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Archive for the ‘Education for Sustainability’ Category

By Dennis J. Neumann, Public Information Director, United Tribes Technical College (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and was originally published in the December/January 2013 edition of United Tribes News)

ACUPCC ImplementerUnited Tribes Technical College used National Sustainability Day, October 24, to raise awareness and boost participation in the college’s recycling program. For a number of years campus departments have recycled paper and plastic under the leadership of a small but committed group of faculty members. Two years ago, interest in sustainability grew when United Tribes President David M. Gipp signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The document outlines concerns about global climate change and offers methods for higher education institutions to model ways of minimizing the effects, showing leadership and integrating sustainability on campuses around the country. Institutions that sign-on commit their best efforts to pursue climate neutrality: By developing an institutional plan; initiating action to reduce greenhouse gases; and publicly reporting progress reports to the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Green Committee

Spearheading the United Tribes effort is the college’s Green Committee. An informal ‘green committee’ existed on the campus for many years; its dedicated volunteers primarily devoted their labor to campus beautification. Now ‘green’ has a different hue. It’s work is directed from within the Student and Campus Services division and the members are tasked with addressing the substantial challenges associated with the climate commitment. The campus-wide recycling drive is one of their initiatives and is aimed at lowering the campus carbon footprint.

Organized Recycling

UTTC

Pitching in is United Tribes pre-schooler Kiiana Wells, 2, and her mother Shealynn Wells (Blackfeet), a UTTC Nursing student. Both took part in a campus-wide recycling drive October 24 on National Sustainability Day. Led by the campus “Green Committee,” the college is placing more emphasis on recycling as part of its commitment to sustainability.

UTTC’s campus-based population of 1,160 – including college students, staff, and youngsters – is of sufficient size that recycling requires organization and promotion. The October drive was promoted throughout campus with posters and electronic messages with the slogan: “Let’s Fill Our Bins to the Brim!” Participants were encouraged to begin using a regular system for collecting two, common recyclables: paper and plastic. The college would like to recycle as much as possible, including aluminum cans. Members of the Green Committee advised how to prepare and separate recyclables. They set up drop-off locations in main campus buildings where they placed recycling totes. And they invited the more engaged to take their recyclables directly to the large collection bins that were brightly painted with designs and words by youngsters from the college’s elementary school. The event also included a cook-out at the student union and presentations about campus sustainability and the work of the Green Committee.

Work Ahead

Since United Tribes agreed to the climate commitment in 2010, sustainability has taken on new importance in policy and practice. But the challenges associated with incorporating “Green Energy” are considerable. UTTC is located on the site of a former military post. Most of the brick and wood-frame buildings, constructed between 1900 and 1908, are poor examples of energy efficiency. Over the past decade, all remodeling and new construction has incorporated modern efficiencies, like ground-source heating, energy efficient windows and passive solar design. Signing the commitment and establishing the Green Committee, with representation from departments throughout the campus, signals that green energy is a central part of the college administration’s long-term strategic plan to grow the student population and expand the campus with new buildings and infrastructure.

According to Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, the college is committed to green standards. New campus construction and renovations are planned and built with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Silver standard as a guideline. The two most recent examples are a $1.1 million renovation and expansion of the college cafeteria and the $5.5 million construction of a science and technology building on the college’s new, south campus.

Green energy initiatives are moving forward on a number of fronts. The college has adopted an energy-efficient appliance policy, requiring the purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products that have that rating. Family student houses have received new appliances, along with new lighting and other energy efficient changes. A study is underway to compare the energy consumption of houses where retrofitted appliances are in service. Student tenants, and their family members, have been trained to identify good energy usage.

As the college upgrades its aging electrical service by changing-out overhead distribution lines to underground, new gas and electric metering is installed for individual buildings. Unfortunately, service to the original military fort did not include separate metering. Also being added are water meters. This will more closely identify consumption and costs. Staff and students in the college’s Tribal Environmental Science Program used a carbon calculator program to perform energy audits and that will help identify areas for improvement.

In terms of information and education, the college has hosted Sustainability Days and Earth Day observances. Guest experts have presented talks about energy efficient ideas and policies that can be incorporated on campus. The college has encouraged the use of public transportation; there is a city bus system stop a the college’s main entrance.

Clearly the Green Committee understands it has much work to do on sustainability. An important step just ahead is to file the college’s climate action plan with the ACUPCC by January 15, 2013. That planning work is underway now.

