Growing Sustainability: Engagement and Initiatives in Husky Athletics

This week, Karen Baebler, assistant athletic director at UW, payed a visit to the Green Greeks to speak about her the sustainability efforts in the Athletic Department here on campus. Karen has worked in the athletic department for over 20 years. She started the green initiative within the department in 2012. It was inspiring to hear from her experiences at a place we all know and love: the Husky Stadium!

dsc_0046In 2012, with the renovation of Husky Stadium, sustainability in the athletic department was in full bloom. The architecture department was very versed in sustainable building, and the department wanted to become LEED certified. During the renovation process, 95% of the materials used were recycled on-site or off-site. For example, the old field is now used at Montlake Park.

Following the course of sustainable practice, the new stadium now utilizes a two-stream waste system to maximize correct bin placement. The primary initiative at the stadium has been waste diversion, as thousands of people use it on a weekly basis during the football season. In 2005, there was no compost at all; 85% of waste was garbage. Now, the stadium has conquered a 15% garbage rate, the rest being compost and recycle. Clearly, some great steps have been made.

As for future plans, Baebler plans to implement LED lights in Dempsey. She also hopes to install solar panels on the stadium, which could potentially power the entire stadium for the football season.

There are several ways students can get involved in green initiatives at UW, including capstone projects, ENVIR480 (a class involving an action-learning component), UW solar, and many more. We were so grateful for your guidance, Karen!

Finally, the Green Greeks had our elections for our 2018 executive board. We are so excited to welcome our new Director, Sasha Gordon to the team! Congrats Sasha, we can’t wait to see all that your bring to our group this year and how you plan to bring sustainability to our community.

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Pictured left to right: Sasha Gordon, Amber Longrie, Karen Baebler, Talia Haller, and Rick Keil.

How to Succeed in Making the Business Case for Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, the business case is workable from all angles. Not only is it far more cost effective to invest in sustainable practices, but it keeps workers happy. On November 7th, the UW Green Greeks learned from two women, Annie Thomas and Katie Secrist, who work as consultants at Sustainable Business Consulting, located in Seattle. Essentially, what they do is help different companies integrate sustainability into their business model. They do so by assessing sustainability efforts across all departments and listening to what the business is struggling with and offering assistance where they can.

 

So, what does the next generation of business look like? Regarding Generation Y and millennials, 88% of grad students and young professionals factor an employer’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) score into where they want to work. 88% would consider leaving their job if their company’s CSR performance no longer held up. Therefore, people want to support sustainable business and are not interested in supporting companies that are lacking in this area.

 

There are several universal barriers that need to be overcome for business to make the switch. People are frequently overworked and do not have the time to implement any changes. Sometimes people don’t feel empowered and experience a sense of apathy and loss of enthusiasm. So, what is the solution?

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Several big-name companies have implemented changes that have greatly improved the quality of their business. For example, UPS stopped taking left turns on delivery routes and saved $50 million. Washington State Convention and Trade Center installed more than 6,000 energy efficient lighting fixtures, which saved them more than $120,000. The simple things make a huge difference.

 

The argument here is that it’ll always be worth it to make a change. People will be happier coming to work and the company will save a considerable amount of money.

 

Thank you, Katie and Annie, for your wisdom and expertise in this field. It’s inspiring to know that there are strong players making the business case for sustainability in our community every day!

 

sbc-picTo learn more about Sustainable Business Consulting and the work that Katie and Annie do, click HERE!

Speaker Highlight: JR Fulton and a History of UW Sustainability

At our most recent meeting, the Green Greeks got to listen to an experienced speaker, JR Fulton, about his role in keeping the UW campus sustainable. He has been passionate about sustainable buildings as soon as he found out that without proper information and execution, buildings can be incredibly detrimental to the environment. He has worked with Housing and Food services for quite some time as an architect and previously spent time living in an Eco Village in Scotland. Thanks to JR’s presentation, we were able to learn a lot from him about sustainability from an operational perspective.

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To construct a sustainable building, it’s vital to understand the concept of resiliency. The building need to be able to respond to the climate and be future-proofed to be able to anticipate change that could challenge the design of said building. Sustainable buildings also need to have a high-performance ranking; they must be energy efficient, healthy, comfortable, cost effective to operate, and durable.

