UI enters final year for 2020 sustainability goals


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UI EV vehicle charging station (via a 2018 Office of Sustainability Report. )

Julia Poska | January 1, 2020

In 2010, former University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced the 2020 Vision: The University of Iowa’s Sustainability Targets. It laid out out sustainability goals to reach within the next decade, which began today. 

The goals were as follows:

1. Become a Net‐negative Energy Consumer

This goal indicated that the university should consume less energy in 2020 than it did in 2010, despite projected growth. Building energy consumption reports from The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) indicate energy energy consumption growth from 2005 to 2013 and 2013 to 2018. A 2018 presentation to the campus faculty council, though, provided data indicated that energy consumption was below the baseline, if baseline included projected consumption for new buildings.

2. Green Our Energy Portfolio

The document indicated that the University would consume 40% renewable energy in 2020. Since 2010, the university has increased production of energy through renewable biomass sources like oat hulls and miscanthus grass in the on-campus power plant. A 2018 presentation to the campus faculty council reported 17% renewable energy in 2017.

3. Decrease Our Production of Waste

This goal indicated that the university would “divert” (meaning recycle or compost” 60% of waste by 2020. The Office of Sustainability has since implemented a “tiny trash” program to encourage recycling and a dorm room composting program. The most recent data, for 2017, indicates a 38% diversion rate.

4. Reduce the Carbon Impact of Transportation

The university aimed to reduce per-capita fossil fuel emissions from campus transportation methods by 10%. A 2018 report to the university’s staff council reported a 14% reduction in per-capita transportation emissions, due in part to the campus’s fleet of electric vehicles and solar charging station.

 

5. Increase Student Opportunities to Learn and Practice Principles of Sustainability

6. Support and Grow Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability‐focused and Related Areas

7. Develop Partnerships to Advance Collaborative Initiatives, both Academic and Operational

The last three goals provided qualitative measures, more difficult to measure and assess directly. The university undoubtedly provides  sustainability opportunities for students, in both practice and research, and has fostered numerous collaborative initiatives.

Stay tuned over the next 364 days to see whether these goals are fully met.

 

 

Tonight, University of Iowa students will discuss climate justice through film, theatre, and storytelling.


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Join the Climate Narrative Project Fellows tonight for an evening of film, theatre, art and storytelling focused on issues of climate justice and climate change.

Wednesdsay, December 7 
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Becker Communication Studies Building Rm 101

The Climate Narrative Project is a special media arts initiative through the Office of Sustainability designed to reach across multilpe academic disciplines and provide regenerative approaches to energy, food, agriculture, water and waste management, community planning, and transportation.

Jeff Biggers is the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability, where he oversees the Climate Narrative Project.

This semester, eight fellows worked with Biggers on semester-long investigative projects. This year’s eight fellows include:

Shelby Cain:The Conscience and the Consumer
Carlo Acevedo: El clima y la justicia:Poemas
Shirley Wan: Voices of Huo
Nazira Coury: The Other Side: Las Voces
J. Creek Hoard: Four Walks
Solomon Worlds:Edu-nature-nal
Kate Gylten: The Art of Oil
Jeffery Recker: Not One or a Million

The Climate Narrative Project is an investigative initiative: What accounts for the gap between science and action on climate change, and what can we do more effectively to communicate informed stories and galvanize action?

Learn more about the fellows here and see the the Climate Narrative Project outlines and discussions visit https://sustainability.uiowa.edu/climatenarrative/

University Sustainability Charter Committee welcomes new members


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In order to reach the goal of 40% renewable energy by 2020 at the University of Iowa, the Office of Sustainability spearheaded many biomass projects. The university has planted 2,500 acres of mescanthus across the state in order to produce about 22,500 tons of renewable biopower feedstock. (USDA/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | September 21, 2016

The University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability has welcomed new team members with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to continue working toward the 2020 Sustainability Vision.

The 2020 goals were established by President Sally Mason in 2010 as a means to recognize successful sustainability initiatives and to “expand sustainability efforts in several key areas of operations, research, education, and outreach.” Some of the targets include achieving net-negative energy growth, decreasing waste production, reducing the campus’ carbon impact due to transportation, and to support and expand interdisciplinary sustainability-related research.