For more information about the United Tribes Green Committee and the college’s climate commitment, please contact Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, S/CS, 701-255-3285 x 1638, cmaynard@uttc.edu.

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By Jairo Garcia, Kresge Implementation Fellow, Second Nature (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerMy name is Jairo Garcia and I am thrilled to be part of the Second Nature team as the ACUPCC Implementation Fellow. My primary responsibilities are to assist and support Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Under-Resourced Institutions (URIs) signatories of the ACUPCC to advance your institution’s commitment to carbon neutrality, implement sustainability practices in curricular initiatives and support your community partnerships. Also joining the Second Nature team is Axum Teferra. Axum is the ACUPCC Recruitment Fellow, and will be sharing responsibilities in providing implementation support. Our positions were made possible by The Kresge Foundation through Second Nature’s “Sustainability Leadership, Capacity Building and Diversity Initiative”.

I would like to share my journey that has led to my passion for education for sustainability. I grew up in an garciaeconomically challenged neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia, surrounded by drug dealers and violence. I vividly remember the sole tree almost a mile from my house and the Bogota River, infamously recognized for being one of the most polluted rivers in the world. These were my only two contacts with nature in the middle of Bogota’s ever-expanding urban metropolis. To escape from the glooms of my reality, I submerged myself in books and dreamed about a better world where we all could live and prosper with dignity and in harmony with nature. 

My family had little opportunity to finish high school, much less college, and perhaps this was the reason for not being supportive when I told them about my desire to study physics after being accepted at the National University in Colombia. They believed that physics was a futile profession and our economic situation was too precarious to pursue years of study. My only option at that time was to enroll in a technical institute. After obtaining a technical degree, I was able to find a full-time job and make enough money to help my family and to enroll in a big university to further my education in engineering.

My graduation thesis at the technical institute received prestigious recognitions and after completing my engineering degree, I was offered the opportunity to work for a Colombian company in New York City. To obtain USA professional credentials, I pursued in evenings a Telecommunications Certification program at La Guardia Community College. This program allowed me to find a job with a multinational organization in the heart of Manhattan. A few years later, I completed a Master’s in Network Management from Syracuse University. In 2000, I moved to Atlanta, GA for a consulting position with a Fortune 100 company. For almost a decade, I worked as an engineering consultant, managing projects in more than 25 countries.

It was through these numerous travels that I came to the realization that environmental degradation is not limited to Bogota or New York, but it is evident across the globe; polluted air, rivers, and oceans, species pushed to extinction, thousands of acres of land turned into deserts, and noticeable extreme poverty even in the wealthiest countries. The breaking point occurred while visiting a beverage plant in Lima, Peru. Their installation, protected by guards in military uniforms with machine guns, was located next to a waterless river packed with garbage. The closeness of that beverage plant to a dry river was a surreal image that brought flashbacks from my childhood and changed my mind forever. I decided to become part of the solution by dedicating my professional efforts to making contributions for the construction of a just and sustainable society.

During this time I was pursuing a doctorate in technology, but after my trip to Peru, I switched my topic to sustainability in higher education. My focus was on universities in Costa Rica because of their leading role in sustainability education in developing countries. As a byproduct of my research, I was able to create awareness at many universities in Costa Rica about the critical need to prioritize resources for sustainability in education. I was able to present the results of my research at the AASHE Annual Conference in 2010.

Although sustainability should be taught at all levels of education, the critical condition of our planet requires immediate action. Higher education institutions are in a privileged position because of their intrinsic function to form our next generation of scientists, educators, and decision makers. As such, these institutions play a fundamental role in changing our path from degradation to a sustainable future, in which all humans should be able to live and prosper in harmony with each other and with the rest of the natural world; however, this education must be carefully designed. David Orr, distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, stated that without significant precaution, “education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the earth”. This education, according to Orr, must include principles of social-economic and environmental values and ethics, “a commitment for the preservation of life and an attachment to health, harmony, balance, diversity, peace, participation, and justice”.

My passion for sustainability in education lead me to the Earth Institute at Columbia University as a Research Intern Associate. One of my functions was to assist the Institute in the development of curricula in the areas of sustainability metrics and climate change adaptation. I also completed a Masters of Science degree in Sustainability Management, served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Student Association, was employed as a teaching assistant for two Earth Institute graduate classes, was co-founder and special advisor for the Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development, collaborated in the organization of the New York+20 conference, and worked closely with Earth Charter International, for which I presented a webinar about sustainability education and the ethics of sustainability.

