Sustainability in the Workplace
Looking for a way to incorporate sustainability into your workplace? Get your department or office involved by joining the Green Team Network. The Green Team Network is a campus-wide initiative that empowers faculty and staff to integrate sustainability through education, support, and collaboration.
Faculty members seeking academic resources can visit the Academics page for information about the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability and the annual Sustainability across the Curriculum workshop.
Looking for immediate solutions? Check out these how-to guides:
- How to recycle on campus
- How to print sustainably
- How to make a sustainable purchase
- How to use technology more sustainably
- How to plan sustainable events
- How to register a carpool
As she began to examine questions about life-cycle analysis and resource efficiency, she says “I realized…to get a sense of what’s going on, you can use fairly simple math. I decided that would be a great place to bring in students, to give them the confidence to apply straightforward mathematics to analyze complex situations.”
This urge to combine a personal passion for sustainability with her career resulted in Dr. Mason’s first-year seminar, Counting on Sustainable Energy: Does it Add Up?, which she is currently teaching for a second time this spring. The simple addition, multiplication, and conversion involved in the course are far from her traditional research field of combinatorics, but Dr. Mason’s course demonstrates how “pretty basic mathematics can be used to do some powerful things.”
Counting on Sustainable Energy fosters a greater understanding of alternative energy and arms students with the ability to critically evaluate assertions about the relative environmental impacts of various fuel sources. “One of the biggest things that I want my students to get out of this class is getting comfortable taking claims and evaluating them for themselves. If someone says something is better for the environment, I want my students to be able to go home and verify that claim.”
Over the course of a semester, Dr. Mason’s students will investigate a wide array of alternative energy sources, including solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. They will examine how much energy these sources could produce on Wake Forest’s campus and how much energy a Wake Forest student consumes each day. By the end of the semester, students will find an answer to the course’s central question: Could we, with our current consumption patterns, rely on sustainable energy at Wake Forest University? If the answer is yes, students will explain exactly how a switch to sustainable energy might be feasible in their final paper. If the answer is no, students will lay out a plan to reduce energy consumption.
Much of Dr. Mason’s FYS is hands-on. Her students began the course by measuring their own electricity consumption with a Kill-a-watt, an exercise designed to give them an idea of scale when they use the watt or kilowatt hour (kWh) as a unit of measure. Recently, her students completed the construction of miniature wind turbines, an exercise designed to familiarize them with the mechanics of wind energy. As part of their final project, students will develop and staff interactive educational booths at Food for Thought, this spring’s Earth Day celebration for the Wake Forest community.
In addition to readings and class projects, Counting on Sustainable Energy includes a line-up of guest speakers, including a representative from Volt energy (the company responsible for the solar panels on The Barn) and an environmental engineer working in wind turbine installation. Students will visit a land fill and a geothermal installation. So far, Dr. Mason’s students have matched an impressive syllabus with impressive work product. Dr. Mason reports her students are highly motivated by the subject matter, explaining “because they are passionate about [sustainability], they are willing to do the leg work.”
The latest version of Counting on Sustainability is a result of Dr. Mason’s participation in the Magnolias Project, a WFU faculty workshop on integrating sustainability across the curriculum. An assigned reading on the moral ecology of everyday life (from Higher Education for Sustainability) inspired Dr. Mason to take the focus of Counting on Sustainability from a national level down to a campus level; her students have benefited from an opportunity to relate to their course material directly.
Not only did the Magnolias Project allow Dr. Mason to refine her syllabus, she also made valuable connections to faculty from different disciplines. This network continues to be source of ideas and feedback, which Dr. Mason finds particularly valuable as a mathematician teaching a writing-intensive course. This spring, she will co-lead the second iteration of the Magnolias Project with Dr. Lucas Johnston, a faculty member in the Religion department and another member of the Magnolias Project’s first cohort.
