Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (OWRR), located in Facilities, is responsible for coordinating recycling activities and waste pickups throughout campus. In addition to those initiatives, OWRR’s Surplus Property Program re-purposes items on campus and facilitates the recycling of WFU’s Technotrash.
Food Waste Reduction
The Campus Kitchen a Wake Forest University, a student-run service organization, works to distribute extra prepared meals donated by the dining hall and other partner organizations to food insecure populations in Winston-Salem.
Dining Services can provide low-waste catering options upon request.
Spring 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.
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.
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.
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
From lamps to pianos, if you have moved or discarded furnishings on campus in the past few years, chances are you have met Alan Winkler, Surplus Coordinator for Wake Forest University. With a passion for keeping anything reusable out of the landfill, Winkler collects, catalogs, stores, and delivers myriad furnishings and recyclable waste streams across campus.
Before Winkler was hired, surplus property was managed by Michael Logan, Manager of Strategic Sourcing in Procurement Services. Although Logan was successful in finding placements for some pieces through a basic surplus listserv, both Facility and Campus Services and Procurement Services recognized the system could do much more. “I am really thankful that we have leaders and a responsive administration on campus that recognized it wasn’t the best that the university could do,” said Logan.
What was a bare bones effort when Winkler arrived is now a thriving, well organized waste diversion program. “The surplus program was my baby,” Winkler said. With a background in logistics, Winkler tackled the substantial surplus inventory that had built up prior to his arrival. In the first year alone, the program helped the university avoid nearly $440,000 in expenses, mostly in avoided landfill fees and avoided expenses for new furnishings. In addition to cost savings, the program generates substantial resource savings: nearly 100 tons of waste have been diverted from the landfill in less than two and a half years. November 2013 also marked the first-ever WFU surplus sale. With over 200 pieces of surplus property sold to members of the Wake Forest community, this successful event could well turn into an annual offering.
Last year, Winkler began collecting electronic waste for recycling as well. Through established relationships with organizations like Goodwill, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, which houses the surplus property program, continues to find safer and more cost effective ways to divert potentially harmful waste streams, like electronics and toner cartridges, from landfills.
Winkler hopes to see even further expansion down the road. “The next step is to have the space, time, and staff to include office supplies in the program.” In its current configuration, the surplus program is only available to faculty and staff. Such an expansion would make some of the supplies available to students as well.
Whether the task of the hour is moving staff and faculty offices, helping a customer outfit a new office with gently used furnishings, strategically placing new recycling bins, or coordinating collection of inkjet and toner cartridges for recycling, Winkler can be counted on for courteous customer service and a commitment to Wake Forest’s campus sustainability goals.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Beyond meeting regulated health and safety requirements, a new chemical inventory tracking system at Wake Forest provides a useful means of minimizing laboratory waste on campus. The system catalogs the thousands of different types of chemicals – from acetone to dimethyl sulfoxide – stored in academic buildings and laboratories, facility storerooms, and supply closets. The system can also be used to track the maintenance and calibration schedule of various pieces of laboratory equipment, which helps prevent premature breakdowns.
Although hazardous waste is collected routinely on campus, this inventory system identifies how chemicals should be disposed of, and under which deadlines, in a systematic way. This was previously difficult to monitor given the widespread distribution of chemicals across campus.
To date, it has been difficult for faculty and students from physics and chemistry to neuroscience and health and exercise science to know what chemicals colleagues in other departments might already have procured. In the past, this has meant that the purchase of both hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals has been duplicated. Exacerbating the problem, faculty and students are often left with surplus supplies due to minimum purchasing requirements.
Now, with the new system in place, a professor or graduate student can easily check online to see what each department already has in storage, before making any purchases.
Steve Fisenne, Associate Director of Environmental Health & Safety, had a major role in bringing the new system to campus and is particularly excited about the benefits it brings. “Implementation of this system will allow the university to uncover opportunities in sustainability, waste reduction, cost reduction and efficiency,” while complying with, “regulatory requirements and providing a safer working environment.”
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
Refilling stations are becoming the norm at Wake Forest University, with a total of 46 water bottle refill stations across campus. What started with 2010-11 Choose to Reuse intern Frannie Speer, a grant from Brita’s Filter for Good program, and a pilot refill station outside the Office of Sustainability in Reynolda Hall, has propelled into a campus-wide initiative.
A strong show of support from students, faculty, and staff has spurred the installation of refilling stations throughout campus. The impetus to install a station in Greene Hall originated from administrative assistant Tara Ogletree, in the Department of German and Russian. “I thought that having the refilling station installed on the third floor of Greene Hall would be a small contribution to our growing eco-friendly campus.” In another show of departmental backing, the Office of Budget and Financial Planning co-sponsored the installation of the refilling station outside the Fresh Food Company in 2012. Residence Life & Housing installed stations in nearly every residence hall this year.
Each water bottle refill station located around campus has a built-in sensor that starts the flow of chilled, filtered water from an overhead port when a bottle is placed in front of it. The refill stations are “no-touch” and provide immediate feedback that tracks the number of “disposable plastic bottles” that are avoided through use of the refill station.
