Our History

Early Sustainability Efforts

In 2003, former Chancellor Marshall Lind created a steering committee to begin looking into the idea of sustainability on UAF’s campus. From 2003- 2005 this steering committee created a document titled  Sustainable Campus Initiative,  within this document an assessment of the campus was completed and a framework for each departments path toward a more just and efficient future laid out. A lecture series was started, $5,000.00 in funding was given for travel expenses. This lecture series was meant to link UAF’s departments in the interest of sustainability as well as the Fairbanks Community. A new interdisciplinary academic program titled  Adaptation, Sustainability and Stewardship in Alaska,  was scoped, but never finalized. Additionally in 2005 a meeting with UAA and the UA system pertaining to a sustainability curriculum and a dedication to starting a sustainability report card program took place. This committee’s last meeting was in June of 2005. A lot of work went into these documents and assessments. As far as I can tell, the current RISE board did not know this document existed and has restarted the same thing from scratch, with a slightly different method. The Sustainable Campus Task Force did have a copy of these documents and referred to them on occasion.

2004 Sustainable Campus Task Force formed, a student lead club on campus – The Mission statement is as follows; “The Sustainable Campus Task Force exists to further the understanding of sustainable (low impact) living at UAF and thereby create a model for the state of Alaska that encourages environmental, social and economic responsibility through education, student leadership and community engagement”. Every year the SCTF organize a Bioneers Film festival, an Earth Day Fair. They worked toward a bike loan program and converting a old home on campus into the headquarters and used an old barn to hold bikes over the winter. 

Changing the View: The Chancellor's Sustainability Task Force

With the lofty goals of changing the standards on which UAF was built, the Chancellor's Sustainability Task Force gave UAF a comprehensive starting point for becoming a national leader by  changing from a traditional non-sustainable institution into an example-setting, environmentally friendly university. .

The Chancellor's Sustainability Task Force was the first building block towards truly changing how UAF looks to the future regarding environmental, social and procurement policy. In 2008 when the first UAF Sustaibability Plan was drafted the task force looked into nine major categories in which nearly all new sustainable policies and projects would fit: Energy, Transportation, Purchasing, Waste Management, Built Environment, Food, Education and Curriculum, Social Sustainability, and Institutions.

green recycling dumpsters
UAF photo by Michele Hèbert.

Task Force Members

  • Robert Holden, Chair, Associate Director, Business and Auxiliary Services
  • Michelle Bartlett, Summer Sessions
  • Tom Delong, GVEA
  • Gary Newman, SFOS
  • Channon Price, Physics and Honors
  • Eli Sonafrank, SCTF
  • Mahla Strohmaier
  • Susan Todd, Natural Resources
  • Adrian Treibel, VP, ASUAF
  • Richard Wies, Electrical Engineering
  • Linda Zanazzo, Director, Facilities Services

Moving Forward: Creating the Office of Sustainability

In Spring of 2009 students voted in favor of establishing a $20 per semester fee to fund programs and projects that make UAF a more sustainable and energy efficient campus. The fee, called the Student Initiative for Renewable Energy Now (SIREN) fee, needed a board to manage these funds. The Review of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Energy (RISE) Board was created in Fall of 2009 to do this. One year later the Office of Sustainability was established and Michele Hebert was hired as the first UAF Director of Sustainability. The program was up and running!

Today the Office of Sustainability, still funded by the SIREN fee and its funds still managed by the RISE board, operates programs campus wide in the areas of energy, recycling, biking, education and gardening and employees a full student staff. 

For more information about programs and projects managed by the Office of Sustainability see Greening at the Blue and Gold.

In 2011 UAF participated in STARS ( Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge relative progress toward sustainability. UAF recieved a Gold Rating.

The 2011 STARS 1.0 Report can be viewed here.

Key events in UAF's organizational and planning efforts toward a sustainable campus

The following timeline represents the rapid evolution of sustainable efforts at UAF:

  • 2004 –  Sustainable Campus Task Force (SCTF) organizes first Annual Sustainable Living Conference.
  • Spring 2008 – Students in NRM 430 class under leadership of Susan Todd prepare a first draft of a UAF campus sustainability plan.
  • July 2008 – Chancellor’s Sustainability Transition Team develops recommendations for UAF Campus Sustainability based on 9 categories: Energy, Transportation, Purchasing, Waste Management, Built Environment, Food, Education and Curriculum, Social Sustainability and Institutions. 
  • Spring 2009 – Students vote in favor of $20/semester fee to pay for programs and initiatives to make UAF a more sustainable and energy efficient campus.
  • Fall 2009 – Review of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Energy (RISE) Board created in order to maximize the use of SIREN fee. The board already has a long list of projects.
  • Spring 2010 – Student Initiative for Sustainable Energy Now (SIREN) fee up and running.
  • Fall 2010 – First UAF Sustainability Director hired.
  • Fall 2010 – Office of Sustainability established.
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