Tags Posts tagged with "sustainability"

sustainability

Garden class with CARE at SCSU Community Garden

“Eat your vegetables” is time-honored advice for anyone looking to improve the quality of their diet. But for some people who don’t have easy access to fresh produce, preparing and eating healthy meals can be a challenge.

This summer, area residents who wanted to learn about growing fresh fruits and vegetables, nutrition, and healthy cooking were able to take part in a campus outreach program developed and run by the Sustainability Office and CARE (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement), assisted by New Haven Farms (NHF). The program involved improving the university’s organic garden, located near Davis Hall, while teaching participants about growing and preparing produce from the garden. Sessions took place on six Tuesday evenings, from early July through mid-August.

20728292_933576246782095_6281764941979133772_n

Suzanne Huminski, coordinator of the Sustainability Office, and Alycia Santilli, director of CARE, teamed up with a few of their interns to establish the community garden education program. Santilli says that CARE “dedicated some limited grant funds to consult with New Haven Farms and expand the growing capacity of the garden.” Two public health interns planned and piloted the garden-based nutrition education program, which was based on New Haven Farms’ more extensive health education curriculum. Two Sustainability Office interns cared for the garden and worked with participants on growing and harvesting vegetables. Families from low-income communities that surround Southern were invited to take part in the program.

New Haven Farms’ 16-week garden program is open to people who are referred through a health center, Santilli explains. For instance, individuals at risk for diabetes might be referred to the program so they can learn healthier eating habits. “We’ve adapted their program to ours,” Santilli says, “but ours is not connected to health centers or prescriptions.” Sustainability intern Kaelyn Audette visited New Haven Farms to learn about the garden program and bring back what she learned to Southern’s garden. Abby Putzer and Meadeshia Mitchell, both graduate students in public health, went to NHF once a week starting in May to help with NHF’s health education program, so they could understand how it works.

CARE cooking class at SCSU community garden
While CARE sponsored the health education component of the program, with the help of interns Putzer and Mitchell, sustainability interns Audette and Megan McNivens gave the participants a weekly garden tour, answered their questions, and did some cooking demonstrations. Guest chefs also visited the program to do cooking demonstrations. Huminski says it was “very impressive to watch how Kaelyn and Megan stepped up and went above and beyond.”

A core group of about seven participants came every week. The program was an opportunity for the interns to work with community members and to learn how to manage a project themselves.

In addition to nutrition education, garden tours, and cooking demonstrations, participants received free produce from the garden. And the garden is now so productive, thanks to Audette and McNivens, that the Sustainability Office is also able to continue making donations to the St. Ann’s soup kitchen, which it has done for years. “Our goal was to double the produce in the garden so we could continue donating to the soup kitchens but also give a bag of produce to each of the participants,” says Huminski, and the goal was met. She says 363 lb. of produce was harvested from mid-July through early August, and the yield is expected to increase through September.

The weekly garden tour was exciting, says Audette. Many of the participants don’t have a yard, so they can’t have a garden, and they enjoyed watching the vegetables grow. Teaching people to eat more healthily – how to use different vegetables and make healthy food choices – was gratifying, the interns say. Participants got to see vegetables go from farm to plate, and they enjoyed taking home what they learned and sharing it with their families. “It was fun to see them come excitedly each week to show what they’d learned,” says McNivens.

Audette graduated in May; she majored in public health and plans to go to graduate school. McNivens is a junior psychology major. Putzer and Mitchell are MPH students, and this project was part of their practicum.

CARE garden class, entrance to SCSU Community Garden

There is a demand in urban neighborhoods for fresh produce, Santilli says, and beyond the community garden program, participants can continue to eat healthily even if they don’t have a yard where they can grow vegetables. New Haven has a network of about 50 community gardens where residents can grow their own produce, and farmers markets and farmstands around the city, as well as a mobile pantry through Connecticut Food Bank, offer fresh produce.

Santilli says, “We are hopeful that this will be a successful pilot year – and then we hope to start fundraising to become a more institutionalized program. It’s a fantastic university-community partnership.”

Huminski agrees, adding, “this is just the start,” of using the campus garden for community-based projects. “That is a big hillside back there, and it can work harder for the community, the education of our students, and for the environment.”

