Wake Forest University

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Climate Change Forum: “You must adapt.”


Climate Change Forum: “You must adapt.”

November 23rd, 2015

This article was originally published in the Old Gold & Black on November 12, 2015.

On Nov. 10 evening, Dr. Eban Goodstein, Director of Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and the Bard MBA in Sustainability in New York City, introduced students’ roles in climate change mitigation strategies through his presentation, New Rules for Climate Protection: Student and Citizen Action to Change the Future.

Although Goodstein emphasized the importance of student voices in many forums, his presentation focused on the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s nationwide “Power Dialog” on April 4, 2016, an initiative to mobilize efforts of college students and enable them to have a direct effect on state-level policy.

On Aug. 3, 2015, President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, a new US Environmental Protection Agency regulation designed to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 2030.

By 2030, the Plan calls for a reduction by 32 percent of 2005 levels, which are already much lower than those recorded today; however, Goodstein argued that the CPP was too timid and flexible.

Although power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. global warming pollution emissions, the CPP allows each state to set a different emission goal and “implementation plan” to meet it. Additionally, the 32 percent cuts are only a fraction of what Goodstein argues is necessary: 80 percent by 2050.

The Power Dialogs, which allow faculty at colleges nationwide to take their classes on coordinated field trips to their state capitols, aim to enable 10,000 students in all 50 states to have a face-to-face conversation with policymakers and to have a voice in these state level plans.

Because only 23 states have formed teams, and North Carolina does not yet have any Power Dialog organizers, Goodstein’s presentation was intended not only to equip attendees with updates on global warming that would enable them to better understand the upcoming International Climate Talks in Paris, but also to give interested students information on how to join the initiative.

A series of flight cancellations and delays prevented Goodstein’s arrival on campus and required him to present to the ZSR library auditorium virtually, but the professor engaged the over 50 attendees easily, asking audience members to guess statistics and pose theories, and even jokingly turning Dulles airport’s loudspeaker announcements into metaphors demonstrating the necessity of change.

The tone of his remarks did not detract from his message; in fact, it was the personal nature of the conversation that made Goodstein’s call to action affective.

“This will be the work of your lives,” said Goodstein. “You will adapt.”

That adaptation, which he explained will be a constant part of the lives of today’s students going forward as global warming is found to affect more and more aspects of the climate, demonstrates why students’ informed concern and efforts are imperative.

2014 was the hottest year recorded to date, and 2015 will be hotter still. There is 5 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere than there was 500 years ago, which has brought not only record-breaking floods in England, but unprecedented forest fires in California, demonstrating that the pressure of climate change on the water cycle and other weather patterns is causing a multitude of severe changes.

“If we do our best, the world will still get twice as hot,” Goodstein said.

Goldstein also asked the audience what had previously been the largest source of carbon emissions.

“If we were able to reduce emissions from horse manure by well over 90 percent, simply as a product of time, why can we not confidently say that we will be able to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 90 percent as well?”

Some of the effects of global warming are irreversible, but change is needed to minimize their impact. Although it may seem to students that the change necessary is unachievable, Goodstein maintained that this was not the case.

By Natalie Wilson (’19)

Goodstein Introduces the Power Dialog

November 11th, 2015

Power Dialog2Anticipated speaker Dr. Eban Goodstein of Bard College found himself travel-locked in D.C. on November 10, unable to make his long-awaited appearance at Wake Forest.

The upshot? Goodstein still managed to deliver his message to students loud and clear: it’s now or never for college students to stake their claim in the national climate change conversation.

Two hours before the Republican debate kicked off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Goodstein settled in at Wake Forest via webcam to stress students’ role in mobilizing climate change initiatives despite the politicized efforts to keep the conversation off the table. Spearheading a new campaign called the Power Dialog, Goodstein is calling for students to engage in face-to-face discourse with climate legislators in all fifty states.

“There are lots of ways for students to offer their perspective on this,” said Goodstein. “And by sparking this discussion in all fifty states collectively, we’ll create a media platform. Presidential candidates will see that students want to have a voice in the matter.”

State-level climate change conversations were forced after President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan in August 2015. With the goal of reducing national carbon emissions from power plants by 32% by 2030, the Clean Power Plan requires each state to come up with an implementation program to meet specific emission reduction targets within fifteen years.

As the EPA’s pressure on states to enact policy changes reached beyond partisan tensions, Goodstein sought the opportunity to recruit educated young people who will witness the long-term impacts of today’s decisions.

“While countless industries weigh in on these matters, lawmakers aren’t connecting with students,” said Goodstein. “You’re the ones who will be alive to feel the effects of these measures in 2050, and your children will the ones reaping the consequences of our action or inaction in 2100.”

In creating the Power Dialog, Goodstein provides students with a voice in measures that will not only determine their future, but the future of the planet.

