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2012 Summer Sustainability Newsletter Hero

Summer Sustainability at AU: New Beginnings and Exciting Progress

Although campus is a bit quieter than normal during the summer months, our active pursuit of sustainability continues in earnest. We continue our "behind the scenes" work on many exciting initiatives, including our first comprehensive sustainability plan, LEED-certifying 25 campus buildings, and publishing new sustainability materials such as our campus sustainability map. We are also busy helping to welcome the Class of 2016 at Eagle Summit sessions, offering a LEED Green Associate training course for AU staff, and preparing to roll out the Green Office (GO!) program campus-wide this fall. Read about these and other exciting summer initiatives below, and learn how you can get involved on campus this summer and in the upcoming year. We look forward to seeing you on campus.

Student Interns Join the Green Team

Sustainability Interns Summer 2012

Sustainability Interns Ada Thomas (Top) and Joseph "Josey" Schwartz (Bottom)

The Office of Sustainability is excited to welcome two student Sustainability Interns to the team this summer. 

Rising junior Ada Thomas joined the Office as a Communications Intern, lending her considerable graphic design skills to a number of sustainability publications and projects, including a refresh of our visual identity. Ada's no stranger to campus sustainability, having worked with the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management for two years. Her past work has included promotional materials for Earth Weeks 2011 and 2012, and the graphics wrap on "Sparky," one of our all-electric campus vehicles.

Incoming graduate student Joseph "Josey" Schwartz is getting a head start on his MS in Sustainability Management by lending his skills to our green building and transportation projects. A 2011 graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Josey holds a BA in Social Sustainability and is an accredited LEED Green Associate.

For more information on the Office of Sustainability's interns and professional staff, please visit our webpage.

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Student Project Brings Bike Repair Stations

Bike Repair Station

Sustainability Coordinator Emily Curley repairs her bike with the new station near Letts and Anderson Halls

Last month one student's year-long sustainability project came to fruition with the installation of two Dero Bike Repair Stations on campus. The stations are located outside of Letts and Anderson Halls on the south side of campus (pictured left), and in front of Leonard Hall on the north side. Campus residents and visitors can now keep their bikes in tip-top shape no matter where they live. The Dero stations feature built-in air pumps for tires and an array of tools affixed to the station with steel cables. Bikes can be mounted on the top of the station for easy repair.

These handy additions to AU's bicycle infrastructure are the brainchild of Green Eagle Kayla Ma, a rising junior in the School of International Service. After seeing similar stations in use at the University of Virginia, Ma researched available models, pricing, and potential campus locations. After pitching her idea to Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, funding was provided for the stations through the Green Eagle Sustainability Fund, allowing Ma's idea to make a lasting difference on campus.

Do you have an idea for improving campus sustainability? Applications are now open for the 2012-13 academic year, and are open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni who would like to conduct sustainability research on campus. See the article below for a link to the online application.

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Higher Education Leaders Come to Campus for Climate Summit

AU President Dr. Neil Kerwin speaking

AU President Dr. Neil Kerwin

AU continued its commitment to addressing climate change by hosting nearly 150 university presidents, provosts, chief financial officers, and other important guests for the 2012 Climate Leadership Summit on June 20th and 21st. The Summit serves as the annual meeting for signatories of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which is celebrating its fifth anniversary. "We were honored to host the Summit," said Chris O'Brien, AU Director of Sustainability, "and help to advance the goals of this ambitious collaboration among so many higher education leaders. Washington D.C. is an appropriate location given the signal it sends to America's leaders higher education is serious about leading the way on climate change."

AU President Neil Kerwin signed the ACUPCC in 2007, joining a group of nearly 700 universities throughout the US and Canada who have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, where they would not produce any harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. AU's carbon neutrality goal of 2020 is among the most ambitious, as only a handful of universities anticipate achieving this goal within the decade. The Summit was co-hosted by the nonprofit Second Nature, based in Boston.

Click here to read more about carbon neutrality at AU and read our full carbon neutrality plan, and here to learn more about the ACUPCC.

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Bender Library Shreds Misconceptions with Switch to 100% Recycled Paper

Library recycled paper display

A library display shows how much paper is used at the public printers in an average week

As a result of their efforts in AU's Green Office (GO!) program, Bender Library has now become one of the largest campus users of 100 percent post-consumer waste (pcw) recycled paper, with nearly 4 million sheets printed in 2010-11. According to the Environmental Defense Fund's Paper Calculator, the library's switch from 30 to 100 percent pcw will save in the 2012-13 academic year:

  • 51 tons of wood
  • 144 million BTUs of energy 
  • 35,724 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions 
  • 161,092 gallons of wastewater

The library's Green Team spent part of the spring semester piloting the new paper and testing concerns that the paper would result in increased paper jams. This turned out not to be the case, and the additional investment in more eco-friendly paper was made - a highly visible commitment to sustainability that serves as a model for other offices and a good example of AU's Sustainable Purchasing Policy in practice. For more information on the library's switch, click here to see a case study they published about their experience.

