By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office
Have you ever looked around campus and had a creative idea, perhaps for an art installation or a landscaping initiative? A green building feature or collaborative research project? Or maybe an educational opportunity for students to learn about environmental justice and build appreciation for the natural world?
Fortunately, there are resources and money—even during the public health crisis—available for all students, staff, and faculty who dream of transforming the University of Utah into the most sustainable, resilient, and inclusive campus it can be.
The Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) is a grant program that funds a variety of sustainability initiatives at the U. The fund supports student-, staff-, or faculty-led projects that enrich student experiences while giving back to the campus community. SCIF is made possible by students; each student pays $2.50 per semester into the grant program.
“SCIF is a tool that can really elevate problems on campus and turn them into sustainable opportunities,” says SCIF Manager Emerson Andrews. “In the long term, we hope it makes campus a regenerative place. Not just a net zero place, but a regenerative place.”
Andrews explains that the SCIF framework is rooted in the university’s understanding of sustainability as “the work towards a future wherein we maintain environmental integrity, economic security, and social equity for future generations and for ourselves.” Any idea that fits within this framework could be a SCIF project.
SCIF, like many campus programs, is adjusting to the realities of COVID-19, but Andrews wants the U community to know that “SCIF work is still happening.” Although the pandemic challenges some traditional ways of practicing sustainability, it also offers a unique opportunity to be creative and rethink what sustainability can look like.
For example, in-person events are not currently receiving funding on account of social distancing guidelines; however grants focused on digital events, infrastructure projects, research, and countless other ways of practicing sustainability are encouraged. “A lot of research opportunities are open because of COVID,” Andrews says. “It’s really forced the world to rethink how we operate, and that’s the same space that sustainability has been in for some time.”
Andrews encourages students, staff, and faculty to explore the intersections between COVID and the environment and to propose projects that focus on “resilience and adaptivity.” The pandemic has unveiled the importance of sustainability, and Andrews hopes that the U community will use SCIF as a tool to discover ways that “we can continue to function as a society through disruptive events,” whether those events come from disease, climate change, or unknown challenges.
Above all, Andrews wants the campus community to know that SCIF is for everyone. “Sustainability really touches all aspects of our lives,” he says, and every student, staff, or faculty member has something to offer. “Engineers are very crucial, so are artists; people who understand policy are just as crucial as people who understand planning; people who understand communications are just as crucial as people who understand the science behind everything,” Andrews explains.
Whatever your skills, interests, and passions may be, consider applying for SCIF to make your ideas a reality. “This is for you,” Andrews says. “Let’s try something.”
By Emerson Andrews, Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund manager
During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) provided more than $100,000 to 19 projects designed by University of Utah community members. The projects covered a range of issues, from concerns about equity and accessibility, to water-use reduction, air-pollution awareness, and more. Project funding is approved by an allocation committee comprised of students, staff, and faculty.
Alt Breaks Zero Waste Spa, $702
Project manager: Sara Matlock | Advisor: J Swanger
The Zero Waste Spa, hosted by the Bennion Center, provided students with the raw materials they needed to make their own self care products. A SCIF grant covered the cost of materials.
Campus Stormwater Modeling, $976
Project managers: Aaron Meyer, Ryan Johnson | Advisor: Steve Burian
The Campus Stormwater Modeling project connected students from Civil & Environmental Engineering with the Facilities Management stormwater management team in order to create precise models of stormwater on campus, which will aid future planning decisions.
Sustainability in City Building Video Games, $990
Project manager: José Zagal
José Zagal, a professor in the Entertainment Arts & Engineering, received funding to research the representation of sustainability in city building video games.
Future Clinicians for Clean Air, $1,000
Project manager: Liza Kasavana | Advisor: Teresa Garrett
The Future Clinicians for Clean Air grant funded an event that focused on the health effects of poor air quality and how it impacts the work of clinicians. The event featured a lecture by Trenton Honda, associate professor and division chief for Physician Assistant Studies, which focused on the systemic effects of air pollution on the human bodies.
Inland Port Info Session, $245
Project manager: Malachai Bateman | Advisor: Adrienne Cachelin
The Inland Port Info Session brought Deeda Seeds, senior Utah field campaigner at Center for Biological Diversity, and Jonny Vasic, executive director for Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, to talk about the potential environmental and health impacts of the Inland Port.
