Governance and administration
Campus Sustainability Plan
On April 22, 2008, the Chancellor approved a comprehensive, 124-page Campus Sustainability Plan. The plan covered organization and oversight; operations (electricity, heating, energy, fresh water, storm water, facilities, transportation, purchasing, solid waste, food services and grounds); teaching; research; outreach; and assessment.
For each section, it stated goals, recommendations for immediate consideration, recommendations for future consideration and top priorities. The plan was written by the previously appointed Campus Sustainability Team, which sought campuswide input in various ways at several stages.
Campus Sustainability Council
The Campus Sustainability Council (CSC) began work in fall 2008. Co-chaired by Facilities Director Steve Arndt and Environmental Studies professor James Feldman, the council includes administration, staff, students and faculty. Student members are nominated by OSA, USRH and at-large.
The CSC works with the sustainability director to develop an annual plan and budget and makes recommendations to administration on policy issues. The Campus Sustainability Plan is the guiding document for setting priorities.
Campus Sustainability Director
The first sustainability director was hired in 2009. Michael Lizotte currently holds the position as an interim director.
The University will undergo its first campuswide assessment of sustainability in 2010-2011, using the Association for the Advancement in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Reporting System (STARS). The University is one of 228 institutions listed as STARS Charter Participants.
The University purchased 23 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. UW Oshkosh has been a member of the Green Power Partnership with the EPA since 2002.
In 2010, the University installed its first solar power units. Solar hot water panels were added to Albee Hall to heat the pool, Blackhawk Commons for dishwashing, Taylor Hall for showers, and the Heating Plant to pre-heat water for steam generation. A solar photovoltaic system was installed near the tennis courts to demonstrate the potential for solar electricity generation.
Energy efficiency improvements will continue through performance contracts with Johnson Controls. Major efforts include changing outdoor lights to induction lamps.
In 2011, the University will start operations at a new Renewable Energy Facility. This facility will be the first commercial-scale dry anaerobic biodigester built in the Americas. It will use agricultural, food and yard wastes to create enough biogas to generate up to 10 percent of the campus electricity and heat.
In fall 2010, the University opened the Student Success Center, which is seeking a LEED Gold certification. The building was refurbished and expanded from a former dining commons, and is the largest state building to use geothermal ground-source heating and cooling. This project achieved a 96 percent recycling rate for construction and demolition waste.
The new academic building is under construction, following a LEED Gold design, and is scheduled to open fall 2011. The goals include an aggressive energy efficiency of 50 kBtu per sq. ft., half the energy requirement of the building code, and a goal of producing 10 percent of its energy needs via solar panels.
A new residence hall has been designed to LEED Gold standards and will begin construction in 2011. The site preparation included the removal of three buildings with nearly complete recycling and reuse of the demolition materials.
Food and dining
Dining Services and their contractor, Sodexo, have been increasing sustainable food options. Milk, potatoes, and some produce and cheese has been procured locally. Fair Trade items, primarily coffee, tea and chocolate, have been expanded in outlets, vending machines and as the default choice for catered events. Humane products include shell eggs from cage-free chickens.
Dining Services also reduced their energy and water use. A “trayless” dining campaign is reducing water and energy use for dish washing, and to reducing food waste. A new dish washing machine will use 30 percent less water and reduce chemical and electrical use.
The campus gardens were open for a third summer for students growing food and flowers. The gardens are located at the Third Street facilities and managed following organic practices. A summer internship was supported by the Sustainability Office and Facilities Maintenance. A new student gardeners' club was formally initiated.
As part of the Master Plan review, consultants were hired to study campus traffic, parking, bicycle and pedestrian issues. The developed urban campus has storm water quantity and quality issues that will need to be addressed with infiltration facilities in and near the current parking lots. The University is developing a transportation plan and contributed to developing the city of Oshkosh's Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan. A new style of bike racks, designed to be more secure, less damaging and tidier, was implemented at the Student Success Center project..
