Tag Archive | "Green U"

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Climate-Changing Cafecitos

By Steve Pierre
UM Communications

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 29, 2017)—While scientists and researchers across the University tackle the issue of climate change and sustainability every day, one department is making its own impact in this area—one cup of coffee at a time. In August, the Division of Enrollment Management made the permanent switch from paper cups to personal mugs.

“The custodian for our floor told me that we had a lot of garbage accumulating and I decided to investigate why,” said Michelle Tobon, office assistant with Enrollment Management.


Shane Hinton and Michelle Tobon show off their coffee mugs.

A closer look revealed the main culprit—paper cups overflowing in the trash receptacles. Tobon knew it was time to act. “When I joined this team, I was encouraged to find cost-efficient ways to help make improvements if possible, and I knew this was a chance to make that happen.”

Inspired by her father, who conducts eco-tours in the Amazon rainforest and helps indigenous people protect their lands from pollution, Tobon put her love of sustainability to work—compiling statistics and creating messages to get her team on board. “I sent a proposal to my supervisors and they loved the idea of transitioning to reusable mugs and bottles,” Tobon explained.

Rather than introduce this concept as an office policy, the team created the Bring Your Own Mug (BYOM) Challenge, giving staff the opportunity to share a bit of their personalities and passions through their personal coffee cups. “It was something that was really neat because it also allowed people who didn’t know each other to break the ice by telling the stories of their mugs,” said Tobon.

Shane Hinton, assistant director of admission who is earning his master of professional sciences in broadcast meteorology at the Rosenstiel School, jumped at the chance to share “something that is near and dear to me.” His enthusiasm and climate-changing mug, which literally changes when heated—sea levels rise and land masses, including Florida, disappear—made him the challenge’s first winner.

With such initiatives as Green U available to employees, Tobon says the U empowers employees to take the often-simple steps necessary to reduce the U’s impact on the environment. “I think if it was anywhere else, it would have been met with a lot more resistance,” Tobon said of the coffee cup challenge. “It’s such a small thing, but it makes a big impact. I’m glad I work for an organization that inspires and encourages their employees to be green.“

Click here to see some of the featured mugs from the Enrollment Management team.


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Support UM’s Eco-Friendly Residence Hall Move Out

As the University of Miami prepares to wish its students well during their summer break, the Department of Housing and Residential Life is gearing up to assist the nearly 4,000 students who live on campus to move out of their on-campus rooms and apartments. And like in year’s past, HRL is encouraging students to keep the environment in mind as they decide what to bring home and what to recycle.

In addition to maintaining its single stream recycling program throughout move-out, HRL partners with Goodwill Industries South Florida to offer students the opportunity to donate gently used items rather than throwing them away and filling the region’s landfills. University faculty and staff are encouraged to use this time to do some spring cleaning of their own and donate any items to the Goodwill collection containers available at each residence hall through May 15, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The collection containers can accommodate  a variety of items, including clothing, furniture, printers, flat screens, electronic appliances, and computers.

In addition to donating gently used items, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to donate any canned or packaged food to a campus-wide food drive organized by the Student Food Recovery Network and Feeding South Florida, in partnership with HRL and Green U. Bins will be located in both Dining Hall lobbies through May 15.

Visit Green U’s website to learn more about its sustainable partnerships with HRL and other campus departments.

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Go Green for the Holidays! Take These Steps before Leaving.

winter-breakThis winter break, Green U, Facilities Management, and the Student ECO Agency encourage all faculty, staff, and students to support UM’s Energy Conservation Program and substantially reduce the University’s carbon footprint during this semester break by taking the following energy-saving measures:

• For any space that will be unoccupied during the entire break period, contact Facilities Work Control for the Coral Gables (305-284-8282 or facilities@miami.edu), the Miller School campus (305-243-6375), or the Rosenstiel campus (facilities@rsmas.miami.edu or 305.421.4815) to submit a temperature and occupancy setback request.

• Turn off all lights, PCs, office equipment and electronics, including equipment chargers, copy machines, and all personal electronics.

• Clean out the contents of all personal and office refrigerators and defrost and unplug them prior to the break period.

• Review all offices, classrooms, labs, gyms, locker rooms, media centers, restrooms, cafeterias, kitchens, and break rooms, and report to Facilities Customer Service for temperature adjustment.

• Shut the fume hood sash in labs.

• Ensure all exterior doors and windows are properly closed. Contact Facilities Work Control with any issues that require corrective action.

• Submit any requests for facility-related repairs on items that may impact energy, water, or occupancy usage to Facilities Work Control by December 16.

If your department has any continuity-of-service needs, and you are not sure exactly what to do, call Facilities Work Control by Friday, December 16 at 305-284-8282 ( Coral Gables), 305-243-6375 ( Miller School), or 305.421.4815 (RSMAS).

