Tag Archive for sustainability

What’s the Buzz About Pollinators? Class Visits Local Apiary to Find Out

bees

Drew Burnett, kneeling, at right, gave Wesleyan students a tour of a local apiary, where they learned about the centrality of honeybees to our industrialized agricultural system. The students are pictured holding Drew’s Honeybees lip balm.

Students in a Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems class recently stepped out of the classroom … and into beekeeping suits. The buzzworthy hands-on experience was part of a field trip to an apiary in Norwich, Conn.

“The course explores strategies to create a sustainable agriculture and food system,” said Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, who teaches the class. Her students have already been gaining an understanding of some of the key environmental impacts associated with our agricultural system, and read Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring. The purpose of the field trip on Sept. 18 “was to learn more about pollinators—specifically honeybees—and some of the reasons their populations have been declining in recent years,” Ostfeld said.

Hosting the students were beekeeper Drew Burnett and his assistant Curtis Witt. Burnett is the founder of Drew’s Honeybees, a honeybee-centric, all-natural, USDA organic skincare company. Drew’s Honeybees donates 20 percent of its profits to the State of Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station to fund pioneering research into the causes of and solutions to Colony Collapse Disorder.

Wesleyan Partners with Organization to Recycle Surplus Furniture

Highrise

On June 17, Wesleyan employees moved outdated furniture from the High Rise apartments into a truck. The contents will be donated to IRN, an organization that recycles and finds new homes for the furniture.

Every summer, when campus is relatively quiet, the Facilities Team is hard at work maintaining, renovating, and upgrading all of Wesleyan’s buildings and grounds. Part of this work involves the large-scale replacement of furniture in residential facilities—a process that has recently been made more environmentally friendly thanks to a partnership with IRN, an organization dubbed “The Reuse Network.”

According to Jeff Sweet, Wesleyan’s associate director of facilities management, the University has partnered with IRN for the past three years to recycle old residential furniture that is being replaced. IRN “matches the needs of charities and nonprofits throughout the world with surplus furnishings and equipment from schools, universities, corporations, and other large organizations,” according to its website. IRN estimates it has saved 80 million pounds of surplus from ending up in landfills.

Commute to Work with New Vanpooling Option

This year, the Sustainability Office is partnering with Commute with Enterprise to offer vanpooling opportunities to employees.

A vanpool is a group of 7–15 people traveling to work together in a minivan or a 12–15 passenger van. Vanpool groups usually meet each day at a prearranged location, such as a park-and-ride lot. Commuters pay a monthly fee that covers the van, insurance, and fuel costs.

In addition, users enjoy:

  • Reduced personal vehicle maintenance expenses
  • Emergency ride home service
  • Roadside assistance
  • Eligibility for commuter rewards
  • Reduced stress (a recent study indicates that vanpoolers experience a 21 percent lower rate of self-reported stress than those driving alone)
  • A reduced carbon footprint

Wesleyan Publishes Sustainability Action Plan Progress Report

Wesleyan’s 750 kW-AC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system produces approximately 1.2 million kilowatt hours of clean renewable energy each year amounting to about five percent of Wesleyan’s annual electric consumption. The solar farm is one of 62 projects highlighted in the newly released Sustainability Action Plan Progress Report, which features sustainable accomplishments on campus.

Wesleyan’s Sustainability Action Plan (SAP), developed in 2016, is a five-year plan that reflects Wesleyan’s commitment to a sustainable future. Written with input from more than 130 students, faculty, and staff, the plan establishes goals, objectives, strategies, timelines, metrics, and responsible parties in topic areas.

In November, Wesleyan’s Sustainability Office released its first Sustainability Action Plan Progress Report, This report highlights progress made toward SAP strategies between 2016 and 2018 in the areas of planning, engagement, health and well-being, academic operations, curriculum, buildings, dining, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste, and water. The report also outlines Wesleyan’s vision for 2021 and summarizes overall progress.

“The Wesleyan community should be extremely proud of what sustainability measures we’ve accomplished in only two years,” said Jen Kleindienst, sustainability director. “The Progress Report highlights our success and it’s meant to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments that contribute to a more sustainable campus.”

Several Wesleyan employees use small containers to collect garbage. The "mini bins" encourage recycling and reduce the number of trash can liners used on campus.

Several Wesleyan employees use small containers to collect garbage. The “mini bins” encourage recycling and reduce the number of trash can liners used on campus.

Some of the report’s highlights are below.

