University of Vermont

Sporks

December 2011 Newsletter

In this month's issue:

 


Announcing the December Environmental Forum

Student Presentations Forum

Wednesday, December 7th from 2-4pm
Davis Center - 4th Floor - Chittenden Bank Room

The student presentation's forum affords students an opportunity to present their coursework or individual research to the UVM community. Presentations could range from research on UVM's solar trackers to sustainability marketing and signage. Come check it out!


UVM Custodial Services a Leader in Green Cleaning

Leslye Kornegay, the Director of Custodial Services at UVM, and Paul Campo, the Quality Assurance Coordinator, presented at the November Environmental Forum to promote the steps they have taken to move to more environmentally-friendly practices. They gave an excellent presentation, one that Kornegay has given at conferences throughout the country, that highlighted steps the department has taken in all areas of their operations. From products and machinery, to employee schedules, UVM Custodial Services has made detailed effort to "clean green."

The process began four years ago when all custodial units on campus were merged into a single entity. This allowed the department to have a single vision that could be applied in providing a safe and clean atmosphere to all parts of UVM. That vision is to become the leader in the industry in sustainability, while remaining fiscally responsible. Custodial Services has specific goals in each of the basic tenets of sustainability. Environmentally, they use Green Seal products, modern equipment, recycled paper, reduce their contribution to the waste stream, and have implemented new cleaning systems. Socially, they seek to improve the health and well being of their employees (the Custodial Team can be seen below) and patrons through better training and staff development. Economically, they are having a much easier time because many of the products they use have become more available and are dropping in price so that they are comparable to the traditional products. The department has worked hard in enacting these goals through a series of efforts.

Cleaning products and equipment are an area where custodial departments generally have a huge environmental impact. UVM has taken several steps to reduce that impact. Green Seal products and new equipment have allowed them to use cold water and less water when cleaning. These products are much safer for their employees and everyone else at UVM. Microfiber cloths have allowed them to cut down on paper towel waste, as they can be used through 200 washes. Even after that, they are given to Residential Life to help clean up the messiest of dorm rooms at the end of the school year. Paper from old-growth forests has not been used for three years, and more universally-fitting trash bags allow for less waste and reduced cost. Finally, the matting system at building doors keeps dirt out of the main areas, lessening the need for cleaning products and allowing employees to be more efficient.

Employee happiness and efficiency has been a big part of Custodial Services' transition towards sustainability. Two years ago, they moved 16 positions from night to days as they began to do more of the office and classroom cleaning during the working hours. This has made the employees happier, students and faculty happier, and has saved energy by not having as many lights on around campus at night. They also moved away from having individual trash containers at every desk to shared hallway trash containers. This has cut down on employee trips to each building. Possibly the most important step has been redesigning the staff training program to focus on the sustainable practices at every required safety training and all-hands meetings as well as having a certification process for all new equipment. All of these steps have led to a reduction in cost for the department without layoffs and have reduced employee turnover.

Custodial Services isn't done in their efforts to move towards "Green Cleaning." Moving forward, they look to use some chemical-free practices. This includes water-only stripping, the use of ionized and ozonated water for sanitizing, and sanding down to clean tile. They also are replacing old linoleum with marmoleum. Marmoleum is recycled content material that so far has not needed to be finished as often. They believe that all these practices and their future plans have made them an industry leader in "Green Cleaning." This is something that students and faculty at UVM can be proud of and also feel better knowing they are in a cleaner, safer, more friendly environment.

- Craig Powers


Students Encouraged to Get Involved with the CEF

What is the Clean Energy Fund? It became clear to me at my first meeting that it is simply much more than a monetary fund that collects $10 a semester from each student. The CEF is student-funded and is a clear and concise way of raising awareness for our energy insecurities while developing sources of renewable energy on campus at the University of Vermont. As a student representative for the CEF, I take pride in making sure our student dollars are used for projects that promote energy development and produce change for our energy consumption and resources.

Being on the CEF Committee is a great experience I wish more students were able to enjoy. It’s a great opportunity to be part of something larger than myself and be able to participate and work with a group of professionals looking to secure the energy for the future. As my interest in renewable energy continues to develop, the CEF is a hands-on way to get involved and see renewable energy projects develop from ideas to actual energy-producing systems. The growing student and community involvement with renewable energy proposals and projects identifies that the population is cognizant of the energy crisis and willing to do something about it. 

With so many problems presented to students in environmental classes today, it is comforting to see a solution here on campus in the form of the Clean Energy Fund. It can be daunting to identify and learn of the numerous environmental problems we need to deal with, but the CEF gives hope for the future and shows that we are capable of coming up with solutions that promote a more sustainable campus and society. The CEF is merely a small portion of the whole solution to our fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but the fact that it is a student initiative and involves the University of Vermont campus means the green revolution is on its way.    

