January 2013 sustainNU Newsletter

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Pardon our Dust - Main Library’s Sustainability Renovations

It’s hard not to notice that Northwestern’s campus is constantly changing. Over the last year, more than a dozen notable projects have begun, from the recently completed F-G-Wing addition in Tech to the Mid-Campus Green project, which will be completed this summer. NU’s facilities and operations team makes sustainability a priority in every project, from improving the energy efficiency of our existing spaces to diverting and recycling construction waste whenever possible.

The Main library is a great example of one of Northwestern’s iconic buildings that has already engaged in a number of sustainability initiatives – upgrading lighting and improving the heating and cooling systems – and more efforts are underway. The library is undergoing extensive window renovations.  Replacement windows will utilize low-E glass and better sealing to reduce solar energy gain in the summer, and ensure heating and cooling is not wasted in the winter. And we’re doing more to let students and staff know about the changes were making.

Thanks to University Relations and Facilities Management, the Main library project is showcased by signage highlighting the green benefits of the project. Dave Grosskopf, NU’s Project Manager believes the NU community wants to know what the University is doing around sustainability, “It’s important to communicate with our campus community why construction is taking place and that facilities management considers sustainable approaches in  building renovations.” The glass waste from this project will also be recycled and the wooded frames will be reused, significantly lowering the waste and impact of this energy conservation initiative.


The Countdown to Green Cup 

Every February, students living on campus participate in Green Cup, an annual competition aimed at reducing electricity and water usage in residence halls & Greek houses. Organized by SEED (Students for Ecological and Environmental Development), with support from the Office of Sustainability, Green Cup engages students in behavior change and teaches them the impact of their daily activities. Last year students saved 363,261 gallons of water and 73,375 kWh of electricity through simple actions like sharing fridges, taking shorter showers and utilizing power strips and clothes drying racks. Residence halls realized a 4 percent reduction in both water and electricity usage and Greek houses averaged a 9 percent reduction.  Four winners will be announced at the end of the month for residences with dining halls, residences without dining halls, fraternities, and sororities. Winners of this heated competition earn bragging rights, a prize & the right to the Green Cup trophy for a year.


SWAG –  Collaborating on Sustainability

The sustainNU Working Action Group (SWAG) began in 2007 after the former Vice President of Student Affairs was approached by several students interested in making NU more sustainable. Since then SWAG has served as a platform where students, faculty, and staff can share information, brainstorm, and collaborate around sustainability initiatives. Meetings are now organized by the Office of Sustainability and held bi-weekly on Fridays from 3:15 pm- 4:15 pm in the Scott Hall lower level conference room. Winter quarter meetings will be held Jan. 25, February 8 & 22, and March 8. If you are interested in attending these meetings, please email j-cahillane@northwestern.edu


Northwestern’s American Chemical Society wins Green Chemistry Award

Northwestern University’s student chapter of The American Chemical Society (ACS) was awarded a Green Chemistry Award for its leadership during the 2011-2012 academic year. Their activities include hosting a faculty seminar with NU Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Kimberly Gray, going on field trips to tour a green roof and LEED-certified buildings, and developing soap containing no solvents or waste and made completely from industrial waste by-products. Only 56 student chapters were awarded recognition out of a pool of 362 applicants. Chemistry professors Dr. Shelby Hatch and Dr. Owen Priest were the faculty leads who helped make this award attainable.


ASG Sustainability Committee's Work to make NU a Leader in Sustainability 

The ASG sustainability committee has been working on dozens of projects across campus to facilitate a culture shift towards environmental awareness. 20 students serve on the sustainability committee making it the largest committee in ASG history.

The committee’s early internal work led to the categorization of various aspects of sustainability relevant for college students. Aligning with these categories, five subcommittees were established including; Student Engagement, Awareness, and Education, Energy and Water, Purchasing and Waste, Student Groups and Event Consulting, and Legal and Financial Advising.

The Student Engagement, Awareness, and Education subcommittee is developing a marketing campaign highlighting the history and successes of sustainability at Northwestern and distributing hundreds of water-efficient showerheads and CFLs to off-campus students. The team will also assist the Green Cup coordinators and Eco-Reps during winter quarter.