Last year, I was the recipient of the Columbia University Innovation Scholarship Award, which is awarded only to those who have demonstrated a commitment “to transform knowledge and understanding in service of the greater good, defined as a just, sustainable, and compassionate global society”.

It is clear to me, that this professional journey could not have been possible without the support of those small and under-resourced institutions that helped me in the moments when I needed them the most. I truly feel a moral obligation to give back to them. Thanks to the Kresge Foundation grant, the Recruitment Fellow and I will be able to fully dedicate our time in providing capacity building opportunities and implementation guidance to these institutions in their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. We will also be able to assist these institutions with implementing programs in sustainability in order to provide their students with the tools, knowledge, and ethics necessary to construct a just and sustainable future for all.

Please feel free to contact me at any time at jgarcia@secondnature.org.

 

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By Terri Berryman, Project Director, IGEN Career Pathways, College of Lake County
(This article appears in the December, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerIllinois Green Economy Network (IGEN), which was formed in 2006, is a President led initiative involving all 48 community colleges in the state of Illinois.  IGEN has four main areas of focus – green campus, green communities, green curriculum and green careers.  In 2011, the College of Lake County, on behalf of the IGEN, was awarded a $19.37 million grant from the Department of Labor (DOL) as part of round one of the Trade Adjustment Act Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.  The grant, IGEN Career Pathways, brings together seventeen community colleges working as a consortium to create 31 on-line blended and hybrid degree and certificate programs in green career fields.

Basic RGBThe grant’s goals are aligned with the four priorities outlined by the DOL: to accelerate progress for low-skilled and other workers; to improve retention and achievement rates to reduce time to completion; to build programs that meet industry needs, including pathways; and to strengthen online and technology-enabled learning.  Seven strategies are being used to meet these priorities:

  1. Create and deploy transition services to prepare low skilled adults for career opportunities;
  2. Retain students through communications until career placement;
  3. Accelerate program completion time through embedding general education outcomes;
  4. Provide new or redesigned blended online green career certificate and associate degree programs;
  5. Provide on-line entrepreneurship training, integrating green economy skills as needed;
  6. Offer a continuum of completion by stacking certificates and degrees and articulating to a Bachelor’s;
  7. Develop, evaluate, and disseminate a green careers online, technology-enabled adult learning system for TAA and other workers.

The project is leveraging the NTER Learning Management System that was created for the Department of Energy.  The system has been customized to provide a platform for blended on-line learning for instructor led classes.  A critical feature of the system is use of 3D modeling for learning which enables faculty to animate 3D objects to meet course objectives.  Because the course content is open-source, any college in the country will have access to the course content including images and models.

Creating academic programs that lead to job opportunities is a major focus of the TAA grant, in order to make it easier for displaced workers to learn new job skills and train for new green careers. The grant targets five industries – STEM, Advancing Manufacturing, Architecture and Construction, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Transportation. Programs include a wide-range of career fields such as local foods, sustainable agriculture, green buildings management, weatherization, automotive recycling, solid waste, wind turbine technician, and many more.  By the end of the three-year grant period, the 17 participating colleges will create 193 courses in sustainability-related fields and provide instruction to 2,000 students.

A key piece of the grant is the creation of Adult Transition Services on five of the partner college campus.  This effort is designed to help low-skilled adults access the services they need to prepare for college coursework.  The five colleges are working together to create a referral network of services needed to assist these adults, such as skills brush-up, test taking, career assessment, and success planning.  Once in place, these referral networks will allow dislocated workers and other adults with a head start on their college careers.

Another strategy being used to accelerate progress and improve retention is embedding general education courses into career programs.  These courses are being developed jointly with general education and career instructors.  The first such course to be offered will be a joint HVAC and technical writing course.  Students enrolling in this course will receive 3 credits in HVAC and 3 credits in technical writing.  This allows for a compressed time frame for the Associate of Applied Science degree and for contextualized content designed to retain students through completion.

In the final phase of the grant all of the information and course content will be shared with all 48 community colleges in Illinois.  IGEN Career Pathways is an exciting project designed to take Illinois community colleges to the next level in their greening of careers efforts.

