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Sustainability at Wake Forest

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Wake Forest University Partners with UpcycleLife

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
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UpcycleLife at the WFU Earth Day Fair

“Pro Humanitiate” is in action on the sustainability front at Wake Forest through a partnership with UpcycleLife. The Charlotte-based, not-for-profit produces one-of-a-kind bags and accessories by upcycling things like billboards or banners. It isn’t just that UpcycleLife is keeping vinyl out of our landfills, it’s the way they do it. The mission is to help protect the environment, and at the same time transform lives by creating jobs for individuals in under-served communities.

The environmental problem is that vinyl billboard and banner material takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills. UpcycleLife diverts this material from the landfill by giving it a new use, and at the same time teaching folks in impoverished communities valuable job skills such as sewing, shipping, and receiving. UpcycleLife feels they have developed a method to impact a waste stream and create a steady employment model. Ideally, the model could be scaled in such a way that UpcycleLife could make a huge impact on the waste stream in the broader US.

The results of the partnership with Wake Forest so far are 3 banners from the university being upcycled for the cause.  By recycling these 3 banners UpcycleLife was able to employ 4 individuals from the local community for a total of 32 hours of paid work. On the flip-side, the upcycled products tell a unique story and provide users with a little piece of Wake Forest history.

According to Emma Kate Hosey, with the Charlotte-based organization: “UpcycleLife creates jobs for disadvantaged citizens by creating a product that reduces our impact on the environment. Our products are one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and made of reclaimed vinyl. We love taking a dirty banner and making it into a piece of art.”

Key Statistics about UpcycleLife:

  • Employed, trained and graduated over 12 refugee men and women in the Charlotte NC area in 3 years
  • Upcycled over 40,000 different products
  • Rescued over 10,000 lbs of vinyl from entering landfills
  • Provided free weekly English training and financial advising

Deacons Divert 11 Tons of Waste

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Demon Deacons rallied together this May to divert over 22,500 pounds — over 11 tons — of discarded goods from the landfill as part of Deacs Donate, an end-of-year move-out waste reduction campaign. Residence Life and Housing, Facilities and Campus Services, and the Office of Sustainability each played an important role in educating residents about the annual program.

The program, originally designed by the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing, encourages students to deposit housewares, furniture, clothing and canned goods at designated locations during move-out. This year, Wake Forest collected over 17,000 pounds for donation to Goodwill. The non-profit provides actual weights of donations collected, rather than estimates. These more accurate metrics allow staff members to compare collections to the amount of waste landfilled and calculate a diversion rate for the end-of-year move-out period.

Thanks to the Better World Books program, students once again kept this semester’s used textbooks out of the dumpsters. Large cardboard collection boxes were placed near check-out lines in the campus Bookstore so students could donate books that the bookstore was unable to buy back. More than 2000 pounds of books collected at Wake Forest will be sold online, with a portion of the sales donated to our local literacy partner, the Augustine Project. Their Literate Girls program is a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Nearly 1600 pounds of paper was collected for recycling between May 2, when the first students moved out of residence halls, and May 9. This is an increase from 1100 during last year’s move-out recycling. Residents are provided individual paper recycling bags, designed and distributed by Residence Life and Housing, to easily separate the paper recyclables and keep the waste stream cleaner.

Also at move-out, first-year students were given the option of returning the green personal recycling totes that they received on move-in day. Nearly 800 bins were collected for cleaning and will be redistributed to returning students next year. This effort alone kept 1500 pounds of plastic out of the landfill.

The total amount of waste diverted during the move-out period increased 7 to 12 percent, a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill. In solid tons, we kept the equivalent of several African elephants out of the landfill. As the largest of all land mammals, that’s a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill.

FAQ: Carpooling to a Meeting

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Q: Some members of our department are attending a meeting off campus. We think others from Wake Forest might also be attending, but we’re not sure how to connect with them. Is there a way to do that online?

A: Absolutely. Whether you are driving to a meeting, a regional conference, or just an office lunch, you can always offer/seek a ride through Zimride. If you are attending a regional conference and have colleagues from the area attending, you can post a ride that is open to our members in trusted partner network: University of Virginia, Appalachian State University, University of Richmond, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State University.

Read more frequently asked questions about carpooling on our how to guide, How to Find and Register a Carpool.

FAQ: Carpool Emergency Ride

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Q: I’m considering carpooling, but am uncomfortable not having a means to get somewhere if an emergency arises. Does Wake Forest offer an emergency ride service?