Since 2016:

  • Campus has received new recycling and trash signage developed and installed in every building.
  • An employee survey was conducted on current and potential use of carpooling, public transportation, and parking in order to identify target areas for emission reduction.
  • Waste Not collected approximately 22,000 pounds of donations and raised $5,000 for nonprofits.
  • Mowing heights are raised in non-athletic fields in spring and summer to decrease mowing frequency and fuel expenditure.
  • The third floor of North College completed the Green Office Certification and earned a silver certificate.
  • The Sustainability Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship (SAGES) developed a mission statement and gained 15 new members.
  • Food rescue and composting efforts helped divert 111 tons of food waste through donations and composting.
  • A sustainability priority statement was included as a core competency for all staff job postings.
  • Grounds began designing a plan to pilot 100 percent organic lawn care practices in recreationally used fields.
  • A building sustainability policy was developed to reduce Wesleyan’s carbon footprint.
  • Compost interns ran waste and composting intervention events in campus dining areas.
  • Veg Out Tuesdays occur every other Tuesday and reduce meat consumption.
  • More than 250 trees have been planted (since 2014)
  • A newly-installed solar photovoltaic system, or solar farm, reduces reliance on natural gas.
  • A Freecycle listserv gained 52 members in 2018 and continues to grow. More than 50 percent of trades are successful.
  • The Sustainability Office held two Clean Plate Challenges in Usdan in February and April of 2018 aimed at reducing food waste and conducted food waste audits.
  • Flu shots, screenings, and fitness classes were offered to Wesleyan employees with over 800 participants.

Kleindienst points out that sustainability is not an end goal, but an ongoing process.

“We wouldn’t be here without the hard work of Wesleyan staff, faculty, and students who have taken innumerable steps to get us to this point,” Kleindienst said. “I’m excited for the next three years and beyond!”

View the entire report online here. More information on sustainability at Wesleyan is online here.

Wesleyan, Eversource Begin 3-Year Strategic Partnership

Eversource Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Morton and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 seal the deal on a partnership between Eversource Energy and the University.

Wesleyan recently kicked off a strategic partnership with Eversource Energy that will support the University’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Eversource Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Morton signed an agreement on Oct. 30 before receiving a tour of the Freeman Athletic Center’s recent energy efficiency upgrades.

The new strategic partnership supports a three-year energy efficiency plan that will save an additional 3.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Fall Harvest, Music, Gatherings at 2018 Pumpkin Fest

The campus and local community celebrated the fall season during the College of the Environment’s annual Pumpkin Fest on Oct. 13.

Held at the student-run, Long Lane Organic Farm, participants enjoyed farm tours, farm produce and baked good sales, crafts, face painting, local vendors, free veggie burgers and apple cider, a pie eating contest, prizes from Wesleyan University Press, and musical performances.

Wesleyan performers included Brien Bradley ’19, Phie Towle ’20, Rebecca Roff ’20, Dreamboat (May Klug ’19), Slavei, Long Lane Gourdchestra, and Anna Marie Rosenlieb [’20] Collective Dance Improv.

In addition, the student groups Veg Out, Outing Club, Climate Action, Bee Club, and Wesleyan Sustainability had tables at the festival.

(Photos by Alexa Jablonski ’22)

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Inside Higher Ed: “Career Path Intervention–Via a MOOC”

An open online course by Gordon Career Center Director Sharon Belden Castonguay, which helps young people explore their interests and career options, is featured.

2. NPR“Midterm Election Could Reshape Health Policy”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, explains why Democrats are “laser-focused on health care” this election season. Fowler also recently was quoted on advertising in the midterm elections in The Washington Post and USA Today, and interviewed on NPRMarketplace, and The Takeaway.

3. Religion & Politics“Russia’s Journey from Orthodoxy to Atheism, and Back Again”

Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin’s “engaging book is full of striking analysis and counterintuitive insights,” according to this review. The book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, was also recently reviewed in Foreign Affairs, while Smolkin, who is also associate professor of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, was quoted in The Washington Post.

4. AnthroBites: “Queer Anthropology”

Margot Weiss, associate professor and chair of anthropology, speaks about the study of queer anthropology in this podcast interview. Weiss is also associate professor, feminist, gender and sexuality studies; associate professor of American studies; and coordinator, queer studies.

5. The Hill: “The Memo: Trump Remark Sparks Debate Over Nationalism”

Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought Peter Rutland, who has taught courses on nationalism for 30 years, says it was “surprising” that Trump called himself a nationalist. “The words ‘nationalist’ and ‘nationalism’ are not part of the normal American political vocabulary. It has got very negative connotations.” Rutland is also professor, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; professor of government; and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

6. WNYC’s Soundcheck“Composer and Drummer Tyshawn Sorey [MA ’11] Explores Time”

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey performed live, in-studio with his newly formed ensemble that incorporates turntablism, electronics, and spontaneous composition. Sorey is also assistant professor, African American studies.

Recent Alumni News

1. Forbes: This New $100 Million VC Fund Is Looking to Help Crypto Startups Bridge China and Silicon Valley

Alexander Pack ’14 and his new $100 million venture capital fund, Dragonfly Capital Partners, are profiled. With his partner, Bo Feng, Pack will “look to invest in a mix of crypto-first funds, protocols, and applications, as well as tech startups building infrastructure for crypto-driven economies.” The company is also featured in Venturebeat.

