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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Energy Matters – Our Relationship with the Energy Industry

April 15th, 2018

Terra Magazine has released a new article detailing “our contentious relationship with the energy industry”. In this article: Energy Matters by Nick Houtman, we explore the research of Hilary Boudet on the use of energy data for conservation purposes. Boudet has been exploring these issues for years, learning about how energy projects are described and debated by industry and the public during her time at ExxonMobil, and striving to dig deeper into the decision making process via exploration of politics around 20 proposals to build large energy facilities in the U.S.

Hilary Boudet – From Terra Magazine

Since her days at Rice and Stanford University, Boudet has been exploring the ways in which people engage with energy development with her students, documenting the views of those participating in large development projects. Boudet and her colleagues have come to a number of conclusions regarding these politics, noticing that they tend to revolve around “factors such as access to the levers of power, the nature of a perceived threat and the potential for economic benefit”.

Read more about Boudet’s involvement with energy and her new project: “Smart & Connected Kids for Sustainable Energy Communities” here.


We are the RecycleMania Civil War Champs for 2018!

April 11th, 2018

Congrats Beavs, we beat the Ducks in our annual 8-week recycling competition for the first time since 2015! On average, we found that OSU recycled 8.79lbs per person compared to UofO’s 8.14lbs per person. We estimate that OSU recycled over 240,000lbs of material that counted towards the competition! Time to go pick up the trophy!

Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience Internship Applications Open!

April 2nd, 2018

The Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) offers paid internships for its 10-week program this summer. Internships are open to juniors or seniors with advanced undergraduate or graduate-level training in business, economics, engineering, environmental science, green chemistry, physical science or sustainability science.

Projects address pollution prevention solutions for Portland-area businesses and pair students with an industry mentor to gain hands-on experience in project development and management.

What is Pollution Prevention?  Pollution prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source, also known as “source reduction.”  Implementing P2 best practices can improve efficiency, prevent wasted resources and save money.

Successful candidates received a $5000 stipend for a full-time, 10-week internship. Interns must be available to work onsite at the businesses on a daily basis. Housing costs are not provided, but limited funds may be available to support program-related expenses.

For full consideration, applications must be submitted by April 9. Application requirements and the available positions are listed on the Oregon Sea Grant website.

We are hiring! Three student positions available

March 15th, 2018

The Sustainability Office is currently recruiting for three student workers to join our Corvallis team!

The first position will focus on supporting campus energy conservation and sustainability projectsThe second position will assist with utility data requests and analyses, building controls technologies and development of reporting tools. This work will include software development with an emphasis on building automation tools and embedded systems. The third position will manage signature events, tabling and other face to face contact, collaborating closely with groups like Campus Recycling and the Student Sustainability Initiative.

Applications are due April 11! More about each job:

Digital Media and Event Student Outreach Assistant duties include assisting with events and coordinating event planning.  It also includes social media and web content management and collaboration with other OSU sustainability-related groups and, at times, community groups. Starting pay is $11.50.  Apply online today!

Energy Data and Controls Student Technician duties include maintenance of OSU real-time data monitoring devices, support of the OSU construction and green building process, work with building automation systems and developing spreadsheets for tracking large datasets. Starting pay is $12.00.  Apply online here!

Sustainability Office Energy Project Student Technician supports construction processes & management of energy and water conservation projects at OSU. This includes attend project meetings, performing plan review and working with design and construction contractors. Additionally, this position will read OSU utility meters, perform maintenance and fieldwork on OSU electric vehicle chargers and solar arrays, and set-up and maintain OSU real-time utility data monitoring hardware.  Duties also include set-up and transport of the OSU Solar Trailer. Starting pay is $12.00.  Apply now!

Employment for all positions begins spring 2018 and is ongoing assuming satisfactory performance.  Preference will be given to applicants with availability through at least spring 2019.

The Center for Civic Engagement and Campus Recycling are also hiring so check out those positions too!

RecycleMania Coffee and Cocoa Giveaway

March 14th, 2018

Come get free hot chocolate and coffee during dead week!

With the end of Winter term, RecycleMania is coming to a close. To help fuel you during dead week, The Sustainability Office is putting on the annual RecycleMania Coffee Giveaway. Bring your own mug and we will see you for free fair trade coffee and cocoa! Stop by to learn about other RecycleMania events going on and the chance to win tumblers and t-shirts.

WHO: The Sustainability Office is offering FREE COFFEE AND COCOA for those who have reusable mugs.

