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Sustainability at Wake Forest

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Call for Volunteers: Go Deacs. Go Green. campaign enters third season

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

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 smitad8@wfu.edu. Check out the Wake Forest Athletics site to find dates for all home games.

Go Deacs! Go Green!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Increased engagement with fans and a streamlined process behind the scenes led to a successful second season for the university’s Game Day Recycling program. During the Demon Deacons’ first six home games, fans, volunteers, and Athletics staff members worked together to divert nearly 7 tons of cans, bottles and cardboard recycling from the landfill.

The highest diversion rate for any single game occurred during Homecoming weekend. As the Deacs battled the Hokies on the field, Deacon fans of all ages ensured that 19 percent of waste from the stadium hit the recycling center instead of the landfill. Fans recycled more than 2700 pounds of cans and bottles alone in the tailgating lots and inside the stadium during this game.

“The tailgaters were very excited this year,” Game Day Recycling intern, junior Erin Murphy, said. “People expected us to be there (this year) and were really happy to see us.”

Turf Director for Athletics, Abby McNeal, credits increased communication and education as game changers for the program this year. Season ticket holders received “Go Deacs! Go Green!” window decals with green tailgating tips before the season began, to get them excited about the program. The recycling message was also displayed on the new video board at the stadium at various points throughout games.

More extensive training of staff members and clearer labeling of recycling containers within the stadium helped staff members execute their tasks more easily and ensured that visitors received a consistent, clear message.  Caitlin Brooks Edwards, Wake Forest Fellow, said. “If people focus on recycling cans and bottles (including plastic and glass) the process is simplified and we avoid confusion and contamination of the bins.”

Faces of Sustainability – Abby McNeal

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Abby McNeal“I just try to leave a place better than I found it – I try to make a difference,” Athletics Turf Manager, Abby McNeal said. In McNeal’s case, that means making the world a little greener, in more ways than one.

McNeal manages all of the athletic fields on campus as well as BB&T field. She maintains the lush, green turf that stands up to a beating game day after game day from the scorching heat of August until the first freezes in November. She tends to the special needs of the artificial playing surfaces too in order to keep them safe, sanitary and professional looking.

When asked how the soft-spoken red-head became involved in turf management – she smiles. There is no good story here, she confesses. “I chose to study turf management more than 20 years ago. I found a passion and I stuck with it. That’s it.”

As if her official job – which often keeps her on campus from 7 a.m. until far into the evening (and on weekend game days too) – were not enough, when the opportunity to jumpstart the university’s Game Day Recycling program presented itself to McNeal, she jumped at it. “I preach a lot of customer service and this is just an extension of that service,” she said.

Not only do her customers – Demon Deacon and rival team fans alike – enjoy the opportunity to recycle, but her team has started to feel a sense of pride and ownership, she said.

When she’s not working on an athletics Green Team initiative, brainstorming ways to expand Game Day Recycling or caring for turf, McNeal carries her personal commitment to sustainability home to her 3-year-old twins. “If we can reuse something, we reuse it; if we can recycle something, we recycle it. It’s simple,” she said. “My twins fight over the chance to recycle at home, they love helping out with the recycling.”

To McNeal, excitement about recycling is a first step to incorporating sustainability more broadly into daily life. “Make sure that you understand that sustainability is more than just recycling. Then think simply about your life. There are always ways that you can do things even simpler than you are. The simpler something is, the more routine it will be. When something is routine, it becomes the norm. There are so many ways to make sustainability the norm.”

By Caitlin Brooks-Edwards, Wake Forest Fellow

Diane Dailey Golf Learning Center receives LEED Gold Certification

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Photo by De'Noia Woods, Photography Intern

The university’s first ever LEED-certified building came in a rather small package: that of the Diane Dailey Golf Learning Center. Though the building encompasses a much smaller area than either the LEED-designed South Hall or new Admissions Center, through careful design and collaboration, the team ensured LEED Gold certification.

Designed and funded in response to the golf teams’ profile on the national athletic stage, the building features high-tech updates including heated hitting bays, a state-of-the-art filming system and new golf radar technology. The building also houses an indoor putting room outfitted with the latest video putting training system.

“We needed to help our student athletes be successful in their sport by improving the practice facilities,” Becky Ward, Associate Athletic Director of Special Projects, said.

Ward acted as the owner representative on the project and usually heads up Athletics design and construction-related projects by acting as a bridge between the Athletics department, the wider university and outside contractors.

In addition to meeting the technical needs of the student athletes, the new Golf Center was the first athletics structure to feature an emphasis on sustainable design and construction at the university. LEED-accredited architect, Larry Robbs of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects, worked as the lead designer on the project. He used his extensive background as a LEED designer to work with Ward and the university to eke out as many LEED certification points as possible from the small space.

One of the most successful category for the project was “Sustainable Sites.” This group of sustainable criteria takes into account everything from light pollution to landscaping to footprint of building compared to size of site. The golf center earned 10 out of 14 points in this category because of its prime location and attention to exterior aesthetics. Its location within the Reynolda Campus ensured pedestrian access and eliminated the need for an asphalt parking area.

In addition, Robbs and Ward worked extensively with David Davis, Manager of Landscaping Services, to minimize manicured areas and the need for irrigation and to maximize the use of native plants to encourage wildlife habitat and decrease maintenance. It is important to note that when determining eligibility for LEED, the driving range was not included as part of the building site.

Other key sustainable features included the use of an innovative heat reflecting roofing tile that closely matches the aesthetic of the campus but reflects sunlight to decrease energy consumption for cooling in the summer. The interior of the building was entirely outfitted with paints, sealants and adhesives that were low in VOCs to improve air quality inside the facility.

“In the long run, it’s not about the certificate hanging on the wall. It is about our environment, our staff in the environment and the student athletes in the environment,” Ward said of the importance of sustainable design.

Ward is currently working on an educational campaign for the building to instruct students on how best to use the new facilities and increase awareness of its unique features.

“Sustainable design requires active participation by the user of the building,” Robbs said. “That’s the only thing that will make it work.”

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern