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!

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 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!

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.

Green Greeks Throw Pizza Fundraiser Spread Awareness on Sustainability Practices Throughout the Greek System

Coming to you live, on April 20th, catch your favorite Green Greeks for a Pizza Extravaganza you won’t want to miss! Catch us on the 17th Ave Median between Beta Theta Pi and Alpha Epsilon Phi. Not only do you get the chance to help your very own community improve our sustainability, but there is plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself in the process.

Greek Members Eat Pizza & Pledge GreenWe’ll be serving up pizzas from 12pm to 4pm, $2 a slice and $3 for two slices. Pizza options include Cheese, Pepperoni, and Hawaiian. Plus, no extravaganza would be complete without activities. We’ll have a water pong trivia game where you test your knowledge on sustainability and learn some cool information in the process. Additionally, you’ll find the classic corn-hole game that no outdoor event is complete without, and you can toss a frisbee into a compost bin and see how easy it is to compost in your everyday life. If simply playing games isn’t enough for you, winners get a BOGO free pizza card, courtesy of Pagliacci Pizza!

After playing games all afternoon and learning about ways you can help our Greek community become more sustainable and eco-friendly, we’ll have the opportunity for you to take the Green Pledge and become a part of our cause. Your pledge will become a part of our photo booth background where there will be plenty of props for you and your friends to pose with! Post your pictures on social media and use the tag #UWGreenGreeks to help spread the word. The best way to help your community is to get involved, so make your 4/20 productive and join us for pizza and a good time, we can’t wait to see everyone there!

 

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. 

 

UW-Solar + Green Greek Representative Program: Shining Collaboration

Two sustainability-focused groups at the University of Washington, UW-Solar and the Green Greek Representative Program, are collaborating on a project that has sunny prospects and dazzling potential. Essentially, the two groups will be working together to determine the potential for solar power in the UW Greek Community.

UW-Solar brings students and faculty together to carry out solar energy projects. The project tasks range from planning, governance, finance, design, development, economic, and environmental effects of infrastructure. These mid-to-short term solar power projects are small steps towards the long-run objectives of decarbonization, resilience, and information security.

Desiring to achieve similar goals, the Green Greek Representative Group works to make the Greek community a more sustainable place. So far, the Greek community has taken action to educate chapter members about recycling/composting, lighting efficiency, water conservation, and other general sustainability education topics. After focusing on many quick-fix problems, the Green Greek Representatives are now turning their attention to long-term projects.

Quoting myself, the current Director of the Green Greek Representative Program, from a May presentation: “Using too much energy and using energy inefficiently are huge problems in the Greek Community. We want to see what we can do to power our community more efficiently, bring down energy costs, and source as much of our power from clean energy sources as possible.”

Pictured: UW-Solar student helping the GGR Program initiate the project.

The U-District, where the UW Greek Community resides, is powered by Seattle City Light. As of 2014, Seattle City Light already had a highly renewable fuel mix, including Hydro (90%), Nuclear (4%), and Wind (4%). Less than two percent of energy comes from coal and other fossil fuel sources. Yet many energy customers are still pursuing solar energy too close this small gap, as well as additional benefits like paying less for energy in the long-run or getting paid for your electricity.

Solar power in the UW Greek Community has many additional perks. “The greatest benefit of this collaborative project is the potential for student engagement,” said Stefanie Young, the leader of UW-Solar. “The Greek Representatives involved with this project will gets hands-on experience working on a real-world energy project: they will be collecting data, preparing the feasibility audit, securing funding, facilitating construction management, as well as educating their chapter members.”

Through the summer, the Green Greek Representative Group is working to collect data from all 54 chapter houses, including roof plans, electricity information, and the age of the roofs. Come fall, UW-Solar will use this data, and the continued help and support from the Green Greeks, to conduct feasibility studies that answer questions such as: Is solar even feasible on chapter house roofs? Is it cost-competitive with what chapters are currently paying in energy costs? What will the return on investment be? Will solar power reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and if so, by how much? What would be the best system given project type/location? What are the funding possibilities? How will energy be monitored to quantify the success of results?

Depending on the outcome of the feasibility reports, the Green Greek Representative Group and UW-Solar will then work to determine the next steps. Regardless of whether solar power turns out to be feasible or not, this opportunity is a chance for collaboration, education, and dawning discovery.

Originally published on the UW Campus Sustainability Blog.