Bike Commuter Challenge Results

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Bonnie Wedington (left) and Melissa Morrison (right) at the BCC Rally. (Photo Credit, Melissa Morrison).

We are very excited to share with the RU Community that our University team ‘Roosevelt U. Bikes’ did exceptionally well during the annual Bike Commuter Challenge (BCC), hosted by the Chicago Active Transportation Alliance. From June 10-17, the team of 15 took 116 trips for a total of 621.79 miles! The top rider of the ‘Roosevelt U. Bikes’ team was Robin Hofstetter who rode a total of 98 miles in a one week timeframe!

To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to the following: 

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from 0.082 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled
  • CO2 emissions from 29.2 gallons of gasoline consumed
  • CO2 emissions from 277 pounds of coal burned
  • Carbon sequestered by 6.7 tree seedlings grown for 10 years

Throughout the week, riders were able to partake in several ‘Pit Stops’, participate in the weekly ‘Bike Week Rally’, and/or the ‘Wrap Party’, hosted through the Chicago Active Transportation Alliance. Additionally, RU provided some treats to the University team—coffee and donuts—throughout the week.

For more information on the details of this challenge, please contact Melissa Morrison, Scheduling and Facilities Coordinator of the Music Conservatory, at mmorrison05@roosevelt.edu.

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BCC Rally (Photo Credit, Melissa Morrison). 

If you want to get strategically involved with sustainable transportation at RU, and/or register to use the Wabash Bike Room, please contact Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu.

 

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Busy as Bees in the Wabash Rooftop Garden

The 5th floor Wabash Rooftop Garden is ready and raring to go!

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(Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

As of last week all of our vegetable and herb seedlings have been transplanted, the bounty of which will be donated to the Wabash Dining Center. The 2016 season’s homegrown items include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and arugula, as well as a delectable selection of fresh herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary (sorry — not thyme, for all you Simon and Garfunkel fans), dill, cilantro, mint, oregano, and several kinds of basil. All of our veggie, herb, and companion plantings are of organic and/or heirloom varieties.

The rooftop garden is available for tours by appointment throughout the spring, summer, and fall. This summer we have already hosted two tours, the most recent of which brought student interns from a Chicago youth program called Calumet is My Backyard (CIMBY). CIMBY has been connecting high school students in the Calumet area to local urban nature for over fifteen years. In fact, Roosevelt’s Sustainability Studies program boasts one of its majors, Yessenia Balcazar, as a former student of CIMBY, the environmental ethic of which is now carrying into her college career. On this tour, CIMBY students saw an example of the intersections of greenspace, food, and climate change mitigation as part of a sustainable campus tour here at RU.

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Rebecca Quesnell speaks to CIMBY students on a tour of the 5th floor Wabash rooftop garden. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

The rooftop garden is also open to new and returning volunteers! Even if you’ve never gardened before, don’t be shy about volunteering this season — our rooftop is a great place for beginners and veterans, alike. This time of year we are focused on thinning plant growth, harvesting, and general watering and weeding. Also consider the garden as a site for class participation. In the past, biology classes have conducted soil sampling tests here. We enthusiastically welcome new and creative ideas for integrating this dually functioning campus greenspace and learning lab into academic activities.

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Wabash rooftop garden denizen. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

If nothing else, visiting the rooftop garden is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and summer sun without ever leaving the building! For more information about volunteering or to schedule a tour, please contact Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu, or Tiffany Mucci, Environmental Sustainability Intern, at tmucci@roosevelt.edu.

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Waste Diversion for the NFL Draft and Next Steps

This year marked the second year that Roosevelt University partnered with and hosted the National Football League (NFL) annual Draft. There were some main differences between how Roosevelt University (RU) and the NFL approached the Draft this year, compared to last year.

Currently, The Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University does not have a recycling system, the main reason being that we do not have the resources (appropriate recycling receptacles), and such resources have a hefty cost associated when stocking an entire building. The NFL approached RU in order to get acquainted with our waste and recycling procedures at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, and we quickly realized that we did not want a repeat of last year: all the recycling getting mixed in with waste, and going to a landfill. This prompted us to implement a temporary recycling system in that area during the duration of the NFL Draft, to include load in, the draft itself, and load out. The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Physical Resources, Housekeeping, and Independent Recycling Services (recycling/waste hauler for our Chicago Campus) created a plan to make this happen.