Air Quality Art Installation, $980
Project manager: Angelina L. DeMarco | Advisor: Meghan Dovick
The Air Quality Art Installation received funding to visualize the public impacts of air pollution through an art display. The project will be included in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’ forthcoming Air exhibition.
Xerxes Bee Campus, $1,000
Project manager: Hailey Keller | Advisor: Amy Sibul
The Xerxes Bee Campus project used SCIF funding to enroll the University of Utah as a Bee Campus, a status that reflects the history of campus work with bees.
Observation Bee Boxes, $783
Project manager: Zachary Higgins | Advisor: Amy Sibul
The Observation Bee Boxes project earned SCIF funding to construct pollinator boxes that allow people to see how native bees nest. These boxes will be installed at the Edible Campus Gardens.
Sights & Sightlines, $3,040
Project manager: Michelle Wentling | Advisor: Jeff McCarthy
The Sights & Sightlines project used funds to print a journal. Each contributor chose a site on the University of Utah campus; they’re articles focused on a site’s physical characteristics, inhabitants, and history, as well as interviews with people passing through the site. The journal highlighted the issues of environmental justice, deep time, the urban-wild interface, human and animal migration, natural disasters, and land use all focused on the locale of Salt Lake City.
Equitable Vogmasks, $9,996
Project manager: Sydney Boogaard | Advisor: Jennifer Watt
The Environmental & Sustainability Studies department used SCIF funding to purchase and distribute Vogmasks at a subsidized cost for the Equitable Vogmasks project. The sales of the masks were so successful that the money earned was used to purchase and sell more masks.
Sustainability & Equity Pledge, $2,250
Project manager: Sydney Boogaard | Advisor: Jennifer Watt
For the Sustainability & Equity Pledge, students from the Environmental & Sustainability Studies department purchased green cords for the commencement ceremony that would reflect the students’ pledge to live a sustainable life. The idea is that the visual display of students’ commitment to sustainability will help spread a culture of sustainability across campus.
UKids Accessibility, $10,000
Project manager: Divya Chandrasekhar
Divya Chandrasekhar, assistant professor in City & Metropolitan Planning, used funds to run a safety and accessibility assessment for the area that surrounds the U Kids facility on Guardsman Way. When dropping off her own child, Chandrasekhar noticed she could not access the facility through any means of transportation other than a car. The goal is that the assessment can highlight potential solutions for the accessibility and safety issues.
Waterless Urinals, $2,941
Project managers: John Haraden, Ethan Black | Advisor: Bonita Austin
Solar Umbrellas Expansion, $5,645
Project managers: Cami Kenworthy, Ben ReMillard, Michelle Behrmann | Advisor: Jennifer Watt
Students from the Environmental & Sustainability Studies department received SCIF money to purchase another Enerfusion table umbrella with solar panels for use at Gardner Commons. The umbrellas allow the campus community to charge small electronics using the energy captured by the umbrellas’ solar panels.
Campus Community Food Project, $4,100
Project manager: Adrienne Cachelin
The Campus Community Food Project researched Glendale residents’ perceptions regarding an urban farm and their visions for how the farm might support food access. The project will move beyond the initial community inquiry, bringing the work full circle by reconnecting the findings with University of Utah campus programs, including the Edible Campus Gardens and University Neighborhood Partners. The project’s emphasis on community partnership positions the University of Utah as a conduit through which allied local government agencies and nonprofits can work together with diverse communities and support expressed needs.
Project Embrace, $5,645
Project manager: Gabrielle Hoyer | Advisor: Dean McGovern
Biomedical Engineering students secured funds to support Project Embrace at the University of Utah. Project Embrace is a student-founded and student-led start-up nonprofit that collects gently used mobility assistance devices to be sanitized, refurbished, and redistributed to marginalized and low-income populations. The funds purchased the supplies necessary to refurbish the equipment and market the program.
Medical School Community Garden, $2,070
Project manager: Alyssa Thorman | Advisor: Shannon Jones
The Medical School Community Garden, an ASUU-registered student interest group, received funding to build a community garden on the Health Sciences campus. The garden will cater to all students that are a part of the Health Sciences community in an attempt to combat food insecurity, provide a green space, and contribute to sustainability initiatives taking place on campus.
