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Culture - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Author Offers New Approach To Climate Change

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

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Typically, electric bikes and household recycling are not perceived to be major climate change solutions. However, according to Katharine Wilkinson, these two examples serve as viable mechanisms to reverse the impact of climate change.

Katharine Wilkinson, senior writer of The New York Times’ bestseller Drawdown, presented her book to an auditorium full of students, professors and locals Thursday, Oct. 5 in the Porter Byrum Welcome Center.

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Leading the Way Toward Carbon Reduction through Campus-Wide Initiatives

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

by Office of Sustainability Staff Writer Suzy Mullins (’18)

Over the past few weeks, we have examined how Wake Forest is working to adopt, demonstrate, or research 25 of the 80 solutions from Drawdown, “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reduce global warming.” If you missed our introduction piece or our look into the Drawdown solutions that are being researched at Wake Forest, be sure to give them a read.

In this third piece, we examine nine Drawdown solutions that students, faculty, and staff engage in at Wake Forest. These solutions, and their corresponding ranks, include:

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Over 200 Graduates Commit to Living Green

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

This year, over 200 members of the Class of 2017 signed the Green Graduation Pledge, an indication of their desire to continue their commitment to sustainability after college. The pledge reads: I pledge to take into account the social and environmental consequences of any future endeavors and to work to improve the sustainability of the communities in which I work, live and play.

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Greening the Goal

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The Wake Forest Athletic Department and the Office of Sustainability teamed up to host the University’s first carbon neutral soccer game on Sept. 6, in a match against Appalachian State University. Dr. Miles Silman, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Presidential Chair in Conservation Biology and director of the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, served as the team’s honorary captain.

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Office of Sustainability graphic design and social media intern, Talia Roberts, engages with fellow students at the first Wake Forest carbon neutral soccer game.

In preparation for the event, sustainability departments from Wake Forest and Appalachian State worked together to determine the carbon dioxide emissions from the team’s travel to and from Winston-Salem, as well as emissions generated from the stadium lights and fan transportation.

Carbon dioxide emissions generated from the game are being offset by We Are Neutral, a nonprofit organization that offsets homes, schools, businesses, travel, meetings, and sporting events. We Are Neutral creates offsets by planting trees on conservation lands, performing free home energy upgrades for low-income residents, and supporting the reduction of methane released from landfills.

During the game, members of the Office of Sustainability team interacted with fans to educate them about the impact of their activities on the environment and ways they can help reduce their carbon footprint.

“Our sustainability interns did a great job reaching out to fans of all ages and engaging them in our carbon footprint quiz, where they had to assess the relative emissions of air travel, plane travel, home energy use, and meat consumption. Our mission was not to condemn any of those activities, but simply to educate others so they can determine if more sustainable options may be appropriate in certain situations,” said Brian Cohen, Program Coordinator for the Wake Forest Office of Sustainability. “This initiative allowed us to reach a segment of the Wake Forest community that we do not have access to on a daily basis, and we look forward to coordinating with Athletics on more outreach opportunities in the future.”

The game ended with a 3-0 victory for Wake Forest and a small win for Planet Earth.

Welcome New Sustainability Staff

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

The Office of Sustainability is pleased to welcome Brian Cohen and Ally Hellenga, who joined the Wake Forest Sustainability team on August 1, as the Program Coordinator and Communication and Events Coordinator, respectively.

“We are fortunate to have attracted such bright and accomplished individuals to our team. These two bring experience in both sustainability and higher education – their talents and perspectives provide a fresh and creative lens on our work,” Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, Chief Sustainability Officer for Wake Forest University, said.

Brian and AllyCohen comes to Wake Forest after serving as an assistant tennis coach at Old Dominion University and Washington & Lee University, where he also became a leader in campus sustainability. He helped introduce a number of environmental initiatives to the athletic departments at both schools and served as the Athletic Department Liaison for Environmental Initiatives at Washington & Lee.  In addition, Cohen has experience in marine conservation with two NGOs: SeaWeb and the Ocean Conservancy.