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Inaugural Champions of Change Awards

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Wake Forest’s celebration of Earth Day this year included the announcement of Champions of Change award winners. This was the first year of the program, which recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability across campus. Provost Rogan Kersh and Sr. VP/CFO Hof Milam presented the awards.

Click to view more photos from the ceremony.

Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.

  • Residence Life & Housing and Financial Services were jointly named champions of change in Resource Conservation. Residence Life and Housing dramatically reduced solid waste and conserved water through renovation and retrofit programs this past year; Financial Services supported the conversion to electronic business processes campus-wide.
  • Campus Kitchen was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Campus Kitchen repurposes prepared, but not served, food from our campus dining facilities into balanced meals for members of the broader Winston-Salem community.
  • For Teaching, Research and Engagement, Lynn Book and her faculty colleagues Angela Kocze and Wanda Balzano were recognized for their work in the new course, “Women, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.” Students collaborated with community partners Margaret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, the mother-daughter team who founded the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market.
  • Abby McNeal was recognized for her Bright Idea in turf management and the installation of the UgMo Wireless Soil Sensor System at Spry Soccer Field. UgMo is an underground monitoring system that measures soil moisture at the root level and determines when and how much to water on a zone-to-zone basis.

Thirty nominations were received for the four awards. A committee evaluated the nominations based on:

  • The level of participation by colleagues within the department or unit
  • The measurable impact among constituents across campus or in the community served

Additionally, Green Team captains Peter Romanov, Darlene Starnes and Carol Lavis were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. 65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.

Deacs Donate: Reduce Move-out Waste

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

waste_reductionThose big green dumpsters in front of the residence halls should be the containers of last choice at move-out. A number of programs are available to make it easy for students to donate or recycle unwanted possessions to prevent these items from ending up in the landfill. Read on for a summary of the move-out programs planned for this year.

Deacs Donate

What? Reusable house wares, clothing, small appliances, school supplies, canned/dried food and furniture

When? May 2 – May 9

How? Smaller items can be placed in blue Goodwill donation boxes in the lobby of every residence hall. Bulky items (futons, shelving units, bookshelves, rugs, etc.) can be taken out in front of each residence hall and placed next to the Deacs Donate sign. Deacs Donate donations are collected by the Resident Student Association, in collaboration with Goodwill.

In 2012, Residence Life and Housing’s Deacs Donate program helped students put 5,225 pounds of clothing and dorm room essentials into the hands of those in need in the Winston-Salem community.

Residents of the Polo Rd. and Rosedale Circle RL&H Theme Houses should contact their resident advisers for information about the location of the donation bins in their areas.

Questions? Contact Ashley Jones ( ) or Cherise James ( ), RSA advisors

Recycling Tote Collection

What? Small green recycling totes with white handles

When? May 2 – May 9

How? If you received a green personal recycling tote on move-in dayand do not wish to keep it over summer, place it next to the GREEN recycling bin signs outside residence halls. Unwanted totes will be cleaned and redistributed in the fall.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

Better World Books

What? Textbooks

When? April 30 – May 19

How? All books can be deposited in collection boxes located conveniently near the registers in the school textbook department.

Students always seem to end up with textbooks that the bookstore just cannot buy back at the end of the semester. Better World Books collects and resells these volumes to fund literacy initiatives at home and abroad. Those books that cannot be resold are donated directly to partner programs around the world.

Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )

Recycle Your Notes

What? Class notes and all recyclable paper

When? May 2 – May 9

How? Recycle loose-leaf notes, class handouts, fliers and other paper and small pieces of cardboard by depositing them in the blue paper recycling bags given to all residents. Full bags can be placed next to the BLUE paper recycling signs outside residence halls.

Questions? Contact Megan Anderson ( )

Box Bonanza

What? Reusable to-go containers

When? April 22 – May 9

How? Return any green reusable to-go containers to the Fresh Food Company to receive your initial $5 deposit back. For the week of finals, bio-compostable disposable to-go containers will be used in all dining establishments.

 

Case Study: Wake the Library

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

library toolkitIf you are a Wake Forest University student or a member of the alumni body, you may be familiar with the “Wake the Library” program hosted at midnight in ZSR throughout the week of finals every semester. You may be less familiar, however, with the work of ZSR Green Team captains Mary Scanlon and Peter Romanov, as well as Mary Beth Locke and other ZSR Sustainability Committee members, to make the event sustainable.

