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Sustainability at Wake Forest

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Green Team Captain Spotlight: Hilary Floyd and Michelle Ford

Monday, March 26th, 2018

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

The Green Team Network allows members of WFU faculty and staff to learn and collaborate across campus in efforts of integrating sustainability into the workplace. While the initiative provides Green Team captains with resources and leadership training, each captain implements their skills in ways which best support their department or office.

There are currently 61 Green Team captains, all of whom serve as peer leaders for their office or department. Today, the spotlight is on Hilary Floyd, the Divinity School’s captain, and Michelle Ford, the captain for the Biology Department, who will share more about their Wake Forest Green Team experiences.


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.


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.


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.

Faces of Sustainability: Alan Winkler

Friday, January 17th, 2014

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

A Warm Welcome to Hannah Slodounik

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Hannah_SunflowerThis fall Hannah Slodounik (pronounced: Sla – duv – nick) assumed the role of Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. Her broad range of experience with sustainability programs throughout the country will serve her well as she works to advance several sustainability initiatives at Wake Forest.

Underlying her professional experience is a passion for sustainability that was fostered at a young age during trips to the Grand Teton National Park and weekends spent applying storm drain stickers to local curbs. It wasn’t, however, until she arrived at the University of Redlands that she realized she wanted to pursue a career in sustainability. Looking back, the path seems clear. After transferring to the small liberal arts school in California, she was randomly placed in the sustainability theme dorm there. After that, she helped found the first “environmental sorority” Kappa Pi Zeta at the university serving as the sustainability chair. The sorority’s mascot (as well as her favorite animal) is the leatherback sea turtle.

While at the University of Redlands, Slodounik not only focused on the human dimension of sustainability but also the scientific dimension. Slodounik studied abroad in Costa Rica where she conducted field research to help quantify the environmental benefits of shade-grown coffee. During a travel course to Tetiaroa Atoll in French Polynesia, Slodounik collected GPS data to contribute to a GIS database, used to assess the risk of an emergent sand bar between two of the tropical islands as well the potential for renewable energy installations for a new luxury eco-resort on the atoll (arguably the world’s best job). After receiving her BS in Environmental Science, Slodounik interned in the City of St. Louis Mayor’s office where she collected GPS data in preparation for the city’s participation in ICLEI’s STAR Community Index.

Most recently, Slodounik served as an AmeriCorps member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as the Sustainability Outreach Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. This position entailed a wide variety of programming initiatives. She worked closely with student EcoVols (Vols – as in UT Volunteers), a group of students functioning as stewards for sustainability in their dorms. She also worked with student interns conducting an energy audit of campus with grant money from the TVA EnergyRight Solutions for Higher Education program. The rest of her work ran the gamut from leading trail clean-up operations to clearing weedy islands in parking lots to make way for edible vegetation. During football season she managed volunteers for the Game Day Recycling program at the sprawling UT tailgates and planned an entire month of celebration around Earth Day.

Although she has worked with many different programs and universities on sustainability-related issues, she is particularly excited to work at Wake Forest because of the attention the university has given to sustainability and the relationship between the office and the students here. Slodounik especially enjoys working with students here who are, in her assessment, “excited to learn, have the potential to significantly impact their peers, and continue sustainable behaviors for the majority of their life.”

To her, the location of the office itself, in the heart of campus, speaks to the attitudes about sustainability here and the accessibility a small liberal arts school can offer. Part of the reason she was attracted to the university was her ability to work with the corps of student interns working in the office of sustainability: “Aside from being enjoyable, working with student interns just makes sense. Students have a different understanding of campus, they gain practical experience from the internship, and it strengthens our network on campus.”

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Paul Borick

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Paul_BorickBehind every green building, there is a team of designers and builders who imagined and built it. For several buildings at Wake Forest, Paul Borick is an important member of that team.  Borick is a Registered Architect and Senior Project Manager for WFU Facilities & Campus Services.  He manages design and construction projects anywhere from $1,000 to over $50 million.

This Senior Project Manager incorporates sustainability into both his work and daily life.  The majority of the larger capital projects that he manages are designed to meet at least LEED Silver certification.  With this standard, design and construction of facilities must consider all facets of sustainability in buildings and site selection.

The new residence halls and dining hall on the North campus are no exception to this standard.  As one of his favorite LEED projects thus far, he believes that the new residence halls feature many important sustainable design features. In particular, an air driven mechanical system, will help alleviate bad-smelling fan coils and satisfy residents climatic requirements while saving energy.  He is also excited to show off the new glass solar canopy trellis at the new North Dining Hall. Ultimately, he hopes that “the solar trellis will make people think:  ‘I could do that. That would look great on my back patio or maybe on the facade of a building I may commission or design in the future.’  Seeing technology like this displayed prominently may inspire people to think of other ways to use technology, such as tidal power or the moons gravitational forces to generate power.”