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Mason also integrates sustainability into her life beyond the classroom. When moving to Winston-Salem, she intentionally purchased a home within walking distance from campus and often uses a bicycle for transportation. An avid hiker, she partially attributes her interest in sustainability to a love of the outdoors, saying “I love hiking and I really value being able to explore untouched places. I worry our society is moving towards less and less of these beautiful, spectacular places.”
A passion for sustainability runs in Dr. Mason’s family. The environmental engineer who spoke to her class about wind turbines was her father and her brother is an urban planner, currently tackling solutions for mass transit in developing countries. Her brother also helped her tackle a compost bin project in her backyard and Dr. Mason plans to put her compost to good use this year. She muses “I love being able to go out and make a salad with ingredients straight from my backyard, there is something really satisfying about that.”
Dr. Mason’s academic innovation is possible through the generous support of the university, for which she is continually grateful. Her students are equivalently grateful for Dr. Mason, especially those like sophomore Caroline Waco, whose experience in Dr. Mason’s FYS last year inspired her to do independent research on the factors impacting the payback period for solar photovoltaic panels. Dr. Mason explains that her promotion of sustainability at Wake Forest naturally flows from her interest in the topic. She says “I’ve always believed in following my passions, and hopefully that leads to a strong contribution to my community.”
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Campus sustainability efforts often begin with Environmental Health and Safety enforcement. Without first addressing the environmental and safety regulations that protect
our resources and our overall health and safety, we would not be able to create sustainability goals and programs that take us beyond compliance. The men and women of the Wake Forest Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provide the foundation for our campus sustainability work.
The office navigates federal, state, and local regulatory compliance requirements by assessing possible hazards, risks, and unsafe working conditions; defining the applicable environmental health and safety programs; and implementing those programs, when necessary. These include hazardous waste management, the development of procedures to protect employees in hazardous or potentially hazardous work environments on campus, conducting training for employees and students on safe practices, and ensuring that mechanical devices are working properly for the protection of students and faculty while working with chemicals. In these operations, EH&S partners with departments such as chemistry, physics, biology, nanotechnology, health and exercise science, art, theater, athletics, and other departments within Facilities and Campus Services.
Through these programs, campus not only complies with the regulations, but also moves towards a more sustainable future. We e-interviewed Michelle Lennon, Director of EH&S to learn more about her office’s work on campus.
Of the things that you have accomplished as an office, of what are you most proud?
We conducted an environmental compliance audit with a third party auditor in 2008. There were findings such as how we collect our chemical waste in certain laboratories, labeling, training, etc. We disclosed our findings to the EPA and corrected the findings within an agreed period with the EPA. Since that audit, we have worked with our campus partners in ensuring that the programs developed for the university to maintain compliance are working and working well. We have developed an environmental management system (EMS) that keeps track of scheduled compliance requirements such as reports, training, reviews, etc.
Another proud accomplishment of EHS is our Space Hazard Assessment Program for the university. EHS works closely with space owners such as laboratory PIs (Principle Investigators) or maintenance workshops to identify hazards within that space. Based upon the existing hazards or potential hazards, EHS will work with the space owner to ensure that the occupants are safe when working in that space. Another great accomplishment for EHS is the online training program that is accessible on our web page. For example, the training requirements for laboratories can be completed by taking the “e-training and completing a short quiz.” This is far better than the traditional method of delivering training by calling everyone into a classroom for an hour. E-training is flexible to the person who completes the training. It allows flexibility for the people to take the training without ever leaving their desk.
Does your office have any input during the construction of new buildings, or upon their completion?
Yes. We work with the University Architect and project managers during the design phase of new construction.
What are some of the ways we can prevent the growth of mold inside our buildings?
As mold growth is identified, it is removed and the area of the growth is cleaned. What everyone needs to keep in mind, is that mold spores are all around us. We do not live in an environment where there are not mold spores present. The key is to understand what causes mold growth in buildings and what you can do to reduce the opportunity for growth. Please refer to the Mold Management Plan on our website for more information.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you all have faced as an office?