Their collective efforts are featured in the newly published resource “Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries.” In the chapter Teaching by Doing, the leaders discuss their commitment to decrease the amount of waste produced at the event. Check it out for yourself.

Comfortable Conservation

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

North_Campus_Dining_Hall_14Spring semester is here: new classes, new students, and the highly anticipated opening of North Campus Dining Hall. The 21,000 square foot-facility was designed and constructed to LEED-silver standards. From equipment to furnishings, it showcases some unique – even one-of-a-kind – sustainable design features.

John Wise, Associate Vice President of Hospitality & Auxiliary Services at WFU, who helped oversee the project, emphasizes the value of creating a building that does more than just meet the functional needs of campus: “Beyond simply meeting the needs of a growing student population, it is important that we create an environment that showcases sustainable practices that students can adopt and learn about now, so that when they leave Wake Forest, they will bring an understanding of what’s possible with them.”

Energy and Water

Behind-the-scenes technical features create a relaxed campus hangout that is also energy efficient. The variable air volume heating and cooling system and exhaust hoods are expected to be at least 12 percent more efficient than a standard system. A leading-edge, real-time exhaust hood system will also reduce energy use in the kitchen. Fluorescent and LED lighting, combined with occupancy sensors in numerous spaces, lower the electricity load of the building as well. Dual flush toilets and low flow faucets, part of the campus standard adopted four years ago, reduce water usage in the facility.

On the South side of the dining hall, a unique solar photovoltaic “awning” covers an outside seating area. This, the third small-scale solar array on the WFU campus will provide up to 10 kilowatts (kW) of power during peak hours. Numerous wide-framed windows also allow natural light to fill the space, reducing electric lighting needs.

The facility’s real-time water and energy footprint can be viewed online or on screens in the building via WFU’s building dashboard system.

Waste

All of the dining hall’s pre-consumer and post-consumer waste (e.g. vegetable peels, food scraps, and biodegradable napkins) are fed into a state-of-the-art pulper. The industrial pulper macerates food waste, from banana peels to chicken bones. With water that is recycled through the system, the ground “meal” is transported out of the kitchen into bins that are collected regularly by Gallin’s Family Farm. “The pulper is the first big step towards the campus-wide goal of developing a comprehensive pre and post-consumer composting program,” says Megan Anderson, WFU Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager.

An electronically monitored, direct plumbed waste oil management system filters and pumps fryer oil to a sealed outdoor storage tank with the touch of a button. This feature reduces the possibility of oil spillage and contaminations, maintaining the quality of the oil so it can be efficiently repurposed into biodiesel.

Furnishings

Carefully chosen furnishings contribute to the comfort and sustainability of the space. The project team collaborated with local companies for the construction and sourcing of the majority of the furniture: Bistro ’34 lunch chairs and tables were created in Winston-Salem and High Point, cushioned banquettes were sourced from Newport, TN, Starbucks lounge furniture was built in Hickory, NC, and communal oak tables were cut and milled in Lincolnton, NC. The most local of all of the furnishings, however, are the four benches that line the atrium. The wood for the seats was milled in Durham and comes from oak trees that were removed from the project site; the frames were crafted in Winston-Salem.

Landscaping

To get to the dining hall from points south, visitors cross a unique pedestrian bridge. Although also visually pleasing, the bridge was required in order to preserve several of the heritage trees that surround the atrium of Farrell Hall. A traditional walkway would have resulted in significant root cutting and soil compaction, likely killing the trees.

David Davis, Associate Director of Landscaping Services and member of the WFU Tree Care Plan Committee, commented on the bridge: “I think this project makes a strong statement about the university’s commitment to preserving heritage trees.” The native, low-irrigation landscaping that surrounds the building also reflects a holistic approach to low-impact design and operation.

While all of these features translate into quantifiable energy and water efficiency, they also signify something greater: a comfortable space that supports the wellbeing of its occupants and the environment.

By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator

Update: Dining & Food Systems

Monday, January 27th, 2014

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What does it mean to incorporate principles of sustainability into campus dining services? Because the possibilities are so far ranging, we chose to adopt a common set of sustainability metrics developed specifically for higher education. In its version 1.2, the Sustainability Tracking Assessment Rating System (STARS) requires tracking food and beverages that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Grown and processed within 250 miles of the institution
  • Third-party certified (USDA Certified Organic, Marine Stewardship Council Blue Ecolabel, Food Alliance, Fair Trade, Certified Humane Raised and Handled)

History

Leading up to the development of our campus sustainability goals, WFU Dining Services (operated by ARAMARK) reported that 4% of what they spent on food served to the Wake Forest community met the STARS  v1.2 criteria for sustainability.