Green Office Champions

The library's impressive sustainability undertakings come on the heels of its first-place finish in the inaugural year of AU's Green Office (GO!) program, a title it shares with the Career Center. Both the library and Career Center scored nearly perfectly in the categories of Transporation, Office Supplies, Energy, Waste, Food, and Engagement, achieving the highest Green Office rating of Platinum along with the Kogod School of Business' Administration and Event Services and Marketing and Communications departments. Congratulations to all of these high-achieving eco-offices! 

The Green Office (GO!) program is now accepting new registrations. If your office or department would like to join the Library or Career Center as pillars of AU's strategic sustainability goals, e-mail Joshua Kaplan at to sign up to participate in GO! for the 2012-13 academic year.

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Hydration Stations Help Campus Cool Down

Library Hydration Station

This summer Bender Library became the first building on campus to feature "hydration stations." The stations put a twist on conventional water fountain design. They fill water bottles much faster and more conveniently than a typical fountain no more tilting your container in an awkward position and only getting a partial fill, and no more waiting for a slow drip. They new stations, on the first and second floors of the library, are quick-filling and no-spilling, and because they are sensor-activated, no physical contact with the station is necessary. 

The hydration stations continue the Kick the Bottle initiative that began when we retrofitted more than 100 campus water fountains with "goose-neck" bottle fillers to ease access to clean, healthy, and delicious tap water for the campus community.

A digital counter on the new hydration stations keeps track of how many 16-ounce disposable bottles were saved by using the station. One week after they were installed in May, the counter already showed that more than 300 bottles had been avoided. Now that's refreshing!

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Advance Sustainability on Campus in 2012-13: Apply Now

Green Eagle ecoreps

2011-12 Green Eagle ecoreps

Green Eagle Sustainability Interns: Want to learn about the most pressing sustainability issues facing AU's campus? Do you like working with people and making a lasting difference? Applications are now being accepted for the 2012-13 class of Green Eagle ecoreps paid student positions designed to train students as sustainability peer educators in the residence halls, administrative offices, and around campus. The positions are open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Green Eagles also have the opportunity to work on sustainability research projects that may be implemented on campus: past projects include trayless dining on Tenley Campus and campus bike repair stations. Learn essential leadership skills, gain cutting-edge sustainability cred, and make an impact on one of the greenest universities in America. 

To apply, go to the student jobs website and search for "sustainability," and select "Green Eagle Sustainability Interns."

Green Eagle Sustainability Fund: Have an idea for improving campus sustainability? We're offering money and administrative support to help make it a reality! Any member of the university community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, can submit a proposal for a project that has a research or implementation component on the AU campus or within the nearby community. Awards range from $500 to $1,500 per project, and funds may be used for:

  • Materials or products required to implement the project
  • Professional work, installation, or design
  • Research and testing or monitoring equipment
  • Student wages

Applications are due by October 13th, 2012, and will be a reviewed by a committee of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Get a head start and apply now! Click here for the easy online application, and click here to see a list of 2011-2012 award winners and their projects.

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AU Student Travels to Rio+20

By Ravi Raman

Josey at Rio+20

Sustainability Intern Joseph "Josey" Schwartz at Rio+20

Joseph "Josey" Schwartz, a summer intern with the AU Office of Sustainability and graduate student at the Kogod School of Business, got a front-row view of discussions on the current state of global sustainability when he attended the Rio+20 World Summit on Sustainability last month in Brazil. As a representative of AU, Schwartz was granted an official United Nations conference badge, and participated in both official and unofficial events.

To learn more about the Rio+20 Conference and Josey's trip, read the full story here.

Click here to see a photo album from Josey's trip.

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A Crash Course in Green Building

By Emily Curley

LEED Green Associate Course

Sustainability Outreach Coordinator Emily Curley, LEED AP, conducts a LEED training course for AU staff members

This summer more than 20 staff members from Facilities Management, the Office of the University Architect, and the Office of Sustainability are headed back to school to prepare for the LEED Green Associate exam. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the predominant green building rating system in North America and is used to certify buildings according to their level of environmental performance. "Green Associate" is a professional accreditation for people who work on green buildings, and demonstrates that the accreditation-holder has a working knowledge of green design, construction and operations, and of the LEED rating systems. The timing is perfect for AU staff members to learn more about LEED, as AU’s green building policy requires that all new construction, including the McKinley Building remodel, Nebraska Hall addition, new North Residence Hall, and other upcoming projects be constructed to at least LEED Silver standards. Moreover, AU is working to LEED-certify twenty five existing buildings on the main campus. Full-time staff members interested in studying for this valuable professional development opportunity should e-mail Emily Curley at for information about future course offerings.

Undergraduate and graduate students also have an opportunity to gain the LEED Green Associate credential. Every spring the School of International Service offers SIS 419/620 "Sustainable Design/LEED Training," taught by associate professor and LEED-accredited architect Victoria Kiechel. The course focuses on sustainable design and prepares students to take the LEED Green Associate exam.

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What's the Green Buzz on Campus this Summer?

AU Community Garden

Photo Credit: Vanessa Robertson

If you're on campus this summer, don't miss out on these opportunities to engage with some of AU's great green features.