The change of mindset is at the top of the list. It is complicated at times to convince people to invest in their own safety. I had a great mentor tell me years ago, that the biggest challenge for EHS professionals is tell people and ensure them that “I am here to protect you from yourself.”
What are some the steps that people could take to be more responsible and even make your jobs a bit easier? We recommend that people buy products with long life cycles, encourage product replacement with less hazardous environmental and safety consequences, reduce usage of extremely hazardous substances, and be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention for your safety and the safety of others.
By Kiana Courtney, Communications and Outreach Intern
Thanks to a matching grant from the Provost’s Fund for Academic Excellence, twelve faculty members from across the university came together last May for a sustainability-across-the-curriculum workshop. The aim of the workshop was to build a trans-disciplinary community of scholars committed to addressing issues of sustainability in their courses.
The pioneer cohort was charged with naming the newly minted workshop at the end of their second day together. Though they generated many creative ideas (including the popular Flying Squirrel Project), the workshop will be known simply as the Magnolias Project.
Following the workshop, participating faculty infused what they learned about sustainability into a course they currently teach, regardless of content area or discipline. Some opted to design a new course. The revised syllabi are now posted online and serve as examples for future cohorts.
The second annual workshop is scheduled for May 13-14, 2013 and will be facilitated by cohort 1 alumni Sarah Mason (mathematics) and Luke Johnston (religion). Applications for this year’s workshop will be available in April 2013.
The mission of the center, which was launched in 2010, is to “support the development of prosperous, secure, and resilient human communities that create a sustainable balance between resource use, the maintenance of ecosystems, and the social, cultural and economic vitality of the citizenry. [The center] serves as a catalyst and facilitator, bringing together the expertise of the faculty, the passion of students, and the knowledge and needs of the community to advance the research, teaching, and practice of sustainability across the region and globe.”
More than 30 faculty and several staff members met outside, on what turned out to be a beautiful fall afternoon, to enjoy one another’s company over seasonal refreshments. Attendees’ home affiliations spanned the Law School, the School of Divinity, and departments across the College including biology, chemistry, physics, math, religion, psychology and anthropology. Affiliates from Winston-Salem State and UNC-Greensboro also attended, following a meeting on solar energy generation.
In its research and scholarly activities, CEES seeks to “create a vibrant, multidisciplinary community of scholars at Wake Forest focused on effecting change in energy, environment, and sustainability.” According to professor of religion, Luke Johnston, “The work of the center is important. The structure, operations, and intellectual foundations of the contemporary academe are fundamentally unsustainable. Part of the problem is that disciplines don’t interact with, and learn from each other. Mixers like this are one of the catalysts for such interaction. I appreciate the opportunity to relate to other like-minded faculty and staff in such a causal environment.”
At this gathering, the second such meeting of CEES affiliates, community was, indeed, fostered. Chemistry and math faculty members talked about text books for green technology courses. Divinity and Law professors exchanged ideas about potential speakers to bring to campus. And, invitations to give guest lectures were exchanged.
Center director and professor of Biology, Miles Silman, feels the momentum of the center gathering: “We’ve gone a long way toward building a community of scholars here, and we’re now at a point where things are starting to snowball. Research is taking off, and we’re building connections within the university that allow faculty to realize their passions for teaching and scholarly activities around the environment. It’s exciting to see.”
The center has hosted a number of important events and speakers on campus, including Bill McKibben and Robert Kennedy Jr. This month, in partnership with the North Carolina Sierra Club, CEES will host a symposium on wind energy for North Carolina: First in Flight, First in Wind. Law professor Dick Schneider sees the future strength of the center as bringing together the synergies of CEES with local schools and local environmental organizations to benefit Wake Forest and the community at large.
