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in student affairs

• NASPA Sustainability Knowledge Community • Winter 2012 Newsletter • Volume 2, Issue 1 •

FEATURE ARTICLE: Unity College staff reflect on the TerraHaus experience

PLUS: Sustainable technology, peer outreach campaigns, online resources and a call for articles

In this issue…

FEATURED ARTICLES: Unity College’s TerraHaus….. ...Pages 3-4 Elon U Hosts Lights Out BINGO… ...Page 7 COLUMNS: Letter from the Editor… ….Page 2 Defining Sustainability… Tech Corner….. NASPA INFORMATION: SKC Membership…… Call for Articles……

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Sustainability in higher education is about more than just remembering to shut down our computers at night and encouraging students to change light bulbs in their residence halls (though, those are wonderful things!). It is about becoming leaders in institutional growth, personal well-being and financial stability. Student Affairs professionals have a great responsibility and opportunity to view their roles through a sustainability lens. This is a difficult task, though, without truly understanding how we, as individuals and professionals, are impacted by the conversation. I encourage (and challenge) you to use this newsletter and the many resources provided within it to explore this topic of “sustainability in student affairs� so that you, too, can begin to infuse it into the work you do at your respective institutions. I genuinely believe that sustainability is a truly interdisciplinary topic. We have a great deal to offer our students and institutions by embracing this conversation. Thank you.

Sustainability Knowledge Community Newsletter Editor Director of Sustainability, Ohio University

Previous Page: A view of the solar panels at the site of the In-Vessel Solar Composter at Ohio University. Student volunteers and interns are trained to give tours of the facility to classes and community members in an effort to simultaneously promote the program and student development. Left: Athens, Ohio Farmers Market. Ohio University Office of Sustainability collaborated with the Graduate Student Senate to sponsor an on-campus Farmers Market and administer surveys to gather baseline data on the sustainability literacy of students. Students are now working with the administration to do feasibility studies on increasing alternate transportation opportunities from campus to the local market. Photo Credits: Alex Snyder


TerraHaus—Moving Into America’s First Passive House Residence by Stephen Nason Director of Residence Life/Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Unity College NASPA Region 1 Sustainability KC Coordinator

This August Unity College opened TerraHaus which is America’s first passive house residence hall. This article is not about the technical aspects of TerraHaus, (for that please see my earlier article, Unity Student Passive House: Transforming the Approach to Student Housing in the NASPA region 1 February 2011 Newsletter), rather I want to focus on the first two months of TerraHaus in regards to new residential concepts, organization, issues, and surprises. TerraHaus represented several new residential concepts for Unity College. First the residential rooms were purposely made smaller while the common areas were made TerraHause residents enjoying the energy efficient kitchen. larger. At first the residents balked at this but as they got used to living in TerraHaus, they got used to thinking of their room as where they slept and studied and the common area as where they lived and socialized. In fact that is the most common comment that I heard from people when they first visit TerraHaus, -- it feels like a home, not a residence hall. The second new residential concept was that we placed a lot more expectations and requirements on the residents of TerraHaus than other residents. Before students signed up to live in TerraHaus they were informed that there would be expectations that they would be ambassadors for the College for various types of visitors to TerraHaus. They would be expected to understand the various systems of the building and be able to speak on living in a passive certified house. And I must say our TerraHaus students have really stepped up to the plate on this. They have been very welcoming to all visitors and have taken pride in explaining how TerraHaus works. The mission of Unity College is to educate stewards of the earth and, in the case of TerraHaus residents, we have created stewards of Passive house living. One of the key reasons why I think TerraHaus has been so successful so far has been how we have organized the key areas. As Director of Residence Life I have focused on dealing with the maintenance issues of the building and in finding residents that desire to live in a “PassivHaus” setting. Doug Fox, a professor/ Director of the Center for Sustainability and Global Change, has been focused on the TerraHaus blog, and serves as our faculty expert, Jesse Pyles, our Coordinator of Sustainability, has been focused on the scheduling of visitors to TerraHaus. Earlier this semester, Jesse and I organized a meeting between the TerraHaus residents and Go.Logic, the architects of TerraHaus, so that the students could learn firsthand how the TerraHaus building systems worked. Ashley Sutton, Senior Resident Advisor in TerraHaus, has been the ambassador of TerraHaus and the glue that keeps everything together. Ashley makes sure that I maintenances issues are reported and coordinates with the residents to clean and prepare for visitors when notified of an upcoming tour of the facility. This has worked very well and I think the College has found the right balance of having TerraHaus being a show piece while at the same time respecting the privacy of its residents. Finally, although this is pretty obvious, I also would strongly recommend to all of you that if you are opening a new and innovative residence hall that you place your very best resident advisor in it.