WHAT: Grab some free cocoa or fair trade coffee with your REUSABLE mug! Enter our giveaway for a reusable mug if you don’t have one, or for other cool swag if you are equipped with a mug already.

WHEN: March 14, 2018. 9:00am-11:00am. Grab your morning coffee.

WHERE: Center of the MU Quad.

WHY: It is RecycleMania, an 8 week competition with University of Oregon to see who can recycle and reduce the most waste. #BEATTHEDUCKS. 3000 disposable coffee cups are thrown away every day at OSU. Let’s reduce that number by bringing our own mug.

RSVP via our Facebook Event.

Eco Rep Spotlight

March 8th, 2018

Eco-reps are an Oregon State program that are responsible for encouraging a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live. They educate residents about sustainable lifestyles and resources, assist with marketing and outreach, and plan and execute sustainability-focused events.  They also maintain their hall’s composting program. Last year, the Eco-Reps reached people an amazing 9,785 times and composted over 1,741 lbs. of material! In this series, we will spotlight each Eco Rep to help you learn more about who they are and what they do.

Name: Cyan Perry

Residence Hall you work in: West Hall

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon

Major/Future Plans: Mechanical Engineering & Sustainability

Previous involvement/interest in sustainability: My passion for the environment stems from interning at Cooper Environmental Services, various clubs, and volunteer projects.

Favorite thing about being an Eco-Rep: Encouraging residents to become involved in a more sustainable lifestyle.

Goals for the coming year: Raise awareness about proper recycling, composting, overall sustainability, and the positive impact of small steps.

Interests in continuing involvement in sustainability on campus and how so: Pursuing a sustainability minor, getting involved with clubs and community events.

Could Eco-friendly Burials Save the Planet?

March 7th, 2018

Forensic camp attendees examine samples at Oak Hill Cemetery. Courtesy of C. A. Beal

How have our funeral practices been impacting the planet? Cynthia Beal, a 30-year veteran of the natural-food movement, has been working to answer this question. She believes that patterns of our current funeral industry have been devastating for our planet, remarking: “I was trying to solve the problem of what would happen to people’s bodies. As I started to look to the future, I saw there was an issue that need to be addressed. And I thought, ‘My god, this is really interesting.’”

Since then, Cynthia has founded the Natural Burial Company, working to make and provide Eco-friendly pods and caskets. After studying and comparing U.K. burial laws, she displayed her products in a Portland gallery open to the public to help normalize the casket selection process. With the help of Dr. Jay Noller, head of Oregon State University’s Crop and Soil Science Department, Cynthia was able to co-found Oregon State University’s Sustainable Cemetery Studies Lab and its curriculum, “Digging Deeper”.

Cynthia points out a number of flaws in our current burial system, noting:

  • Large wooden or metal coffins don’t break down into the earth over time
    • Additionally, these coffins are costly to consumers
  • For those that die in hospitals, not-necessarily-earth-friendly chemicals in their bodies become a concern
    • Embalmed individuals pose a problem for the same reasons
  • Topsoil issues within the 6 feet under burial system

Dr. Noller and Beal are hoping that with more research we can discover how chemicals used in the burial process are impacting tree root systems, topsoil, vapor, and circulation. They also hope to find out how alternative like natural burial may be able to help, carrying implications for urban planners, insurers, and communities to evaluate their activities. This is especially pertinent as cemeteries that were once rural are coming in closer contact with developments and water resources. “It might be one of the reasons we’re seeing rivers with arsenic in them,” Dr. Noller said.

Read more about this issue here.

Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change

February 28th, 2018

Until May 30th, the Spring Creek Project is presenting the Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change. This weekly, online lecture series aims to deepen our understanding of what is happening around the world and help imagine how we can build better communities and lives as environmental crises are recognized as human rights crises. Lectures feature leading writers, scientists, attorneys, community leaders, activists, and artists. bedrock-lectures-speakersSome lectures will focus on locations – fracking in Utah’s canyons, the real cost of the Bakkan on native communities. Others will explain the current state of affairs in regards to human rights and climate change. Some will be forward-looking, thinking about a future where we have made great strides for climate justice.

A new Bedrock Lecture is released each Wednesday on The Spring Creek Project’s website and Facebook page. In-person screenings of the lectures are set each Wednesday at noon in Bexell Hall 415 during winter term (January 31-March 21). All the screenings are free and open to the public.