The University continued to provide free bus passes for all students and staff to use the Oshkosh Transit System (OTS). OTS developed a specific survey and consulted a focus group of campus users to develop its next five-year plan. OTS has purchased four hybrid electric buses to use heavily on campus routes. Titan Transit, supported by student fees, entered its third year of operations to extend transit to hours not covered by the city.
Student Technology Fees were used to contract for Zimride, an online ride-sharing program exclusive to students and staff.
UW Oshkosh participated in the national Recyclemania for the third year, ranking first in Wisconsin and 25th in the country. The recycling rate for this 10-week event was 48 percent. On Earth Day, the Environmental Studies 390 class sorted through trash, finding that 38 percent was compostable and 13 percent was recyclable. Sustainability interns completed an inventory of trash and recycling bins to determine best use of those resources and potential costs of changing to single-stream recycling. The University has access to a new state contract for electronic waste recycling.
The alumni magazine, Engage, is printed on paper conforming to the Forest Steward Certification (FSC) for the responsible management of forests. The magazine is available online, and the quantity of printed copies has been reduced by 23 percent.
Campus printing and computer departments have been testing a 100-percent recycled content paper for possible adoption as the default printer paper in Central Stores.
Student Government is studying its policy of unlimited student printing based on twp years of individual use statistics. Academic Computing is now providing students with a running total of the pages they have printed.
Buildings and Grounds Maintenance
The University has developed a Tree Care Plan. An audit of existing trees has been assembled by biology students and professors, and is available as an interactive online map. The University partnered with the city of Oshkosh to plant 80 trees toward the city's goal of 2,000 urban trees. The campus also has begun to address the plantings used for storm water and natural prairies by establishing mowing schedules, controlling weeds, increasing biodiversity and providing public education signs.
The University continues to use green cleaning chemicals throughout the campus.
The Liberal Education Reform Team proposed a new set of essential learning outcomes for the University’s general curriculum, including “knowledge of sustainability and its applications.” The Faculty Senate approved the outcomes in spring 2008.
The University has four faculty leaders trained at AASHE-sponsored workshops to lead faculty workshops on infusing sustainability into courses. The Winnebago Project is entering its fourth year of offering a two-day faculty college and compensation for faculty who make changes to their curriculum. Faculty brown-bag sessions and workshops have been held to discuss sustainability in the curriculum and availability of campus-specific teaching materials.
Stephanie Spehar, of Anthropology, was named the University’s first Chancellor’s Fellow in Sustainability for 2010-2011. She will work with the Provost, sustainability director, Campus Sustainability Council and faculty to improve faculty development opportunities, assess sustainability in the curriculum and develop links to co-curricular activities on campus.
UW Oshkosh promoted sustainability throughout the academic year in various special events. Earth Week in late April is the main spring event for sustainability. Earth Week 2010 included Trashformation, a multiday, trash-to-art event supervised by visiting artists, several days of tree planting, film discussions and speakers. The event week was highlighted in an article published by Sustainability: The Journal of Record in April 2010.
The Earth Charter Community Summit consists of a week of events each October and is one of the largest Earth Charter community summits in the U.S. In 2010, campus sustainability events included public sessions on bike and pedestrian issues, a Fair Trade speaker and film, a cleanup party with music and food at the student gardens, and an organic dinner with a speaker on local food systems.
The University hosted Wisconsin Public Service’s Solar Olympics in 2010, which was attended by students from 24 high schools.
Graduation in 2010 included the first class to graduate in compostable gowns. This was initiated after a study that showed most graduation gowns were thrown away and that commercial gown materials were not washable.
The Sustainability Office supervises eight Interns supported by the STEP program and external grants. In 2010-11, Residence Life is supporting four eco-rep positions as a pilot program to provide peer-to-peer education in residence halls.
