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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

Hiring: Benton County Climate Action Intern

July 27th, 2017

Are you interested in climate change policies and sustainability? Benton County is hiring a Climate Action Intern! This is a funded, part-time internship that will begin in September and run approximately through December. There is a lot of County momentum and initiatives addressing carbon reduction, resource efficiency, and climate adaptation. They are looking for a strong candidate to assist and drive their efforts forward.

The position is responsible for helping plan, organize, guide, and carry out Benton County’s efforts to calculate and reduce our carbon footprint and implement policies and actions that proactively address climate change. Activities for the position include calculating carbon emissions, exploring current County methods and practices to improve resource efficiency, researching new and emerging technologies and analytical tools, and educating staff on sustainable practices. Additional information about this position can be found here.

The application deadline is August 21. To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume via email or mail to:

Sean McGuire, Sustainability Coordinator
Benton County Community Development
360 SW Avery Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97333

Rain Forest Conservation and Wildlife on the Brink of Extinction

July 24th, 2017

Golden Conure. (Photo: David Ellis)

Last week, Nick Houtman wrote an article about the correlation between forest habitat loss and the increased risk of wildlife extinction. Matthew Betts, a College of Forestry professor at Oregon State University, and Christopher Wolf, an OSU Ph.D student in forest ecosystems and statistics, were two of the eight co-authors of the Nature article, “Global Forest Loss Disproportionately Erodes Biodiversity in Intact Landscapes”.

Forest data was collected by Matthew Hansen at the University of Maryland. The data showed that up to 371 million acres of forest areas are being destroyed per year. Almost half of the global forest loss occurs in South American rain forests. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists 19,432 vertebrate species that are at the risk of extinction.

Betts states that “it’s obvious that forest loss increases the risk of species being listed, but our work provides the first global quantitative link between forest loss and forest species decline.” Researchers are wondering if our conservation efforts should be focused on forests that are already destroyed or on those that are just beginning to be impacted.

It’s no secret that humans are one of the leading causes of deforestation, but evidence shows that humans can co-exist with nature only if we focus on wildlife and rain forest conservation, and reduce the use of natural resources, pollution, etc.

What other ways do you think we could implement in order to protect the environment? Let us know in the comments below!

SSI Professional Development Grant Recipient: Kendall Conroy

July 10th, 2017

Recipient of the SSI Professional Development Grant, Kendall Conroy, has been conducting a parallel research on engineered wood products. In collaboration with Dr. Mariapaloa, Dr. Chris Knowles from Oregon State she also worked with Dr. Manja Kuzman from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She recently attended a conference in Vancouver, Canada to present on this research. This international conference put on by IUFRO (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) and SWST (Society of Wood Science and Technology), two forest product research organizations.

Conference Header

Her presentation was tiled, “Architect perception of engineered wood products: a parallel study in Europe and USA” and lasted around 15 minutes followed by Q&A. The conference has nearly 500 delegates representing 49 countries from around the world. Most of the attendees were from North America, Asia and Europe, but also included people from Australia, Africa and South America.

Outside of her presentation she had the opportunity to listen to others talk on current forest product related topics. Such topics were on the use of wood to create a healthy built environment, sustainability in the forest sector, and public perceptions of various forest sector products and business trends.


She concluded her report by saying, “I greatly appreciate the SSI for helping me attend this conference and be a part of all the researchers sharing their research to help grow the wood products industry and help promoting a more sustainable culture globally.”

OSU shatters goal by collecting almost 36,000 pounds during Move Out Donation Drive

July 6th, 2017

Official results are in: OSU residents donated nearly 36,000 pounds  – 18 tons – during this year’s Residence Hall Move-Out Donation Drive!

Donation Drive results infographic

This includes an estimated:

  • 15,502 pounds of housewares
  • 4,119 pounds of food, toiletries and school supplies
  • 8,191 pounds of clothing, linens and shoes
  • 7,864 pounds of loft kit wood

That’s a total of 35,676 pounds of donations!

These weights completely smashed our original 24,000-pound goal and reached the highest level since weight tracking began in 2010.

Donations of housewares, food, toiletries, school supplies, clothing, linens and shoes were 19 to 33 percent higher this year. The largest increase came from wood, which totaled 7,864 pounds – an over 600 percent increase from the previous year. The large increase in wood donations may be a product of more residents using loft kits and donating the wood instead of taking it home or throwing it away.

Graph of donation weights over time

We are unclear as to why donations increased as much as they did. Given we do not have weight data for trash, we are unable to speculate if donations were higher because less was landfilled. Regardless, we are very happy to see such a large increase from last year. Our residents made a great showing this year and our team put in an amazing effort to get it hauled, sorted, and distributed to nonprofits.

Special thanks to the over 50 volunteers who gave approximately 250 hours of time to pick-up and sort donations and to all the residents who donated!

Learn a bit about how the program is coordinated here and find out who received donations on our Donation Drive webpage.