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By Misa Saros, A2C2 IGERT Program Coordinator, University of Maine
(This article appears in the December, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe University of Maine has launched a new National Science Foundation sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) – the first of its kind to focus explicitly on adaptation to abrupt climate change (A2C2).  The A2C2 IGERT is a partnership between the Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) and is focused on the need to adapt environmental policies and management strategies to meet the social and ecological challenges caused by abrupt climate change events.  The program is funded by a five-year, $3 million award from the National Science Foundation, and will support the research of 24 Ph.D. students in Earth sciences, ecology, economics, anthropology and archaeology. Their research will focus on the effects of abrupt climate change on global security, ecosystem sustainability, and the integrity of economic, social, political and ideological systems.

Abrupt climate change (ACC) refers to the surprisingly rapid and dramatic shifts in regional and global climate that have occurred numerous times during Earth’s history, but which have only been well documented and appreciated by the scientific community over the past several decades.  Although the phenomenon of ACC is well established scientifically, is not widely understood by policy makers, planners, or the general public.  The A2C2 IGERT therefore features a novel training program that emphasizes equal participation by the natural and social sciences and fosters enhanced understanding of the dynamics of coupled natural and human systems in response to ACC.

The primary goal of the A2C2 IGERT is to train a new generation of scientists who possess the skills and attitudes needed to meaningfully address the environmental and social challenges of ACC.  In addition to conducting collaborative interdisciplinary research, A2C2 students will participate in policy and management internships with international groupsJoint-2-309x400, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private corporations.  In so doing, they will become experts and leaders in their fields, understanding the dynamic relationship between the environment and the security of humans in response to ACC, says Dr. Jasmine Saros, associate director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and the principal investigator on the project. The program is also designed to train leaders and experts who will make significant professional contributions in facilitating a paradigm shift in the way that policy makers and managers conceptualize climate change, so that the threats and opportunities associated with rapid shifts in regional and global climate are explicitly acknowledged in societal planning.  In other words, we hope our students will ultimately persuade planners and managers to rethink their assumptions about how Earth’s climate has functioned in the past, and to reexamine their ideas about how this surprisingly temperamental system might respond to current and future levels of human influence and disruption.

The A2C2 IGERT also hopes to challenge the commonly held view that the past 11,000 years –during which human civilization arose – has been a period of remarkable climate stability.  In light of the best and most contemporary scientific evidence that we possess, this notion of global climate stability during the rise of civilization appears to be deeply flawed, since we now know that numerous ACC events occurred during this time.  Although these events were certainly milder than those that occurred in the more distant past, they were nonetheless quite dramatic by modern standards and were more than adequate to severely disrupt a variety of civilizations and ecosystems by way of extreme and prolonged drought, dramatic sea ice expansion, increased storminess, and increased frequency and magnitude of freezes. We also know that numerous societies failed catastrophically during these events.  We believe that the lessons learned from investigations into these events are of clear value to contemporary societies, since rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will likely create the persistent, looming threat of abrupt and highly disruptive climate shifts in our future.

The good news, of course, is that although many societies collapsed during periods of abrupt climate change, many others found ways to flourish.  We should therefore resist the temptation to view ACC events in an apocalyptic light; although they present significant challenges to societal well-being, they also present a wide variety of opportunities for societies that can find ways to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience.

UMaine is very excited to have received this IGERT award, the third in our university’s history. The IGERT program is now the National Science Foundation’s flagship interdisciplinary graduate training program, and is well aligned with the ACUPCC’s goal of curricular transformation.  IGERT strives to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, by facilitating greater diversity in student participation and preparation, and by contributing to the development of a globally-engaged science and engineering workforce. Since its inception in 1998, the IGERT program has made 215 awards to over 100 leading universities in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. IGERT has provided funding for nearly 5,000 graduate students.

To learn more about the A2C2 IGERT at UMaine, please visit our program website or contact Misa Saros, A2C2 IGERT Program Coordinator, at misa.saros@umit.maine.edu.  General inquiries can also be sent to a2c2igert@umit.maine.edu.

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By James Brey, Director, AMS Education Program & Elizabeth Mills, Associate Director, AMS Education Program
(This article appears in the December, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThere has never been such a critical need for educating today’s undergraduates on Earth’s changing climate and pathways to sustainability.  The footprints of climate change surround us – Arctic sea ice reached its record lowest extent in August 2012, the 10 warmest years in the global climate record have occurred since 1997, and global sea level continues to rise (1). Climate change is also predicted to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, which combined with sea-level rise, may lead to more natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy (1, 2, 3).

