Solar at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center

August 5th, 2014 | Sam

The North Willamette Research and Extension Center, the site of OSU’s newest solar array, has been successfully using the produced energy for more than 5 months now.

The solar array is part of a larger OSU initiative to utilize alternative energy at its facilities. This installation, on the NWREC’s 160 acre farm across from Charbonneau and Miley Road, began construction last October and began producing electricity at the beginning of the new year.

DSC09533

The Center’s energy consumption per month is approximately 20,000 kWh and the new array has been producing between 23,000 and 35,000 kWh, considerably more than is needed. Conveniently, the excess energy is put back into the grid and the Center is given credits towards energy use during the lower production months. It is forecasted that six to seven months of the year the array will produce more energy than necessary which will help cover the remaining costs.

At NWREC, bills are paid to Solar City, who owns the array and is responsible for all the operations and maintenance, as well as PGE for line/meter charges and any power needed that isn’t produced with the solar system. So far, the NWREC expects to reduce annual electrical bills by about 50% or $10-50,000.

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A more recent addition to the array includes a new form of vegetation management. There are three sheep grazing on site for the summer to utilize the plentiful grass. The sheep are a great, low maintenance way to keep the vegetation in check and make for some happy sheep. The NWREC is also  looking at developing bee pollinator habitat for the array in 2015.

Don’t forget you can monitor the array’s data records here to see how they are doing now and in the months to come.


Conservation and Wildlife at Oregon State

August 1st, 2014 | Sam

The National Wildlife Federation recently highlighted Oregon State in an article about the University’s commitment to conservation and wildlife. Kristy Jones, the manager of campus climate education and action in National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology program, had this to say about OSU’s accomplishments.

“Oregon State University in Corvallis is committed to conservation and wildlife both on and off campus. OSU has proven to be a leader in campus sustainability for many years. In 2011, National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology program recognized OSU for their Energy Center, the nation’s first LEED Platinum-rated power facility and their Student Sustainability Initiative. OSU has also attained a Gold rating in STARS – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System; received the highest green ranking in Oregon and was listed as 11th in the nation in the 2013 Sierra Club “Cool Schools” ranking; and placed first in 2010, 2011, and 2012 in the annual Civil War RecycleMania competition with University of Oregon.

35th_st_westward

In addition to these accomplishments, OSU has also made a significant effort to protect wildlife and natural resources on campus through the Oak Creek Restoration project. Restoration efforts have included the removal of invasive species like Himalayan blackberry and English ivy, reforesting areas of the corridor, reconnecting the floodplain, and properly treating and buffering storm water discharge into the creek ensuring a healthy aquatic habitat for fish and amphibians. Oak Creek is also an outdoor learning lab – students have the opportunity to evaluate various restoration and protection methods, study riparian function and monitor stream improvements.

So, what else is OSU doing for wildlife?

OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute (MMI) is a facility that brings together the work and expertise of many programs including engineering, genetics, agriculture, aquatics, ecology, veterinary medicine, biology and communications.

Whales

“As the only institute of its kind, the Marine Mammal Institute combines the efforts of top researchers from around the world to continue the legacy of discovery and preservation of critical habitats of target species and understanding how they interact with their environment and human activities.”

The Institute consists of six labs,one of which is the Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Laboratory (CCGL). The CCGL is committed to researching the molecular ecology and systematics of whales, dolphins and porpoises around the world to learn from their past, assess their present, with an ultimate goal of ensuring these marine mammals thrive long into the future.

The lab looks at the impact of hunting on whale populations and the ecological role they played before human exploitation. To assess their current status, CCGL is involved in three collaborative studies focused on populations, genetic diversity and migration, specifically looking at Humpback and Sperm whales. CCGL alsosurveys the ‘whale-meat’ markets in Japan and the Republic of (South) Korea to learn more about what the future holds.

Learn more about OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute and their work on whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and walruses.”

Oregon State University has always held its Conservation and Wildlife practices in the highest regard, which is reflected in the numerous facilities, programs, and events the school has to offer. If you would like to learn more about sustainability at OSU, click here!


Question of the Week: Film Plastic Recycling

July 30th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

ChicoBag-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win an OSU ChicoBag.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Film plastic is not accepted in campus or curbside recycling. Name three locations in Corvallis where you can take film plastic to be recycled.

Answer

In Corvallis, film plastic may be taken to the Republic Services Depot, as well as several grocery stores, including: Fred Meyer, Safeway, Grocery Outlet, and Winco.