My involvement and ability to voice my opinion on something that helps the development of the university, while also raising awareness of a changing energy infrastructure, is an extremely valuable experience for me that I hope other students will continue to enjoy. Student involvement needs to continue to rise so that we can see positive movement on campus towards a more sustainable future. As the year progresses, we will see ideas and proposals from students and faculty start to turn into projects that will further help the mission of the CEF in developing a sustainable campus and community. 

- Frans van Bodengraven

CEF Official Logo


Energy Audit Class Gets Hands-On Experience

CDAE 195 – Energy Audit and Retrofit is a Community Development and Applied Economics course - focuses on teaching students the basics of building energy efficiency and energy auditing in both the class room and in the field. The development of the course was initially supported by UVM's Clean Energy Fund. The curriculum was initially developed by Gund Institute Fellow Gary Flomenhoft and was first offered in the 2010 Fall semester. After positive student feedback last year, the class was brought back again for the 2011 Fall semester. Led by David Keefe, the Manager for Training Services at Vermont Efficiency Investment Corporation, a strong focus was put on the background principles of heat, air, and moisture flow along with current diagnosis practices and efficient design techniques being practiced industry-wide.

David Keefe performs a diagnosis of combustion equipment.On Saturday November 13, the CDAE 195 class traveled to Buell Street to participate in an actual energy audit on an old home being leased to two of the students. With a class composed of continuing education, part-time, and full-time students across an array of interests and majors, having the chance to go into the field with an energy auditing professional is a great opportunity for learning. The class spent six hours inside and outside of the home, observing and performing tests from the attic to the basement. They performed a wide variety of tests used in the energy-auditing field ranging from a blower door test (to determine the air losses by depressurizing the home) to testing the combustion equipment for things such as overall efficiency, venting, and carbon monoxide outputs. David Keefe can be seen here performing a diagnosis of combustion equipment.

The students were able to work with all of the equipment used in a normal energy audit and help to make the appropriate recommendations from the findings. At the end of the day, the house on Buell was found to be extremely leaky and lacking insulation like many of the older houses in Burlington. Recommendations included blown in insulation and establishment of a better thermal envelope for the long term
and easy duct repairs and simple plastic window insulation and repairs for the winter. Energy auditing and retrofit will undoubtedly play a larger role as the price of fossil fuels continue to rise into the future. With a passionate instructor and a great, diverse class CDAE 195 – Energy Audit and Retrofit is yet another Clean Energy Fund success story.

- Ty Bereskie


Sustainibility Course Listings - Check Out these Great Courses

Biomass to Biofuels

This course covers a wide-range of Biofuels related science & technology topics, background & literature, as well as important environmental, economic, social and other Biofuels related issues. More information on schedules and how to enroll can be found at http://learn.uvm.edu/?Page=biomass_to_biofuels.html.

ENVS 187: Campus Sustainability

This service-learning course will focus on key operational aspects of campus sustainability using UVM as a case study. The course will explore campus operations through the lens of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a framework of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In addition to exploring sustainability throughout the whole campus system, guest lectures, class field trips, readings, and project work will be organized around nine campus operation themes: buildings, climate, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water.  The class will explore the current state of each operational aspect and will be given the opportunity to identify best management practices within each theme. Emphasis will be placed on the mapping, communication, and presentation of campus sustainability themes. More information at http://www.uvm.edu/sustain/campus-sustainability-course .

See past ENVS 187 work on STARS documentation on our website at: http://www.uvm.edu/sustain/aashe-stars

Applications of Renewable Energy in China

In the space of just a few years, China has become a global leader in renewable energy investment and industry, and much more growth is anticipated, writes Eric Martinot and Li Junfeng, authors of a new Worldwatch Institute report. Many countries including the United States and China see renewable energy equipment manufacturing as an economic driver follow the lead of Germany and Denmark. China currently gets 8% of its primary energy and 17% of its electricity from renewable sources. Wind power is the fastest-growing power-generation technology in China. The country is now the world's largest market for solar hot water systems, with nearly two-thirds of total global capacity. The government's goal of doubling the renewable energy share to 15% means that the amount of renewable energy will more than triple over a 15 year period. Some experts anticipate that this target could be exceeded, and that the share will keep rising beyond 2020. More information can be found at http://learn.uvm.edu/studyabroad/china-flpa/.

Energy and the City

Green Urbanism is a growing field of research and design; it brings together what we know about the functions of the natural environment and the form of the built environment.  The push for the UN Convention of Biodiversity is showing up internationally as urban habitat corridors, green space, and open space planning for cities. And there is there is considerable research on the health and livability of our urbanized places.  What is not well developed is the functionality and rationale for energy production from renewable energy, efficiency and co-generation within our urban built-environments. Check out the flyer here - NR 385 Gund Atelier for the Ecological Design/Economics Certificate