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by Robert Costanza, Cutler Cleveland, Bruce Cooperstein, Ida Kubiszewski
A satellite image of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan taken before March 11, 2011.
The Institute for Sustainable Solutions has released a list of the funded projects for spring 2011. Congratulations! Click "read more" and scroll down the page for more details on each proposal.
Social Equity and Environmental Health for Sustainable Cities: A Search for Solutions
Grassroots Gardening Project at the Learning Gardens Laboratory
Farm Partnership with Wealth Underground Farm
Educate, Access, Thrive: Underserved Populations and Healthy Food (EatUp); An Equity and Community Food Systems Project
4th Annual Earth Day Festival: Sustainability in Action!
Enhancing Social Equity by Creating a Campus that is Friendly for All Ages and Abilities
Take Back the Tap at Portland State
Leading the Way: Developing Community Food System Leaders
Greenspace Rehabilitation Project
Climate Change Impact of Food Purchasing, Preparation, and Waste in PSU’s Dining Services
Spring Energy Challenge - PSU Campus
Education as Sustainability: Integrating Sustainability Education into the University Studies Peer Mentor Program
Across the world of higher education, IT departments are embracing sustainability to save money--and the planet. We profile seven institutions that have shifted their efforts into high gear.
By Matt Villano - 04/01/11
Illustration by Jon Reinfurt
Single best way to conserve electricity? Turn things off when you aren't using them! This sound incredibly simple. Almost childish. But we continue to leave the lights, computers, speakers, monitors, printers, copiers, play stations, dvd players, stereos, or whatever else you can think of on... when we aren't using them. And it all adds up.
Often conservationists get tagged as people who won't be happy until everyone is sitting cold and in the dark. That couldn't be further from the truth! Rather, our mission is to make sure we are educated about where our resources come from and working to use our resources efficiently. And it's not an efficient use of resources if an appliance is using electricity and not even being enjoyed!
Of a building's total energy consumption, 30% is typically associated with lighting. Here are three easy ways to minimize your use of electricity for lighting:
- Make use of natural lighting. I know sunny days are few this time of year, but if you can turn your desk lamp off when the sun is streaming in the window, do it! Besides, relocating to an area where more natural light is available can, especially in these parts, brighten your day far more than typical indoor lighting.
- Turn off lights if you are leaving for more than 5 minutes. Flipping the lights on and off has no impact on the life of the lamp (once upon a time it did, but technology has come so far, modern light bulbs are designed to be turned on/off millions of times). In fact, this handy article from US Dept of Energy, says that "turning off fluorescent lights for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than will be consumed in turning them back on again." Now, I'm not suggesting you turn off your lights that often, but 5 minutes is the general rule of thumb.
- Use CFL, LED, or fluorescent lights. Incandescent bulbs are a thing of the past. At most 15% of the electricity they use goes to light. The rest? Heat.
If you are a PSU staff or faculty member working in URBN, MCB, or EDBA buildings, please check out our excellent pilot project for Watt Stoppers - these handy power strips will help turn off your desk equipment, even if you forget. They are free of charge and I'll come help install them myself. Send me an email at email@example.com if interested.
Residents at PSU? Stay tuned for more information about or next Monday night program for our Energy Challenge 2011. We'll have smart strips, LED bulbs, and other energy saving tools available to win!
Last night we kicked off our month-long energy conservation challenge in Victor's dining hall. The lights were dimmed, fliers were on every table, and glow sticks scattered about. The natural light from the windows made the effect somewhat less striking than anticipated, but that's a good thing! Using natural lighting efficiently is one of our goals. We encouraged residents to turn off their lights from 8-9 PM and join the EcoReps in the lobbies of Broadway for board games.
I won’t be able to see the drop in electricity until the bills are released (probably next month), but we certainly don't need numbers to tell us we made a big splash and got some conversations started. I'll be following up this week with posts about the basics of energy, facts about PSU's energy, and tips that residents (in PSU halls and beyond) can use to start some basic electricity conservation!
I've been hyping this up for months, so let's get started saving some electricity!
Tonight the EcoReps will kick off our residential energy challenge event with a Candlelit dinner in Victor's dining hall (first floor of Ondine) followed by Blackout Board Games in Broadway.
We'll be turning off the lights and creating a little ambiance with glow sticks - as romantic as the candles sounded, we didn't want to navigate the fire safety issues. And don't worry, the emergency lights will provide plenty light to find your way.
After the dinner we're encouraging all residents of Broadway to shut off their lights (think, Portland State level Earth Hour) and join the EcoReps for some board games and non-electric fun.
Between these first two events, we're hoping to see a dip in the electricity used in both Ondine and Broadway residence halls. Each Monday we'll be having an event to raise awareness about electricity conservation. Keep an eye out - there will be prizes, food, and more!
I've started collecting electricity data for each building last week and we'll be posting stats about how much electricity each building is using as the month progresses. By the end, we should know how much each building has reduced from last year, how much electricity the average resident of each building uses, which building saved more electricity throughout the month, and how much electricity per square foot these buildings use.
At the end of the month we're planning a final celebration (all residents of Broadway and Ondine are invited) to showcase our electricity savings and the results of the Energy Conservation Art Contest!
Representatives from the major professional sports leagues in North America came together today to announce the launching of the Green Sports Alliance (GSA).
One of our commenters suggested taking a look at the library - the revolving doors vs the traditional doors - to see which actually kept heat in the building and what they might look like with the thermal camera.
So, here's a (somewhat awkward) shot of the library (courtesy of Google Maps)
And below the break are two thermal images of the area we're talking about:
First, I hope you've been keeping up with our rankings in the RecycleMania competition.
I've always been someone particularly interested in science and numbers, but I've always loved art that captures the beauty in engineering and technology (some of my earliest memories of art are my dad's beautiful stipled pen and ink works of power plants he'd visisted as an electrical engineer). And I think it's often over-looked in environmental work and sustainability that creative expression can be an powerful way to communicate our principles and values. It's also a way of putting technology and human scale in perspective with nature. That said...
I have another GOOD find to share with you. They recently highlighted the work of Mitch Epstein, an photographer whose recent work focuses onAmerican power. This slide show from the Guardian really does an amazing job of pairing his beautiful photgraphs with statements from the artist and environmental facts.
It's also a great tie-in for announcing a unique aspect of our Energy Challenge (beginning April 1st, stay tuned for more details - the EcoReps are hard at work planning!). During the month, we're not only going to be encouraging residents to conserve electricity and educating them about the science behind electricity. We're also going to be hosting a month long submission period for your creative expressions of conservation. Whether it be poetry (Haiku or otherwise), art (photography, painting, sculpture, etc), or any other form of creative expression you wish.
We hope to display submissions at the conclusion of the Energy Challenge and even offer a prize! Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for submission details. As the energy challenge gets under way, we'll post more information - but for now get the word out there!