2. UMass Med Now: UMMS Alum Raghu Kiran Appasani [’12Addresses UN General Assembly on Global Mental Health

Raghu Kiran Appasani ’12 helped launch the United for Global Mental Health campaign with an event at the United Nations General Assembly cohosted by Appasani, United for Global Health campaign CEO Elisha London, and Cynthia Germanotta of the Born This Way Foundation.

3. XO Necole: “4 Gems ‘Women In Media’ Can Learn From Angela Yee [’97]”

Entrepreneur and radio host Angela Yee ’97 was recently honored by Women In Media during their annual conference. XO Necole celebrates Yee’s “hustle hard” mentality and breaks down 4 “top-notch takeaways” from Yee’s motivational speech.

4. Coronado Eagle & Journal: Documentarian Matt Tyrnauer [’91] To Be Honored With Coronado Film Festival Director Award

Producer/director Matt Tyrnauer ’91 will receive Best Director honors at the Coronado Island Film Festival (Nov. 9-12). His prolific career as a writer and filmmaker is discussed, as is his latest film, Studio 54, which is generating industry-wide Oscar buzz.

5. MariaShriver.com: “Where There Is Anger There Is Hope

Shriver highlights the book by Dr. Helen Riess ’87,The Empathy Effect: 7 Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, Connect Across Differences, as well as The Good Men Project, founded by Tom Matlack ’86, MALS ’87, P’16.

 

 

Eck ’19 Helping City of Middletown Earn Sustainability Certification

Ingrid Eck ’19, pictured here in the West College Courtyard on Sept. 12, is working to certify the City of Middletown by Sustainable CT. Sustainable CT recognizes thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. An independently funded, grassroots, municipal effort, Sustainable CT provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices. Municipalities choose Sustainable CT actions, implement them, and earn points toward certification. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Since arriving on campus freshman year, Ingrid Eck ’19 has fully immersed herself in all Wesleyan has to offer: working on the Wesleyan Green Fund; founding Veg Out, a student group dedicated to food justice; and joining—and currently serving as president of—Wesleyan’s only sorority, Rho Epsilon Pi. She is also working toward not one, but three majors: government, environmental studies, and French studies. More recently, she’s felt a desire to get involved in the broader Middletown community and “truly get to know the city in which I have been living.”

This summer, Eck had a unique opportunity to become intimately familiar with the City of Middletown as she prepared and submitted the city’s application to Sustainable CT for certification.

According to Jen Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director (for whom Eck interns), the Sustainable CT certification is similar to the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) sustainability rating for colleges and universities. Wesleyan received a silver rating by STARS, a program of The Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in 2013, and was re-certified in 2016. Like STARS, Sustainable CT encourages municipalities to become more sustainable in many different realms—such as environmental, social, and economic.

Walking Paths Help Employees Avoid Sedentary Lifestyles at Work

A new Wesleyan University Fitness Trails map shows where employees can walk in a 1-, 3- or 5-mile loop.

A new Wesleyan University Fitness Trails map shows where employees can walk in a 1-, 3- or 5-mile loop.

(By Alessio Gallarotti ’15)

This summer, the Sustainability Office, in conjunction with Human Resources, is encouraging Wesleyan employees to get out and walk.

In 2016, with the approval of President Roth and his cabinet, as well as with strong grassroots support, the Sustainability Office began implementation of a five-year sustainability action plan (SAP), which included approximately 160 initiatives to promote holistic sustainability on campus. The term “sustainability,” while typically used to refer to topics like recycling, resource efficiency, and emissions, is a much broader concept, including social and economic components. Promoting walking promotes well-being and appreciation for place, both of which have the potential to increase holistic sustainability.

One of the many initiative objectives of the Sustainability Action Plan is to promote exercise and outdoor access, which the Sustainability Office hopes will increase the use of walking paths around campus and physical fitness.

Helping to promote this more active lifestyle is a newly launched Wesleyan University Fitness Trails map showing 1-, 3-, and 5-mile walking loops beginning at Wyllys Avenue near Usdan and Boger Hall. In addition, individuals looking for alternate options can follow the cross-country teams’ courses published on the University Athletics website.

Getting employees exercising regularly is an important part of promoting social sustainability at the University. By providing routes to follow, it makes it easier for people to be active, drive less, exercise more, and connect with the world around them.

“It is a cultural change. Many employees live somewhere else and don’t really know Middletown very well, especially on foot,” says Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst. “They drive to work, park their car, walk to their office, work all day, walk back to their car, and drive home. Getting out of the office for walking meetings and lunchtime strolls has the potential to make the workday more pleasurable and promote health.”