As for the fall gathering, attendees reported enjoying seeing familiar faces and meeting some new friends. “It was great to see the energy our colleagues have for scholarship and teaching in sustainability in the broad sense, to hear about their plans and successes, and to learn from them. I leave these gatherings energized, full of new ideas and directions for research.”
This November, Wake Forest and Notre Dame will be competing not only on the gridiron but on the grid in an energy-reduction competition. The Energy Bowl competition between Notre Dame and Wake Forest will be held in conjunction with the football game on November 17. The competition is sponsored by the Office of Energy Management.
Each campus will monitor the electrical energy usage of their residence halls for the two weeks preceding the game from November 1 to November 14. The goal of both universities is to achieve at least a 6% reduction in electrical energy usage over the two week span.
So, while the energy bowl is a competition, both teams can win.
On November 1, there will be a kickoff event with games and drinks from 5:00-6:30 on Reynolda Patio (on the Magnolia Quad). While there, students can sign up to have an Energy Intern from the Office of Sustainability or an EcoRep visit their residence hall rooms to give a free assessment and tips about energy efficiency.
Throughout the two weeks there will be kiosks located around campus where iPads will display the most current results of our energy reduction and measure how well we’re stacking up against Notre Dame. Students, faculty, and staff can also check out a range of statistics in energy usage for all buildings on campus with Building Dashboard® energy monitoring and display software.
At the end of the competition, the residence hall with the greatest reduction in energy usage will receive a football signed by the Wake Forest football team to commemorate their achievement.
By Joey DeRosa Communications and Outreach Intern
Zimride is a ride-sharing program that has harnessed the networking capacities of social media infrastructure to facilitate carpooling. While ride-sharing is a familiar concept, the Zimride program is quite different than the more classic variety of ride-sharing programs that inevitably involves a bulletin board and spidery strings of yarn.
Zimride began to reinvigorate ideas about ride-sharing in 2007 when they first launched the program at Cornell University and University of California Santa Barbara, the alma maters of the two co-founders, Logan Green and John Zimmer (not the source of the Zim in Zimride). The two figured that a ride-sharing network specific to a single college campus could ensure that users were heading to the same places and would relieve the anxiety of traveling with complete strangers. The program proved a huge success in Ithaca and Santa Barbara and has since spread to 125 college campuses and 350,000 users. It is now the largest ride-sharing community in the country, helping to fill the 70-80% of seats on American highways that typically go empty.
In August, Wake Forest became one of the 125 campuses to adopt Zimride. Andrew Smith of the Office of International Affairs is among many to have joined the network here. Upon creating a Zimride profile, Andrew connected with Kyle Denlinger, a fellow staff member living three houses down from his own. Now the pair carpools several times a week, taking turns behind the wheel. Andrew also added that through Zimride he had the unexpected benefit of finding a cat sitter.
Zimride not only facilitates commutes but also long-distance trips. If you’re heading home this fall or for Thanksgiving break check Zimride before you depart. The only account required is a Wake Forest email and if you have a Facebook account, you can find users within that network as well. Finding a travel companion, saving money on gas and reducing your carbon footprint has never been so easy.
By Joey DeRosa Communications and Outreach Intern
Ready to sign up? Click here.
For more information click here.
Go Deacs. Go Green., a partnership effort between Wake Forest Athletics and the Office of Sustainability, enters its third year with the kickoff of this season’s football game day recycling campaign. Beginning this Saturday, September 1st, with Wake Forest’s game against Liberty University, volunteers will work to ensure recyclables stay out of the landfill whenever the Demon Deacons play at home. Over the course of last season, volunteers collected nearly 7 tons of recyclables and this year the campaign aims for even greater rates of diversion.
Volunteers are a vital to the success of game-day recycling. Before the school year even got going, participants in SPARC, a pre-orientation program run by the Office of Service and Social Action, helped refresh the program’s tailgate recycling bins with new paint and campaign stickers. On each home-game day, three shifts of volunteers distribute recycling bins to tailgating lots, educate fans on proper recycling, and collect full bins after fans enter the stadium. Both the first and second shifts end before kick-off and the third shift ends only about half an hour into the game.
