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.

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!

Exec Spotlight: Daniel Merz

Everyone involved in the Green Greek Representative Program is passionate about sustainable practices, but having strong leadership like Daniel can help everyone reach that next level. We are proud to highlight Daniel Merz in our Executive spotlight this week!
Daniel Merz, our VP of Operations, has always had a knack for loving the environment. “I’ve always been very passionate about the environment, having had recycling and compost programs in all my previous schools. My passion definitely was born there.”

Sustainability can be a complex process that requires planning ahead and knowing what your own personal habits are. “On a grander scheme I have always been very efficiency oriented. Throughout my life I’ve always tried to streamline my daily practices and being sustainable naturally fit in. Whether that was turning off lights when I could, using less water when I can, and wasting right, it’s always fit into my way of living.”

 

Thinking of sustainability as simply being efficient with resources is a great way to think about it.

 

As for what his job as VP of Operations entails, he manages all the project groups, consults them in difficult situations, analyzes their performance, and guides them to their goals and club goals. A very important role!

 

When asked about how the Green Greek Representative Program has helped him to better his own environmental space, he proudly responded, “Green Greeks has given me an increased space to make changes not only to my environment to my communities. Professionally, I am able to grow as a leader, collaborating with both fellow students but sustainable professionals in Seattle Public Utilities and other environmental organizations, we can make this world a better place that lasts a lot longer for the human race. We just have to unify.”

 

Thank you, Daniel for all your hard work. We appreciate your leadership here at Green Greeks!dsc_0007

Green Greeks Turns Trash into Cash… Savings!

During Winter Quarter 2017, the Green Greek Representative Program has seven exciting projects, many of which are primed for success! A few projects are continuations from Fall Quarter 2016, including the Waste Right Project which is working to reduce and divert waste in the Greek Community.

 

The Comprehensive “Waste Solutions Package”

But they’re not working alone! In fact, the Waste Project Team has been working with a team of experts from local companies and utilities to roll out a comprehensive, money-saving “Waste Solutions Package” for Chapters. The list of experts involved includes Commercial Recycling & Composting Program Manager Pat Kaufman, Director of Solid Waste Compliance at Seattle Public Utilities Sally Hulsman, Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Elizabeth Szorad, and Solid Waste Field Inspector Brenda King. So far, four chapters have acted as case studies for implementing and making the business case for waste solutions: Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Chi, and Sigma Kappa. On Tuesday, January 24th, the Green Greek Representatives, led by the utility experts, did a waste audit of these chapters and four others to learn more about how to implement a Waste Solutions package within more chapters.

January 24th Waste Audit

Essentially, the waste management plan is a three-part approach to improving a chapter’s waste habits:

Phase One:

First, the Green Greek Representative will create a Waste Solutions Plan for their chapter. This entails creating a strategy for the implementation of recycling, composting, and waste disposal bins for all main areas, as well as acquiring the respective bags that will be needed for the new bins (i.e. green compostable bags and clear recycling bags), explanatory signage, and transitioning to sustainable materials (utensils, to-go containers, paper towels) so that most, if not all, household materials can be recycled or composted rather than thrown in the trash. In some cases, it might also include a plan for smaller recycling and composting containers for individual rooms to encourage sorting and stop chapter members from simply taking all the garbage they accumulate in their room and dumping it into a main trash bin. The plan will include the estimated costs and sourcing options for all necessary supplies, as well as a timeline.

Phase Two:

While the Waste Solutions Plan is being developed, the Representative will work with a Solid Waste Field Inspector from Seattle Public Utilities to set up the best pick-up schedule. For example, instead of getting the trash picked up Monday through Friday, the chapter may be able to have the trash picked up only two days a week by adding on two additional recycling pickups (which are free). This can reduce waste costs significantly. One fraternity’s current service levels was as follows: two 2-yd garbage dumpster pickups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which cost $1848.48 per month (2 Dumpsters x 3 pick-ups per week x $308.08 monthly cost of 1x per week pick-up) and one 2-yd recycling dumpster with one pickup, which was free. The recommended version was one 2-yd dumpster with four pickups per week at a new cost of only $1232.32 per month (1 Dumpster x 4 pick-ups per week x $308.08) and the one -yd recycling dumpster picked up three times per week (still free). The total yearly savings would be more than $7,100. On top of that, the Chapter has the potential to eliminate enormous fines it has been receiving for not recycling/composting correctly and for having waste outside of the specified bins, which totaled more than $485 from September to December 2016.

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Phase Three:

As the Waste Solutions Plan and new pickup schedule is implemented, the Representative must focus on creating an educated and respectful culture around the waste reduction efforts. This includes educating the Chapter on best waste practices through one or more Chapter presentations, putting up signs and reminding people on Facebook, and making the business case for waste reduction and diversion very clear.

The Big Gr$$n Barrier: Getting Around Up-front Capital Costs

Trash to Cash: Innovative Finance Mechanisms to expedite Waste Solutions roll out
Trash Cash: Innovative Finance Mechanisms to expedite Waste Solutions roll out

One of the biggest impediments to implementing a Waste Solutions package is the cost of the bins (one recycling slim jim is about $30, multiply that by 10, and you’re looking at $300 for recycling bins alone). This is of special concern because many Representatives wanting to make the changes fear that their chapters might not even use the bins and the investment would be wasted. In order to help Representatives pay the upfront costs of implementing a waste solutions plan, the Green Greek Finance team is working to create a low-risk loan system in which Chapters would receive and implement a full waste solutions package (including bins, signage, bags, sustainable kitchen materials, and a chapter education presentation) at a subsidized price, which would then be paid out of the savings the chapter sees in their waste utility bill over a specified time period.

Given that one fraternity expects to save over $7,500 in one year from the implementation of their waste solution package, whose upfront cost was $830, the return on investment is unquestionable. In fact, the net present value of such an investment (assuming a relatively high discount rate of 10%) is over $27,000 within 5 years. Now, that’s real savings.