It is imperative to develop a scientific workforce ready to tackle the challenge of climate change in light of the new energy economy and various societal and political factors. The National Science Foundation (NSF) underscores the need for increasing public literacy in the Earth System Sciences, including climate science literacy, and preparing a highly skilled scientific workforce reflecting the nation’s diversity (4, 5).

To promote climate science literacy and geoscience diversity, NSF is supporting a long-term partnership between Second Nature and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Education Program that will introduce the AMS Climate Studies course to 100 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) over a five-year period (6).  AMS is now enrolling 25 MSI faculty members to attend the expenses-paid Course Implementation Workshop in Washington, DC, from May 19-24, 2013.

The Implementation workshop leverages the expertise of NASA, NOAA, and Howard University climate scientists, as well as faculty from George Mason University and James Madison University, both signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The 2013 AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project informational website and application form are available online. The deadline for application is March 15, 2013.

The AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project aligns with the goals of the ACUPCC and supports the diversity initiatives of Second Nature. The AMS-Second Nature partnership is enabling signatories to strengthen the curriculum component of their ACUPCC Climate Action Plans.  Faculty members representing 28 MSIs attended the inaugural Course Implementationamsbrochure-larger Workshop in May 2012 and are introducing the climate course at their local institutions this academic year.  The 2012 cohort included 9 signatory MSIs: California State University Monterey Bay, Coppin State University, Delaware State University, Jones County Junior College, Monroe Community College (NY), Morgan State University (MD), New Mexico State University, New Mexico State University – Grants Campus, and South Mountain Community College (AZ).

AMS Climate Studies is closely tied to campus wide sustainability efforts. As Professor Mintesinot Jiru (Coppin State University) explains, “this course alone will enlighten our students with the contemporary issues of climate and impact of climate change. The course is a good addition to the other sustainability related courses we have on campus. It will strengthen our effort to infuse sustainability education in our curriculum. I am working with our Associate Vice President for Government and Public Policy, who is also in charge of sustainability initiative on campus, to ensure that what we do in the classroom is also reflected on our campus-wide sustainability initiative.”

Professor Jason Szymanski of Monroe Community College is also connected to his college’s Climate Action Plan. “Indeed this course will promote awareness of, and engage students in, sustainable, college-wide actions. I am working with the College’s Sustainability Steering Committee to support the College’s Action Plan. For example, written into the curriculum of the course is a component that highlights sustainable practices on campus including our ride-share program, our new LEED Certified building, electrical co-generation facility, and recycling initiatives. Students will also be taught carbon-reducing practices that they can incorporate into their day to day routines.”

Faculty members are drawn to the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project for many reasons. Some are key players in their Climate Action Plan development and implementation. Others, like Professor Michael Leach of New Mexico State University – Grants Campus, want to educate their students about climate science topics using current data with the sustainability connection as a plus.  As Professor Leach explains, “I was not aware that our college was an ACUPCC signatory when I applied for the Climate Diversity Project, however I was aware that we were involved in some type of sustainability program, as I had to report if my classes had a sustainability component. That is easy to report for my AMS classes. I chose climate studies for many reasons, but the fact that it would help my students understand the complexities of climate, and the human factors involved in climate change were tops on my list. I feel it is extremely important for all college graduates to have broad general knowledge of climate change, as it is their generation that is going to be involved in helping to fix the problem.”

AMS Climate Studies is a course package available to undergraduate institutions nationwide. The course can be offered by science faculty with a range of backgrounds, within various learning environments from face-to-face to online instruction. Developed by AMS staff scientists and science educators, the course includes a comprehensive 15-chapter textbook, an Investigations Manual with 30 laboratory-style activities, a course website containing current science investigations and real-time data, and a faculty website and resource CD. Course activities and test banks are provided in Respondus format that can be ported into a course management system for automated scoring and immediate student feedback.

Faculty fit the course into different departments and levels depending on their local college requirements. For example, Professor Constance Falk of New Mexico State University plans to first offer the course in spring 2013 as a senior level honors class. She explains that “the course will be open to all majors and focus on science, policy, and politics.” Professor Chunlei Fan of Morgan State University first offered the course as a “498” internship class in fall 2012 and awaits full course approval. Professor Szymanski has the 4-credit sequence of Climate Change with a laboratory approved at a 200-level.  Many others implement the course at the introductory undergraduate level.

