Summit Will Explore How To Expand Sustainability in Tight Economic Times

For those who tend to view the world through green-tinted glasses, the need to trim budgets because of the rough economy looks like an opportunity as well as a challenge.

At least that’s how environmentally-conscious Yale students, staff and faculty see things as they prepare for the second annual campus Sustainability Summit, scheduled for the week of March 30 through April 3.

Organized by Yale’s Office of Sustainability, the summit calls attention to the University’s sustainability efforts, highlights ways for members of the Yale community to participate and addresses the challenges of the times.

“Everyone at Yale is feeling the crunch,” says Melissa Goodall, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability. “Our team is positioned to help people address budgetary concerns through improved efficiency, which is a critical part of the sustainability vision.”

Throughout the week, students, staff and faculty will sponsor and coordinate a series of sustainability-related activities around campus, many of which will offer tools for how to deal with shrinking budgets and ways to connect with the local community. Highlights will include:

• A “Better Buying Bazaar,” where vendors from Yale, New Haven and elsewhere will display their efforts to improve efficiency and diminish environmental impacts, 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, in the Presidents Room in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets.

• A bike ride on the Farmington Canal trail hosted by Holly Parker, director of sustainable transportation options, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3. The ride will begin at 24 Hillhouse Ave. near Trumbull Street and end with oven-fresh pizza at the Yale Farm. Participants must bring their own bikes and safety gear.

• A Recycling Expo led by C.J. May, director of Yale recycling, on the whys, whats and hows of recycling, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 3 at 300 George St.

• “The Greening of Consumerism: Understanding America,” a panel discussion moderated by Julie Newman, director of the Office of Sustainability, and a dinner, 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, International Center, 421 Temple St. Open to the Yale community and invited guests.

• A Sustainable Transportation Workshop led by Yale’s Holly Parker, looking at alternative options at the University, noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, in Rm. 59 of Sloane Physics Laboratory, 217 Prospect St.

Other highlights will include talks about the U.S. Forest Carbon Policy, global warming and building a “whole Earth” economy, as well as composting workshops, a tour of the Power Plant, film screenings and more. For a complete schedule, visit www.yale.edu/sustainability/summit.

As the summit approaches, student groups have teamed up with the Office of Sustainability and Campus Customs on Broadway to co-sponsor a design contest for a Yale sustainability T-shirt. Campus Customs at 57 Broadway will print the winning design for free on any light-colored T-shirt on Monday, March 30, from 3-9 p.m.

Many summit events will also build on recent and existing campus activities. Since last year’s summit, a number of new campus initiatives have been launched to find ways to reduce and reuse waste, save energy, and cut greenhouse emissions that contribute to global warming — all key goals of the University as it strives to operate in a more sustainable way. Those initiatives include:

Green Computing. Yale Information Technology (IT) began a pilot program to implement remote desktop management. In addition to increasing efficiency for the IT staff, the program has the benefit of reducing energy usage and saving departments and the University money. The Big Fix software has the capability of remotely powering up computers — allowing IT to do backups and patchwork — and then powering them down for the rest of the night for energy savings. The software company, along with a representative from Yale IT, will be present at the “Better Buying Bazaar” to answer questions and enroll staff and faculty in the pilot program.

Cleaning. After a testing phase, Yale is now primarily using cleaning products that have a reduced impact on both the environment and human health. With the exception of disinfectants, which currently have no green alternatives, non-green cleaning chemicals are no longer purchased, and custodial supervisors have cleaned out stockrooms of chemical cleaners for safe disposal. New campus-wide green-cleaning standards were recently implemented, and about 90% of the money spent on cleaning supplies — everything from recycled-content tissue paper to non-ammoniated glass cleaner — is now used to purchase green products.

Sustainable Dining. Several dining halls have experimented with having students dine without trays. These tests have shown that diners tend to take only what they are likely to consume, reducing food purchases and preparation costs, cutting food waste, and saving on water and energy consumption because trays don’t need to be washed.

Energy. A new series of videos produced by the Yale Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership’s (STEP’s) Energy Team encourages students to unplug appliances and electronic devices before leaving campus for breaks, use compact fluorescent light bulbs in their suites, and take Yale’s Sustainability Pledge. (The videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/Yale­STEP.) Students also have set up bins for clothing and other items that, instead of being discarded in the trash, can be picked up by others who can use them. The program is called Eli Exchange, and its motto is “Swapping is the New Shopping,” according to Bob Ferretti, the sustainability office’s outreach and education manager.

Recycling. Yale Recycling started a formal education program for all new employees. Students on a recycling outreach team visit the new hires to create a personal connection, answer questions about recycling practices and generally help them begin their Yale careers in a sustainable direction. The recycling department also expanded its efforts to work with Yale labs, holding orientation sessions and investigating the potential for recycling various lab materials, said C.J. May, Yale’s recycling coordinator. For further information, visit www.yale.edu/recycling.

Alternative Transportation. The Transportation Options program last fall introduced the Zipcar car-sharing service to make fuel-efficient vehicles available for short-term rental to faculty, staff and students 24 hours a day, seven days a week at seven locations. Hourly fees include fuel, insurance and maintenance — and the cars were so popular that the fleet was more than doubled, to 14 cars. The program also helps match people in commuter car pools — all aimed at reducing carbon emissions while reducing travel costs for the participants. For further information, visit www.yale.edu/transportationoptions.

The first summit helped call attention to the issue of sustainability, say the organizers, while this year the focus is on connecting the Yale community with the local community and with the world.

“Last year was very much about greening and raising awareness of opportunities,” Goodall said. “This year, because of the economy, we are integrating social well-being and economic vitality as well.”

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