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Stottlemyer to head Environmental Program

Monday, August 15th, 2016

ericDr. Eric Stottlemyer has been named director of the Wake Forest Environmental Program— adding yet another hat to his current work as an assistant teaching professor of the Writing Program and as the faculty director of the Learn, Experience, Navigate, Solve (LENS) Global Sustainability program.

Stottlemyer will lead the Environmental Program as former Director Dr. Abdessadek Lachgar begins a year-long sabbatical to further his research before returning to a professorship within the Chemistry Department.

In his youth, Stottlemyer recalls running around the woods and swimming in the lakes and rivers near his parents’ remote cabin in northern Michigan—the place where his passion for the environment originates. Since this point, Stottlemyer has been an active proponent of environmental education making his directorship of the Environmental Program a natural step.

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Faces of Sustainability: John Shenette

Friday, November 7th, 2014

shenette2Strike up a conversation with John Shenette, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services, and along with that genuine smile and deep Bostonian accent you will find a wealth of knowledge and passion about the role of facilities in higher education. Shenette joined Wake Forest University in March and has been a prominent figure on campus ever since. Facilities and Campus Services plays an important role in our effort to transform the campus, bringing strategic sustainability goals to fruition and providing metrics for continuous improvement.

What attracted you to Wake Forest?

I toured the university in 1997 and was struck by the uniqueness of the campus. However, the more research I did, the more I learned about the quality of education Wake provides and the presence Wake Forest has in the US and internationally. It was also evident to me that at Wake I would have the opportunity to engage with faculty and staff and continue to grow and learn in the profession, both of which were important to me.

Why are you interested in sustainability?

Sustainability in its definition is integral to facilitates. When you’re in facilities, it’s all about being a good steward. If you’re replacing equipment and buildings, everything hinges on the right materials. Awareness and adaptability is important. Technology changes and student lifestyles change and we must embrace that changing mindset. Facilities is no longer viewed as just a “physical plant,” it is now much more broad and engaging. It’s important for facilities to be a financial steward and support the mission and vision of the institution, which includes staying modern and incorporating sustainability.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to embracing the Wake Forest culture and bringing Facilities and Campus Services from the background to the forefront so we’re seen as part of the fabric of the university. We can and should use our physical structures and lands as living, learning laboratories.

Faces of Sustainability is a regular feature on our website. You can read about past Faces of Sustainability here.

Transatlantic Interest in Sustainability

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

BFTF FormalSince 2006, Wake Forest has hosted the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF) Summer Institute, a Department of State-funded grant that brings 45 high-school aged students—35 from across Europe and 10 from the United States—to Winston-Salem to learn about citizenship and democratic deliberative practice. The month-long summer program features classes and workshops on civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, helping students develop projects they could implement that make a difference in their home communities. Over the past few years, the BFTF fellows have expressed increased interest in environmental and sustainability-related issues. We have accommodated their interests by connecting with numerous community partners dedicated to sustainability issues, including Wake Forest Campus Kitchen, the WFU Campus Garden, the Shalom Project, and Forsyth Futures. These hands-on partnerships, in addition to small-group conversations with sustainability professionals, provide opportunities to learn and practice new strategies to advance sustainability.

The cross-cultural skills that the students develop are important to their success in diplomacy, deliberation, and debate. The cultural diversity of the group, however, also presents a unique pedagogical challenge: socio-environmental issues and commitment to sustainability varies greatly across the many represented Europe nations and the United States. Advocating for green technologies, for example, would look quite different in Moldova than in Sweden. Mindful of these differences, the fellows are keen to explore which issues and sustainability strategies could relate to their home communities.

The fellows are exceptionally talented and possess an uncanny sophistication in drawing connections between their diverse interests and cultural differences. Even as their proposed strategies might vary, the opportunity to learn, and gain inspiration, from one another propels them to develop projects that reflect the unique opportunities and challenges in the students’ home communities.