The Res. Hall Move-out Donation Drive is an annual event coordinated by Campus Recycling in collaboration with Surplus Property and University Housing and Dining.

Oregon State staff address “Wicked Problems”.

July 5th, 2017

Oregon State Scholars publish a new book, “New Strategies for Wicked Problems: Science and Solutions in the 21st Century”, a look into current problems that our society confronts on social, economic, political and environmental topics. This book is a series of articles that addresses these issues and proposes an assortment of problem-solving methodologies to confront them.

Appealing to a large crowd the book is for other scholars, students, policy makers, managers and anyone in our communities facing these “wicked” problems.  From the school of Public Policy at Oregon State staff Edward Weber, Denise Lach and Brent Steel edited and compiled the essays into this book which can be ordered online or by calling 1-800-621-2736 to see if it is available in bookstores.

One example of the issues they touched on was addressing the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking”. Fracking is a technique used to get gas and oil from the ground by injecting liquid, usually a water mixture, into the Earth at high pressure. This specific article written by Chrisopher Weible and Tanya Heikkila from the University of Colorado-Denver explores how professional expertise, personal-values and affiliation with different groups affects how people approach the issue. In this case how fracking effects not only the environment, but the economy and society.

Another example is an article by Robert Lackey, a fisheries biologist who has worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and OSU, which tackles the issue of wild salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. He argues that the science and technology to restore wild salmon runs is available, but the solutions ultimately would be too restrictive and divisive to succeed. The billions of dollars spent on salmon recovery to make minute inroads into the solution might be considered “guilt money,” he says.

In their concluding essays, editors Weber, Lach and Steel explore whether there is need for a new social contract for scientists and policy implementation. Plans can’t be rushed. They need strong and engaged leadership, sufficient time for implementation, and proper funding.

Editors wrote: “… We also hope to energize the scholarly and practitioner-based conversations and real-world practices around these topics in ways that help leaders and stakeholders imagine new possibilities, conduct new experiments in implementation, and, ultimately, make even more progress in the ongoing, difficult battle against wicked problems and their less-than-desirable effects for society as a whole.

PAC-12 Sustainability Conference

July 5th, 2017

Last Monday, three members of the Sustainability Office and two student athletes who are a part of the Beaver Athletics Sustainability Team (BAST), represented Oregon State University at the PAC-12 Sustainability Conference in Sacramento, CA. This conference focused on incorporating sustainability practices into the PAC-12 athletic programs. There were about 150 attendees who represented the PAC-12 schools. Oregon State University was recognized as being the only school with a student athlete sustainability group. Way to go OSU!

The conference was hosted at the Golden 1 Center, an indoor arena located in downtown Sacramento. The Golden 1 Center was the first indoor sports venue to receive the LEED Platinum certification. Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital of the world, therefore they source 90% of their ingredients within a 150-mile radius. The leftover food is given to local food banks, green waste turns into soil at local farms through the California Safe Soil program, and leftover fryer oil is converted into biodiesel by a local business. It was fitting that the conference was hosted at such an environmentally friendly location!

Throughout the day there were various sessions about how to implement sustainability practices into the different areas of athletics, such as the athletics staff, marketing and sponsorships, sustainability professionals, and student engagement. For each topic, there were different speakers. The speakers came from the different schools, or were industry professionals from companies such as IMG, NCAA Final Four Sustainability Committee, ESPN, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. It was interesting to hear their perspective on each subject, as well as how they were implementing sustainability into their professions.

During one of the sessions, the attendees broke up into smaller groups based on their profession. The students discussed how they can engage their peers into implementing sustainability practices during athletics events and in their daily life. These practices could be as simple as recycling and composting. One of the reasons it’s challenging to implement these techniques is because sustainability isn’t a top priority for many schools. That’s not to say sustainability isn’t valued, but other issues take precedent. Adding recycling/composting bins at the athletic events is an extra step, and the waste must be sorted at the end of the events. Currently, universities don’t have the bandwidth to implement this at every game. In order to have recycling and composting, OSU would need volunteers to help sort. Luckily, OSU has the Beaver Athletics Sustainability Team who is working on executing this. Hopefully in the next couple years OSU will have recycling and composting at every event!

Bill Walton, a former UCLA student athlete, NBA player, and ESPN and PAC-12 Networks on-air talent, attended the conference. Walton, who is passionate about sustainability, was interviewed by Yann Brandt and Jamie Zaninovich. He talked about his history and how he leads a sustainable lifestyle. It was inspiring to hear how he built his career, as well as how he is able to reduce his carbon footprint. He replaced the lights in his house with LED lights, and added solar panels to his roof, drastically reducing his monthly energy bills.

A few takeaways from the conference were that the students have the power and ideas, but how can we show students that they have the power? If students work with athletics, these ideas can be put into action. Student groups should become more involved in sustainability, and want to feel a sense of ownership over their projects. Students also want to see leadership and buy-in from the school. The most asked question at the event was, “how can athletics be used to empower change?”