Mr. Borick is a strong supporter of photovoltaic technology.  He is currently lobbying for for the installation of a solar canopy on our facilities building.  “What better place to show off this technology than right next to our power plant?” he asks.  The project could help power our campus, while inspiring others to be more sustainable.  Borick says, “I really do feel it is the future solution to all of our energy needs.  I have this vision of producing power all day with solar energy and then turning it into hydrogen and then using hydrogen to fuel our cars, homes and factories.  When hydrogen is burned, all it produces is water — kind of a win-win.”

In addition to his work on campus, Paul Borick has grown up to incorporate sustainable decisions in his everyday life.  “I think I have always thought of myself as kind of an ‘earth man.’  I feel we have been put on this planet to be good stewards for all of God’s creations,” Borick says. “I think this mindset comes from early hiking and Boy Scout experience.  I always strive to leave things better than I found them.  That goes for something as little as picking up a piece of trash to making sure we leave things in good order for generations to come.”   As a promoter of being a good steward to the Earth, Borick is also a bit of a recycling junkie.  While the north campus project has recycled about 85% of its construction and demolition waste, he also prides himself on his recycling bin always being fuller than the trash bin.

As we move towards a more sustainable future, Mr. Borick encourages everyone to think through their decisions more completely: “I always like to remind people to think about the final outcome.  Did I do the most good using as few resources as I could?  I think that is why I am such a big solar technology fan because other than the production of the PV itself the impact to the environment is somewhat minimal.”  His final words of encouragement for living a sustainable life are to “never forget the little things like turning off a light when no one is around or turning off a dripping faucet. Use one paper towel instead of two.   If everyone does that just think how big the impact can be.

Written by Kiana Courtney, Communications and Outreach Intern

Faces of Sustainability: Sarah Mason

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Sarah MasonDr. Sarah Mason wanted answers to her questions about sustainability.  A mathematician by profession, it felt obvious to think about her questions mathematically.

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

Faces of Sustainability: Environmental Health and Safety

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

EHSCampus 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

Faces of Sustainability: Rogan Kersh

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Ken Bennet

As a member of the graduating class of 1986, Wake Forest’s new Provost, Dr. Rogan Kersh, is no stranger to the university.  Neither is he a stranger to sustainability, an interest he has explored for several decades, or as he quips “since before Al Gore made it cool.” Dr. Kersh has two motivations behind his long-term exploration of sustainability: family and politics. He explains “I am the son and husband of deeply committed environmentalists, [who share a] lifelong passion for environmental preservation, appreciating the bounty of nature, and helping to sustain what it means to be on this earth.”  In addition, a general interest in politics also spurs Dr. Kersh’s exploration of the field.  He adds, “as someone interested in political science and public policy, you find your way to an issue as a way to channel your energies; environment and environmental sustainability have been that for me.”

These twin inspirations keep sustainability a continual theme in Dr. Kersh’s professional and personal life. During his tenure as a professor and associate dean at NYU, he advocated for sustainability through seats on numerous committees and incorporated an environmental perspective into his classes.  His apartment in New York, located within an NYU student residence hall, was also designed to model sustainable campus living.  Dr. Kersh owes much to his former apartment, created by retrofitting a historic building with sustainable features like cork floors and countertops made of recycled medical glass.  Not only did living in such a space illustrate his commitment to reducing his impact, he maintains that his wife, Sara Pesek, most recently the Director of an EPA sponsored Environmental Finance Center, agreed to marry him in part because of his “eco-forward apartment.”

Sustainability will play a role in a comprehensive wellbeing initiative led by Dr. Kersh and the Office of the Provost.  Environmental wellness is one of eight dimensions of wellness the Office of the Provost will incorporate into the holistic examination of wellbeing for all university constituents. Specifically, Dr. Kersh identifies the built environment as one pertinent aspect of environmental wellness to be considered as part of the new wellbeing initiative.  He is proud of Wake Forest’s existing leadership in environmentally responsible construction, particularly South Hall, a LEED Gold-certified first-year student residence hall that features low emission materials and a low-impact ventilation system.

According to Dr. Kersh, sustainability should also play a role in the Wake Forest classroom. His own initial academic exposure to sustainability traces back to his undergraduate career, when he studied the Green Party of West Germany in a course on western European politics.  Dr. Kersh believes incorporating sustainability into the classroom can go well beyond explicit course content though, serving as an aspect of university-wide pedagogy.  He explains “what is special about a Wake Forest education is that subject matter is communicated in the most advanced way possible and the professor also brings other kinds of life enhancing [perspectives] to the classroom…sustainability, which I define as being a responsible steward of the planet we inhabit, is a part of that.”

Dr. Kersh has both the heart of a Deacon and the experience and insight gained from a remarkable career.  He has a vision for the university that both honors Wake Forest’s heritage and embraces necessary innovation.  His lifelong commitment to sustainability bodes well for the continued forward momentum of social and environmental responsibility on campus; as he states “I stand ready and excited to implement new ideas.”

 By Annabel Lang, Presidential Fellow for the Office of Sustainability