The Deacon Express game-day shuttle begins running four hours before kick-off, picking up in the parking lot on the East side of Wait Chapel and dropping off at the Indoor Tennis facility near BB&T field on 32nd street. In the spirit of going green, volunteers are encouraged to ride the shuttle. Volunteers who are unable to access the shuttle can alternatively obtain a volunteer parking pass from the Office of Sustainability. Those who participate in the game-day efforts also receive a Green Team t-shirt.
Game-day recycling is an excellent residence hall activity or service opportunity for a campus organization. We also welcome individuals and students looking to fulfill community service hours.
To participate, contact game-day recycling intern, Austin Smith at . Check out the Wake Forest Athletics site to find dates for all home games.
Explore local foods on and around campus by participating in a guided walk to Reynolda Village Farmers Market. You can dine all day on local cuisine in the Reynolda Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room.
Guided Walk to Reynolda Village farmers market
When: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Benson University Center circle
Meet a guide in the Benson University Center circle and walk together to the Reynolda Village Farmers Market. The market runs from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Fridays from April until October. Bring your local food home in a free, reusable “WFU <3s Farmers” tote bag. Supplies are limited.
Earth Day at the FFCo. – Farm to Fork Friday
When: Regular dining hours
Where: The Reynolda Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room
Enjoy locally-sourced food during lunch or dinner at the last Farm to Fork Friday of the semester. While you dine, take a minute to learn more about other sustainable initiatives in dining like the new composting program and the innovative, green cleaning methods used in campus dining locations.
Local foods to be featured in the Fresh Food Company and the Magnolia Room include:
- Sweet Potatoes – Ham Produce, Snow Hill, NC
- Strawberries – Cottle Farms, Faison, NC
- Salad bar items (wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, tri-colored cauliflower, tri-colored carrots, tri-colored grape tomatoes) Sunny Creek Farms, Tryon, NC
- Apple Cider with sliced apples, Henderson Farms, Henderson County, NC
- Whole Baby Carrots – Bolthouse Farms, Suwanee, GA
- Beef for Tacos – Grayson Farms, Scottsville, VA
Join us for a day of advice, discussion, and networking focused on food activism.
Food Activism Workshop
When: Opening comments begin at 9:00 A.M.
Morning Session: 1:00-11:30 a.m.
Afternoon Session: 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Where: Tribble Hall
The workshop will offer participants practical advice on how to engage in the food justice movement. Local and regional food activists will discuss a broad range of approaches to community engagement. Participants will then be able to apply this information to areas of food justice which they find personally meaningful. The workshop is open to anyone interested in deepening their understanding of food activism. Participants may register at the door, but pre-registration is recommended. Register and find a full schedule and list of workshop topics here.
Kick off the 10 Days of Celebrating the Earth by picking up your free, limited edition 10 Days t-shirt made from organic cotton.
Part of a faith group on campus? Volunteer in the campus garden during the Interfaith Planting Party, part of the Interfaith Week of Service, and be a true steward of the planet. Not in a faith group, but still interested in gardening? Great! It’s not too late to get your hands dirty this spring. Sign-up for the Campus Garden listserv to stay updated on gardening hours and events.
Think Green Thursday: 10 Days Kick-off
When: 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: Magnolia Patio
Pick up your 10 Days t-shirt and a full schedule of events. Office of Sustainability interns will be on hand to pass out t-shirts and answer questions about the 10 Days events. Be sure to stop by early, the t-shirts go fast!
Interfaith Garden Party
When: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Where: Campus Garden
Members of campus faith groups are invited to the Campus Garden (behind 1141 Polo Rd.) for a planting party featuring food, music, and service. Everyone will come together to construct a raised garden bed to grow herbs. This special gardening event is part of the Interfaith Week of Service, sponsored by the Volunteer Service Corps.