Fort Douglas Light Pollution Reduction, $20,000
Project managers: Kari Stoddard, Daniel Anderson | Advisors: Nate Bricker
SCIF awarded students from the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation funding to partner with the Sustainability & Energy Management Department in Facilities Management to identify and replace outdoor lighting in the Sage Point area of Fort Douglas. The selected fixtures are dark-sky compliant to reduce light pollution.
Bird-Strike Mitigation Continuation, $28,496
Project manager: Barbara Brown
Barbara Brown, professor in Family & Consumer Studies, received funds to complete work on the installation of anti-bird-strike films on windows in buildings on Presidents Circle to prevent the death of Cedar Wax Wings. In addition to the installation, Brown also published research regarding the factors for predicting bird-strike frequency and identifying hotspots on campus.
by Amber Aumiller, graduate assistant, Sustainability Office
Nearly half of the earth’s usable land is designated for human agriculture which means food consumption significantly impacts our planet. According to a comprehensive study published in Science last year, our current relationship to consuming and producing food is not sustainable for the health of the land, water, or global climate. The current food supply chain is responsible for 26% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention other direct impacts to the natural ecosystems of our earth, its water systems, and its wildlife. The study suggests that moving to a non-animal diet could reduce land use by 76% and greenhouse gas emissions by 49%. The study also notes that the United States consumes meat at three times the global average, making our impacts and potential for affecting change even greater as food consumers with choices. But as a study published this year points out, not all consumers impact the environment equally, suggesting that broad shifts in food consumption will also have to include an understanding of the socioecological barriers some face in improving our cuisine consequences on the climate. In any case, all data points to a need for significant changes to our food systems.
Fortunately, there are multiple opportunities to get involved with shifting to a more sustainable food culture on campus. One example is the Hydroponics Club which officially formed last year as a spin-off of Engineers Without Borders. The club’s president, Ian Lavin, is an engineering student who is passionate about growing fresh produce in new and innovative ways. The club is currently utilizing two hydroponic systems, a deep-water system and a Dutch bucket system, to grow leafy greens and tomatoes, each system lending different benefits for different plants. The water use of the systems is relatively low (10-15 gallons per 5-week growing cycle, in comparison modern toilets require about 1.6 gallons per flush), no land is required to grow the produce, and because the growing environment is controlled (indoors) there are no pesticides required and the production is more dependable. According to Lavin, food in a hydroponic system also grows 25-30% faster than conventional growing methods. Hydroponic growing systems have great potential for addressing some of the world’s food production problems. “By staggering the growing cycles, you can achieve a steady stream of fresh produce year-round,” he says. In addition to exploring hydroponics as a sustainable food production method, the club also recognizes the lack of access to fresh, nutritious foods that some populations face and chooses to donate much of the produce grown to the food pantry on campus.
Last year, the Hydroponics Club applied for a SCIF grant and a space in the Lassonde building to build four hydroponic drip walls that utilize vertical space to grow greens, called the Aqua Project. The first wall will be finished by October and installed in the Lassonde lobby in the coming months. If you’re interested in joining, Lavin says anyone with a passion for produce or growing systems is welcome.
The Hydroponics Club isn’t the only option to engage with sustainable food systems on campus, the Sustainability Office works closely with 5 other food clubs that are building a new food culture in our community:
Edible Campus Gardens
Click the link above to be added to the weekly newsletter detailing upcoming events and volunteer activities.
Slow Food U of U
The Slow Food Student Chapter addresses issues of food justice, access, local food systems and more. E-mail Slowfoodatuofu@gmail.com to request to be added to their e-mail list.
Real Food Challenge
The Real Food Challenge student group works with University Dining Services and administration to build relationships with local producers and shift our institution’s food purchases toward more real food. Fill out a Volunteer Interest Form through the Bennion Center.
Food Recovery Network
The Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement fighting food waste and hunger in America. Click the link above to see how you can get involved with the U’s chapter.
Feed U Pantry
The University of Utah’s food pantry aims to minimize hunger among students, their families, and faculty and staff by providing free, accessible, and nutritious food. Click here to fill out a volunteer form.
E-mail email@example.com to get involved.