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References:

(1)    American Meteorological Society (Adopted 20 August 2012) “Climate Change: An Information State of the American Meteorological Society” Boston, MA: American Metrological Society, http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

(2)    National Research Council, 2012. “Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices. “ Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=14674

(3)    Kahn, Brian.”Superstorm Sandy and Sea-level Rise.” 5 November 2012. NOAA ClimateWatch Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/article/2012/superstorm-sandy-and-sea-level-rise

(4)    National Science Foundation (2012) Strategic Frameworks for Education & Diversity, Facilities, International Activities, and Data & Informatics in the Geosciences http://www.nsf.gov/geo/acgeo/geovision/geo_strategic_plans_2012.pdf

(5)    NSF Advisory Committee for Geosciences (2009) Geovision Report http://www.nsf.gov/geo/acgeo/geovision/nsf_ac-geo_vision_10_2009.pdf

(6)    Brey, James. “American Meteorological Society and Second Nature Partner to Strengthen Climate Sustainability-Focused Curricula at Minority-Serving Institutions.” February 2010. Advancing Education for Sustainability. Retrieved from… https://secondnaturebos.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/american-meteorological-society-and-second-nature-partner-to-strengthen-climate-and-sustainability-focused-curricula-at-minority-serving-institutions/

The following authors also contributed to this article:
Kira Nugnes, Program Assistant, AMS
Kathryn O’Neill, Content Specialist, AMS
Maureen Moses, Program Assistant, AMS

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By Howard Wertheimer, Director, Capital Planning & Space Management, Georgia Institute of Technology
(This article appears in the November, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerGeorgia Tech is committed to the development of a sustainable campus community, creating distinctive architecture and open spaces. In keeping with this goal, Georgia Tech has a clear mission for its new Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory Building: carbon neutral net zero site energy use. The 40,000 square foot facility is intended to set a new standard for sustainable design for laboratory buildings of this type by optimizing passive energy technologies, reducing electricity loads, thoughtful day-lighting strategies, water conservation and harvesting, and maximizing the use of renewable energy, including a 290kW photovoltaic array.

Rendition of GT’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory

The building will be anchored by Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute and will house a variety of energy research programs requiring large scale (high-bay) and intermediate scale (mid-bay) capabilities, and the design is intended to express its mission simply, directly and honestly; a “no frills” design. The building took advantage of innovative planning models that go beyond flexibility and adaptability, introducing the mid-bay laboratory concept for large-scale equipment that requires slab-on-grade space, without the necessity of a 30’ tall high bay.  The building also challenged conventional energy use assumptions, and developed the energy model based on a net-zero energy approach. Through analyses of contemporary carbon neutral buildings, establishing a working definition of net zero site energy use, incorporating baseline energy modeling and studying simple pre- industrial structures, the design team created a series of four alternative building concepts. These were evaluated through energy-modeling to determine which options and which energy-savings features to pursue.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded the Georgia Tech Research Corporation $11.6 million to construct the Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (C-NES). As one of 12 recipients of the NIST award, the project has a total budget of $24.6 million. The balance of the project was financed through GT Facilities Inc., a 501c3 affiliate partner of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The project has already received national recognitions, with awards from the New Jersey AIA, the Georgia AIA, the Georgia chapter of the ASLA, and Southern Region of ENR’s Magazine for best Green Building.

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By Mieko A. Ozeki, Sustainability Projects Coordinator, University of Vermont
(This article appears in the November, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerHow significant a role can campus-based renewable energy play in the University of Vermont’s (UVM) progress towards carbon neutrality?

Back in 2011 this question spurred the University of Vermont’s Clean Energy Fund to award up to $100,000 toward a Comprehensive Campus Renewable Energy Feasibility Study (CCREFS). The intent of the study was to generate scenarios to aid in renewable energy planning at UVM by getting a broad view of the potential for these technologies on-campus. The outcome of this study will also help to inform meeting UVM’s Climate Action Plan first target of becoming carbon neutral with our purchased electricity by 2015.