However TerraHaus has had a few issues. One of my goals for TerraHaus was to get students living in the building as soon as possible because some issues would only become apparent after people were living in the building. I remember early on this semester getting a report that there wasn’t any hot water in the showers which was followed up very quickly with “never mind, we figured out how the showers work!” (You have to turn the shower knob twice around to set it to warmer water). Other minor issues included a leaking upstairs sink, hooks for the upstairs bathroom, handles for the kitchen drawers (makes it a lot easier to open!), shower curtains for the showers, and mirrors for the bathroom. Our maintenance staff has been very prompt in their responses to maintenance issues and has a good working relationship with Go.Logic, TerraHauas’ design-build firm. The windows to TerraHaus also created a surprising issue. Because TerraHaus is a net zero energy building, it has special high energy efficient windows from Germany. The inward swing of these specialty windows initially posed a slight issue for our maintenance department when they installed window blinds for the resident rooms. TerraHaus also had a stool issue; the stools that were ordered for the kitchen island were too high to sit on at the kitchen island. Our maintenance department’s solution? Simply cut off the legs of the stools to the proper height! But perhaps the most frustrating issue for me has been cable television. I have been battling with the cable company for two months to hook up the one cable outlet for TerraHaus and as I write this, the TerraHaus residents still do not have cable. And there have been a few surprises. Originally the stairwell in TerraHaus was going to be concrete to act as a large heat sink. However, cost issues caused the stairwell to instead be constructed from metal (the concrete floor and kitchen island are heat sinks instead). The originally planned stone and grass patio outside of TerraHaus was transitioned to a wood deck. I actually really liked the change to a wooden deck and secured four Adirondack chairs made by our local Amish community for it. Finally the biggest surprise was the move in date. The grand opening (and move-in date) for TerraHause was originally scheduled for August 15, 2011. Despite many concerns that our deadline would not be met by several months, our residents were moving and and setting up their new home on August 19.

Overall, I am very happy with TerraHaus. Not because it is America’s first passive house certified residence hall. Not because TerraHaus has become a show piece for Unity College. No, I am pleased with TerraHaus because it has been a home for its residents and that other students feel welcomed to come and visit. Even the Director of Residence Life feels welcomed to sit in the TerraHaus common room and enjoy a freshly baked cookie.


Defining Sustainability Sustainability can be difficult to define due to its extraordinary flexibility. As student affairs professionals, it is essential that we embark on a journey toward defining sustainability through the lenses of our individual and collective roles. This column is dedicated to further examining individual facets of the conversation.

Generating Connections Sustainability is commonly examined through the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit. Despite its inherently complex definition, most of us are quick to connect to the environmental (planet) components of “sustainability.” As institutions of higher education are recognizing their responsibility to natural and built environments, we find ourselves pushing a great deal of undefined expectations onto tomorrow’s leaders. We are asking them to preserve a world without offering the tools and contexts necessary to truly understand such an undertaking. Additionally, many students arrive on our campuses with little to no personal connection to the word “environment.”

Outdoor immersion programming is just one of many ways to help students generate meaningful connections to sustainability.

Scientists, educators and parents have recently engaged in a great deal of research on the topic of nature as a mental stimulant and emotional soother. In fact, in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv suggests that today’s youth are experiencing higher levels of diagnosed health and mental diseases and disorders due to their lack of connection to the natural environment. Therefore, we can see that educators play a vital role in the lives of students – After all, they are the ones who expose youth to the influential connections they will make as they navigate toward adulthood.

