Tag Archive for sustainability

Wesleyan Takes Action on Climate Change

Wesleyan University’s solar panels produce enough energy to power 164 houses.

In recent weeks, Wesleyan has been taking a public stand to fight climate change. President Michael Roth was one of more than 80 university presidents who, together with mayors, governors and business leaders, are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets outlined in the Paris climate accord, according to The New York Times. This came after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the international agreement.

Roth told The Chronicle of Higher Education: “I think it’s quite extraordinary that supporting a basic commitment to lessen a source of pollution in the world is seen as a particularly strong civic or political act. At a time when the White House is promoting an anti-scientific assault on public policy and research, it’s really important for universities and especially university leadership to defend the values that are necessary for us to be institutions of learning.”

Roth also said that Wesleyan had already divested from coal and made efforts to make its campus more energy-efficient. In May, Wesleyan drafted a building-sustainability policy that establishes how the campus will choose building materials and use energy and water in ways that reduce its carbon footprint.

The Hartford Courant also covered Wesleyan’s efforts. “I think it’s incumbent upon states and businesses and universities and other organizations to do whatever we can to pollute less [and] develop more sustainable economic models for the future of the planet,” Roth said.

Roth also recently joined 29 other college and university presidents in endorsing carbon pricing as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to The Middletown Press. These presidents, who form the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative, signed a letter calling on state and federal lawmakers to enact a carbon price at the state and federal levels.

Jen Kleindienst, director of Wesleyan’s Office of Sustainability, told the Press, “It stems from inaction during the current (presidential) administration, but even during the previous administration. A lot of sustainability professionals are concerned that we, as a country and as a community, are not moving quickly enough and that could mean really dire consequences for the planet.”


Wesleyan Dining ‘Food Recovery Verified’ for Donating Excess Food to Shelter

frvThe Food Recovery Network recently named Wesleyan’s Dining Services “Food Recovery Verified” for donating unsold surplus food to a local charity.

The Food Recovery Verified (FRV) program recognizes and rewards food businesses of any type that are working to fight waste and feed people through food recovery.

Now in its sixth year, Wesleyan’s student-run Food Rescue organization donates its unsold food from Usdan’s Marketplace, Summerfields and Pi Cafe to the Eddy Shelter in Middletown, which provides emergency shelter and meals for single adults. Food Rescue is an Office of Community Service program under the supervision the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.

Lydia Ottaviano ’17 and Lili Kadets ’17 have co-coordinated this group since spring semester 2014. Throughout the academic year, 

Roth Calls on Government Leaders to Enact a Carbon Price as Climate Change Solution

In a letter released May 8, President Michael Roth joined 29 other college and university presidents from across the country in endorsing carbon pricing for its economy-wide approach to reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change. The letter calls on state and federal lawmakers to proactively work to enact a carbon price at the state and federal level. Roth was one of three leaders, together with the presidents of Swarthmore and Dickinson colleges, to first sign the letter back in February.

“As leaders of higher education institutions, we call upon our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of current and future generations by putting a price on carbon,” the letter reads. “We work to prepare our students for thriving futures, over which climate change casts a dark shadow of uncertainty. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an indispensable step we can take to effectively combat climate change.”

The complete letter can be found here.

The Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative is led by Our Climate, a youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of climate leaders. Our Climate co-leads the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign with the National Geographic documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, and partners with Citizens’ Climate Education to recruit, train, and support student leaders across the country to advocate for carbon pricing.

“At Wesleyan, we place a high priority on reducing our own carbon footprint to do our part to address climate change,” said Roth. “A national price on carbon can be an effective tool to address climate change on a broad scale.  Wesleyan is will develop an internal price on carbon to better address the environmental impact of our own energy intensive projects.”