In a 2012 follow up STARS assessment, that percentage increased to 10.78.

For the fall of 2012, monthly purchases averaged 14% (11.25% came from with 250 miles; 2% was certified fair trade; .5 %was USDA certified organic; and less than 1% was certified by the marine stewardship council).

Progress and Goals

Based on the rate of increase of “sustainable” purchases for dining from 2011 to 2012, WFU Dining Services agreed to set a goal of an average 20% “sustainable” purchases by 2015. Within that 20%, we set sub-goals of at least 10% grown and raised in North Carolina and 5% USDA certified organic.

By the fall of 2013, WFU Dining Services reported having reached an average 16% “sustainable” purchases, with 11% coming from North Carolina and 5% certified by the USDA as organic.

According to Kate Ruley, WFU Dining’s Nutrition Director, “Serving safe, nutritious and quality food is a top priority in our effort to deliver great experiences for our customers at Wake Forest University.  As we work towards our commitment of 20% sustainable purchases, we must ensure that all farmers, vendors and suppliers adhere to a set of strict safety measures. This presents challenges from time to time.  However, our regional supply chain team works with farmers, distributors and vendors on these safety measures as well as availability and pricing so that such sustainable options can become standard solutions.”

What’s Next

Beyond the 2015 goals, WFU Dining Services is preparing to evaluate its purchases against the recently-released STARS 2.0 standards. These exclude “products from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), products that have minimal nutritional value (e.g. soda, chewing gum, candies made predominantly from sweeteners), and products from producers that have been convicted of one or more labor law violations within the previous three years.” Based on current suppliers, these new exemptions would substantially reduce the percentage of purchases that would meet the criteria for “sustainable” purchases in WFU Dining.

As was reported last week in the NYTimes, the demand for humanely raised animal proteins is on the rise – on campuses, in restaurants, and with individual customers. US pork producers are trying to develop production models to meet the growing demand.

The inclusion of more humanely raised animals in its supply chain could help WFU Dining Services maximize their commitment to food safety. According to the Times article, “ the number of cases of trichinosis in the United States has plummeted as the number of pastured pigs has increased…according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 10 cases of trichinosis attributed to pork products from 2002 to 2007, seven were linked to commercially raised pigs.”

Other recent food safety concerns, like the Seattle Times report of cockroach infestations at one Foster Farms plant in California, follow last fall’s salmonella outbreak on the West coast. With the preponderance of producers relying on low prices to drive demand for their products, it is difficult to factor animal welfare and employee wellbeing into their production models.

WFU Dining Services works to balance customer preferences, campus sustainability goals, pricing that keeps Wake Forest’s meal plan affordable, and food safety. It’s a difficult balancing act that relies on careful attention to measuring the costs and benefits of every purchasing decision.

By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability

WFU Area Bike, Ped, Transit Study Complete

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Trans_map

As was reported last week in the Winston-Salem Journal, Alta Planning + Design delivered a final set of recommendations for improving safety and access for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders in the two-mile radius surrounding the Reynolda campus. The 88-page report is available to the public on the study’s website: walkbikeridewfu.com.

The report recommends five priority areas for improvement and a set of policies that the university should adopt to support more active modes of transportation.

Results of a campus-wide transportation preferences survey factored into the study results, as did feedback from multiple Winston-Salem community stakeholder meetings, interviews with Wake Forest faculty, staff, and students, and contributions to an interactive study area map and public input session.

The final report was presented to the local urban area transportation advisory committee, to the public at an open meeting for feedback, and to the Wake Forest administration. Proposed improvements involve NC DOT-owned and maintained roadways, locally-owned roadways, and university property. Any improvements will require ongoing cooperation and public-private partnership funding.

At the public meeting, city council members Denise D. Adams and Jeff MacIntosh both expressed support for implementing the recommendations, which would improve safety and enhance opportunities for active modes of transportation in both of their respective wards. The council members urged residents to send letters and emails of support for the projects.

The study was administered by the City-County Planning Board with input and support from the WFU Office of Sustainability. The partnership process has served as a model that could be replicated in other high-traffic areas around Winston-Salem, including other universities, colleges, and hospitals.

By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability