UAF Office of Sustainability Newsletter

Vol 11, October-December 2011

Students Bring Home Gold STARS

Students and RISE board members from the Office of Sustainability brought home gold STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education national sustainability conference in Pittsburgh. UAF achieved a total score of 65.88 for achievements in categories including education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement. The team was awarded four additional points for innovation.

Members of the team who presented at the conference included Michael Stanfill, Wyatt Hurlbut, Michaela Swanson, Jeric Quiliza, Brandon Hoover and Alexander Bergman. Michele Hebert and Anne Rittgers escorted the students.

The STARS award was presented to Chancellor Brian Rogers on Friday, Oct. 21, and posted in his office window. The STARS award will travel to departments across campus that have been taking the lead in helping UAF reach its gold rating. The University of Alaska was one of 23 universities in the nation to receive a gold rating in the sustainability tracking and assessment rating system.

For more information or to view UAF’s STARS report, visit the AASHE website.

Sustainability art exhibit December 13-17

The Sustainability Art Show, sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the Art Department, will be on display Saturday, Dec. 10 to Saturday, Dec. 17 in the Wood Center. Artists’ works will display alternative uses for materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill. The opening reception will take place 6–7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13. The exhibit promotes UAF students, local artists and industries which use recycled and repurposed materials in creative ways.

NEEDED: Faculty Interested in Sustainability

The Office of Sustainability is seeking applications from faculty interested in serving on the RISE Board, aka UAF Campus Sustainability Board. The RISE Board is a group of dedicated and passionate individuals contributing to making UAF a more sustainable campus. A detailed explanation of the board and its activities can be found at
Interested individuals should submit via e-mail a RISE Board Application Form or letter of interest to Michele Hebert (, Director for the Office of Sustainability. Please direct questions to Michele Hebert. Applications are due by December 1, 2011.

Dashboard Allows Students to Compete, Track Campus Energy Use

A new technology is now available via the web that allows students to vie for the title of greenest residence halls. UAF has installed an online dashboard, which tells students-in real time how much electricity, water and steam their building is using and has used in the past. It also reveals how much power the building is using compared to other building on campus:

New Dumpsters Added

New Dumpsters for collecting steel and tin have been added to the UAF Recycling Transfer Station in the Nenana Parking lot.

This expands the types of materials that are recycled at the UAF campus. Soup, vegetable, and coffee cans as well as metal bottle tops can be recycled. Put can tops in a can and squeeze the end shut, or stomp on it, so the tops do not fall out. Recycling steel reduces air pollution; reusing steel creates four to five times less carbon emissions than producing new steel. 

13 Proposals approved for funding

Three times annually, the Student RISE Board and Office of Sustainability accept proposals to support UAF’s Sustainability Initiatives. Preference is given to projects that invest in energy efficiency programs and renewable energy projects. RISE (Review of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Energy) is an associated student board. The goal of the grant program is to endorse promising student ideas for a more sustainable future.

This fall 13 student-led projects were funded, totaling nearly $44,000 in allocated funding. The RISE Board evaluated the project proposals and forwarded their recommendations to the Chancellor for approval.  A list of the funded projects can be found below.

One of the projects enthusiastically supported was the UAF Green Bikes Program. Started by a student proposal in January 2010, the Green Bikes program has quickly gained popularity with students. Fifty-five bicycles are available for free to students with a signed checkout agreement and deposit. Not even the Fairbanks winter can deter these committed cyclists; in mid-October, winter bikes were released and checked out in record time.

This program benefits UAF in many ways. Students who may not otherwise have access to a bike now have the means to cycle. This program is also keeping cars off the road and out of the parking lots, while helping reduce UAF’s shared carbon footprint. To date, the project has been estimated to save 53 tons of carbon emissions, reports Michael Stanfill, the student Green Bike coordinator.

