sustainability & the campus group projects, Fall 2010
Description: The U-M Recycling Program collects gently-used office supplies from across campus and makes them available to U-M departments at no charge in an effort to promote reuse. Unfortunately, the program is underused and excess office supplies are often purged due to space constraints at the storage facility on North Campus. This project evaluated the effectiveness of one strategy to promote office supply reuse - biannual “shopping” days on Central Campus. It also analyzed and suggested improvements for the program as a whole.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) Promotion and coordination of a one-day, Central Campus “shopping” day for these materials; 2) Survey of campus staff members on the Office Supply Reuse Program; 3) Recommendations for improving the “shopping day” and entire office supply reuse program to make it a more successful campus waste reduction program. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Tracy Artley, Campus Recycling Coordinator 2
Description: Students researched the worldwide water crisis as well as local and regional issues and identified 10 key ideas that every U-M student should know about water issues. In addition, since our goal for the Water theme semester was to look for solutions and positive actions, students developed 10 key actions that students can do now on campus and/or later in their lives. Students developed a communications plan to be implemented during the Winter term theme semester, with the 10 key ideas and 10 key actions serving as core messages of the Winter 2011 LSA Theme Semester on WATER. This project dovetailed with the Theme Semester’s “Message in a Bottle” initiative, encouraging students to use reusable bottles instead of disposable water bottles.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) a communications plan featuring 10 key ideas and 10 key actions, ready to be implemented during the Winter 2010 theme semester; 2) increased student awareness about water issues (increased “water literacy”); 3) changed behavior through positive actions, or potential to change behavior. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsors: Amy Harris, Exhibit Museum of Natural History (and Water Semester Co-Chair); Manya Holland, Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute (and Water Semester Co-Chair); David Schoem and Wendy Woods, Michigan Community Scholars
Description: Many colleges and universities across the country have established an additional student activities fee that raises money for sustainability related projects and investments on their campuses. This project explored implementing a similar student fee at the University of Michigan. Project tasks included identifying the steps needed to implement a U-M fee, determining the appropriate amount for the student fee, identifying the potential administrators of the funding on campus, determining the methods for accessing the funds (online application, classwork, faculty leads, etc.), identifying types of projects/investments that could be conducted with the funding, and conducting comparative case studies on other universities who have implemented student fees for sustainability. The project also included an assessment of support or lack thereof of this proposal on Michigan’s campus.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) Proposal for a student sustainability fee campaign at U-M, backed by best practices and successes/failures at other campuses, process and strategies for U-M, and empirical research on preferences by UM students. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Student Sustainability Initiative
Description: The University has made a commitment to support a six point Environmental and Energy Initiative; point number four is “green purchasing.” As part of this initiative, Procurement Services is charged with strengthening procurement offerings to ensure that green products are prominently promoted. Here lies the challenge. What are “green products,” where do you find them, and what manufacturer labels can you trust? This project helped U-M sort through the many definitions and applications of “green products” to come up with a valid and compelling UM program. The first step included researching green accrediting organizations and determining which ones have viable standards in relationship to departmental purchasing needs. Students then looked at U-M’s current green labeling system and how it matches up with other leading campus’ systems. This information was used to create guidance on how to use third-party certifications in combination with U-M’s green expectations to improve the prospects for green procurement decisions on campus.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) Assessment of green standards and green procurement programs on other campuses; 2) Recommendations for improvement UM’s green procurement program, taking advantage of third-party certifications and other resources. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Bonny Webber, Procurement Services
Description: Outdoor Adventures (OA) encourages both exploration/preservation of the natural world and environmental stewardship. Unfortunately, due to various challenges, some of our actions do not always speak to these values. With the help of a dedicated group of students, some of these challenges could be overcome. For this project, students created an overall sustainability plan for Outdoor Adventures’ (OA) various program areas (outdoor trip program, gear rental center, Michigan Outdoor Leadership Semester courses, Banff Film Festival, climbing wall, and wilderness medicine courses), using best practices and innovative ideas from other campuses. Students focused efforts on one aspect of the plan, designing and implementing an educational program that teaches OA trip leaders the sustainability knowledge they need in order to make environmentally conscious decisions in and out of the field as well as the tools they need to transfer their sustainability knowledge to their trip participants. Potential areas for improvement included trip food purchasing, travel location/mode, gear use/purchasing, and much more.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) A sustainability plan for Outdoor Adventures; 2) Delivery of an educational program for trip leaders as part of the plan. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Lindsey MacDonald, Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventures
Description: During the past two years, ENV/RCI 391 students identified ways for University Unions (Michigan Union, Michigan League, and Pierpont Commons) to become more sustainable in their daily operations and developed initiatives to encourage University Unions’ staff to incorporate more sustainable behaviors into their everyday lives. The project for the 2010 academic year was to design and begin to implement a program to help move University Union toward being zero-waste facilities. Drawing from best practices at other facilities, the students designed a long-term plan for the Michigan Union to move toward being “zero waste.” The Michigan Union plan served as a model for the Michigan League and Pierpont Commons to emulate. As part of the project, students documented recycling behaviors of facility users (30,000 students, faculty, staff, and guests with about half of them making a food purchase), identiied appropriate trash/recycling/composting container systems to meet the needs of each facility, and developed a communication program to educate facility users how to use the system and how they can impact the environment.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) design a long-term “zero-waste” plan for the Michigan Union; 2) put in place an effective recycling/trash/composting container system and (3) to educate and change the behaviors of student, facility, staff and visitors in order to increase the recycling performance of University Unions. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Bob Yecke, Assistant Director of University Unions
Description: Advancing sustainability efforts on campus requires continual involvement and engagement of an ever-changing population: students. The use of social media is proving to be perhaps the strongest way to quickly and effectively reach the student population yet little is known about the effectiveness of different messages and messengers, the right match between media and audience, and a host of other issues. This project explored the use of social media in advancing sustainability in terms of encouraging behavioral change, increasing sustainability awareness, communicating about key efforts at U-M, and encouraging participation. The project included conducting research online to determine “best practices” regarding use of Facebook and other social media outlets.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) A set of “best practices” to guide the university’s use of social media to engage student in sustainability; 2) Several tested products or practices for student sustainability engagement; 3) A plan of action for social media communication moving forward. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Kallie Bila Michels, associate vice president for communications
Description: Research labs are energy hogs – they use more energy per space foot than almost any other type of building or room, and U-M has scores of research labs. The goal of this project was to better understand the needs and attitudes of students who work in the labs, in order to develop strategies for promoting best practices for energy conservation. The team designed and implemented a questionnaire for use in face-to-face surveys with students at the GG Brown building. This building is one of the most expensive on campus in terms of energy use. After analyzing the data, the team recommended methods to impact the behavior of lab-users toward reduced energy consumption. Participants learned how to design an effective questionnaire, strategies for face-to-face surveying, and methods of analysis.
Key Outcomes/Deliverables: 1) A vetted survey on student energy conservation behavior; 2) A plan for using this survey to increase student energy conservation behavior in labs moving forward . Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Jack Edelstein, Planet Blue
Description: Research from the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and elsewhere has shown that the environmental impacts of consuming bottled water far exceed those of tap water. Leading campuses now have initiatives to eliminate bottled water and/or provide incentives for the use of reusable water containers. This project explored the prevalence of the use of bottled water on campus, student attitudes about bottled water, water delivery systems that promote tap water usage, and best practices on other campuses in order to develop a menu of options about how to reduce bottled water consumption on campus by substituting it for use of reusable water containers. The test site for this analysis was the Michigan Unions. Special attention was paid to whether reduction in bottled water usage can lead to an overall decrease in use of disposable containers as opposed to a shift in demand to other, potentially less healthy and similarly wasteful products.
Key Outcome/Deliverable: 1) A report recommending a plan of action (or menu of options) to reduce or eliminate bottled water in the Unions (and, eventually, the rest of campus), based on primary analysis in UM Unions as well as best practices at other institutions. Click here for Final Report.
Sponsor: Keith Soster, Michigan Unions