Community Garden: Need some fresh, locally grown produce for your favorite summer recipes? Want to meet cool people and put your green thumb to good use? Look no further than the AU Community Garden. The garden's organizers are hosting weekly work days, cooking events, and even tie-dying parties this summer. Volunteers are also needed for daily watering and weeding. For more information on these events and to volunteer, e-mail

Beekeeping at the AU Apiary: Learn what all the buzz is about! If Are you interested in learning how to care for our resident pollinators? E-mail Professor Eve Bratman to find out more about the AU Beekeeping Society.

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The Life and Times of a Mighty Oak, and a Mighty Derecho Storm

Oak behind President's Office Building

The White Oak by the President's Office Building, in all of its living splendor

Quercus alba, who often went by the nickname White Oak ("oak," for short), passed away during the night of Friday, June 29th during an unexpected derecho storm. Oak was estimated to be more than 100 years old, and despite its age, took its job as the "oldest tree on campus" quite seriously, standing watch beside the President's Office Building at a height of 65-85 feet. Oak had seen many developments from its lofty position: the first cornerstone of Hurst Hall being laid in 1896, the birth of Massachusetts Avenue in the early 20th century, and the beginning of construction on North Hall just two months ago. Oak is survived by more than 2,800 fellow campus trees, and a handful of acorns who can only aspire to the age and grace of their forebearer. The title of "oldest tree on campus" now goes to the Pin Oak (also "oak," for short) between the East Quad Building and the School of International Service, who despite losing a branch in the storm is expected to make a full recovery and live to weather many more storms.

Nearly 20 other campus trees fell during the derecho storm. While we will miss them greatly, we understand that it is part of the natural cycle, and our robust campus tree planting program will soon replace them with new trees that will honor their memory and make the American University Arboretum and Gardens a truly special place for all.

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Tales from the Wasteland

AU Joins EPA WasteWise Program

By Helen Lee

EPA WasteWise Program

American University took another step toward zero waste this summer by joining EPA's WasteWise Program, the country's first national voluntary solid waste reduction program. One of 64 "Partner" universities in the nation, AU has agreed to establish three new waste prevention activities, expand or improve current recycling efforts on campus, purchase products with recycled content, and annually report weights of campus waste. To meet these goals, the Zero Waste Project Team has adopted the following key initiatives:

1) Educate the AU community regarding AU's Zero Waste Initiative
2) Expand organics collection campus-wide for composting and/or bio-digestion
3) Invest in internal and external recycling and composting infrastructure
4) Interface with procurement to replace materials that cannot be recycled, reused, or composted
5) Continue partnership with housekeeping to achieve AU's zero waste goals in a team approach.

We have also signed up for two challenges developed by the WasteWise Program: Food Recovery Challenge and Electronics Challenge. Keep an eye out for our quarterly e-waste drives, which debuted last spring, and campus-wide compost (organic waste) collection, which we are aiming to roll out in January 2013.

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Green Dream at Home

Beat the Heat While Burning Your Energy Bill

Home Energy Saving

It's hot out there! Luckily, the U.S. Department of Energy provides a number of great tips for staying cool, and bringing the heat to your energy bill. We've highlighted some tips below, and you can find the full list on DOE's webpage.

  • Open Your Windows at Night: Take advantage of the cool night air by shutting off the A/C when it gets dark and opening the windows. In the morning, close your windows and blinds to capture that cool night air.
  • Your Biggest Fan: Using a ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
  • Avoid the Oven: Ovens do a great job of heating up your home. Instead, cook on the stove, use the microwave, or enjoy some fresh air and grill outside if you can.
  • Turn Down the Hot Water: Water heating can account for 14-25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heat to "warm" (120°F). You'll not only save energy, but you won't accidentally scald your hands!

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Upcoming Events

Campus Sustainability Tours

July 19, August 16, & Every Third Thursday of the Month | 1 p.m.

Meet in MGC Lobby

Join a professional staff member from the Office of Sustainability on a guided tour of the features that make AU one of the greenest campuses in the nation. You can also take a self-guided tour by downloading a campus sustainability map from our website. E-mail Joshua Kaplan at for more information.

LEED Green Associate Training Course

July 25, August 1, 8, 15 | 11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

SIS 102

This training course provides an opportunity for full-time AU staff to study for the LEED Green Associate exam and earn a valuable green credential. As AU seeks to LEED-certify 25 existing campus buildings and have all new construction and renovations meet LEED standards, it's important for professional staff to be knowledgeable about cutting-edge sustainability issues and practices. Independent readings and assignments will supplement the scheduled sessions. To participate in this course, you must be pre-registered. For information on future course offerings, contact Emily Curley at

Welcome Week Program: Sustainable Campus, Sustainable City

August 22 and 23

In this Welcome Week program, new students will have an opportunity to see firsthand why AU earned a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Activities will include a tour of DC's largest solar array, green buildings, green roofs, and an urban apiary. Students will meet prominent sustainability experts and enjoy fresh, local, and sustainable food. Students must register for this program through New Student Programs. More information on Welcome Week programs is available on NSP's website.

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