Our landscape has slowly been changing around us. Those who have been on campus for more than 10 years remember when much of it was a vast expanse of lush green turf. As awareness of water conservation became more prevalent, the University of Utah began slowly adapting the landscaping.
Since then, the university’s Landscape Maintenance team has primarily focused on turfgrass replacement, water-wise landscape design and modern irrigation systems. By using “Slow the Flow” guidelines designed by our state water conservation experts, following the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED standards for planting and expanding the use of well water for irrigation, the team has created a dramatic transformation saving the university millions of gallons of water and hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. In 2018 alone, 3,093 centum cubic feet of water (CCF), which equals 2.3 million gallons, were conserved through the efforts of the landscaping team.
So, why do we still have so much turf on campus? Unfortunately, this isn’t a process that can happen overnight both due to the enormous scope of the project and budgetary constraints. The university covers over 1,500 acres and manages 1,000 acres while about 439 acres have been set aside to remain in their wild state under the Heritage Preserve Program. Each year, the landscaping team reduces the amount of turf on campus and replaces it with water-wise landscaping. Where that happens is often a result of where the opportunity presents itself. The ideal opportunity to remove turf is often when a new building is erected or a large-scale remodel is occurring. In 2018, 12 acres of turf were removed.
While replacing turf with water-wise landscaping is immediately noticeable, a lot of water conservation related to landscaping happens behind the scenes. The irrigation team is completing a substantial upgrade to the central irrigation systems that involves installing equipment that improves the U’s ability to manage irrigation, fine-tune water delivery and report outcomes. This project will conserve roughly 117,000 CCF (87.5 million gallons) water per year and provide better data for researchers. Because of the vast amount of water conserved through this project the return on investment is under four years. The project was jointly funded through the Sustainable Energy Fund ($150K) and Facilities’ Sustainability & Energy Program ($400K).
What is significant about this new system is that it allows each zone to be calibrated by the water delivery technology and associated flow rate, from the giant, high-flow spray nozzles used on big turf areas to slow drip used for xeriscape. Lisa McCarrel, the current landscape supervisor is responsible for overseeing the irrigation upgrade.
“The ability to monitor water used for irrigation purposes at the level that this equipment and program gives us is remarkable. It allows each irrigator or horticulturist access to the program to make changes based on root zones, soil type, slope and other landscape data while in the field,” said McCarrel. “The system provides reports indicating water flow issues, which are received each morning. It provides information that helps the technician determine which problem should be addressed first, based on water loss or possible plant material loss. The calculated water cost savings could reach $10 million in seven to 10 years. In addition to water savings, the reporting will result in a significant reduction in labor and maintenance costs.”
The irrigation overhaul and changes in planting practices are producing good results. When looking at the five-year average for total water usage (both irrigation and culinary) on campus, the numbers indicate that water efficiency has outpaced growth. Water use intensity (CCF/sq. ft) is continuing to trend down. This is a direct result of water-efficient appliances, well-managed central plants and growing utilization of well water (secondary water) for irrigation.
And yes, we have all walked by that rogue sprinkler that is going off in the hottest part of the day or leaking all over the sidewalk. Our landscaping teams get stretched thin at the height of the irrigation season, and they need our help to let them know when something is malfunctioning or broken. Any malfunctioning irrigation issues can be reported by tweeting @UofUFM or calling 801 581-7221.
As climate change alters our weather patterns and our summers become longer and hotter, we will all have to be ever more diligent about water conservation. We are grateful that the landscaping team is doing their part to adapt our landscape to the changing conditions providing a model for us all.
This article was featured in @theu July 26, 2019
June 14, 2019
“I’m retiring as the deputy chief sustainability officer after being on campus for 10 years. I’ve seen a lot of change over the past decade. There’s a lot more support for sustainability efforts across campus.
In my former career as an architect and planner—plus trained in California in the 70s—the environment was always a component of my work. Realizing that the people in the buildings had far more of an impact over the building’s life than the building itself, I started getting interested in human behavior, which turned to looking at how those people got to the building and their commute patterns.
I was also an adjunct in the College of Architecture teaching design. I started volunteering and helped a student who wanted to add LEED requirements to all university buildings. And then I ended up leaving architecture to be more involved in the broader picture for campus.