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UM Launches $1M Revolving Reserve to Seed Green Initiatives

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UM Launches $1M Revolving Reserve to Seed Green Initiatives

By Maya Bell
UM News

The metal hali

For the inaugural UGRR project, the metal halide lights in the Wellness Center’s main gym will be replaced with LED lights.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 20, 2016)—The University of Miami’s initial spend-to-save-energy idea is straightforward: Spend $30,000 to replace all the metal halide lights in the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center’s basketball gym with more efficient LED lights, saving $9,000 a year in utility costs. Then, in 3½ years, when the new lights have paid for themselves, redirect the annual savings to other projects that will reduce the U’s energy costs and carbon footprint.

Proposed by Jose Varona, associate director for energy management systems, the gym light swap is the inaugural project of the University’s $1 million U Green Revolving Reserve, an innovative financing tool that a growing number of universities are using to implement energy-efficient, renewable energy and other sustainability initiatives that generate cost savings.

But what other projects the UGRR will support could depend on the ingenuity and imagination of faculty, staff, students, and the broader UM community. The UGRR is now seeking proposals for green projects on the Coral Gables and Rosenstiel School campuses that will not only pay back their respective initial investments, but eventually generate enough savings to replenish the fund and pay for other green projects. Managed by a committee representing a cross-section of the University, the UGRR also plans to fund green-oriented research that could serve as test beds for national deployment.

Brian Gitlin

Brian Gitlin

“The target projects are those that pay back within five years—something that can be done quickly, and effectively, without having to wait for the standard capital request process,” said Brian Gitlin, assistant vice president for real estate who spearheaded the creation of the UGRR after learning about the green revolving fund (GRF) concept at a conference. “We are also open to projects that could take longer, especially if there is a strong sustainability element to it.”

UM became one of more than 50 universities and colleges to establish its own GRF when it accepted the Sustainability Endowments Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The challenge encourages nonprofit institutions to invest a collective total of $1 billion in self-managed GRFs to finance energy efficiency improvements. To join the challenge, UM committed a reserve of up to $1 million, with the goal of cutting its operating expenses and reducing its environmental impact.

The reserve also has the benefit of freeing up funds for other campus needs, engaging the entire University community in sustainability efforts, and promoting interdisciplinary collaborations to identify new projects.

“We already see examples of such collaboration and engagement between the College of Engineering and the School of Architecture, which are working on an initiative to bring microgrid capabilities to the Coral Gables campus,” Varona said. “Microgrids could be great UGRR projects because they enable facilities to operate off the main electric grid. Instead, they would be powered by battery, solar panels, or other renewable resources, which would cut costs and carbon emissions and increase our energy independence.”

As Varona notes, the need for cutting operating expenses and reducing the U’s carbon footprint is becoming increasingly critical. Over just a four-year period, the University’s operating expenses on utilities and maintenance increased by 38 percent, from $54.3 million in fiscal year 2010-11 to $74.9 million in fiscal year 2013-14.

At the same time, the world, and South Florida in particular, is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the consequences of global warming, caused primarily by the continued emission of carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases that are trapped in the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans.

As the University’s Climate Change Special Report detailed, the rate of sea-level rise in South Florida is already outpacing world projections, nuisance flooding is increasing on Miami Beach, and other nearby cities, and the world’s only tropical coral reef off our coastline is dissolving much faster than originally predicted.

“The bottom line is, as an institution, we need to cut our operating costs and reduce our environmental impact,” Gitlin said. “So we want to hear from different people or groups across the University about ideas that can be evaluated and funded in a flexible and efficient manner to help us do that.”

The UGRR Management Committee will review and select the proposals and ideas to implement based on criteria that includes, but is not limited to, the cost of implementation, the opportunity for cost savings, the estimated payback period, and the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing educational, research, or social benefits.

In addition to Gitlin and Varona, members of the committee are:

o   Andrea Heuson, professor of finance in the School of Business Administration

o   Antonio Nanni, professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering

o   Rich Jones, associate vice president for facilities design and construction

o   Aintzane Celaya, assistant vice president for budget and planning

o   James Sprinkle, executive director for facilities management

o   Teddy Lhoutellier, sustainability manager

o   Derick Sheldon, student and member of the ECO Agency-Student Government

UGRR proposals will be reviewed initially by a working group that will provide feedback and determine if the ideas are ready for consideration by the UGRR Management Committee.

To submit an idea, complete the project nomination form and submit it to greenu@miami.edu. For more information about the UGRR, view the UGRR homepage, the nomination form and the operational procedures.


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Green U Invites Alumni to Join Sustainability Network by January 27

Take on a role with the Green U team to make the University of Miami a leader in sustainability. A new UM Sustainability Network intends to share knowledge with students, staff, and faculty, as well as foster cooperation and achieve real change at the U.

The team’s goal is to enlist a group of UM alumni by January 27 who will work as a resource and partner for the future UM Sustainability Action Plan. The UM Sustainability Network will include alumni volunteers from around the world who want to identify with and share their expertise in green projects. The effort is being led by Ed Robin, B.S.E.E. ’57.

For more information or to join the network, email greenu@miami.edu.

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