The amount of waste refilling stations reduce is one of many benefits to having the stations on campus. Additionally, water from the refill stations does not bear the same transportation fuel waste burden as bottled and distributed water, nor does it generate the same resultant greenhouse gas emissions. When compared to single-use plastic water bottles, that are sometimes shipped internationally, this equates to notable emissions reduction. Looking at the bigger picture, it translates to better air quality and natural resource management, all of which contribute to a healthier environment.
It is clear that refilling stations have much to offer campus — convenient, good tasting, filtered, chilled hydration. As Ogletree puts it, simply, “Hopefully, the installations will encourage others to participate in the program and promote healthier lifestyles.”
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Over the past fifteen years the effort to reduce solid waste on campus has expanded from its humble origins as a simple recycling program to the holistic campus-wide waste reduction initiative it is today.
Before 1998 the campus’s overall waste diversion rate was negligible; by 2010 it had jumped to 45% and in 2012 it had grown to 55%. Achievements in the waste reduction campaign have been made on diverse frontiers: waste diversion includes diversion of materials from the landfill for basic recycling, reuse, upcycling, downcycling, and composting.
One of the major contributors to the success of the waste reduction campaign is Megan Anderson, Wake Forest’s Manager of Waste Reduction and Surplus Property. Although she emphasizes the collective nature of the achievements, she has worked tirelessly on several initiatives over the past few years that have reduced the environmental footprint the campus leaves behind.
Reflecting on the diversity of waste reduction strategies made by the university, Anderson said that, “Focusing on process change, increasing efficiency, and more thoughtful purchasing are just a few examples of how we have been able to set the bar higher to reduce our waste.”
Accomplishments in the waste campaign have been made on assorted fronts. So far this year, the surplus property program allowed the university to repurpose 319 pieces of furniture, resulting in 8.44 tons of material being diverted from the landfill. In the 2011-2012 school year, the same program allowed over 1000 individual items to be repurposed and reused within WFU departments. Also, for more than two years now, Aramark has been composting pre-consumer food waste in the Fresh Food Co., Starbucks, and catering and continues to investigate options to expand the program to post-consumer food scraps.
“As the Wake Forest University community continues to grow: with more programs, more buildings, and more students living on campus,” Anderson said, “we need to continue this forward momentum.” Collective effort, she stresses, is also the way forward: “All of us have to be cognizant of how we can work together to reduce our waste.”
Read some of our stories about successful waste reduction efforts over the past few years:
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
Although summer is usually a time for relaxation, rejuvenation, and rest, for game day recycling intern Lauren Formica (‘16), summer is more about the three R’s of resource management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. To prepare for this fall’s Go Deacs. Go Green. football game day recycling campaign, Formica attended the Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit this June in Atlanta, GA.
Held at Georgia Tech and hosting 110 attendees, the annual meeting is an opportunity to engage with national peers who orchestrate and support sustainability efforts in collegiate athletics. The meeting includes speaker sessions and an idea-sharing forum focused on athletic event recycling at colleges and universities. The summit doesn’t just highlight success stories; it also includes lessons learned from less-than-successful efforts.
Formica found these group interactions to be a highlight of the conference. “It made me realize there are some real advantages and disadvantages to being a smaller university. Many of the things that didn’t work at some of the larger institutions, may work well at Wake Forest because of our size,” she concluded.
Another goal of the forum is to showcase the benefits of sports-focused sustainability efforts. These include fan pride and loyalty, which Formica touts as a key reason she was interested in the game day recycling internship. “When I volunteered as a freshman, I enjoyed interacting with alumni who weren’t aware of the resources we now have on campus. They were excited about our programs.”
Formica speaks with enthusiasm about the ideas that the meeting provided, many of which she thinks could be effective at Wake Forest. “I want to continue the success we have and hope to expand upon it,” she says. These developments might include creating a strategic plan for game day recycling or garnering more program participation from both on and off-campus organizations.
Mindful of the work ahead, Formica is excited about the prospects for the fall football season. And honestly, what true Demon Deacon fan isn’t already?
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability
As of May 2013, students, faculty, and staff on the Reynolda campus have collected and donated a cumulative 8000 pounds of books to Better World Books, an online bookstore, social enterprise, and B Corporation. Founded in 2002, Better World Books has raised nearly $15 million for global literacy projects, including $7.3 million for literacy and education nonprofits and $7.2 million for libraries nationwide. Since its founding, the organization has re-used or recycled over 146 million pounds of books – that’s over 100 million books.
At Wake Forest, we began collecting books for donation to Better World Books in 2009. Our students donate an average of approximately 2000 pounds of books during move-out each year. Collection boxes are placed in the bookstore, making it convenient for students to donate the books that the bookstore isn’t able to buy back.
From time to time, faculty members also clean out their offices and clear off their bookshelves. Several have opted to donate their unwanted books to Better World Books. The process is simple: the Office of Sustainability delivers boxes to a departmental liaison; once the boxes are packed and taped, the office prints and delivers pre-paid UPS labels and the boxes are picked up for shipping. We cannot accept textbooks that are more than ten years old. Instead, those can be recycled locally.
