Several new and old outreach events were brought to campus in the 2015-2016 academic year. In the spring, The Office of Environmental Policy hosted its second annual Green Campus Academic Network meeting to update and engage UConn faculty in sustainability efforts on campus.
In November of 2015, UConn sent a group of 12 students, four faculty members, and two OEP Sustainability staff members to Paris, France for COP21, the UN Conference of the Parties regarding climate change. The group attended several programs and workshops that focused on the theme of climate change and environmental sustainability. This trip was hopefully just the first of many trips to COP in the future.
Student programs were a great success once again in the 2015-2016 academic year. EcoMadness and Green Game Days both influenced the ever growing environmental awareness on campus. The spring highlighted the second annual UConn Arbor Day celebration on the same day as UConn's 9th annual Earth Day Spring Fling.
Three new programs were aimed at helping staff and faculty green their workplace, campus and home. The rollout of a revamped Green Office Certification Program exceeded expectations by enrolling twenty-five offices who completed behavioral sustainability surveys, received certifications. and attended a breakfast meeting to discuss Green Office goals and tips more in depth.
Additionally, the start-up Green Campus Academic Network provided newer faculty members from multiple departments with ideas for engagement and opportunities for networking. On the renewable energy side, Solarize U offered incentives for all employees to install solar PV on their homes and more EV charging stations were installed on campus to make it easier for many to reduce their vehicle-related carbon footprint.
As always, student engagement was a focal point. OEP interns and EcoHusky helped reestablish ECOalition—a broad caucus of student environmental leaders. And we were excited to host the first UConn Arbor Day celebration, held in conjunction with the 8th annual Earth Day Spring Fling. EDSF, EcoMadness and Green Game Days each set participation benchmarks this year.
In the fall, OEP published UConn’s first Sustainability Progress Report and organized 80 earth-minded UConn students to join in the world’s largest-ever environmental demonstration: The People’s Climate March in NYC.
2013 was the host of many new and improved outreach events. As it has been every year, Earth Day Spring Fling turned out to be a hit, drawing a large crowd of students to talk to the local environmental vendors. A tree planting also took place as a part of the Arbor Day celebration. CIMA 2 was a large event of small events spanning over the week leading up to Earth Day. Some of these smaller events included Teach-ins, movie showings, and our Earth Day celebration. The Ignite Challenge was a fundraising drive that the Office of Environmental Policy took on as the "Students 4 Sustainability". Funds were raised in support of the Campus Sustainability Fund. Finally, the UConn Cycles Ride was a chance for UConn students and community members to safely enjoy UConn via bicycles.
BE HEARD! Coffee HouseThe objective of the coffee houses is to get the student body engaged in advocacy, to educate them on how to write a persuasive advocacy letter, and to garner support for issues that the OEP would like to see changed. The event offered free student musical performances, coffee, and materials to write advocacy letters to UConn administrators.
Between 30-40 people attended the event held in the conference room of Whitney Dining Hall and 14 advocacy letters were sent to ex-President Michael Hogan, CP & COO Barry Feldman, and VP of Student Affairs John Saddlemire. The topics of interest centered around bicycle transportation:
- Addition of bike lane markings and signage
- Indoor bike storage rooms
- Waterproof outdoor storage lockers
On Thursday September 24th, the BE HEARD! Coffee House gathered in order to lend support to several pressing environmental topics. The event earned the support of dozens of students, and while enjoying the acoustic sounds of their peers produced 23 letters of advocacy, all of which were passed on to administrators. The topics of interest in 2009 were:
- Planting of trees to replace several cut down the previous year
- Adding an Environmental Studies B.A. to UConn’s curriculum
November Climate Change Conference
The science and policy of climate change were the main topics of discussion at this conference, which was attended by members of the UConn community, Mansfield residents, state and town officials. The event attracted over 130 people to lend their opinions about climate change, which substantiated a strong support base for sustainability initiatives. Additional discussion focused on actions the Town, University, and State are taking to address climate change, and how individuals can contribute to the cause. EPAC faculty members and panelists Kathleen Segerson, Richard Parnas, and Michael Willig gave lectures relating the physical and social sciences to global climate change. Grad students, environmental non-profit groups, state and town officials also exhibited similarly themed posters. Lynn Stoddard, of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, concluded the event with an encouraging presentation about state and individual action.
Our World: The Environment
The, “Academic Plan Implementation Colloquium – Our World: The Environment” was convened by Provost Peter Nicholls to develop innovative proposals and potential action plans for research, teaching, and outreach designed to enhance environmental awareness and educational offerings at UConn. The event was attending by approximately 40 faculty members from a wide range of academic departments. The proposals were focused on the four main themes outlined in the new Academic Plan: Understanding Human Impacts on the Environment, Cleaner Technologies, Environmental Policy, and Urban Issues. The colloquium was chaired by EPAC members Eric Schults (EEB) and Kathy Segerson (Economics), who, after introducing the central themes and ideas, had the attendees split into breakout groups according to the four Academic Plan themes. The diverse array of faculty then discussed how best to establish establish such an interdisciplinary program within the University’s existing academic framework.
Focus the Nation Teach-In
UConn participated in the national climate change awareness and education event Focus the Nation. Through teach-in’s and associated events, over 3,000 UConn students, faculty, staff, and community members participated. Features of the program that were included at UConn:
- Over 50 faculty members dedicated one of their lectures to climate change within their discipline
- “The 11th Hour,” an environmental documentary was shown
- “The 2% Solution,” national webcast streamed
- Faculty panel discussion about UConn’s role as an institution of higher education in addressing climate change
- UConn Student Climate Action Summit
Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference
Hundreds of industry professionals, university administrators, facilities managers, and environmentally savvy students converged on the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland to discuss environmental stewardship in higher education, share success stories, and collaborate on initiatives. The University of Connecticut played an active role in the conference, represented by Rich Miller, Director of Environmental Policy, and a student/faculty team that has been working for the past year to promote water conservation on the UConn campus. Members of the team, Dr. Nelly Abboud, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with Honors students Nicholas AuYeung (Chem. Eng. ’06), Christopher Shores (C&EE ’07), and Melanie Murphy (MS ARE ’06), presented during an interactive workshop portion of the conference. Together, the team has monitored, inventoried, and assessed the water use of academic, residential, and dining services buildings throughout campus, resulting in objective data used to identify water use trends and abnormalities. In addition to recognition and feedback, the University of Connecticut received a small grant to support further water conservation projects. The money will be used to create leak-prevention and conservation outreach signs and investigate new, low-flow fixtures. The conference was cosponsored by the EPA, the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP), the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the Association of Physical Plant Administrators, and the University of Maryland.