See more photos from the campus garden and community garden program.

Academic Science and Laboratory Building

Southern’s Academic Science & Laboratory Building has been certified LEED® Gold, placing it among the top one-third most sustainably designed certified buildings in the state.

Designed by Centerbrook Architects & Planners, the nearly 104,000-square-foot building exceeded expectations with its sustainable features. Originally targeted for LEED® Silver, the Academic Science & Laboratory Building scored 63 points on the LEED® scale to earn BD+C (Building Design + Construction) Gold.

“We are grateful to Centerbrook Architects & Planners for their innovative, sustainable design work,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino. “This is our second LEED® Gold recognition at Southern – the first was awarded for our new home for the School of Business – and adds to our growing reputation as an environmentally friendly campus.”

Southern has been recognized regionally and nationally in recent years for its greening initiatives — including new building design, energy efficiency and student-driven recycling programs.

Designing a sustainable facility that would increase operational efficiency and reduce the SCSU’s long-term energy and water costs was an important goal of the project. This is a challenge for laboratories, which are voracious consumers of energy and water.

What resulted was a building that saves the university 34 percent on its energy consumption and reduces water use by 20 percent.

“Science laboratory buildings present significant challenges from a sustainability standpoint, especially one with 76 fume hoods, as this one had,” said Centerbrook Partner Jefferson B. Riley, FAIA. “Through a holistic sustainable design approach we were able to provide students, faculty and staff with a healthy and uplifting environment in which to learn and work.”

Riley’s design, marshaled by Centerbrook’s project architect Reno Migani, AIA, and project manager Andrew Safran, AIA, captured six out of 10 points in Water Efficiency, including both points available in the Innovative Wastewater Technologies subcategory. This was achieved by the rainwater collection system that reduces the amount of potable water used to irrigate the quad by more than 60 percent.

The project also earned 22 out of a possible 26 tallies in LEED’s Sustainable Sites category. By connecting to Jennings Hall and utilizing existing resources, the new building’s program and footprint was reduced, while promoting connectivity between the science disciplines.

The Academic Science & Laboratory Building is the 18th project designed by Centerbrook to earn LEED certification. An additional six are currently slated for LEED.

“Southern Connecticut State University’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and Academic Science & Laboratory Building serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.”

The LEED certification system was established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000. Short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. LEED-certified buildings are found in all 50 states and in more than 164 countries and territories.

http://www.usgbc.org/projects/new-academic-and-laboratory-building

sustainability major

A new major at Southern will enable students to not only learn the science behind environmental issues, but to understand their societal complexity and offer practical, real world solutions.

A Bachelor of Science degree in environmental systems and sustainability studies will be offered starting next fall. Three concentrations will exist within the major – environmental systems, coastal marine systems, and environmental policy and management.

“It really is going to be an exciting program,” said Vincent Breslin, a professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences who helped organize the major. “It takes a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to environmental and sustainability issues.

“As an example, let’s take climate change. Sure, the solution sounds simple – eliminate the use of fossil fuels. But realistically, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So, what are our options? What steps can we take? The students will look at those options and the social and economic consequences they could have on society.”

Breslin said the program will emphasize critical thinking, system thinking and problem solving.

“There is a need for professionals who understand the complexities associated with environmental problems and solutions,” he said. “This program will provide our students with the knowledge and skills to help Connecticut face a rapidly changing future.”

Breslin said the Connecticut coastline is an example. Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he said coastal communities have been more sensitive to the potential damage caused by major storms and hurricanes, as well as rising tidal waters and other consequences of global warming. “I could envision a time when each community, or group of communities, has its own sustainability coordinator,” he said.

Steven Breese, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said the quality and health of the environment is being challenged every day.

“And with this challenge comes a pressing need for our students and our culture to develop a deep and broad understanding of the complex interactions between human and natural systems,” Breese said. “Not only will this new program teach our students about this critical interaction, it will empower them to devise sustainable solutions that will impact our collective well-being now and for generations to come. It is a timely program and one that, we believe, will attract new students to Southern while offering our current students new educational opportunities.”

The environmental policy and management concentration within the new program would be ideal for someone who wanted to pursue environmental law, according to Breslin.