The Dialog is working now to organize a meeting with five hundred college students in every state capital during the week of April 4, 2016. These students will get a policy-making update from their state legislators and will be able to give input in the process.

In Raleigh, Governor McCroy and his advisors are currently devising a strategy to cut its emission rate from the power sector by at least 40% in the next fifteen years.  While this conversation ensues, students from North Carolina have yet to join the 23 states already on board with the Dialog.

“It’s not an ordinary day out there and it’s not going to be an ordinary day for the rest of your lives,” said Goodstein. “You’re either going to change the future or you’re not.”

Looking to get involved? Learn more about the Power Dialog here and contact us at sustainability@wfu.edu to be part of the movement.

–By Taylor Olson, ’16

WFU Recognized as Sustainability Leader

October 21st, 2015

AASHE_RGB_72Wake Forest University has been recognized as a sustainability leader in the 2015 Sustainable Campus Index. The 2015 Sustainable Campus Index highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

Wake Forest earned 100 percent of points available in the Coordination and Planning subcategory, which recognizes institutions that are dedicating resources to sustainability coordination, developing plans to move toward sustainability, and engaging the campus community in governance.

Transportation Fair – October 21st

October 19th, 2015

Transportation FairStop by the WFU Transportation Fair from 11:30am-2:00pm outside of Benson to learn more about many of the transportation options that yield better air quality and increase wellbeing. Whether you need a bike tune-up, want to check out electric vehicle options, or want to find a fun hiking and biking trail, a variety of resources will be available. The fair is co-hosted by the Office of Sustainability and Parking and Transportation.

Packer Presents “Lions in the Balance”

October 19th, 2015

Packer_Lions-1-e1441813293898Conflict between predators and people have existed as long as we have. Most large predators were eradicated from North America and Europe over the past few hundred years. And even as we have cemented ourselves securely atop the global food web we still sometimes find our lives and even our livelihoods at odds with top predators.

On September 28, Craig Packer, a preeminent ecologist at the University of Minnesota, traveled to Wake Forest to discuss one such case. Across much of Southeastern Africa, lions and people regularly come into conflict. Livestock and, all too often, people become prey to lions. This conflict has led to extensive culling of lions across the region and has created the very real possibility of a future without lions.

Craig Packer has spent the last 4 decades researching the African savannahs, the intricate ecological connections which make them work, and the role that lions play in that system. He has seen firsthand the decline in lion ranges and populations as human populations have expanded and sought to tame the wild. This naturally led him to a growing focus on conservation along with his basic research. The challenges faced, though, are deeply challenging, with corrupt governments, overly idealistic conservationists, and local populations uninterested in conservation all standing in the way.

Packer reminds us that facing these challenges and saving lions will not be easy or cheap but it can be done. The only real barrier to conservation is our unwillingness to take meaningful action.

By Max Messinger (BS ’13, MS ’15)

Fall 2015 Sustainability Interns

October 15th, 2015

The fall interns for the Office of Sustainability come together for a picture on Monday, October 5th, 2015.

The Office of Sustainability and campus partners host multiple student interns each year. Interns meet weekly to stay connected, act collaboratively, and learn from each another. The interns connect with faculty and staff resources across campus in addition to working with peers.

Learn more about the interns on our About Us – Staff page.

– Alyshah Aziz ‘16: Transportation

– Sebastian Irby ’18: Special Projects

– Ann Nguyen ’17: Photography and Digital Arts

– Megan Blackstock ’18: Campus Garden

– Akua Maat ’17: Campus Garden

– Emily Claire Mackey ’18: Campus Garden

– McKenzie Bradford ’18: Energy Management

– Mary Finger ’18: Energy Management

– Eric Gorzeman ’17: Energy Management

– Bridget Bauman ’16: Sustainability in Dining

– Suzanne Mullins ’18: Sustainability in Dining

The Energy Management Interns are hosted by Facilities and Campus Services and the Sustainability in Dining interns are hosted by ARAMARK.


Update: 09/21/15

September 21st, 2015

A variety of Oak tree species were afflicted with Oak Wilt, died, and then removed from campus. Oak Wilt is a fungus spread by insects for which there are no known treatments. Oak trees were removed from Allen Easley Street,  the Byrum Welcome Center vicinity,  the Presidents House, and Reynolda Village.

Update: 07/06/15

July 6th, 2015
  • The roses across from the WFU Reynolda Entrance are infected with Rose Rosette Disease. Since there is no treatment for this virus, the plants will be removed.
  • Invasive shrubs along the Village Trail will be mechanically removed in early July. Mechanical removal reduces the use of pesticides. Use of the trail should be minimally impacted.
  • Per the tree care plan, two trees at Graylyn and two trees on campus are dead and must be removed.

Congratulations Class of 2015 Interns

July 6th, 2015

Bridge_EmilyWe sent off our graduating interns from the Class of 2015 with hearty congratulations on their outstanding achievements.