Community service, outreach, and public relations
The sustainability director represents the University on several off-campus committees. For the city of Oshkosh, he is serving on a steering committee to draft a city sustainability plan, and the review committee for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan. Local economic development efforts were assisted through sustainability committees for NEW North, NEW ERA, the Fox Cities Task Force on Food Waste, and the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway Board.
The director, staff, and students also have participated in state, regional and national conferences, including AASHE, ACUPCC, NACUBO, Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability, and UW System. The director also has provided 16 presentations on the biodigester project to local and state organizations.
Declarations, memberships and other commitments
American University and College President’s Climate Commitment
Chancellor Richard Wells signed the President’s Climate Commitment in 2008. The University has reported its greenhouse gas inventory since 2007 and submitted a Climate Action Plan in 2009. The goal is to become a carbon-neutral campus by 2025.
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
UW Oshkosh has been a member since 2008. The University benefits from access to a large clearinghouse of information, support for assessment and reduced fees for conferences.
National Wildlife Fund Campus Ecology Program
UW Oshkosh joined the Campus Ecology program in the special Campus Climate Champion program.
Fair Trade University
In 2008, the Chancellor officially declared UW Oshkosh a Fair Trade University, the first in the country.
Fair Labor Association
The University Bookstore is a member of the Fair Labor Association, which provides guidance on manufacturers and retail suppliers.
Awards and recognition
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: one of 26 Green Power Purchasing 2010 Champions, for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
- Princeton Review: listed in the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges”.
- Sierra Magazine: ranked 35th on the 2010 Cool Schools list.
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE): one of 228 institutions listed as STARS Charter Participants.
Sustainability Web site
The University has maintained a sustainability website since 2008: www.uwosh.edu/sustainability.
Plans for 2010-2011
The Campus Sustainability Council recommended the following priorities:
- Develop and expand curriculum through faculty development (Winnebago Project) and curriculum material development (CASPER, teaching resource website);
- Continue and expand intramural and extramural competitions (Recyclemania);
- Implement residence life programming (Eco-Reps, Certified Green Rooms)
Review sustainability audit from 2009-2010 to determine:
- priority targets for improvement and investment;
- where further study or better metrics are needed (e.g. curriculum assessment, purchasing, waste); and
- how best to disseminate results for use in outreach and education.
Produce and publish annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2009.
Public input and revision in early fall 2010, finalize plan, and begin implementation.
- Reduce solid waste (determine effectiveness and extent of trayless dining; reusable takeout containers; compostable collections);
- Increase awareness of nutritional choices, carbon footprint and food issues in community (e.g. Meatless Monday, Hunger Lunch donations)
- Develop a Waste Management Plan
- Collect information about current practices and policies;
- Research options for waste reduction, recycling, composting, re-use, and disposal;
- Establish committee to develop guidelines and policies;
- Increase composting operations for food and yard waste; biodiesel processing; new e-waste contract.
- Building Audits and User Committees;
- Kiosks and online realtime energy use data (beginning with renovated and new buildings);
- Advise on biodigester construction and operations;
- Master Plan revisions (bike and pedestrian infrastructure; stormwater abatement structures; Permanent Plantings Plan);
- Advise on new construction and renovation;
- Blackhawk lighting improvements.
Outreach and Public Relations
- Publicize and produce educational materials for new buildings and renovations;
- Increase signage and visibility for sustainable features of campus;
- Continue to support major event weeks;
- Support conferences (CASPER green business; WEEB higher education);
- Give presentation at AASHE 2010 Conference.
- Advise committees for city of Oshkosh, NEW North and Oshkosh Area School District
- Assist in developing Bio-Solids Testing Facility.
Student Orientation and Staff Training
- Develop Orientation / FYE materials and/or events;
- Establish training programs for faculty and staff with specific information about how their work impacts the sustainability of the campus; expectations that arise with changes in campus operations and policies, and ways that they can be involved (committees, events, small grants).