The program will require students to take about 40 credits in their major, differing slightly based on their concentration. The coursework includes foundation classes – such as an introduction to environmental and marine studies; an introduction to the principles of sustainability; and a research methods course. Students also will complete an experiential component, such as an internship, research experience or participation in a seminar.

In addition, each concentration will require four core courses and three electives, as well as a social science and humanities course.

Breslin said the major incorporates various disciplines – including biology, geography, earth science, environmental studies, marine studies, public health, political science and business management.

(For additional information about the program, please contact Vincent Breslin at (203) 392-6602 or at breslinv1@southernct.edu; Jim Tait, professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences, at (203) 392-5838 or at taitj1@southernct.edu, or Patrick Heidkamp, chairman of the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences, at (203) 392-5919 or at heidkampc1@southernct.edu.)

Once again, Southern goes for the green!

For the third year in a row, Southern has been named one of the 361 most environmentally responsible colleges by The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com). The education services company known for its test prep and tutoring services, books, and college rankings features the university in the 2016 edition of its free book, The Princeton Review Guide to 361 Green Colleges.

Published October 4, the 160-page guide can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.

The Princeton Review chose the schools for this seventh annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

The profiles in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 361 Green Colleges provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body stats. They also include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

science-garden

Suzanne Huminski, SCSU sustainability coordinator, says, “The SCSU community should be proud of this rating, because it is a hard-won reflection of the effort by our campus community.” Huminski points to Southern’s long and strong leadership record with energy efficiency, green building design, waste reduction and recycling. The university is also recognized for sustainability in curriculum, research, student involvement, and community outreach, and finding symbioses among all of these elements to strengthen the campus community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Southern’s focus on food security has been an important contributor to these kinds of connections. Huminski explains that student volunteers collect excess food from Conn Hall and campus retail locations and deliver it to soup kitchens and pantries in the New Haven area, primarily St. Ann’s soup kitchen on Arch St., near Southern’s campus.

“This project could never happen without a strong partnership and collaboration with our administration, dining services staff, management, and students,” Huminski says. She credits public health and geography faculty and students with research in the area of food insecurity. In addition, CARE [Community Alliance for Research and Engagement], newly arrived on the SCSU campus, is integrally involved with reducing hunger in New Haven, establishing food security as a priority at New Haven City Hall, and developing a network of non-profits that have streamlined goals and communication. Multiple student organizations organize food drives and donations, and for Southern students experiencing food insecurity, the SCSU Office of Alumni Relations coordinates campus visits from a mobile food pantry.

“There is a great deal of potential to further align and unify these campus-wide efforts, and together we’re working on this,” says Huminski.

As you can see modafinil and about modafinil can be found via this website if you are looking to learn about how modafinil works and how to buy modafinil online click here to for modafinil

The Princeton Review first published its green guide in 2010. It remains the only free, annually updated downloadable guide to green colleges.

Urban Oasis, sustainability

The birds and the bees love Southern, and there’s a reason for that: the university is part of a city-wide initiative – the Urban Oasis partnership — to establish habitats more hospitable to birds and pollinators. Campus projects like the Science Garden built last spring near the Academic Science and Laboratory building and the refurbishing of the area around Beaver Pond contribute to a network of wildlife-friendly sites across the city.

A few years ago, Audubon Connecticut, a state office of the National Audubon Society, brought together several local groups to discuss how they might improve wildlife habitat in New Haven. The idea was to create areas across the city plentiful in plants that produce fruit and seeds for birds and that host insects.

In 2012, Southern joined these groups in what became known as the New Haven Urban Oasis partnership. Along with Audubon Connecticut and Southern, partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Peabody Museum, Urban Resources Initiative (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies), Common Ground High School, West River Watershed Coalition, New Haven Parks and Recreation, and multiple neighborhood organizations and schools.

The university’s participation in the Urban Oasis project is just one of many initiatives that have helped it gain recognition in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges for three years running.

Together, says Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, these groups and organizations in the Urban Oasis partnership are working to establish bird- and pollinator-friendly habitat “hotspots” throughout the city, with the goal of revitalizing a habitat corridor to provide nourishment for birds and pollinators – such as bees – and create natural spaces for the community to enjoy and connect with the outdoors.