Along with the new walking map, the Sustainability Office will work with Human Resources to develop more communication and tools to help people become more sustainable in their personal lives and get in touch with their natural surroundings.

Employees Serve as Panelists at Sustainability Conference

Three Wesleyan employees participated in the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium’s Annual Meeting June 4-5. The meeting focused on effective collaborations within campus, between campuses, and between campus and community.

Three Wesleyan employees participated in the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium’s Annual Meeting, June 4–5 in Beckham Hall. The meeting focused on effective collaborations within a campus, between campuses, and between campus and community.

Valerie Nye, director of financial services; Jeff Murphy, facilities business manager; and Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated on a panel focused on the theme "How to effect meaningful change by working with senior leaders."

Valerie Nye, director of financial services; Jeff Murphy, facilities business manager; and Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs, participated on a panel focused on the theme “How to effect meaningful change by working with senior leaders.”

Administrative Departments Encouraged to Apply for a Green Office Certification

Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion, and Megan Flagg, executive assistant to the provost and vice president for academic affairs, proudly display their Green Office Certification on the third floor of North College. The third floor is the first space on campus to be Green Office Certified by the Sustainability Office.

Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion, and Megan Flagg, executive assistant to the provost and vice president for academic affairs, proudly display their Green Office Certification on the third floor of North College. The third floor is the first space on campus to be Green Office Certified by the Sustainability Office. “The process was quite easy,” said Flagg, who served as the office coordinator. “Since Wesleyan is so focused on sustainability, we were already doing many of the green office checklist items. The brief checklist was quick and easy to fill out. Now we’re exploring what we can change to see if we can get to the next level of certification.”

This year Wesleyan will reward administrative offices that go green.

The new Green Office Certification Program, overseen by the Sustainability Office, is designed to recognize, support, and promote offices that engage in environmentally sustainable practices. All administrative and academic offices are eligible to become certified.

To get started, a department needs to elect an office coordinator who will fill out the Green Office Certification form, coordinate office participation, and review completed checklists with the Sustainability Office.

The coordinator will distribute individual checklists to all employees in the office or within a defined space.

If at least 75 percent of the office has completed the checklist, the office may receive an award. Certificates will be issued and offices are encouraged to hang their plaque in a location visible to office visitors. Certifications are valid for three years from the date awarded and come in bronze, silver, and gold levels.

“The Green Office Certification Program encourages employees to be environmentally conscious while at work,” explained Jen Kleindienst, sustainability director. “To be certified, departments may need to make small changes in their work environment, for example, share a communal garbage bin, forgo individual refrigerators, or be willing to turn down the thermostat while away from the office. There’s little things that can make a huge difference.”

To date, the third floor of North College (consisting of the Offices of Academic Affairs; Institutional Research; Corporate, Foundation and Government Grants; and Equity and Inclusion) is the only academic space to be Green Office Certified. Although they are proud to boast their silver-level award, they’re not stopping until they reach the gold.

“We are now trying to work up from our silver certification to gold certification,” explained third-floor office resident Joyce Jacobsen, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “As part of our additional efforts to improve our certification level, we’ve replaced most fluorescent lights with energy-efficient LED lights; replaced disposable coffee stirrers with reusable metal stirrers; encouraged everyone to use mugs off of our mug tree instead of disposable cups; and switched to a sugar shaker instead of using individual sugar packets. We’ve also replaced our powered shredder with hand-cranked shredders and use a recycling shredder service for big jobs.”

For these extra efforts, the Sustainability Office will offer bonus points toward their certification.

The Sustainability Office and Wesleyan’s Green Team offer many tips for creating a more eco-friendly office environment. For additional information, contact the Sustainability Office.

Wesleyan Introduces Spin Bikeshare Program

Erica Wright, project assistant for Physical Plant–Facilities, tests a Spin bike as part of Wesleyan’s new bikeshare program. The bikes offer an accessible, affordable, and environmentally friendly form of personal mobility.

On April 12, Wesleyan launched a new bikeshare pilot program for the campus community. Spin, Wesleyan’s partnering company, has placed 100 orange dockless bikes at multiple locations throughout campus.

The Spin bikeshare program is used on 18 campuses and universities nationwide.

Anyone with a wesleyan.edu email can borrow a bike for 50 cents for 30 minutes or receive unlimited rides for $14 per month. All new users get two hours of free riding. Anyone without a wesleyan.edu email address can rent a bike for $1 for 30 minutes or $29 per month.

To get started, riders can download the app by searching “Spin Bikes” in the app store and signing up with an @wesleyan.edu email. Users must connect a credit/debit card to the app.

Once registered, a bike-borrower uses the app to locate a nearby bike and scans a QR code on the bike to unlock it. After riding, a borrower may drop off the bike at a bike rack and should make sure it is locked (via a metal pin that automatically fastens the back wheel to the frame.) The rental session ends when the rider locks the bike.