 

There is a sustainable building standard called LEED, which stands for Leadership Energy and Environmental Design. It is run by the US Green Standards Board. The University of Washington has 36 LEED accredited buildings on campus, which is something to be proud of! Mercer Court even has a rainwater system used for laundry; domestic water is not used at all when the system is working properly. There is always room for improvement, and our campus si already off to an amazing start.

 

So, how does one keep a building both accessible and efficient? Effective engineering. For example, it’s not necessary to strictly limit hot water use, as long as the water heaters are efficient. It is the little details like this that increase the longevity of these buildings and inspire further innovation.

 

The trick, as JR explains, is to use every sustainable resource available.

 

These techniques are being implemented on campus, as we speak, in the North Campus housing construction

 

As far as the future goes, Fulton believes society will move towards eco districts, which entails an entire neighborhood that is hooked together energy-wise. The UW campus is an ideal place for this sort of system.

 

Thank you JR Fulton, we are so thankful to have you working towards a better future here on campus.

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Speaker Highlight: Advice from Candi Mabee, A Sustainability-Loving House Director

A former professional opera singer, house director, and a passion for sustainability? What’s not to love about Candi Mabee, who blessed the Green Greek Representative Program with her presence at our meeting this week. We learned a lot from her experience as a sustainability-loving house director, and are very thankful to have her here in the Greek Community at UW.
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Candi Mabee, the house director at Phi Mu, is quite an inspiration to us all. In her single year working with Phi Mu, she has driven Phi Mu to the highest standard of sustainability. She understands a green lifestyle as the right thing to do for the future and our Earth. In the past as a house director she has focused on the zero waste initiative, meaning utilizing compost and recycle systems to save money and protect the earth from methane gas release.

 

In order to ease the process of ensuring everyone in the chapter is doing their part, Candi recommends getting the kitchen staff on board, having the system set up so everything is easy and ready to go, accountability of individual members, and to prioritize communication about what goes where. This includes signage, frequent social media posts, and educational programs at chapter meetings. In regard to talking to house moms/directors about sustainability practices, Candi suggests coming prepared with research on cost benefits and how your house is doing, understanding the motivations of the house director, and working with them to find a solution. The key is constant communication.

 

Candi also recommends shopping at wholesale retail centers, such as the Costco on Aurora, for chapter necessities. Specifically, the Costco business center as they have the necessary compostable utensils and mealtime staples for an extremely reasonable price, as seen below:

Sustainable item Cost
12oz world centic cold cups $15.99 for 200 units
12oz cold cup lids $7.79 for 200 units
Clamshell (late plates boxes) $18.59 for 100 units
9″ plate $19.99 for 250 units
12 oz world centric hot cup $12.69 for 200 units
12 oz hot cup $16.09 for 200 units

Following Candi’s presentation, the Green Greeks had the opportunity to explore our own case studies and apply the tactics and tools Candi presented to  us to see the applicability of her experience and prepare for real life situations.

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Thank you Candi for those helpful hints. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and we appreciate your impact here on campus!

Green Greeks Wishes UW a Happy First Day of School!

With summer time coming to a close, we at Green Greeks are so excited to welcome everyone back to campus and look forward to getting to work with all of our new and returning members this fall. We are so excited to announce that after two years of hard work and perseverance, we will be an accredited course this year while we dive into our third year of sustainability in the Greek Community. The Green Greeks Representative Program offers 1 credit to all of our members and up to 2 credits for our project leaders, which is an amazing accomplishment for us and we are so excited to offer this opportunity to our members.