Contributed by Ron Von Burg, Assistant Professor of Communication

Fourth Annual Arbor Day Celebration

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

022Students and staff circled around a vibrant Japanese Maple tree at Student Apartments on April 24th to celebrate Arbor Day. Landscaping Services, Residence Life and Housing, and the Office of Sustainability co-hosted the ceremony in conjunction with a Campus Beautification Day celebration that was organized by Greeks Go Green interns.

University Arborist Jim Mussetter,  presented the ceremonial tree, a cultivar known as Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ or “Lion’s Head.” Mussetter described that this specific cultivar was chosen for its slow growth and striking fall foliage of gold and crimson tones. As the first ‘shishigashira’ introduced to campus, the tree will be a seasonal focal point in the housing courtyard for decades to come.  University Chaplain Tim Auman led a poetry reading before guests in attendance planted the tree.

Immediately following the ceremony, students divided into groups, led by Greeks Go Green representatives, to pick up litter across campus as part of the Campus Beautification Day celebration. From small tools to cigarette butts, students collected litter of all shapes and sizes in an effort to Keep the Forest Green. Participants were recognized for their contributions: the first-year class turned out in the highest numbers as did brothers from Alpha Sigma Phi. After the clean-up, students were rewarded with at a cookout, including grass-fed burgers made from Grayson Natural beef, which was generously co-sponsored by Residence Life and Housing, Outdoor Programs, and Landscaping Services.

The fourth annual Arbor Day ceremony and the inaugural Campus Beautification Day service event exemplify Wake Forest University’s commitment to our Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Collective Action & Wicked Problems

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Stan MeiburgBy Stewart Rickert (’16)

Stan Meiburg, Deputy Regional Administrator of EPA Region 4 for 18 years and prominent Wake Forest alumnus, recently announced his retirement, marking the end of a 37-year career with the EPA.  He worked on a host of issues ranging from The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 to public financing strategies for water and wastewater treatment facilities.

In a recent conversation with us, Meiburg discussed the misunderstanding many Americans have about sustainability, and their lack of awareness about what we can do to escape a growing web of seemingly intractable problems. In Meiburg’s view, the most wicked of these problems is climate change.

 

Q: Diffuse problems are sometimes lumped together under the term “wicked” problems. We think of wicked problems as persistent, complex, and relying on interconnected variables for a solution. What is a wicked problem from your perspective?

A: To me, the best example of a wicked problem is climate change. I also consider the use of chemicals in the environment to be a particularly persistent wicked problem. Many trends unite these problems, but two stand out: 1) they are big, and require collective action; and 2) results take a long time, and people don’t see immediate benefits from their actions. For example, if you drastically reduce your personal carbon footprint, the climate doesn’t immediately change. But just because you don’t see an impact doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

Q: Since people can’t always see the results of their efforts, how do you make them aware that what they are doing is valuable?

A: For us at the EPA, it was always about education. We knew we were doing a lot, and we wanted to make sure that the public knew why we were acting, and what they could do to help. Notwithstanding all of EPA’s legal authorities, we depend on voluntary, collective actions to help us out of environmental holes we’ve dug for ourselves.

Q: When you say collective action, what do you mean?

A: Collective action is the aggregate of many, many little things. Little things like choosing to walk or bike instead of drive, composting and recycling materials, and turning off the lights (or using motion sensors). By doing little things, we make an impact—and we help promote big things, like designing buildings and neighborhoods that promote such behaviors. By doing little things, we give our neighbors and friends examples of actions that they, too, can take. Above all, I encourage people not to despair; it takes time before we can see the impact of our actions. A motto to still go by is from the first Earth Day in 1970: think globally, act locally. And the country is so much cleaner now than we were then!

For some noteworthy practical tips from Stan Meiburg check out these that have been excerpted from a 2009 keynote address.