The connections that student affairs professionals foster between the natural environment and their students or colleagues can make positive, near-term impacts on an individual’s personal wellbeing and, thus, what they contribute back to the community and environment. Today’s students could, potentially, suffer from less anxiety, fewer health issues and fewer attention disorders if they were encouraged to develop and maintain a relationship with the natural environment. As video games, iPhones and the internet have become today’s sources for discovery, I would argue that we risk losing the sensory experiences of nature. It is the responsibility of today’s educators (in all senses of the word) to make the impactful decision - - - Will you invest in teaching another person about the importance of generating connections with our natural and built environments? How will you get there? With whom will you collaborate? What information do you need to be successful? Never doubt the power you have as an educator.

What connections have you made between your own happiness and its impact on the environment? Tell us about it by emailing a short quote to Tip: Take the Happy Planet Index:


Tech Corner Waubonsee Community College Utilizes GIS Technology in Tree Campus USA Project by Cassie Blickem Program Development Analyst Waubonsee Community College As part of the Tree Campus USA designation, Waubonsee Community College (Illinois) organized a campus-wide tree inventory, conducted entirely by student volunteers under the direction of the campus arborist, utilizing advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Students received instruction in tree identification, measurement techniques and the use of GPS handheld data collection devices, then worked in teams of two to three to identify, measure and rate tree condition. An arborist and GIS adjunct faculty member worked alongside students and answered questions as they arose. Students have logged over 150 hours of participation, located and collected data on approximately 400 trees Lead Groundskeeper and Certified Arborist and completed over a quarter of the campus. ParticipaJoe Zappia teaches students how to identify and tion has been multi-disciplinary from the fields of liberal arts, science and technology. Student volunteers record campus trees using GIS technology. included biology students, Gustafson Scholars, a GIS intern and a student honor’s project. A core group of students have participated more than once. This has allowed firsttime students to partner with past participants and increased the speed and accuracy of newcomers. Although the tree inventory project meets Tree Campus USA application guidelines for service learning, it serves a secondary longer-term purpose. The completed inventory provides the arborist and Waubonsee's Campus Operations Department with current and historical tree data. This data supports the strategic management and care of campus trees and the resource allocation towards campus tree care. Cities, campuses, arboretums, parks and forest preserves nationwide have long conducted tree inventories to plan for the care and management of trees. However not all have used the advanced capabilities of GIS. Waubonsee chose a GIS platform for the collection, formatting and management of its data for two reasons. First, the college offers a GIS degree and certificate program and has the faculty and student knowledge and software on campus to support this platform. Second, it is the most advanced management tool for tree inventories. When the tree inventory is complete Campus Operations will have a Web-accessible map of the campus with unique points for each tree location. Upon selecting a tree location, the GIS map will display a table that includes the following data: tree species, diameter at breast height, height, condition and maintenance and care notes. The tree inventory project has provided many benefits to students and the college. Students have experienced the realworld multi-disciplinary nature of work by participating in a project that combines science with technology. The college has a platform for the continued collecting and organizing of tree care data.

Is your institution using technology in an effort to advance sustainability initiatives? We’d love to hear about it! Send us your story: Annie Laurie Cadmus, SKC Newsletter Editor


Elon University Sustainability Co-Sponsors “Lights Out” BINGO by Jill Capotosto Eco-Reps Student Co-Coordinator Elon University Office of Sustainability

Students queued up outside of the hall, waiting excitedly for 10:10 PM when the doors would open. The table by the entrance was ready for them, stacked high with BINGO cards ripe for the picking. It wasn’t long before the piles had been mowed down and the tables in the hall were filled with students, eager to begin the games.

The event was free to all students thanks to a successful collaboration between the Office of Sustainability and Resident Student Association.

In most ways, this BINGO night was just like every other that the Resident Student Association holds once a month in the student center. However, the atmosphere was a little different this Thursday night. The lights in the hall were dimmed and the tables were covered by quarter-sheet flyers with tips on how to reduce energy consumption. A slideshow in the back of the room flashed more helpful hints to save electricity. In between games, students from the Office of Sustainability borrowed the mic from the emcee to share energy-reduction tips with the BINGO players.