Over the last two years we have learned a lot from our members and from those around us. We have seen over 150 representatives in over 50 unique major programs across the University of Washington with a Sorority participation rate of 84% and a Fraternity participation rate of 57%. We have seen fourteen different chapters save an average of $2,800 per year through sustainable water solutions: which is around $2ook savings in total. Currently, we are on track to save upwards of $500k in the next 5 years and it wouldn’t be possible without the immense support we’ve received from our brothers and sisters campus wide!img_2682

This year, we will be still meeting Tuesday’s every other week starting on October 3rd. We have some amazing speakers and presentations lined up for this quarter and can’t wait to share what we learn with the whole Greek Community. Since we are now accredited, our grading is based mainly on participation so that we can get as many men and women working to better our homes and our environment as possible. With that in mind, we are so excited to welcome new (and old) members to our new Green Greek course and can’t wait to see what kind of positive impact we can have on the UW campus this year.

Check out the full course information here.

We wish everyone a successful first week of classes, Go Dawgs!

Member Highlight: Alex Urasaki

This week we’re highlighting another member of our project leader board, Alex Urasaki. Alex is currently our VP of Events and works endlessly to plan our fundraisers and feeds. This quarter alone, he worked to coordinate our Pagliacci Pizza Feed as well as our Chipotle Fundraiser. He is currently a Junior here at the University of Washington, majoring in Environmental Sciences and Resource Management, making him a very valuable asset to our leadership team. Alex is also a Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for EcoReps, another organization on campus. Some other events Alex has made a huge impact on are the UW Sustainability Earth Day event and our upcoming Green Greek Competition (stay tuned for more info in the future!)

In addition to being a valuable asset to our organization, he contributes to the Greek community through his Chapter as well. He is a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Gamma Chi chapter. He currently holds the position of House and Sustainability Chairman and is the former Vice President and Philanthropy Chairman. Sigma Nu prides themselves on their principles of love, honor, and truth, which Alex works to incorporate in his life.

In his free time, Alex spends a lot of time outside, as any Green Greek should! Alex also is very engaged in the music world, being a self-proclaimed “avid concert-goer and music fan,” and is highly active on his Soundcloud, sharing music with other music lovers. He really enjoys being involved in the Green Greek organization because “it’s the most passionate group I’ve worked with so far and the events are a really exciting way to see sustainability in action.” In the future, Alex is really looking forward to spreading the word about the program even further, the April Pizza feed was just the beginning!

Look out for more of his fantastic event planning in the future and on facebook, Great work Alex!

Speaker Highlight: Kristi Straus

Did you know that the way we live our lives now is threatening our life support system here on Earth? How about the fact that 1/3 of the waste on the University of Washington’s campus is food waste? As of 2012, we are using 156% of the biodiversity on our planet, according to speaker Kristi Straus. We were lucky enough to have Dr. Kristi Straus come and talk to us this last Tuesday, May 9th, about her passion for sustainability sustainable habits.

Sustainability is a very broad term that essentially means to meet your present needs without it affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs or run out of resources. The premise behind sustainable eating is finding “What needs to change so we can live sustainably… it also includes economic and social components…socially just and economically manageable for those who live in those systems,” according to Dr. Straus. Everyone consumes food, but few people know how to do so in a sustainable manner. Sustainable food habits include food that is ecologically responsible, fair and accessible, produces no waste, is healthy, and is local.  While the idea of “Local” is up to your discretion, the concept your “food-print” comes into play when you think about the distance food travels to get to your plate. Your food-print tells you the environmental impact of your food consumption, which is most commonly measured in the miles it takes for food to travel from the point of production to the point of consumption. Currently, the average distance food travels to get to us is around 1,500 miles; just think of the carbon dioxide implications involved in that much travel!

The most important thing you can do to reduce your food-print is to eat locally – within reason. Eating local doesn’t just reduce the food-print, but it also provides fresher food and benefits the immediate economy of your community. Buying local could mean participating in a community sponsored agriculture program or buying at a farmer’s market. To get the most out of this, look for organic certified products: they’re not only better for the environment, but they’re better for you too!

Kristi Straus grew up in California and went to school in Maine as a Biology Major. She then took time off to travel and went to Morocco to participate for the Peace Corps for two years, where she worked with health and clean water and witnessed how sustainable living works in other countries. Dr. Straus said that it “made her think about resources and happiness in a new way.” She now has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and focuses on how conservation, science, and policy all play into one another.