This summer, Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst and Facilities Business Manager Jeff Murphy will be developing an internal method of accounting for the carbon footprint of high-energy-consuming Facilities projects.  This internal mechanism will set up a “shadow” price on carbon emissions from projects as a line item in projects’ lifecycle cost analyses, essentially proceeding internally as if national carbon pricing exists.  For example, if a project results in a 50-ton carbon emissions increase, and an internal price was set at $40/ton (price is yet to be determined), the shadow cost on carbon for that project would be $2,000.  This follows the strategy established in Wesleyan’s 2016 Sustainability Action Plan to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by providing the economic case for higher carbon footprint initiatives, and will prepare Wesleyan for the possibility of future national carbon pricing.

Appadurai ’00 Speaks on Food Justice and Sustainability at 2017 Americas Forum

Alok Appadurai ’00, co-founder of Fed by Threads, spoke on "Food Justice and Sustainability" at the 2017 Americas Forum, April 28. (Photo by rebecca Goldfarb Terry '19)

Alok Appadurai ’00, founder of GoodElephant.org, spoke on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the 2017 Americas Forum, April 28. (Photo by Reebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Alok Appadurai ’00, co-founder of Fed by Threads, the first sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store in the United States that has used a portion of its profits to feed over half a million meals to Americans in need, offered the keynote speech on  “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the 2017 Americas Forum, held at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on April 28. He has recently founded GoodElephant.org, designed to create a global “herd” that will work on changing the world by nurturing compassion and empathy to promote social and environmental reform—and his book, Good Elephant, will be published later this year. Appadurai’s post-Wesleyan career highlights the interests he explored at Wesleyan, where he built his own concentration in American Studies that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment, and gender/class issues.

Appadurai’s talk “The Compassion Famine: Exploring The Unspoken Solutions To Hunger In America,” offered solutions to end what he calls “the compassion famine” and bring about food justice. The process begins, he says, with each person imagining a world without hunger. “While a world without hunger seems remote, we first need to each hold the idea as a possibility, before we could make this come true,” he says. He also asked his audience to “change what we imagine the face of hunger to look like.” Not just a problem for the developing nations, food insecurity is a problem that forty million people in the United States face. Yet—”We also throw out nearly 40 percent of our food—which goes to landfills and causes greenhouse gasses,” he adds.

Center for the Americas Hosts its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability”

 Photo: Jade Beall.

Alok Appadurai ’00 (Photo by Jade Beall)

On April 28, the Center for the Americas will host its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall at 2:30 p.m. The keynote address will be given by Alok Appadurai ’00. Appadurai is the the founder of Fed by Threads, a sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store that has fed over half a million meals to Americans in need. He also recently founded GoodElephant.org, a global network that aims to promote social and environmental reform by nurturing compassion and empathy.

His time at Wesleyan helped to inform his current projects. As a student, he majored in American studies fashioning his own concentration that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment and gender/class issues.

After the keynote, three scholars on a panel will present talks on food Justice and agricultural sustainability.  Elizabeth Hoover, the Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brown University, will give the talk, “From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds’; Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty Through American Indian Community Gardening Projects.” Following her, Brian Donahue, associate professor of American environmental studies at Brandeis University, will present his “Woodlands, Farmlands, and Communities: Visions for New England’s Future.”

Wesleyan’s Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history, will conclude the panel with “Seed Saving in Economies of Scale: Some Questions about Sovereignty and International Governance.”

Green Team Encourages Campus Community to Use Mini-Bin Waste Receptacles

The Wesleyan Green Team hosted a mini-trash bin workshop and discussion for faculty and staff on March 20. Dawn Alger, Theater Department administrative assistant and Green Team member, and Jen Kleindienst, sustainability director, led the workshop.

Mini-bins are small containers that are used in place of standard waste receptacles. They encourage recycling and reduce the number of trash can liners used on campus. The Green Team provided craft supplies including cleaned coffee containers, colored paper, stickers, yarn, magazines, glue and scissors. Participants also discussed campus recycling efforts while designing their mini-bin.

“We’d love to see all staff and faculty members at Wesleyan use mini-bins in place of standard trash cans,” Alger said.

Wesleyan’s Green Team is researching, communicating, and implementing effective strategies that increase sustainability within the university. For more information on the team, or to join, visit the Green Team website.