By using a small amount of standard recycling and waste bins (of different sizes), and by strategically placing the bins (example: at security check-points), our temporary recycling plan for this space was successful. The Draft itself spanned three days, and the entire event (to include load in and load out) spanned about two weeks. During that time, were able to divert 7.48 tons of recycling (out of a total 11.52 tons of waste generated) from the landfill! That amounts to a 65% diversion rate which consisted of 4.01 tons of paper, .45 tons of plastic, .47 tons of aluminum, 1.67 tons of cardboard, and .88 tons of metal—all of which got recycled.

To put this in perspective, these recycling efforts conserved the following resources:

  • 26 cubic yards of landfill: enough airspace to meet the disposal needs of a community of 406 people
  • 52,360 gallons of water: enough to meet the fresh water needs of 433 people for a year
  • 29,920 kWh of energy: enough to power 3 homes for a full year
  • 127 trees saved: enough to produce 1,059,662 sheets of copy paper
  • 591 gallons of oil: enough energy to heat and cool 1 home for a full year
  • 449 pounds of unreleased pollutants!

Looking ahead, we will hold a strategic recycling and composting session late this summer and/or early fall. During this session, stakeholders (to include the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, housekeeping, the Wabash Dining Center, Residence Life, our waste/recycling haulers, Conference and Event Services, the Bright Horizons Daycare at Schaumburg, the Gage Building, and the Waste and Natural Resources Action Group (of the Environmental Sustainability Committee)) will be meeting in order to talk about various recycling and composting issues occurring at both of our campuses. From there, we will take what we learn and prioritize on what needs to be done first (strengthening current system, implementing new signage, and acquiring new resources, for example). If you would like to be involved in this session, or if you have any input or suggestions, please email Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu and/or Tiffany Mucci, Environmental Sustainability Intern, at tmucci@roosevelt.edu.

 

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Join RU’s Team for the Bike Commuter Challenge!

RU is gearing up to participate in and win this year’s 25th annual Bike Commuter Challenge, hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance!  Please join the group ‘Roosevelt U. Bikes’ to help us accrue mileage!  Anyone who will be riding even a single bike commute trip during the week of the challenge is encouraged to participate.  Whether you’ve been bike commuting for years, or are a complete novice, you can join the ‘Roosevelt U. Bikes’ team.  A trip can even include biking to/from the bus, train, or alternative transportation that is taking you to/from RU.

Why?  Biking is a great way to stay healthy, and reduce your carbon footprint.  Plus, it feels great!  For those of you who’ve thought about bike commuting, this is the right time to start.  Active Transportation Alliance has arranged morning pit stops throughout the city to help you on your way.  They’ve also compiled some awesome resources on their website, including safety tips, commuter basics, route planning help, and MORE. Plus, you’ll have lots of support from  numerous other riders and events throughout the week!

JUNE 10–17

Visit bikecommuterchallenge.org

Contact Melissa Morrison at mmorrison05@roosevelt.edu to join ‘Roosevelt U. Bikes.’

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Open, Sustainability Intern Position

An Environmental Sustainability Student Associate position has opened up! This Roosevelt University intern position is housed under the Physical Resources Department and has a sustainability focus. The start date is as soon as possible, and the end date is August 26, 2016.

Please see the job description below:

–Manage the operations/expansion of Wabash Rooftop Garden

–Assistance in creating a comprehensive recycling plan for all campus buildings, to include researching grant opportunities to increase resources

–Assistance in purchasing renewable energy

–Outreach to RU community for engagement/involvement

–Meeting coordination for Environmental Sustainability Committee

–Sustainability related event planning

–Manage sustainability communication to RU community: social media, website, blog, broadcasts, and signage

–Other projects and tasks, as needed

The position will be 12-15 hours a week, and the pay rate is $10/hour (going up to $10.50/hour starting July 1).

To apply for this position, please visit https://roosevelt-csm.symplicity.com/ and search for “Environmental Sustainability Student Associate – Chicago Campus”.

