Author: Mortensen, Betsy

Carbon Neutral Commuter Program Launches at UConn

New! Take your commute out of the climate by joining the Carbon Neutral Commuter Program. Donate $5 to help offset the 13,000 metric tons of carbon that are emitted by UConn commuters annually.

Staff and student personal vehicle commuting at UConn contributes over 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That contributes to approximately 12% of UConn’s annual carbon footprint, and is equivalent to burning 1.5 million gallons of gasoline. Historically, UConn has very limited influence over this significant portion of its carbon footprint because it doesn’t own or choose the cars that employees and students drive. Now we’re offering an option for commuters to offset their commute’s carbon emissions. Anyone who chooses to participate can enroll in the Carbon Neutral Commuter Program (CNCP) after purchasing their parking pass.

 

What Is It?

A voluntary annual donation of $5 (or more if you’d like!) that goes towards projects that effectively prevent carbon emissions from being emitted into the atmosphere. These carbon negative projects work to offset the carbon emissions created by employees and students through their commute to campus.

How Do I Participate?

You can become a member at any point by making a donation! We recommend making your donation annually right after you purchase or renew your parking permit on the Parking Services website.

How Does My Donation Combat Climate Change?

For the inaugural year of the CNCP, 100% of funds raised by the program will be used to purchase third-party verified carbon offsets. Verified carbon offsets are projects that reduce, remove or avoid emission of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) from going into the atmosphere. Offsets must meet the OS’s stringent environmental integrity and environmental justice standards. Moving forward, the OS is forming a committee of students, faculty and staff who will convene to determine the best ways to direct CNCP funds in order to support the goals of offsetting commuter emissions, supporting students and local communities, and addressing historical environmental injustices. To learn more about carbon offsets and the program in detail, please see our FAQ section on the CNCP page.

Learn more: https://sustainability.uconn.edu/uconn-carbon-neutral-commuter-program/

Donate + Join: https://www.foundation.uconn.edu/fund/campus-sustainability-fund/?utm_source=uconn&utm_medium=web&utm_term=XXDDG072301 

Campus Sustainability Fund

Environmental and Social Sustainability Grantee in the News!

Saving the Planet, One Clothing Swap at a Time

CT Health I-Team published a story about one of our Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants awardees on July 5, 2022.

Grantee Madeline Kizer is part of the team of UConn students bringing the Swap Shop to life on campus. From the article:

“According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “The [Fast Fashion] textiles system operates in an almost completely linear way: large amounts of non-renewable
resources are extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short time, after which the materials are mostly sent to landfill or incinerated,” under-utilizing recycling. And, many of the industry workers are women, age 18-24, who are exploited working long hours, making low wages, reports re/make.”

Madeline Kizer of Wallingford hosts clothing swaps to promote second-hand shopping, aiming to raise awareness of fast fashion’s impact on the environment.”

For the rest of the summer, Kizer and two classmates are finalizing UConn Swap Shop, an on-campus thrift store. Students will have the opportunity to swap clothing, each item having a designated point value. Kizer recalled being a freshman without a car on-campus and wanting to thrift in her free time. She hopes that the thrift store will teach students the importance of shopping second-hand.”

Read the full story on CT Health I-Team.

EcoCaptains – Apply to lead your hall towards sustainability

Applications for EcoCaptains for the Fall ’22/Spring ’23 semesters are now open.

EcoCaptains serve as paid sustainability champions and ambassadors for the Office of Sustainability. In collaboration with ResLife, this program allows for EcoCaptains to lead sustainability related programming and educational activities in their residence halls. Below are some of responsibilities of an EcoCaptain:

  • Work 5 hours per week @ $14.00/hr
  • Collaborate with Hall Directors and Resident Assistants to lead sustainability related programming and educational activities in residence halls
  • Attend monthly EcoCaptains meetings
  • Provide weekly updates to OS staff and intern leads
  • Participate in EcoCaptain training and group chat
  • Participate and encourage student participation in Office of Sustainability led events and programming such as EcoMadness, RecycleThon, Green Game Days, Earth Day Spring Fling, and Hillside Environmental Education Park (HEEP) trail maintenance events.
  • Distribute Recycling Bags and Sustainability Activity books to residents
  • Lead sustainability education and engagement activities in residence halls like the following:
    • Weekly recycling audits and scoring
    • Monthly hall meetings about different topics related to sustainability
    • Environmental film screenings or movie nights, discussion forums, guest speakers
    • EcoCaptain “office hours” where people can ask questions about sustainability or give suggestions
    • Educational flyers, social media, etc.
    • Weekly tips for living more sustainably
    • Volunteer clean-up events
    • Week-long or one-day events or activities, such as a “power-down” day or other fun competitions

Apply and learn more HERE.

