a large grass oval surrounded by multi-textured walking paths, shade trees, drought-resistant shrubs, concrete benches, water fountains, rock-strewn arroyos and a 130-seat amphitheater. SITES is a rating system designed to distinguish sustainable landscapes.
Norfolk State U $5M NSF Grant to Support Underrepresented Minority Students
The five-year, $5 million National Science Foundation grant through the university's Center for Renewable Energy and Advanced Materials will be used for investigating and developing advanced materials and devices for renewable energy. Additional aspects of the research include introducing underrepresented minority students to energy engineering through training and outreach activities.
Hampshire College Anticipates 100 Percent Solar Electricity Use
The college's partner, SolarCity, has applied for permits to construct two grid-tied solar arrays, totaling a 4.7-megawatt capacity that will cover approximately 19 acres, and a 500-kilowatt-hour Tesla battery-storage system to support each of the two systems. Under the project's power purchase agreement, the solar arrays will be built and operated by SolarCity, and the college will purchase the electricity from SolarCity at a fixed rate that is lower than the rate the college now pays for electricity.
Michigan State U Researchers Examine Building Demolition Process
To address the cycle of urban construction that leads to demolition of abandoned buildings, a university researcher is conducting a feasibility study to examine more sustainable options for managing abandoned properties. Rather than opting for demolition, where most materials are sent to the landfill, structures would be deconstructed for reuse and diverted from the landfill in an attempt to see if a different process could have both environmental and economic value to consumers.
North Carolina State U Pilots Zero Waste Workplace Program
In an effort to increase the waste diversion percentage from 50 to 65, the pilot Zero Waste Workplace program, coordinated by the university’s Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, uses composting stations, desk-side mini waste bins, and self-service recycling and landfill sorting stations in one the campus' administrative buildings, which houses University Housekeeping and the University Sustainability Office.
Williams College Partners on Capped Landfill Solar Array
Supporting the college's climate change response plan, Williams College and the Town of Williamstown have signed an agreement to invest approximately $6 million to complete construction of a 1.9-megawatt solar array on the town's capped landfill. Williams will provide the initial $6 million investment to construct the project while seeking a tax equity partner that would co-own the solar array and provide $2 million toward the project during the final stages of construction.
College of the Atlantic Opens Community Energy Center
The college's new Community Energy Center builds on existing sustainability and renewable energy efforts and aims to work with residents, organizations and business owners to research, develop and implement innovative projects that enable people and business owners to reap the financial and social benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuels. The first project will provide 30 or more local farms and businesses with solar energy assessments and in-depth information on funding mechanisms.
Pennsylvania State U Sees Significant Reduction in Paper Use
By sharing helpful tips with students and faculty, students reduced paper usage by 44 percent and faculty by 10 percent in the 2015-16 academic year. A Paper Reduction Committee ran promotional campaigns on ways to reduce printing as well as promoted tips such as encouraging students to print double-sided, using the multiple pages per sheet printer function, and promoting use of an electronic document sharing solution.
Roosevelt U Houses New Apiary for 60,000 Bees
Installed on July 15, two hives containing more than 60,000 honey bees are expected to contribute to healthy growth and sustainability of the campus’ prairie and community garden. The new bee apiary is being tended by a beekeeper from a social enterprise Chicago company called Sweet Beginnings, LLC, which has been providing ex-offenders with job opportunities in raising bees and collecting and selling honey since 2005.
U Maryland Eastern Shore Receives $1M to Boost Green Workforce
Delmarva Power announced a pledge of $1 million to help the university launch the Green Collar Initiative, a series of energy conservation projects that include crafting a sustainable curriculum using research, development and training assistance targeting rural businesspeople, especially those in agribusiness.
Western Washington U Begins Sustainable Cities Partnership
Applying its academic expertise to strengthen communities beyond the campus, the new Sustainable Cities Partnership with the city of Edmonds will focus student energy and ideas on a variety city issues oriented toward sustainability.
NY Times Covers Food Banks on College Campuses
The recently published piece from the NY Times indicates that more than 300 food pantries have been created at colleges across the country "to address a problem the Agriculture Department calls "food insecurity" on campus". The article mentions a stigma associated with food insecurity on college campuses and cites various stories of students who face hunger.
U Massachusetts Accepts $1M to Support Resiliency Plan
Recognized for its multi-campus, hazard mitigation plan, the university recently won a $1 million grant from the state that will be used to purchase emergency generators in preparation and response to natural threats.
U Massachusetts Amherst Partners on $16M Solar Project
With no upfront cost to itself through third-party financing and ownership with Brightergy, the university will be installing 5.5-megawatts of photovoltaic technology projected to cut costs by $6.2 million. The university will purchase all the electricity from the installation at a reduced rate. Brightergy is also providing educational funds for learning labs and internships.
California State U Fullerton Announces Start of 4MW Solar Project
At the 15th Annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), the university announced that construction is underway on a four-megawatt solar power system at three university parking areas. The university will purchase and own the renewable energy credits and power generated by the system under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
Princeton U Professor Receives EPA Green Chemistry Award
Paul Chirik, Princeton University’s Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Chemistry and associate director for external partnerships at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, received a 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chirik was recognized for discovering a new class of catalysts that are used to produce silicones that could dramatically reduce the mining of ore and reduce costs, greenhouse-gas emissions and waste.
Energy Department Funds $2.1M Solar Training Program
The Solar Training Network that includes the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) aims to improve access to solar training, resources and careers, and seeks to increase the quality and diversity of the solar workforce and establish national training standards. The $2.1 million program is led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Scientific Organizations Write Congress Regarding Climate Change
The June letter to U.S. policymakers, representing 31 scientific organizations, reaffirmed human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions “must be substantially reduced” to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources and human health. The letter provides objective, authoritative information to policymakers.
Emory U Releases Sustainability Vision & Plan
The new plan, building off the university's strategic plan that calls for sustainability to be a guiding principle, outlines four action areas. Broadly, they are to support culture change, expand the sustainability network, model sustainability in landscape, buildings and operations, and create strategic, public partnerships that build resilient communities.
U California San Diego Installs Student-Developed Solar Charging Station
The student-engineered project is a spot for students to unwind and charge electronic devices from solar energy. Inspired by a trip to Costa Rica, the site features a 1.5 kilowatt solar tree and two benches. The benches have electrical ports for charging multiple devices and a LED light fixture.
Bristol CC Opens LEED Platinum Building
The 46,000 square foot, John J. Sbrega Health and Science building is a zero net energy classroom and science lab, and features a photovoltaic system along with an air source-ground source heating and cooling system, which combined allows the building to move away from fossil fuel usage. Other sustainable building elements include solar hot water production, efficient LED lighting and filtered, ductless fume hoods.
Utah State U Building Attains LEED Gold
The new building at the university's Brigham City campus joins nine others at USU with LEED Gold status and features fixtures designed to use approximately 46 percent less water than traditional fixtures, energy efficiency and 44 percent of the building’s materials were extracted, harvested or manufactured within 500 miles.