In my mind sustainability is the poster child for One U. It cuts across all aspects of the university—from health care to Research Park and Commuter Services to Student Affairs. One thing I’ve really enjoyed being a part of was helping to rework the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, which had some barriers. It took us four or five years working with administration on a structure that would make it a truly revolving loan fund. Now, it’s approaching $500,000 to be invested in sustainability efforts and will continue to grow long after we’re all gone.
Sustainability is a collaborative effort. I’ve loved working with people to create solutions. There is a need and always a place for everybody at the table to get involved because some of our poor and more vulnerable communities are the ones most impacted by the decisions that the rest of us make.
After retirement, I’m going to travel a bit, but I will still be involved locally with sustainability efforts through a nonprofit called Heal Utah and get more involved with pedestrian and bicycle safety.”
—Myron Willson, deputy chief sustainability officer, Sustainability Office
Imagine a smoldering late-August day on campus. The pavement radiates heat and you struggle to find a place to take cover from the sun. The walk from the Union to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts seems unbearable and you wonder what will come first: The museum doors or your body in a puddle on the walkway. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see an oasis: a tree, shrubs, greenery. The space is alive with color and movement. And behold—a rock to sit on. You take the scene in.
It does not take long for you to realize that you are not the only creature taking refuge in this assemblage of habitats. Bees buzz around you, busy transferring pollen from flower to flower. Birds and insects swoop in and out. There are even a few other humans enjoying the space. A growing community of plants, pollinators and Utahns.
This unique space is the result of an innovative student-led project funded through the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF). SCIF is the university’s green grants program managed by the Sustainability Office that provides an opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all disciplines and departments to propose projects that enhance the sustainability of our campus and community. The College of Architecture + Planning and Facilities Management also contributed funds to the $11,850 project.
In spring 2018, a joint team of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from multiple departments on campus including planning, engineering and biology submitted a proposal to replace turf adjacent to the architecture building with green infrastructure and a pollinator garden. There had been flooding issues in heavy rainstorms as runoff came off the sidewalk, down the slope and into the basement level of the architecture building. So, the team proposed constructing a form of stormwater green infrastructure called a bioswale to better manage this runoff. Green infrastructure is an approach to stormwater management that imitates the natural water system on the landscape; it captures runoff from impervious surfaces like roads and rooftops and directs it into the ground where it is filtered by soil and plant roots that take up some of the water and pollutants. Under the surface of the garden now is an 8-foot-deep trench filled with sand that allows water to soak quickly into the ground while filtering pollutants. On the surface is a rock-lined swale that slows the flow of water and directs it into the ground and away from the building.
In addition to mitigating flooding and improving water quality, a primary goal of this project was to transform the irrigation-intensive turf grass lawn in front of the architecture building into an ecologically and socially functional and attractive outdoor space by reducing water use, increasing biodiversity, creating habitat for wild pollinators and a beautiful retreat for humans. Water-wise native plants reduce irrigation needs while still providing benefit to humans and other species alike. This type of landscaping helps the university meet its goals of achieving water neutrality by 2020 and reducing stormwater runoff by 75% in the next 10 years.
A central component of the garden is its role in attracting and supporting a wide diversity of pollinators. Pollinators play a critical role in our ecosystem. They are an important part of plant reproduction with over 80% of flowering plants requiring a pollinator. This has direct impacts both on natural ecosystems and on agricultural production. One-third of all the food we eat, including some of the most delicious and healthy items like most fruits, nuts and vegetables, are the result of successful pollination. Unsurprisingly, pollinators are also responsible for the reproduction of many plants that provide food and habitat for wildlife. Yet, pollinator populations are in rapid decline as a result of multiple factors–especially habitat destruction. This garden counters that trend by providing a habitat haven for these important ecosystem players. Bees are the most common pollinator, and Utah is home to over 1500 native species.
The garden will also attract the three hummingbird species that commonly live in or migrate through Utah: broad-tailed, black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds. As a result, garden visitors will be able to partake in the enriching and connective experience of hummingbird viewing.
Together, the Green Infrastructure and Pollinator Garden will be a step toward the university’s master plan vision of smart open space, intelligent landscaping and water neutrality. It also provides a point of reference and education for students to see how sustainable systems like this work, it will serve as a living lab helping students convert sustainability principles learned in class into practice.