Hiring a Director for the Office of Sustainability

The Institute of the Environment seeks a strategic administrator and effective Director of the Office of Sustainability at the University of Connecticut, who will leverage our institutional reputation in sustainability to further advance our national and international leadership in sustainability and the environment.

The Office of Sustainability reports to the Institute of the Environment and works with senior administrators, students, faculty, and staff to set and achieve sustainability goals for the University in the areas of climate action and resilience, energy and buildings, waste reduction and diversion, water resources, food and dining, grounds, purchasing, transportation, open space and natural resource stewardship, and the intersection of these issues with environmental and social justice. The Office develops outreach and engagement programs that feature experiential learning to raise awareness and improve performance around sustainable practices and behaviors related to campus life.

UConn is internationally recognized as a leader in campus sustainability, consistently placing in the top 10 of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools ranking and possessing a Platinum Rating with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). By convening and leading the Environmental Policy Advisory Council (EPAC), and more recently through its participation on President’s Working Group on Sustainability & the Environment, the Office of Sustainability provides the University community with a focal point for campus dialogue on energy and environmental issues, and has been integral to the successful planning and implementation of environmental sustainability initiatives at UConn.

Reporting to the Executive Director of the Institute of the Environment, the Director advocates for sustainable decision-making across diverse units at the University. From an administrative position, the Director manages a modest staff of professionals and students, and oversees fiscal operations of the Office.

To see the duties, responsibilities and desired qualifications, and application instructions please visit the job posting: https://jobs.hr.uconn.edu/en-us/job/496226/director-of-the-office-of-sustainability-university-staff-professional-2

Apply to UConn@COP 27 by May 14th

To allow students more time to focus on finals and end-of-semester projects, we have extended the UConn@COP application deadline to Saturday, May 14th.

Application links:

Undergrad Application

Grad Application

***To review the application before applying, visit: Undergraduate Student Application Preview if you are an undergraduate student, or Graduate Student Application Preview if you are a graduate student.

Environmental & Social Sustainability Grantees in UConn Today

Eat Local: Raising Awareness of Local Food Sourcing in UConn Dining Halls

UConn Today published a story about one of our Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants awardees on April 28, 2022.

Grantees Matthew Chen and Hannah Colonies-Kelley are investigating student awareness of UConn’s local food purchasing. From the article:

[The students] “soon discovered UConn Dining Services was already purchasing 36% of its food locally. Other large public universities such as UMass Amherst purchase only 20% of their food locally, on average.”

“I think that especially as such a large university, the example UConn can lead for sustainability is important,” Chen says.

Read the full story on UConn Today.

Forest Bathing Meditation Walks – April 29

Come forest bathing with the Office of Sustainability and NatureRx on April 29th as Regan Stacey leads us through the forests of the HEEP.

Forest bathing is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It is also known as Shinrin-yoku in Japan. ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing.

There are two sessions available, capped at 20 participants each. Sign up for your desired time:

Friday, April 29

Meet by the Red Trail behind the Innovation Partnership Building. Here’s a google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/oEq8DA1uCZKmhh4S9

Apply to the Fall ’22 Internship at OS

The Office of Sustainability is Hiring!

The Office of Sustainability is hiring a new cohort of interns. These paid internships provide excellent work experience, hone leadership skills, and set students up for success in environmental positions after graduating. Please apply to our team of sustainability-minded student interns. Positions are 8-12 hours per week and will begin Fall ’22. Interns deal with all kinds of sustainability topics – from energy use to environmental communications. All majors welcome!

Apply by April 30th

Must be a current first-year or a second-year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UConn

DETAILS + APPLICATION HERE