The next round of proposals are due in February. For information on the proposal process or to view funded projects in more detail, go to

Fall 2011 Sustainability Student Projects Funded

  • Expanding the Green Bike Program $12,000
  • Cutler Recycling Infrastructure $4,000
  • Heat Pump $1,610
  • Compost Tea Maker $4,500
  • Energy Dashboard Monitor Installation $7,128
  • Operation EcoChallenge $5,000
  • Composting with BioBags $2,200
  • P3- People, Prosperity, Planet $1,590
  • Shell EcoMarathon   $1,990
  • Clean Snowmachine $1,957.68
  • Zero Emissions Snowmachine $1,907.87
  • Car Sharing $0

Anne Rittgers is latest staffing addition to Office of Sustainability

Anne started September 26 as our Sustainability Program Assistant. She recently graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a BA in economics and a minor in environmental studies. She brings to the position a strong background in sustainability, including working on the carbon footprint for UMD, participation in the UAF STARS report and presentations at the AASHE National Sustainability Conference.

Wanted: UAF Recycling and Zero Waste Committee Members

The Office of Sustainability is looking for recycling enthusiasts to serve on the UAF Recycling and Zero Waste Committee. The committee meets weekly on Tuesdays from 5 p.m.–6 p.m. We are looking for motivated individuals to help UAF reduce waste on campus now and work towards a zero waste campus. Our long-term environmental sustainability vision includes purchasing and using renewable and recycled materials.

“What would it take for UAF to be a Zero Waste campus? We would have to analyze our waste stream -- trash, used equipment and vehicles, coal ash, etc. -- and then determine what to do with each component. Institution-wide would be challenging, but we could start with the Fairbanks campus. Wouldn't this be an exciting project?” --Chancellor Rogers

The recycling committee is currently focusing on designing a program to get broad participation in paper recycling. If you are interested, contact Ruby Bynum You can also check us out on Facebook. –UAF Recycling and Zero Waste Committee.

Tip of the month – Use recycled paper in office printer

Ted Hanson, Grant/Proposal Coordinator at the Geophysical Institute, had a great idea. Why not convert one of the network printers in the office to use scrap paper?

Here is his story.

“We have 4 printers in the office, so I asked my supervisor, if one of the networked printers could be designated as scrap paper and print one sided. She said yes, and I've implemented that. People across the department are saving one sided scrap paper and using the printer regularly.

I think we could do something like this with many departments. If departments do not have an extra printer, we get printers from surplus and give them to the right people in departments across campus.   I would love to lead this campaign. “ If folks are interested in implementing a program in their department, contact Ted at

Office of Sustainability Goes Electric

The Office of Sustainability Recycling and Food Systems programs purchased two electric carts. This project was developed by a student and funded by the RISE board. These electric carts will reduce operation and reduce carbon emissions by replacing gas-powered trucks currently being used.   But how does the pollution produced by burning fossil fuels to recharge electric cart batteries compare to the pollution produced by internal combustion engines? According to the Electric Vehicle Association of Canada, or EVAC, even EVs recharged from coal-powered electric generators cut carbon emission roughly in half.

Sustainable Building and Community Design Course

This fall UAF offered a new course, Sustainable Building and Community Design. It is an introduction to designing an Alaska sustainable village or community, from siting the buildings, construction materials, wastewater, power, minimizing environmental impacts and maximize energy efficiency.

Students will also be participants in a design competition and asked to submit ideas for potential use in the final design of the UAF Sustainable Village. The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) is designing a sustainable student village that includes a cluster of super energy-efficient homes with shared open space, a community garden, and footpaths between buildings. The project will blend the latest cold-climate technology, environmentally sound land use practice and sustainable infrastructure with a new model of campus housing—students as live-in researchers who test, interpret, and help refine their building’s design while earning academic credit.

Nanook Student Farm supports sustainability efforts on Campus

Growing and eating “Alaska Grown” is has become a priority on the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) campus. Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability planted a vegetable garden outside the greenhouse located by the power plant on UAF's campus. The garden provided food for the dining hall on campus, and the surplus of vegetables were sold at a student run farm stand on campus. The students set up a farm stand in front of Wood Center, the student activity center, Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. and sold the produce they harvested that morning. They called their stand “Nanook Grown.” The students from the Office of Sustainability are proud of their garden and plan to work with facility services and campus dinning to continue growing food and increase the number of crops grown next year. The Nanook Student Farm is teaching the students not only how to raise their own food, but how to build a business model, engage in practical problem solving and work with community members all while providing the community and the students at UAF with quality food.

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