The funding for the CCREFS project was primarily sourced from UVM’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF), a student green fund approved in 2008 by UVM’s Board of Trustees. The CEF is sustained by a self-imposed student fee of $10 per student per semester and generates an estimated $225,000 per year. The fund was created in response to students’ desire to have UVM advance renewable energy research, education, and infrastructure on campus. To date, the CEF has awarded funding to twenty projects including the development of an internship program, CEF graduate fellowship, and lecture/workshop series.

The idea for this study began in 2009 and was proposed during the 2010-2011 funding cycle to the CEF Committee, an 11-member group predominantly composed of students with representation from alumni, faculty, and staff. The project was recommended by the CEF Committee and approved by the Vice President of Finance & Administration, Richard Cate, in Spring 2011. With the concept approved, the Office of Sustainability and Capital Planning & Management worked together on a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an outside firm to conduct the analysis. We looked to other institutions that had conducted a comprehensive campus renewable energy feasibility study; to our surprise we found few institutions that had carried out studies at this scale and beyond site specific and/or technology specific studies. It was through outreach to the GRNSCHL listserv that we learned that the University of Connecticut (UConn) was beginning a “preliminary siting and feasibility study for installing various forms of on-campus renewable/sustainable energy generation.” Rich Miller shared UConn’s RFP for their Renewable Energy Strategic Plan, which helped us develop the wording as well as identify the goals and deliverables for the project.

The overarching goal of the CCREFS was to get recommendations for optimal renewable energy site locations on the University’s main campus in the City of Burlington (459 acres), and on south campus, located in the City of South Burlington (495 acres). The RFP identified three deliverables:

  1. Feasibility Study: a strategic campus renewable energy plan that included an assessment of the opportunities for the following renewable energy technologies: solar (thermal and photovoltaic), wind (ground mounted and building integrated), geothermal, biofuels and biomass, and fuel cells. We wanted the assessment to provide an overall maximum capacity of renewable energy potential of the UVM campus and recommendations that could be phased in to accommodate successive carbon neutrality goals. In addition, we wanted to determine the most appropriate renewable energy technologies for the University’s geographic location and climatic conditions as well as identify the optimal location of these technologies.
  2. Map: a visual representation of all potential installation locations divided into layers for each individual technology; and file formats (GIS and KML) for future planning or outreach use.
  3. Student involvement: an opportunity for student interns to gain professional experience and knowledge on renewable energy technologies.

The student internship component was modeled around an internship/consultant collaboration at Pomona College. Pomona hired a team of interns, who received training from the consultants to collect information for their sustainability audit. It is imperative for us to include students in the projects that they fund and to provide them with practical, professional development experience to prepare them for employment.

The RFP was released in Spring 2012 and attracted fifteen firms, resulting in nine proposal submissions. Clough, Harbour & Associates (CHA) was selected to conduct the study. The Office of Sustainability hired five UVM student interns to observe, document, and analyze the CCREFS project and the installation of a 32-kW solar PV system. Three of the CEF interns worked directly with CHA, as a technical team, to conduct field surveys of buildings, parking lots, and open fields on the University’s main and south campus. The interns surveyed each renewable energy technology (focusing on solar, wind, and geothermal) for a period of 1-2 weeks and submitted data to CHA for analysis.  CHA in turn provided data from each renewable energy technology feasibility study to their GIS specialist to create map layers.

Two interns worked together as the media and outreach team. The media intern filmed, edited, and produced videos on the project. The outreach intern collected progress reports from the technical team and produced PR materials on the implementation of the project. The interns wrote bi-weekly blog posts, a reflection and presentation on their internship experience, and a PR narrative of the project process in addition to their project deliverables. The intent was for each intern to develop materials for their professional portfolios and to get them to reflect on their career paths.

Data collection, analysis, and map development concluded in early September. Now as the CEF enters its fourth Call for Ideas, our committee and key stakeholders are using the results of the CCREFS as a guideline for future installations and to review current project proposals. CHA concluded that UVM had optimal locations, reasonable payback, and incentives to implement solar PV, solar thermal, and geothermal on-campus. We expect this student investment in this feasibility study will pay off in our long-term energy planning and meeting our climate action plan goals. The CCREFS also provides more opportunities for research on renewable energy development in cold weather climate and is highly relevant to the smart grid implementation underway in Vermont.

To learn more about the CCREFS check out the following video produced by CEF intern Daniel Hopkins ’13 on the survey process and from the poster presentation at AASHE 2012.

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