The prizes were a little different, too. At this BINGO, every student was a winner—they all could walk away with a complimentary compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) that had been placed on the tables. The first 100 students to arrive received a reusable shopping bag. Those who won the BINGO games received environmentally friendly prizes that fit into their college lifestyle. The stage was lined with eco-friendly detergent and cleaning supplies, reusable water bottles and more. The grand prize, a shiny new bike propped in the middle of the stage, kept everyone hanging around until the final game. After about half of the prizes had been given away, the games paused for a pizza break. A meal is always provided at BINGO, but this one was special. The entire meal was compostable: the cups, plates, pizza boxes, napkins and any leftover pizza. Students from the Office of Sustainability stood next to the designated compost bins, letting the other students know about the composting effort and answering questions.

Students competed for the grand prize of a brand new bike..

The games and tip-sharing lasted past midnight. The students all walked away with a broader awareness of energy conservation and light bulbs to put their new knowledge into practice. Not everyone got to yell “BINGO!” but everyone had a great time.

Peer to Peer Sustainability Outreach Campaigns (such as an Eco-Reps program) are a great way to engage students and support collaborative programming just like this!


Shernell Smith, Chairperson Coordinator of Student Development Carnegie Mellon University Steve Radwanski, Technology Assistant Director, Housing Stockton College

Matt DeMonbrun, Region IV East Representative Hall Director University of Michigan

Josh Alexander, Pre-Conference Community Director University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Dave Newport, Region IV West Representative Director of Environmental Center University of Colorado at Boulder

Annie Laurie Cadmus, Publications Director of Sustainability Ohio University

Sharon Goodman, Region V Representative Director of Residential and Dining Services The Evergreen State College

Stephen Nason, Region I Representative Director of Residence Life Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Unity College

Justin Koppleman, Region VI Representative Program Coordinator Student Civic Engagement Chapman University

Justin Dandoy, Region II Representative Service Learning Coordinator Slippery Rock University

Denise Khaw, Hawai’I Sub Representative Residence Director University of Hawaii-Manoa

Jonathan L. Johnson, Region III Representative Director of Residential Life Dalton State College

For more information about SKC membership, contact one of the members above.



in student affairs

Call for Articles The Sustainability Knowledge Community (SKC) Newsletter invites submission of articles for its next issue. Sustainability, as defined by SKC is the act of responsibly managing institutional finances, facilities, intellectual capacity, physical well-being and natural resources in a manner that positively contributes to the growth and continued health of our students, faculty, staff, communities and natural/built environments now and into the future. The newsletter encourages submissions from professionals in a variety of fields within higher education. Through this newsletter and other efforts made by the SKC, NASPA hopes to educate, activate, and provide an organizational foundation for the pursuit of sustainability within student affairs and among student development professionals. Sustainability, as outlined above, is a truly interdisciplinary conversation that is vital to the overall success of any institution of higher education. As such, topics for article submission are limitless, but can include the following so long as they have a sustainability component: Social/environmental justice Student-led programs and clubs Health and well-being Energy saving programming Carbon Neutral programming Zero Waste events Financial sustainability Collaborative Programming The role of a Sustainability Coordinator

Revolving loan funds Student “green” fees Modern student activism Sustainability as a developmental tool Student print reduction programs Service Learning and sustainability Campus and community gardens Sustainability Learning Communities First year seminars and sustainability

To submit an article for our next issue, please provide the following:  Name(s), Institution(s) and Position(s) of Author(s)  Contact information  Title of Article  Full text of article (suggested length: 400-600 words) Articles are to be submitted electronically via an attachment to Hard copy submissions will not be accepted. Please include photos or graphics (with captions when appropriate), when possible.

Future 2012 SKC Newsletter deadlines and release dates are as follows: Spring 2012 Deadline: March 15, 2012 Release: April 5, 2012

Summer 2012 Deadline: June 14, 2012 Release: July 9, 2012

Fall 2012 Deadline: September 20, 2012 Release: October 11, 2012

For more information, or to submit an article, please contact: Annie Laurie Cadmus, SKC Newsletter Editor


NASPA Sustainability KC Newsletter, Winter 2012  

NASPA Sustainability Knowledge Community Newsletter, Winter 2012

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