Film plastic is the soft, stretchable plastic used for grocery bags and shrink wrap. Make sure that the film plastic is clean if you plan to recycle it.

This type of plastic is separately collected due to the damages it can cause to machinery at Material Recovery Facilities. Read more about this on our Recycling Mythbusters blog post.

And congratulations to Geoffrey Somnitz on Facebook, and Kit Arbogast here on the blog, for winning this week’s Question! Keep up the great work.



New course offering: Social Dimensions of Sustainability

July 29th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

Dimensions sustainability courseA new online course will be offered during Fall 2014 for students in natural resources, environmental sciences, social sciences, and students interested in the Sustainability Double-Degree.

Beginning with a discussion on the importance of a social science perspective for study of sustainability issues, the course will compliment the ecological aspects of sustainability by exposing students to its social dimensions. The course will briefly examine the various theoretical and methodological tools for studying sustainability, with the remainder centering on the interrelationship between the environmental, social, economic and political structures associated with sustainability.

Course work will include online discussion board assignments, writing assignments, and a capstone project culminating in a critique of an organization’s social sustainability campaign message (including corporate social responsibility and social justice messages).

For more information, contact Lori Cramer or Derric Jacobs.

Course Details:

SOC399 (section 400): Social Dimensions of Sustainability

Credits: 4

CRN: 21086

Instructor: Derric Jacobs

Prerequisites: SOC204 (or permission of the instructor)


Eco-Representatives at Oregon State

July 25th, 2014 | Sam

The close of the 2013-2014 school year marks the end of the second Eco-Representative pilot program here at Oregon State. Eco-Representatives are a new trend popping up in colleges and universities all over the country to promote sustainable behaviors within residence halls.

Eco-Representatives (Eco-reps) are responsible for advancing and institutionalizing a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live. Overall, this position is responsible for educating residents about sustainable lifestyles and resources, assisting with marketing and outreach efforts for sustainability programs, and planning and executing sustainability-focused events.  Eco-reps report to staff in the OSU Sustainability Office, but work with multiple departments and organizations on campus to meet program goals.

Res HallEco-reps work an average of 5 hours per week for 11 weeks during each term with the exception of fall term since recruitment and hiring take place at the beginning of the term.

OSU’s Eco-reps are supervised by Sonja Mae, Sustainability Program Specialist, and in conjunction with them she supports cross-departmental accountability on sustainability related projects.  During this last year there was an Eco-rep for Halsell, West, and Wilson residence halls.

One of the main focuses of Eco-reps this year was the composting pilot program. In total, the 3 halls composted 2,797 lbs in winter and spring terms. West collected more compost than all 3 halls last year combined! Each hall’s Eco-rep is in charge of educational outreach on compost management and the day-to-day oversight of the bins.

Below is a graphic showing the breakdown of composting in each hall.


FY13-14 Halsell West Wilson
# floors 4 5 6
# residents† 217 204 346
# of occupied rooms† 174 118 197
# participating rooms (# pails) 27 68 7*
Total weight - winter (lb) 199 729 293
Total weight - spring (lb) 161 1015 400
Total weight (lb) 360 1744 693
Av. weight per week (lb) 18.9 96.9 38.5
Av. weight per room per week (lb) 0.7 1.4 unknown*
†As of 4/24/14 
*Eco-Rep Only issued pails to 7 people on 1 floor but all floors  contributed to compost 

West and Halsell halls also gained a lot of recognition through their Eco-reps. West Hall received hall program of the year for Eco-Month and Halsell Hall won the RecycleMania competition this academic year.  All halls with Eco-reps had the highest percent of participation in the competition.  Lastly, for the fall event Electric or Treat, where SSI staff and Eco-reps handed out CFL bulbs for Halloween, the West Hall Eco-rep gave away 81 CFL bulbs in one afternoon in her hall, the highest of any staff.

So far the Eco-Representatives have been very effective at furthering sustainability goals in their residence halls and, therefore, campus at large.  Eco-reps fulfill an important and unique need at OSU; Eco-reps work in the same place where they live and play and therefore are able to reach their peers more effectively than posters, handouts or regular staff.

The goals for Eco-reps in the upcoming years are to expand the program to more halls and also to have the previous year’s reps available to train new students coming into the position.