(For UW Students) To find out more about the fight for sustainability and our planet, Dr. Straus recommends taking ENVIR 239, ENVIR 439, ENVIR 240, or ENVIR 495. Or visit one of these sites:

 

Member Highlight: Talia Haller

This week, we’re highlighting on our fearless leader, so everyone gets the chance to learn a little more about our team. Thanks to her efforts, Greek Greeks has faced much success over the last few years with countless fundraisers and events all working to reduce the footprint of the UW Greek system on the planet we’re so lucky to call home. Not to mention, we were nominated for the Husky Green Award this year, and even though we did not win, it was still an honor to even be nominated.

Tali is a student of the Foster’s School of Business at the University of Washington, hoping18275270_1528386973851827_5531072327266539316_n to pursue a double-major in Business Administration and International Studies with a focus on energy and the environment. She is also a member of the Mu chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority here on campus, founded in 1910. Sigma Kappa partners with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to the work she does with Green Greeks and around the community. She devotes herself to her chapter and her community and Tali’s work on our small campus is just a warm-up for her international environmental conservation goals. As our director, Talia not only leads our bi-weekly meetings, but arranges for speakers from all over the conservation and business worlds. She motivates her members to not only stay on top of their projects, but provides the tools we need to succeed.

When she isn’t busy saving the planet, Talia enjoys any chance she can get to go explore the beautiful world around us. She spends her free time doing yoga, hiking and sailing, amongst other adventures. Just this past weekend, Tali had the opportunity to skydive for the first time!

Thanks Talia for all that you do, keep on adventuring!

Speaker Highlight: Jaffer Ali

Following a busy week filled with Earth Day activities, we were fortunate enough to welcome Jaffer Ali, CEO of Nue Power, to our meeting this week. He shared his insights with us, covering everything from his childhood to his entrance into the business world. He shared with us some tips regarding how to make good first impressions with companies and how to succeed at entrepreneurship by incorporating sustainability efforts in the field of business just like he did.

Born in Saudi Arabia, and then later living in Pakistan, Ali came to the United States at the age of 4. He knew no English and was fully immersed in the American culture with no warning. A few years later he learned about the stock market by asking his father about it. He eventually learned how you can own tiny pieces of large businesses and instantly he was hooked. He was particularly interested in investing in Coca-Cola.  

Fast forward to 2017 and Jaffer Ali has not only created his own business but successfully created a network and filled such a unique niche. With Ali’s company, Nue Power, his main vision is to implement solar energy solutions within communities, especially within homes in the Pacific Northwest. He believes that in a few years solar panels will take over because of its efficiency. Solar power will soon become cheaper and more accessible than any other source of energy.

We learned that compared to other branches of business, entrepreneurship is much riskier and more competitive than other positions in business. Without a doubt, entrepreneurship has many benefits but also requires large risks, which is evident in what Ali did. Technology is advancing is such a quick rate that people are constantly trying to reinvent every process or item in hopes to save time, save money, reduce risk, and even increase status. Although this is true about technology, sustainability is another component that is becoming crucial in the field of business. Sustainable practices eventually lead to reliable products and a better corporate culture. Ali reminds us all about the importance of combining good business practices and sustainability in hope to create an eco-friendly future for all.

 

If you want to learn more about Jaffer Ali and Nue Power Solar, visit https://nuepowersolar.com/

Green Greeks Nominated for Husky Green Award

Green Greeks is proud to announce that we were recognized as a Husky Green Award Nominee this year for our exemplary leadership in the UW Community and our dedication to campus sustainability!

We are extremely appreciative of our leadership team, including Director Talia Haller, VP’s of Finance Mikey Callan and Shiv Chitre, VP of Operations Daniel Merz, VP of Fundraising and Events Alex Urasaki, and VP of Outreach Emma Conneely. We are also incredibly grateful for the numerous project leaders who do such awesome work in the community and produce successful results: Jane Green, Gavin Forster, Lia Carstens, Ben Weymiller, Natalie Logan, and Elizabeth Szorzad! Thank you all for your efforts.

And lastly, we are incredibly appreciative of the support we’ve received from the Greek Community as a whole, including Chapter Presidents, individual members, and the Greek governance organizations: IFC and Panhellenic.