“The habitat corridor we are trying to create,” explains Huminski, “connects larger tracts of open space, like East and West Rock Parks, Lighthouse Point, and West River Park. New Haven is located along the Northeast flyway for migrating birds, and New Haven was designated an area of significance for birds, and also a Bird Treaty City in the summer of 2016, in part because of our partnership.”

16-newshub-urban-oasis-1200px

At Southern, Huminski says, “we’ve planted a site with native shrubs and wildflowers near Beaver Pond and the practice rugby field, and cared for them. The shrubs we’ve added are especially nutritious to birds and provide berries in the winter.” Student interns in the Sustainability Office manage the site: one intern, Kiersten Simon, a senior geography major, is one of the first Southern students who will graduate with the recently established sustainability concentration in geography. She is earning internship credit this fall for expanding and caring for the Urban Oasis site, and will help map the site to track the species there. Over the summer, students Riley Scheuritzel, Mary Fedorko, and Cody Edson helped to maintain the site.

Huminski also credits the work of Southern students, faculty, and staff volunteers during the Big Event and Day of Service each year as an important factor in the site’s success. Over the years, they have helped with removing invasive plants like purple loosestrife, autumn olive, and phragmites (sea oats). The invasives grow and spread quickly since they don’t have predators to limit them, and these plants are not food sources for local birds. “Our site is small,” Huminski says. “We carved it from a large area dominated by invasive plants.” Anyone is welcome to volunteer to help with the site.

Huminski and her interns plan to monitor whether biodiversity at the site is improving over time with their efforts. She says that there are already very interesting birds on campus – “even other than the geese” — because of the pond and the undisturbed “no-mow” area that stretches beyond the baseball fields by the water. Earlier in the semester a large red tail hawk was spotted on the bleachers at the rugby field, and grackles, a woodpecker, yellow warblers, black-capped chickadees, and ducks are often seen at the site.

Part of the Urban Oasis plan is to leave certain “volunteer” plants that are native but that some might consider weeds. Huminski points out that goldenrod is a very important source of protein for native bees as well as honeybees, and “in the late season, this protein is important before they hunker down for the winter. Bees are critically important to ecosystem health because of their pollination services. And right now, the purple aster and other wildflowers are dripping with bees. We’re really lucky!”

Huminski invites the community to come check out Southern’s Urban Oasis site as well as the others in New Haven, including:

  • Cherry Ann St.
  • Dover Beach
  • East Shore Park
  • Edgewood Park
  • Lighthouse Point Park
  • Long Wharf Preserve
  • West River Memorial Park

See more photos of Southern’s Urban Oasis site in this gallery.

 

Students building surfboards

The surfboard is such a part of American popular culture it is almost folkloric. Think “Surfin’ Safari,” The Beach Boys, “Beach Blanket Bingo,” Gidget, and, more recently, “Lilo and Stitch” and “Blue Crush.” Surfing has been romanticized in the American imagination for generations, but how much do any of us really know about the sport or the surfboard itself?

This spring semester, in an Honors College course entitled “Material and Meaning: Economic Geography and Sculpture,” students built their own surfboards from scratch. In doing so, they learned more about surfboards than most of us will ever know: what goes into the production of these manufactured objects or commodities; the production process’ impact on the environment and on workers; and cultural meanings of the object. The class visited beaches and studied wave dynamics to learn how they can affect the way a board surfs. They created a life cycle analysis of their boards, the purpose of which, student Hope Finch explains, “is to quantify a product’s impact on the environment, seek out potential improvements, and to clearly articulate the process through which a product is made.”

And in the end – they had surfboards!

Team taught by Patrick Heidkamp, associate professor of geography, and Jeff Slomba, professor of art, “Material and Meaning” is a hands-on practical learning experience that engages students on many levels. Heidkamp and Slomba decided to use surfboards as the object students would make in the course after encountering research about surfboards at a conference. The course’s goal is for students to create an object that teaches them about commodity chain analysis, or how to examine the process by which companies gather resources, transform them into goods or commodities, and distribute them to consumers. Heidkamp is a longtime surfer and Slomba a paddleboarder, so they also thought the finished products in the course would end up being fun for students. As Heidkamp says, “We hoped we might be able to approximate something that actually works.”

students building surfboards

The class was divided into small groups, each of which was assigned a particular kind of surfboard to study and build. One board was to be made of sustainably-grown wood; another of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), which is slightly better for the environment than other similar types of foam; and another of materials found on beaches, such as chunks of old foam buoys and docks that had washed up onto the shore. Slomba says these reclaimed materials had “living things inside them” — ants, ticks and other insects –when they were collected, and the creatures remained inside the materials while the students worked on their board. The proposed boards represented different levels of sustainability, says Heidkamp.