Better World Books sells some of the donated books online and returns a portion of the proceeds to the programs it supports. For the first time this year, Better World Books invited Wake Forest to designate a local literacy partner to support. We chose the Augustine Project for Literacy’s Literate Girls program, a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
For more information about Wake Forest’s relationship with Better World Books or how you can get boxes for an office clean-out, contact the Office of Sustainability at or at ext. 3328.
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
Summer isn’t necessarily a vacation for Wake Forest students. From late May to early August, The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest, a student-run service organization, maintains full operations, serving 154 meals per week to underserved members of the Winston-Salem community. Unlike during the spring and fall, when Campus Kitchen is run by a six-member executive board and a 24-member leadership team, during the summer three interns are at the helm of one of Wake Forest’s flagship service organizations.
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is an affiliate of the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger and reducing waste through food recycling programs on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen model takes surplus prepared (but never served) meals from campus dining facilities and distributes these meals to partner agencies serving local communities. In addition to this basic model, the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with the Fresh Market, rescuing edible produce and baked goods and delivering the food in bulk to agencies serving populations with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University also partners with the Campus Garden, incorporating fresh, campus-grown produce into balanced meals.
Brittany Forniotis (’15), David Hale (’15), John Iskander (’16), and Monica Hedge (’14) make up the summer 2013 team of Campus Kitchen interns. Brittany, who is also spending her summer conducting original research on American slave narratives, splits five cooking shifts and five food delivery shifts with David, a premedical student who is also currently conducting summer research. John serves as the Fresh Market intern, running five food rescue shifts per week and researching the feasibility of food trucks as a means of increasing access to nutritious food. Monica will replace Brittany as one of the cooking and delivery interns for the second half of the summer.
According to the Campus Kitchens Project’s national guidelines, all meals must include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Because there are fewer students on campus during the summer, the Fresh Food Company has less surplus food to donate to Campus Kitchen, so the interns must creatively combine resources to meet the organization’s standards. Brittany, who plans many of the summer menus, relies heavily on produce grown in the WFU Campus Garden. Most recently, she and summer volunteers prepared a huge salad with roasted beets, greens, and beet greens from the Campus Garden.
David, who served the salad at the SECU Family House, an agency providing housing for the families of patients who travel to Winston-Salem for medical treatment, reports “Everyone is always really happy when I say we grew these beets in our Campus Garden…they were so impressed that it was full circle, that we are using what we have and being sustainable.”
Partner agencies rely on Campus Kitchen to stay open during the summer, but David explains that the summer also provides an opportunity to reach new volunteers. He says “it is also important for us to educate volunteers, whether they are at a summer camp here, faculty and staff, or just anyone in the Winston-Salem area, to realize that [food insecurity] is an important issue in our region that many people don’t know about.” He also explains that bringing new volunteers into Campus Kitchen “is really about removing the stigma from certain areas [of Winston-Salem] or the stereotypes someone might associate with a particular type of person.”
In the context of cooking shifts, Brittany takes care to talk to volunteers about “where the food is going, what sort of people are receiving the food, and what sort of health problems they might have.” She explains the intentional choices she makes based on the population being served, such as sending reduced dessert portions and low-salt meals to senior housing where many residents suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
In the context of delivery shifts, David explains the goal of a particular partner agency and how food from Campus Kitchen fits into that goal. For instance, at Prodigals Community, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility, David explains to volunteers how the Sunday night meal provided by Campus Kitchen allows Prodigals to allocate funds towards programs that facilitate residents’ recovery.
When asked what the Campus Kitchen needs from the Wake Forest community this summer, the interns offer a single emphatic answer: volunteers. David says “We need people who are willing to be flexible, to try something new…to go out of their comfort zone, to get out of the Wake Forest bubble and realize that these places exist in Winston-Salem.”
To volunteer for Campus Kitchen, contact Brittany Forniotis at .
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Each year the Wake Forest Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship holds a banquet honoring students and faculty for their accomplishments and innovative ideas. This year, two interns for the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Energy Management respectively were honored for their projects: senior Austin Smith, and junior Claire Nagy-Cato.
Smith, who served as both the Game Day and Earth Day Fair intern, was honored with the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for an Artistic Venture for the Filipino Street Art Project. The project consists of a feature-length documentary, an interactive website, and a multimedia installation exhibit. It explores the rapidly changing political and social landscape of the Philippines through the lens of street art and the artists who embody the new generation of motivated, organized, and empowered Filipino youth. More information about the project can be found here.
Claire Nagy-Cato, one of the two Energy Management interns this year, won first place with fellow chemistry major, senior Grant Gilbert in the i2i wooden pallet competition. The competition challenged students to find creative uses for the massive amounts of wooden shipping pallets disposed of in North Carolina. The duo decided to inoculate the wooden pallets with mushroom mycelium. The mycelium contains many acids, notably oxalic acid that binds to calcium and forms insoluble salts that grow expansively, breaking down the chemical structure of organic compounds like rock, wood, metals, and petroleum products. “This could be the natural solution to biodegrading the organic wastes that pose serious threats to the environment and the health of our ecosystems,” added Nagy-Cato, “humans included.”
By Kiana Courntey, Communications and Outreach Intern