The Sustainability Charter Committee, overseen by the Office of Sustainability, is comprised of faculty, staff and students that assist in the implementation of sustainable practices within existing campus systems. Tony Senio, sports turf manager for the University of Iowa recently joined the committee, becoming the first person to represent the Athletics Department in the group. Senio has managed all of the Athletic Department’s plants and turf since 2008. He said, “Sustainability can be a weird thing for people. It almost comes off as a negative word, but it’s about perspective. I feel like it’s more about doing the right thing; it’s about simplicity.”

Amanda Bittorf, marketing specialist for University Housing & Dining, also joined the group, becoming the first housing and dining representative to serve on the committee. Bittorf has worked at the University of Iowa for two years and said that she has led several sustainability initiatives. “With housing about 95 percent of the first-year class, I really do think we play an instrumental role in introducing students to sustainable practices and creating habits,” she said.

To round out this year’s new members, the Office of Sustainability also welcomes a new recycling coordinator, Beth MacKenzie. MacKenzie first began working in the recycling industry in 2006 for the City of St. Louis, where she said that she dramatically increased the waste diversion rate for the city. While MacKenzie’s background is primarily in municipal government and non-profit organizations, she said that she’s excited to join the University’s team. “It just has a more vibrant culture that I think will be a fun opportunity to work in. Just being around young people; young people have really great ideas and a fresh perspective on things,” she said.

UI to host bike commuter challenge in April


Photo by twbuckner, Flickr.
Photo by twbuckner, Flickr.

As part of Earth Month, the University of Iowa is hosting  a commuter bike challenge throughout April.

Departments at UI can create teams of cyclists who will report the distance they commuted and the number of trips made each week.

The winning department will receive a trophy.

To find out more about this challenge, click here.

UI: turn off electronics before Thanksgiving break


Photo by satmandu, Flickr

University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability is reminding students and staff to power down their electronics if they leave town for Thanksgiving.

Many electronics such as phone chargers continue to use energy even when they’re not in use. These should get unplugged before leaving for Thanksgiving break.

Read more advice from the Office of Sustainability here.

On the Radio: UI increases recycling at Kinnick Stadium


Photo by scottfidd, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode highlights recycling efforts at UI’s Kinnick Stadium.

This football season recycling efforts will increase both inside and outside of Kinnick Stadium.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

UI to host sustainability rally


Photo by Jon Fravel (jfravel, Flickr).

On October 11, the University of Iowa is hosting a sustainability rally for the campus and community.

The rally will take place in the Kinnick Stadium press box. Participating groups include the UI Environmental Coalition, Engineers for a Sustainable World, ECO Hawks, Sierra Student Coalition, City of Iowa City, Iowa City Summer of Solutions, the Backyard Abundance program, representatives from UI President Sally Mason’s office, Facilities Management, the Sustainability Curriculum Advisory Committee, the Water Sustainability Initiative, and the Office of Sustainability.

Students will have a chance to meet with these groups and form relationships with them.

For more information, including how to register for the event, go here.

 

 

From the archives: UI students return from Copenhagen well-informed, optimistic


COP15 logoIn just her third year at the University of Iowa, Bethany Patten never dreamed she would be able to truthfully add “attended an international climate conference” to her resume. But now she can.

While most UI students likely sought respite from lectures, writing assignments and most anything academic during their long month of winter break, Patten – an International Studies and Economics double major – was among eight UI students who did just the opposite, immersing herself in the complicated scientific, political and economic discourse of COP15 – the much-anticipated UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

While attendees did have the brief chance to take in normal sites and sounds of the green, “City of Spires,” their stay in Copenhagen was far from leisurely.

“I didn’t see the sun in Copenhagen for four days,” said Senior Abbie Gruwell, who studies Political Science and International Business and interns at the UI’s newly-created Office of Sustainability. “Every day was different.”

As did most of the UI students, Gruwell spent the bulk of her two weeks at the conference attending symposia and listening to lectures from field experts on a variety of topics.

This central eating area of the Bella Center was surrounded by a huge exhibit area and conference rooms for NGO programs, an exhibit and office area for nations and NGOs, two plenary session rooms, negotiating rooms, and special areas for the press.

Continue reading