A number of lectures have already been posted, but others are still to come:

  • March 2: Debra Marquart, director, MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment, Iowa State University; author, Small Buried Things: Poems
  • March 7: Bill McKibben, author and founder, 350.org
  • March 14: Stephen Trimble, writer and photographer, Red Rock Stories
  • March 28: Don Anton, director, Law Futures Centre, Griffith University
  • April 4: Anthony Ingraffea, hydraulic fracturing researcher, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus, Cornell University
  • April 11: Jacqueline Keeler, activist and author, Edge of Morning
  • April 18: Kyle Powys Whyte, associate professor of philosophy and community sustainability, Michigan State University
  • April 25: Josh Fox, documentary filmmaker, Gasland
  • May 2: Winona LaDuke, executive director, Honor the Earth
  • May 9: David James Duncan, author, Heart of the Monster
  • May 16: Mary Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor of Law, University of Oregon
  • May 23: John Knox, Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law, Wake Forest University; special rapporteur, United Nations Human Rights Council
  • May 30: Anna Grear, founder and co-editor-in-chief, Journal of Human Rights and the Environment; founder, Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment

The Bedrock Lectures will help set the stage for the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, which Spring Creek Project is co-organizing. From May 14-18, 2018, the Tribunal will focus on human rights, fracking and climate change. And, for the first time ever, the Tribunal will be conducted virtually so judges, attorneys, and witnesses from around the world can participate. Learn more in Spring Creek Project’s article on the upcoming Tribunal session. The article includes six ways you can get involved with the Tribunal, including submitting testimony, hosting a pre-Tribunal, and hosting a community viewing of the live-streamed proceedings.

OSU Community Dialogues

February 12th, 2018

OSU Community Dialogues

Student Leadership & Involvement (SLI) and Diversity & Cultural Engagement (DCE) are excited to announce the launch of the Community Dialogues!

The Community Dialogues are a once-per-term event which “seeks to cultivate connection and deep learning through exploration of critical and contentious issues“. The program utilizes a National Issues Forum Model which aims to engage participants in dialogues that:

  • Create a deeper understanding of current issues and related tensions
  • Reveal alternative perspectives
  • Connect participants through stories and experiences
  • Explore concepts of personal ethics, morals, and values

Program facilitators are trained to sustain open and respectful dialogue and create spaces for individual, interpersonal, and systemic exploration – in a broad effort to encourage a culture of dialogue at OSU.

This winter, the Community Dialogue will focus on Climate Choices: How should we address the challenges of a warming planet?

The event will be held Thursday, February 15, 2018, 6-7:30pm, in the MU Horizon Room.



Eco Rep Spotlight

February 8th, 2018

Eco-reps are an Oregon State program that are responsible for encouraging a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live. They educate residents about sustainable lifestyles and resources, assist with marketing and outreach, and plan and execute sustainability-focused events.  They also maintain their hall’s composting program. Last year, the Eco-Reps reached people an amazing 9,785 times and composted over 1,741 lbs. of material! In this series, we will spotlight each Eco Rep to help you learn more about who they are and what they do.

Name: Ella Strebig

Residence Hall they work in:Hawley

Hometown: Vancouver Washington

Major/Future Plans: Mechanical engineering

Previous involvement/interest in sustainability: Ella was in charge of all recycling for a campground in rural Canada which involved sorting all cans, bottles, glassware, etc. and bringing it to the recycling center. Ella hopes to be involved in engineering machinery to be more energy efficient and eco-friendly as a mechanical engineer in the future.

Favorite thing about being an EcoRep:

Ella loves the fact that her job involves interacting with people, promoting sustainability, recycling, and planning events all revolving around the people in her community. Being an eco rep, the job is always changing and we are constantly adapting to better serve the resident halls we live in.

Goals for the coming year:

Some goals Ella has as an Eco-Rep this year include: putting on fun events in her residence halls, hanging up posters promoting sustainability related events going on around campus and including fun sustainability facts.

Interests in continuing involvement in sustainability on campus and how so:

Ella would like to learn more about evaluating data for the Student Sustainability Initiative here at OSU and to take some electrical classes in order learn more about renewable energy systems.

Fun fact:

A reusable water bottle reduces energy consumption by 85 percent and greenhouse gases by 79 percent  in comparison to purchasing plastic bottled water and disposing of each bottle. Ella is on the women’s rowing team, and enjoy hiking, skiing, and watching movies in my free time.

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