Celebrate Earth Fest April 22

On April 22, the Wesleyan Climate Ambassadors will host the 5th Annual Earth Fest at the base of Foss Hill from 1 to 4 p.m. This celebration of Earth Day is aimed at bringing the sustainability community and campus together to honor Mother Earth.

Participants will enjoy student bands, free vegan and veggie burgers, a clothing swap and a pin-the-solar-panel-on-the-building game.

Participants also will learn more about what the sustainability community is working on at Wesleyan.

Former EPA Chief Headlines Campus Sustainability Conference

alliance-logo-300x233On March 31, Wesleyan hosted #BeTheChange, Connecticut’s annual Campus Sustainability Conference, featuring former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy as the keynote speaker. Organized by the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, the theme of the day-long conference was “Engagement and Empowerment around Climate Change: Fostering Inspiration and Action at the Local Level.”

About 150 students, staff and faculty from the state’s public and private colleges attended the conference, which also included workshop sessions on climate and sustainability action; empowerment on campus; engaging in state policy and legislation; engaging in community and municipal action; and engaging at the grassroots level. Several community members, business representatives and government representatives also attended.

McCarthy was appointed EPA chief in 2013 by former President Barack Obama. One landmark of her four-year tenure occurred in 2015 when she signed the Clean Power Plan, setting the first national standards for reducing carbon emissions produced by power plants. Under McCarthy’s direction, the EPA also made strides in curbing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening chemical safety regulations, and protecting water resources.

Sustainability Conference March 31

sustainabilityOn March 31, the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability will run its fourth annual Connecticut Campus Sustainability Conference on campus from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The theme for this year’s conference is “Engagement and Empowerment around Climate Change: Fostering Inspiration and Action at the Local Level.”

Discussions will center on sustainable citizenship in Connecticut and how to take action at multiple levels, including the role of universities, state policy makers, students, municipalities and individuals.

The conference encourages the involvement of attendees and invites them to share their work on campus sustainability as break-out session speakers.

Register online.

EPA Recognizes Wesleyan for Reducing, Diverting Food Waste

As part of Wesleyan's sustainability efforts, the Wesleyan Student Association Dining Committee removed all trays from the Usdan Marketplace in 2009. The "traylessness" action is one way Wesleyan has worked to reduce food waste. 

As part of Wesleyan’s sustainability efforts, the Wesleyan Student Association Dining Committee removed all trays from the Usdan Marketplace in 2009. The “traylessness” initiative is one way Wesleyan is working to reduce food waste at the university.

For the third year in a row, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Wesleyan with a Regional Food Recovery Achievement Certificate for its efforts reducing and diverting food waste. Wesleyan is among 26 organizations and institutions to receive the honor in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

This also is the third year Wesleyan has participated in the EPA’s New England Food Recovery Challenge.

“These organizations are showing that protecting the environment, saving money and feeding the hungry can go hand in hand,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s true year-round, but especially important to keep in mind during the holidays when family and friends gather to enjoy celebratory meals, that our food should feed people and not landfills.”

According to Wesleyan’s Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst, Wesleyan continues to improve its compost-to-trash ratio is Usdan’s dining facilities. “This is due to a number of factors, the best I can see is improved understanding of what is/isn’t compostable and switching to all compostable disposable products in dining locations,” Kleindienst said. “We’ve been doing a lot to reduce food waste and our compost interns and Eco Facilitators have been busy talking to fellow students about what is/isn’t compostable and how they can play a role.”

Wesleyan Celebrates Installation of Its New Solar Photovoltaic System

City of Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, Wesleyan President Michael Roth, and former Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 1 for Wesleyan's new photo

City of Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, Wesleyan President Michael Roth, and former Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 1 for Wesleyan’s new ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system. Following the ceremony, President Roth and Meerts flipped on the switch that activated the 25-panel system.

On Nov. 1, Wesleyan celebrated the installation of a 750 kW-AC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system, or solar farm, located near Physical Plant, at the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street.