In honor of Pollinator Week (June 17-23), treat yourself to a walk in the Green Infrastructure and Pollinator Garden to relax, unwind and appreciate the buzzing life around you.
This article was originally published in @theu. The content was condensed from the original SCIF proposal submitted by: Sarah Hinners, Faculty (City + Metropolitan Planning), Amy Sibul, Faculty (Biology), Quaid Harding (Undergraduate Biology), Nick Kiahtipes (Undergraduate Urban Ecology), Amanda Dillon (Masters City + Metropolitan Planning, Real Estate Development), Nannette Larsen (Masters City + Metropolitan Planning), Debolina Banerjee (PhD Candidate City + Metropolitan Planning), Sue Pope (Campus Facilities) and Mason Kriedler (PhD Civil + Environmental Engineering).
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Originally post on @theU on April 1, 2019.
By Emerson Andrews, Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund program manager
Did you know that every semester U students are investing in a clean energy future? In the past 15 years, students have come together on two occasions to pass self-imposed fees to create a fund for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. Both of these initiatives defined a more concrete pathway toward carbon neutrality while providing a mechanism to achieve the dream of a renewably powered future.
The resulting Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a revolving loan fund (RLF) dedicated to large-scale sustainability projects at the University of Utah. To date, the SEF has invested $235,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on campus.
Now faculty and staff have an opportunity to contribute to this same fund. Sustainable investment on campus doesn’t have to rely solely on student fees. This April, in honor of Earth Month, we encourage our faculty and staff to join our students to take direct, tangible action to address climate change and realize our students’ vision of a clean energy future.
Due to the nature of the projects that are funded, the SEF reduces greenhouse gas emissions, water use, fuel use and waste. Because of these benefits, it helps the University meet its goals of carbon, waste and water neutrality.
Sustainability-oriented RLFs exist across campuses nationwide. These funds provide up-front capital to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that result in cost savings. As the projects pay back the loan, the money coming in from these cost savings is used to fund other projects. Quite simply, revolving funds are renewable sources of money for renewable projects.
Creating an RLF addresses a major roadblock in campus sustainability: High initial costs make many sustainability measures difficult for colleges and universities to finance, despite the fact that these projects often have long-term cost savings. These funds capitalize on the long-term profitability of sustainability projects by covering these initial costs while securing the return they produce for future initiatives, making such projects much more feasible.
Additionally, RLFs internalize the benefits of cost savings and energy production. Because the university’s fund uses existing resources to pay for projects, rather than seeking external funding, it allows the university to capture the full financial benefits of renewable energy and efficiency projects.
Just in the past few years, our students’ efforts have resulted in the following:
- Mounted solar arrays on the S.J. Quinney College of Law parking canopy, Kennecott Mechanical Engineering building and Taft Nicholson Center.
- Replaced old heaters at Red Butte Garden greenhouses with new high-efficiency and low-polluting models.
- Installed motion- and daylight-sensitive LED lighting in the Special Collections area of Marriott Library to reduce energy and preserve collections.
These projects now return more than $25,000 a year to the fund in energy savings, which accounts for almost 20 percent of funding available for new projects. Within a few years, the growing fund will outpace student fees and staff donations demonstrating the power of an RLF.
Despite all of these benefits, the majority of the SEF projects have been funded only through student fees. Of the 80 plus funds like this at campuses around the nation, the university’s is one of five that relies almost entirely on student funding.
Now, University of Utah’s faculty and staff have an opportunity to match the efforts of the students to build a sustainable campus. A simple $20 per month donation (just $10 per paycheck for U employees) will offset a single person’s portion of all carbon emissions coming from campus operations. Our students have put their dollars to work for the greater good. Now it is your turn. Join us in making an investment in sustainability this year. With your help, we will continue to make the U a better place for all who live, work and play here.
Click here to learn more about the Sustainable Energy Fund and how you can make it grow.
How the project benefited the library
Then: Lights in the Special Collections area were typically on 10-13 hours per day
Now: Lights now are only activated when there is activity and only in the area where that activity is occurring
Then: A compact fluorescent bulb is 54 watts, lasts about 10,000 hours and produces heat
Now: An LED bulb is 25 watts, lasts about 50,000 hours and doesn’t produce heat.