Bridget Keeler graduated with a major in economics with a minor in environmental studies. After working as the campus dining intern for ARAMARK her sophomore year, Bridget studied sustainability abroad and returned to serve as a Greeks Go Green intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is working at Aramark headquarters in a one-year management program, Accelerate to Leadership.

Her reflection on her internship: My time with the office allowed me to further explore my interest in sustainability, and made me realize that my career path points toward the sustainable business sector. Working in the office provided me with invaluable information and experience, and I am very grateful for the guidance that was provided by Dedee and Hannah.

Araceli Morales-Santos graduated Cum Laude with a major in biology with a minor in Spanish. Araceli served as a Campus Garden intern in fall 2014 before going abroad in spring 2015.  She earned a Fulbright Scholarship and will be an English teaching assistant in Brazil.

Her reflection on her internship: As an intern with the Office of Sustainability I gained valuable work experience and career tools that I will carry with me everywhere I go. Moreover, I was impressed at the level of professionalism that this internship offered and expected from each of the interns. What I most appreciate from my experience with the Office of Sustainability is the regular check-ins…[the] constructive criticism was helpful for me because professionally, it has helped me grow. As an intern, I also enjoyed all work and time spent in the garden. There is nothing more special than heading to the garden on a warm afternoon with a nice breeze and getting your hands and feet dirty harvesting and talking to the volunteers about their day and interest in gardening. I can’t thank the Office of Sustainability enough for offering me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience. 

Emily Pence graduated Cum Laude with a major in mathematical business and minor in French. Emily served as a Greeks Go Green Intern for five consecutive semesters.

Her reflection on her internship: I am so thankful to have been able serve as an intern for the Office of Sustainability over the past few years. My internship has helped me grow into a more thoughtful, dynamic and professional individual, and has provided me with an opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the most passionate and devoted members of the community. It has been such a rewarding experience to have been on a team with students who come from such diverse backgrounds, yet who share a similar commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability. Looking back on my time at Wake Forest, my internship has been one of the most valuable and formative experiences I have been fortunate enough to have; it will be one that will stay with me as I enter the next chapter of my life. 

mcMacaela Seward graduated with a major in biology and was commissioned with distinction as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Chemical Corps. Macaela served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She will begin training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In the fall she will be moving to South Korea to be the Chemical Officer for an Assault Helicopter Battalion.

Her reflection on her internship: My experience as the Sustainability in Dining Intern was eye-opening. Being sustainable as an individual is very different than at a corporate level, and it was incredibly interesting to learn how sustainable practices are implemented. In my internship I learned all about what food purchases are made and how we select vendors, as well as being able to run a project of my choosing and helping to prepare the STARS 2.0 review. It has been a great experience being the Dining Intern, and I will certainly be able to apply the skills I’ve learned in this internship – time management skills, creativity, resilience, tenacity – to the future.

Natalie Solomon graduated with a double major in psychology and religious studies with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. Natalie served as a Campus Garden Intern in the spring of 2015. She will begin a five year journey to earn a Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford Consortium in the fall.

Her reflection on her internship: Recently in the garden, the strawberries came up and I felt a profound sense of fulfillment and happiness. My internship has deepened my understanding of therapeutic resources. I have really loved that my internship included a physical component, that of literally gardening, and that my internship in the garden highlighted that the body and mind are the vehicles for pain, pleasure, and prayer. I have completed my Religion and Public Engagement Concentration on this fluidity of the inner and outer components of a person, much informed and influenced by my work in the garden. The garden has helped me to literally ground what I am learning in class and intern meetings, as well as provide a therapeutic outlet.  This is a resource that was very rewarding to share with others. I honestly felt like my work in the garden reconnected me with the therapeutic resources of the outdoors that were central to my childhood in rural Southern Africa. My internship in the garden has provided me with a wider perspective and deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, components of education, stewardship to the Earth, and benefits of the outdoors.

We wish all of our former interns who graduated with the Class of 2015 a fond farewell:

Jack Sypek, energy conservation intern with Facilities and Campus Services, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in biology.

Elena Dolman, staff writer, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in English.

Shoshanna Goldin, former Sustainable Community Development intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in interdisciplinary studies – global health.

Maegan Olmstead, former Communications and Outreach intern, graduated with a major in communications.

David Song, former Campus Garden intern, graduated with a major in biology.

Nicky Vogt, former Campus Garden intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in politics and international affairs with double minors in Spanish and psychology.

Tree removal near SFAC

June 16th, 2015

sfac poplarOn Monday, June 15th, a Poplar tree was removed near Scales Fine Arts Center. A new pipe installation under Wake Forest Road required exposed root removal. The tree was also on the bank of a creek, so the root system on the creek side was exposed and undermined by erosion. Both factors made the tree a high risk for blow over.