More information is available here, to apply submit a resume and cover letter that addresses why you are qualified and interested in the position, as well as a brief description of an event or program you might organize if hired. Send these application materials to Sonja Mae at the OSU Sustainability Office by Sunday, October 5.


Drive Less Save More: South Town

July 24th, 2014 | Alaina Hawley

The City of Corvallis is hosting free transportation outreach events all summer in South Corvallis.  While the “Drive Less Save More: Southtown” campaign is geared toward South Corvallis residents, the events are open to anyone! The next event is the Sage Concert Family Bike Ride on Thursday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. The ride will start at Lily Park and end at Starker Arts Park for a free Sage Music Concert. Click Here to see the rest of the July events and stay tuned for more events in August and September.

Drive Less Save More South Town

This program is intended to further educate South Corvallis residents of their transportation options via events and what are called Go Kits. These kits are free, customizable, full of information and travels tools, and they will even be delivered to your door. Click Here to get your free kit.


Question of the Week: Weekday Shopping at OSUsed Store

July 23rd, 2014 | Kyle Reed

spork-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU spork.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

You may have heard of the OSUsed Store, which is run by Surplus Property here on campus. You may also know that public sales are held weekly, but what you may not know is that certain types of organizations can shop there throughout the week. What three types of organizations can shop at the OSUsed Store outside of the public sales?

Answer

OSU Departments, state and local government agencies, and certain nonprofit organizations may shop OSUsed outside of the public sale dates.

The above groups may shop during business hours on all weekdays except Wednesday. Individuals may shop for personal use during the public sales, which take place every Wednesday, and on the third Saturday of each month. See the calendar for 2014 public sale dates!

Be sure to check out Surplus’ Facebook page for neat deals on what’s being sold, as well as helpful reuse tips.

And congratulations to Arijit for once again winning this week’s Question! Keep up the great work.


Free Cob Building Workshop

July 23rd, 2014 | Sam

old mill centerBeginning Cob Lessons at the Old Mill Center

The Old Mill Center for Children and Families is currently hosting a summer     camp for children where participants will learn some introductory cob building skills. The goal is to build a small cob playhouse for the center and volunteer work would be a great help to get the walls up a little faster.

This is a fantastic learning opportunity for anyone interested in cob/natural building. Experienced builders are more than welcome but they are also happy to show the ropes to those with no experience. In exchange for a little bit of hard work you will learn the basics of what’s involved with building a cob house from the ground up!

This Thursday, July 24, at 1:30pm there will be a a volunteer orientation and work session at the Old Mill Center building site. This orientation will not include any contact with the children.  After Thursday volunteers can come at any time during the week after 1:30 pm. If you can’t come on Thursday but would still like to be involved please contact Zak Kahn at zkahn3@gmail.com.


Corvallis Recycling Block Captains Needed

July 17th, 2014 | Sam

The Sustainability Coalition’s Waste Prevention Action Team is inviting Corvallis residents to participate in the Recycling Block Captains program.

Block Captain

As a recycling block captain, you can help educate your neighbors about recycling, composting, and waste prevention, as well as encourage their full participation in the opportunities that Republic Services is currently providing. The time commitment is 1-5 hours every three to five months (depending on how many homes you choose to cover), so it’s both easy and very beneficial to the neighborhoods that are served.

Recycling block captains have two primary responsibilities:

  1. Distribute recycling information to your neighbors 3-4 times per year.
  2. Serve as a liaison between your neighbors and the Coalition’s Waste Prevention Action Team (i.e. pickup your handouts quarterly and help answer your neighbors’ questions if/when they arise).

The Coalition provides the handouts; you define your own neighborhood (number of homes and location). You can see a map of existing neighborhoods and past handouts on their webpage.

Applications are due by July 27th, you can sign up for the program here!


Question of the Week: Plastic Cold Cups

July 16th, 2014 | Kyle Reed

cup-sun-win-meTime for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU Cold Cup (with straw).

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Pictured below is a plastic cold cup. Into what bin on campus (excluding Res. halls) would you sort this into?

plastic cup NO

Answer

Plastic cold cups are considered trash.

Because cold cups are not one of the four shapes of plastic collected at OSU, they are not considered recyclable, and therefore should NOT go into the “containers” recycling.

Read our Recycling Mythbusters blog for more information on why some plastics are recyclable, while others aren’t. You can also visit the recycle guide to learn more about what types of plastic are recyclable on campus.

And congratulations to Arijit for winning this week’s Question of the Week!