Originally posted on @theU on November 26, 2018.
By Brooke Adams, senior news writer, University of Utah Communications
Paper and photographs can’t take the heat. Or the light.
Both elements cause historic, fragile documents to breakdown over time, much to the dismay of curators of the Special Collections at the Marriott Library.
Enter a trio of students — Sierra Govett, Dillon Seglem and Yinhuan Huang — in search of a project for Jennifer J. Follstad Shah’s environmental and sustainability studies capstone class last spring.
Govett initially proposed they tackle excessive light use across campus, especially at times when buildings are unoccupied.
“A lot of buildings on campus have lights on more than they should and we wanted to find some place we could address lighting at a large enough scale to make a difference, said Govett.
But the students abandoned that idea after realizing vast differences in lighting systems from floor-to-floor and building-to-building would make a standardized solution impossible.
Bill Leach, sustainability project coordinator for Facilities Management, suggested the students instead look at what might be done to address lighting concerns in the Marriott Library. Ian Godfrey, director of library facilities, was “not only excited about the prospect of a lighting controls project, but had an area in mind,” Leach said.
That area? Special Collections.
Leach, Godfrey and Emerson Andrews, Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) coordinator, helped the students conduct an audit of the space, come up with a plan and develop a budget.
Their idea: install a new lighting system with LED bulbs that are motion and daylight sensitive. Lights above each row activate only when someone moves into the area and there is insufficient daylight.
“To take light off these resources is a huge benefit for us,” Godfrey said. “Everything in here is rare and unique. Paper is always in a state of degradation. Anytime you are lowering the temperature and reducing the heat, you are slowing the deterioration process.”
The students applied for and received a SCIF revolving loan of $40,000, which paid for installation of a new lighting system over the summer. The loan fund is specifically used for energy and money saving ideas proposed by students, faculty and staff for energy conservation, renewable energy production and water conservation projects. A Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart incentive grant helped off-set some of the project’s cost.
The library will repay the loan over 13 years, using money from utility cost savings. But the impact — both monetary and in preservation of its collections — will be ongoing.
“I am thrilled that this project, initiated by these three students in my capstone class, is coming to fruition and will help to reduce the campus carbon footprint while preserving library resources,” said Follstad Shah, an assistant professor in environmental and sustainability studies and research assistant professor in geography.
The SCIF revolving loan fund used in the project is available to all students, faculty and staff who have an idea for saving energy and money. It has paid for other energy projects, such as solar panels and heating system upgrades, but this is the first lighting project, said Myron Willson, deputy chief sustainability officer.
“We were pretty excited to do something that made such a difference,” said Govett, who graduated last spring with degrees in environmental studies and ballet.
Govett and Seglem toured the retrofitted space for the first time in mid-November.
“It’s really cool to come in here and see it working with the motion sensors and all,” said Seglem, a senior majoring in environmental studies.
Funded by SCIF
The Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, created through an ASUU initiative in 2008, collects about $180,000 yearly from a $2.50 per student fee. Since 2009, it has awarded more than $900,000 to projects aimed at enhancing sustainability on the U campus.
The fund receives about 30 to 45 proposals each year and approves grants for 20 to 25 requests, which typically range from $200 to $40,000, according to Emerson Andrews, SCIF coordinator.
Projects funded have included the edible campus gardens, a beekeeping initiative, installation of screech owl habitat boxes, Bike to the U Day, several solar energy initiatives, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Learn more by clicking here.
Originally posted on @theU on November 19, 2018
By Brooke Adams, senior writer, University of Utah Communications
Last November Professor Barbara Brown and some colleagues were in the middle of interviewing a candidate for a position in the Department of Family & Consumer Studies when there was a smack on the window — a noise so loud and violent it startled and instantly silenced the candidate.
A bird in full flight had flown into the second-story window on the northeast side of the Alfred Emory Building.
Forty minutes later, interview over, Brown ventured outside and there on the ground was the still-stunned bird — a Cedar Waxwing.
Years earlier she had found a dead Bohemian Waxwing near the building, but thought it was an isolated incident. But now, as Brown surveyed the area, she found seven more carcasses under the mirrored glass entryway that perfectly reflects the sky and trees on Presidents Circle.