How do you think OSU can become more sustainable? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Green Office Certification

June 13th, 2017

The Green Office Certification is a simple yet effective way for OSU faculty and staff to further their sustainability efforts and get recognition for their work. It’s also intended to provide ideas for steps your office can take to reduce your environmental footprint and carbon emissions. The Green Office Certification was created through a partnership between the Sustainability Office, Campus Recycling, and Transportation Services.

An online Qualtrics survey is used to assess an office’s practices in areas such as water, waste management, purchasing, transportation, and outreach. Upon completion, the survey will be scored. Bronze, silver, gold, and platinum are the four certification levels based on the score.


In addition to the School of Psychological Science, the Student Sustainability Initiative, and the Center for Civic Engagement, three more offices have been Green Office Certified! These three offices have the bronze certification level. Procurement, Contracts and Materials Management (PCMM) was awarded on May 3, 2017. The West Dining Center Office was awarded on April 18, 2017. The Department of Recreational Sports was awarded on June 5, 2017. Congratulations!

We would love to help you get your office certified! To get started, please take this survey. Additionally, if you would like to see more tips on how your office can become more sustainable, visit our resources page here.

SUMMER SUMMIT: Food, Energy and Water Challenges

June 9th, 2017


This August natural researches from Oregon State University, Washington State University and the University of Idaho will gather to address food, energy and water challenges that our region faces. Each university will be represented by members with their own expertise to address the way these issues effect not only environmental health but also economic and human health in individual regions and the entire Northwest. The meeting will be held in the centrally located Hermiston, Oregon.

At a recent workshop led by Stephanie Hampton from WSU and Andrew Kliskey from Idaho, five grant proposals were drafted for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation on the issues. Some of the broad questions being asked were, “Will the region have enough food in 2050?” and “Could a more efficient system for irrigation lead to less energy used for pumping and also result in more food production?”. Other issues being talked about include updating hydropower plants and food production infrastructure.

Chad Higgins, an agricultural engineering professor at OSU said, “The food, energy, water nexus is so huge that it’s scary, but it’s also exciting.  There are so many opportunities to look at things either in detail or to try and be broad..We can bring each person’s expertise together to predict pain points, like are we going to be scarce in any one resource in the future, and where?”

Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research at Oregon State, notes that when it comes to food, energy and water challenges, a solution in one location can lead to problems hundreds of miles away. The collaboration between the universities is crucial in fixing the problems our future generations will face.


In addition to the August event, the planning team is applying for external funding to support ongoing meetings to help sustain momentum.


The Great Move Out is coming. Here’s how you can make it a success.

May 31st, 2017

Photo of housing

Last year the Res Hall Move Out Donation Drive diverted 23,000 pounds of material from landfills and donated to non-profits during move out. This year, for the first time, OSU will work both on-campus and in the Corvallis community to divert even more materials!

Your help is needed on this effort to improve our neighborhoods, keep goods out of landfills, and help the community. You can make that happen by volunteering or donating.

Volunteer your Time

Off-Campus Event Volunteering Details

  • What: OSU, the City of Corvallis, Republic Services, RPMG, and the Sustainability Coalition are partnering to maintain the cleanliness and livability of our community, and to help off-campus students responsibly donate and recycle unwanted items.
  • When: Various shifts are offered between 3pm and 9pm on Wednesday, June 14, and between 9am and 5pm on Thursday, June 15.
  • Details and sign-up here

Res Hall Event Volunteering Details

  • What: Campus Recycling, Surplus Property and UHDS are partnering to collect donations from residence halls. Shifts are available for collection (go out on trucks with our staff, visiting res halls to collect recyclables and donated items) and sorting (work at the fairgrounds, accepting and sorting incoming items).
  • When: Various shifts are offered between 8am and 7pm June 8-20.
  • Details and sign-up here

Are You a Student? Donate Rather than Discard.

For those Living on Campus:

Donation instructions

Click to view how-to’s webpage.

Many residents find that they have more in their room than can fit in their ride home. And deciding what to keep is hard when you’re taking finals! If you no longer want some of your stuff, get started now in sorting out donations, using the bags you received on your door. Donation bins are available in your hall and accept:

  • Food that is unopened and non-perishable (please place in bag provided grocery bags)
  • Toiletries and personal hygiene products (please place in bag provided grocery bags)
  • Dry clothing, bedding and towels
  • Household items like décor, dishes, lamps, electronics, etc.
  • Broken electronics, CDs/DVDs and ink cartridges (to be recycled)
  • Furniture and loft bed kit wood

More instructions on this webpage.

For those Living Off Campus:

For those living off campus and moving out, there is a 2-day event to take donations of reusable goods on Wednesday June 14th from 4pm-8pm and Thursday June 15th from 10am-2pm at the Grace Lutheran Church Parking Lot at Kings & Harrison.

At the event they will accept the following from students: furniture, mattresses, electronics, books, school/office supplies, clothes, and kitchen and household wares. Join the event on Facebook.

Thank you for making this a successful Move Out!

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