The Energy and Water team aims to make tangible improvements in energy efficiency, usage of renewables, and water conservation efforts on campus. The subcommittee is looking into biofuel production, temperature regulation in campus buildings, and increased student involvement in the Main Library energy efficiency upgrades. The team has been working closely with ESW's wind and CEP teams, to help raise awareness, build administrative support, and ultimately implement these projects.

The Purchasing and Waste team surveys procurement and disposal of goods on campus. The subcommittee is working on highlighting Sodexo’s green initiatives, developing a "green Evanston business" coupon book, a community CarrotMob event, and sneaker-recycling program.

The Student Groups and Event Consulting team offers sustainability consulting services to student-run events and conferences, and is working to create a system for quantifying and incentivizing sustainable behavior among NU student groups. Currently, the team is consulting GES for their annual summit, and will be soon working with Dance Marathon to minimize waste and make the event carbon-neutral.

The Legal and Financial Advising subcommittee works to negotiate and resolve legal and financial issues that arise with the implementation of campus sustainability initiatives. They are working closely with Pura Playa, ESW's plastic reduction team, to analyze Northwestern's contract with Coca Cola. In the coming quarter, the subcommittee has been tasked with writing the bylaws and application guidelines for the campus green fund.

To get in touch with the ASG Sustainability Committee email: sustainability@u.northwestern.edu


Pura Playa Takes Aim at Plastic

Pura Playa is exploring solutions for plastic reduction across the three stages of the plastic life cycle: production, consumption, and disposal.
At Northwestern, Pura Playa aims to reduce campus plastic consumption through education, awareness, and changes to University policy. Pura Playa has teamed up with SEED, Roosevelt Institute, and ASG’s Sustainability Committee to push for a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles on campus and to upgrade water-refilling stations. This fall the team partnered with Inspire Media to screen the movie Tapped. The screening included a discussion on sustainability at NU and the implications of a bottled water ban on campus. During winter quarter, Pura Playa will focus on education offering fireside presentations for residence halls, tap vs. bottled water taste challenges and continuing the push to ban bottled water sales on campus.

The Pura Playa team is also working with Northwestern’s Torkelson Research Group to validate the innovative Solid State Shear Pulverization Process, a plastic upcycling technology which promises to be more effective than current commercial plastic recycling technologies.

In a partnership with Sea Turtles Forever, the group is conducting an environmental quality assessment of a marine plastic sink site in Costa Rica. With the guidance of Professor Neal Blair, Dr. Shelby Hatch, and Professor Karrie Snyder, Pura Playa completed a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plastic accumulation survey of the area and will study the presence of organic pollutants in the plastic and the plastic break down process.

For more information please contact the project managers Michael Narea (michaelnarea2013@u.northwestern.edu) and Megan Scherich (meganscherich2014@u.northwestern.edu)


Wildcat Green Tips

  1. Reduce, reuse, recycle. If you do not have enough recycling bins, call 847-467-1374
  2. Be hip and thrift. Save money by shopping at thrift stores, craigslist, and eBay.  
  3.  Eat healthy. Eat more vegetables, cut back on meat, and be sure your foods are pesticide free!
  4. Take public transportation.
  5. Need more ideas? Visit The sustainNU Green Pledge and Green Living Guide



Illinois Association of Environmental Professionals' Student Career Seminar
Sat., Jan. 26
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
DePaul University - Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Science Bldg
Room 200
1110 West Belden Avenue

C3 Leader Rachal Duggan Green Your Routine Workshop
Sat., Jan. 26
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM   
Greenheart Shop - 1911 W. Division Street  
For more information: rachal.a.duggan@gmail.com

Avoiding the Climate Cliff: A Summit Meeting
Sun., Jan. 27
1:30 PM - 4:00 PM
DePaul Art Museum - 935 W. Fullerton Ave. Events Room 2nd FL

KEMI Public Summit: Wholesale Electricity Markets - Hurdles to Overcome
Tues., Jan. 29

1:00 PM - 6:30 PM  
James L Allen Center - 2169 Campus Drive  
For more information: l-decastro@kellogg.northwestern.edu

Wild Things Conference
Sat., Feb. 2
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
UIC Student Center East - 750 S. Halsted Street

Kellogg Energy Conference: New Energy New Challenges
Wed., Feb. 13
1:15 PM - 6:30 PM
Allen Center
Evanston, IL 60208

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