“It was discouraging to realize I may have been working here for years and not known I needed to take action to prevent these bird strikes,” said Brown, an environmental psychologist who studies links between physical environments and human behavior. She considers herself a “sort of birder” but Cedar Waxwings “have always been one of my favorite birds. They are the finest, cutest birds you’ve ever seen.”
Between November 2017 and March 2018, Brown counted a total of 20 dead birds near her building; most were Cedar Waxwings.
“The birds think they are flying right into an open area, smack the mirrored glass and die,” said Brown, who deduced that the birds are attracted to the fruiting crabapples on the lawn at Presidents Circle.
Brown enlisted three students to work on the project: Angelo Antonopoulos, a senior from Greece majoring in environmental and sustainability studies; Sarah Siddoway, a senior from Farmington majoring in biology; and Erika Kusakabe, a senior from West Jordan also majoring in environmental and sustainability studies.
The team also connected with Sarah Bush, an associate professor of biology who is collecting the bird carcasses to use in a parasite research project, and Lisa Thompson, exhibit developer and interpretive planner at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU). Some birds, if in good structural condition, may also be prepared to use as museum specimens.
The team researched Cedar Waxwings; bird deaths; bird strikes and contributing building design factors; bird migration patterns; and mitigation measures.
They concluded that the 20 dead birds at AEB appeared significant. In comparison, the 2017 Salt Lake Avian Collision Survey of downtown Salt Lake City found only 44 dead birds in a 20-block area. In addition, the birds found downtown represented a variety of species.
They also determined that unique features of the northeast end of AEB — tunnel-like openings to multiple reflective windows that make it appear to be a passageway — were contributing to the problem.
The only way to deal with this “hotspot of death” was to mitigate the danger by somehow altering the windows, the team concluded.
The best solution was something called “Feather Friendly Bird Deterrent” — a film that is placed on windows and then removed, leaving behind little dots even spaced over the surface. Birds see the dots and recognize an obstacle, while people are still able to see through the window.
“The problem is that the site is three stories tall and to get to the upper windows you need a lift or scaffolding, which is expensive,” she said. The team learned the cost of doing all the north-end windows would be about $27,000.
Doing something, they decided, was better than nothing, so in September they applied for a $10,000 SCIF grant from the U’s Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) — enough money to cover a third of the windows.
“Our goals are to mitigate an existing hotspot of bird deaths from window strikes, to evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation, and to develop a citizen science outreach component to raise awareness and identify whether other hotspots exist,” the team wrote in its grant proposal. “In this way, we are consistent with the SCIF mission statement that funds projects that ‘reduce the University of Utah’s negative impact on the environment.’”
The AEB Bird Strike Mitigation proposal received approval in October. Last week, Blake Parrish of Scottish Window Tinting installed the protective coating on a section of reflective windows.
The fact that funding allowed only a portion of the windows to be covered has created a controlled research design to test the effectiveness of the film. If additional dead birds are found, the team will be able to determine which section they struck.
The team’s grant proposal also included an educational outreach component aimed at raising awareness of the diversity of birds on campus and cataloguing other hot spots in need of mitigation.
“We hope that students start to appreciate the connections between bird life and campus life and realize it’s not like birds are ‘over there somewhere’ but that birds are all around us,” Brown said.
Siddoway worked with the NHMU’s Thompson to develop the “University of Utah Bird Window Collision Project,” a site on iNaturalist that encourages citizen engagement in science. People can upload photos of dead birds and information about the site and circumstances where the bird was found. Posters around campus advertise and encourage participation in the project.
“I am really interested in conservation,” Siddoway said. “I graduate in December and want to pursue a career in conservation and research, so this seemed up my alley. We had ups and downs and there were points we didn’t know if we would get any bird mitigation windows, but I am glad we got at least part of them.
“It is amazing, actually, that things are happening,” she said.
Bird friendly buildings
Several other buildings at the U — the S.J. Quinney College of Law and Gardner Commons — have bird-friendly windows; the features are primarily intended to reduce heat, but that also deter bird strikes. Feather Friendly films such as that used in this project are a good option for older buildings.
If you’d like to contribute to or track the University of Utah Bird Window Collision Project, click here or email the team at UUbirdstrike@gmail.com. You also can text your sightings and photos to 385-200-0813.