Before actually tackling the job of making the boards, students researched the materials they would be using, interviewing manufacturers and other companies that supplied them with the components of the boards. They traced the commodity chain, learned about the history of surfing and its cultural origins, and made demo boards — scale models of the full-size boards they would eventually create. In the process, they also learned how to use the tools that were necessary to build their boards, creating empathy for workers who build boards for a living.

students building surfboards

Student Emma Knauerhase, whose group built the board of reclaimed materials, says, “The most import thing I learned from this project was how to be innovative . . . we were able to do anything we wanted with our surfboard! My group was able to create the surfboard from recycled material and shape it ourselves! Whereas other groups had guidelines to follow, we did not.”

Ultimately, the iconic surfboard came to represent much more to the students than a prop from a Beach Boys song. As Hope Finch says, after taking the course, she “can no longer think of the products you use everyday in the same way. When I look at my board I understand its potential to be detrimental to marine life, I am reminded of the chemicals embedded in the foam and the harm they pose to factory workers in foreign countries, and I am aware of the pollution created in order to ship and deliver the materials to Southern. The surfboard becomes so much more. The surfboard represents the countless repetitive shaping maneuvers needed to form the rails, it represents a fear of tools overcome, and ultimately it’s a physical manifestation of a deep respect for Surf Culture and those that work to keep its roots alive.”

Food Recovery NetworkEver wonder what happens to that sandwich in The Bagel Wagon that has reached the “best by” date on its label? Prior to this past summer, it would be thrown away, but now, foods that Chartwells can no longer sell when they reach that date no longer go to waste, thanks to the efforts of the Sustainability Office, Chartwells, and a dedicated student intern.

This past summer, Southern joined the Food Recovery Network, a national organization that supports college students recovering perishable and non-perishable foods on their campuses that would otherwise go to waste and donating them to people in need.  Heather Stearns, recycling coordinator, says that Chartwells hired a student intern, Ashley Silva, who is focused on sustainability, and has been working with her on a weekly food collection schedule. Each week, Silva makes the rounds to the Bagel Wagon, Davis Outtakes, and the North Campus Kiosk and collects perishable foods — including salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and hummus — that have reached their “best by” date. The foods would be thrown away when they reach that date, but they are still safe to eat. So after Silva collects them, they are donated to Connecticut Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food.

newshub-triad-food-recovery-15
In addition to the food collected from campus Chartwells locations, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the campus organic garden are harvested and donated to local soup kitchens such as the Community Dining Room in Branford and St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden. Pounds of produce such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, various greens, corn, peas, potatoes, peppers, and basil, are donated on a regular basis. This fall, Southern donated almost 200 pounds of fresh produce that was grown at the garden, located behind Davis Hall.  Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, says that throughout the fall semester, between the garden and FRN efforts, over 600 pounds of food have been collected and donated.

To promote community awareness of hunger and food insecurity in Connecticut, students working on FRN at Southern organized a recent campus event called “Hunger 101,” meant to be a conversation about food access and food justice in the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food security” as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” According to the Sustainability Office’s website, over 14 percent — of New Haven County residents — nearly 123,000 people — are food insecure, and over 19 percent of all hunger-stricken residents are children.

To expand the university’s food donation program, the Sustainability Office is placing permanent food donation boxes in the lobby of the Facilities building, in the Wintergreen building, and on the second floor of Engleman, outside of the FYE Office. Members of the university community are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items year-round. Donations from these collection sites will be brought to the Connecticut Food Bank in Wallingford each week. Stearns also encourages staff and faculty to bring food items to the Sustainability Office during the regular Swap Shop open houses.

Anyone interested in helping with FRN efforts on campus can call Silva in the Sustainability Office at (203) 392-7135.