If you have questions on the position, please contact Rebecca Quesnell, Sustainable Operations Coordinator, at rquesnell@roosevelt.edu.

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Earth Month 2016, Revisited

The end is nigh! No I am not referring to the end of life, existence, or the Blackhawks playoff run; however, Roosevelt University’s Earth Month Extravaganza 2016 has ended. There were so many interesting activities during this year’s Earth Month celebration that have challenged us to rethink how we fit into the overall system of life on the biosphere we affectionately call home.

 Earth Month events

We had several events and competitions during Earth Month, which included:

-Safe Cycling Demo

-Reuse Art Competition

-Outdoor Workday/Cleanup

-Environmental Justice Twitter Chat

-SUST 340 Teach-Ins

-Garden Planting/Recyclables Sorting Contest

-Arbor Day Observance

-Green Office Challenge

-Indoor Walking Course Competition

-Sustainability Studies Symposium

Projects like the Reuse Art competition, Green Office  competition, and recycling sorting contests prompted the RU  Community to consider what lifestyle changes individuals can make to be more sustainable, as well as what larger changes we can make as a community.  Other projects like the Teach-Ins lead by SUST 340 students and the Environmental Justice Twitter chat lead by Mike Bryson, the Director of the Sustainability Studies Program, illuminated the ins and outs of sustainability, social- environmental issues such as environmental justice, food waste, community sustainability and water quality.

The Schaumburg campus also played an important role in RU’s Earth Month Celebration. RU held an outdoor work day activity on April 18 in which volunteers from the RU community helped to beautify the campus by cleaning up old plant debris from last year, planting flowers in planters in the main courtyard and by picking up litter around the 27 acres that make up RU’s Schaumburg Campus. On Friday, April 22 the Schaumburg RU community, with the help of children from Bright Horizons Daycare, observed Arbor day by planting a native Ohio Buckeye tree. This planting is a segment of the ongoing tree removal and replacement plan that is currently being implemented at the Schaumburg Campus. Approximately 60 trees at the Schaumburg Campus have been infested, damaged and killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, among other pests and diseases. To halt the advance of the Ash Borer and to protect local wildlife, these diseased trees are being removed and replaced with native trees. The natives scheduled to be planted, such as the Ohio Buckeye and Swamp White Oak, not only can withstand the Borer’s onslaught, but will simultaneously support a larger community of native birds and insects.

These activities underscored that these issues aren’t individual, they affect our entire society, and as such we all have a part to play. So in the coming year let’s keep the lessons learned from Earth Month front and center and work together to make our lives more sustainable.

To stay involved with sustainability at Roosevelt visit our sustainability blogs at greencampusru@wordpress.com  and the Sustainability Studies blog run by Mike Bryson at http://blogs.roosevelt.edu/mbryson/.

Please feel free to attend RU’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC) meetings to join faculty, staff, students and alumni to implement RU’s Five Year Sustainability Plan. Dates for ESC meetings are advertised via Roosevelt’s Broadcast, blogs and email blasts.

~Author Nicholas Waskowski, Environmental Sustainability Student Associate~

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Prairie Burn, Life Renewed.

On March 29th the main prairie at RU’s Schaumburg campus was burned to rejuvenate the landscape. Prairie fires naturally occur during thunderstorms from lighting strikes and Native Americans also periodically lite the Prairie ablaze to simulate wildfires. Fire benefits the health of prairie ecosystems in multiple ways.

First it prevents non-prairie plants from invading.  The most important non-prairie plants that fire controls are trees. Some other invasive plants that fire keeps out of prairies are Queen Anne’s Lace, dandelions, and garlic mustard.

Fire helps prairie plants by triggering seeds to germinate and existing root systems to expand and encourage plants to grow. Additionally, fire helps some prairie inhabitants, such as bumblebees and sweat bees, by clearing the ground so these native bees can create burrows for themselves and their young.

Fire also improves the health of prairies by recycling nutrients from old plant material into ash that is quickly incorporated into the soil. The burned landscape will quickly give way to luscious prairie plants like aster, Echinacea and black eyed Susan, so please visit our prairie and watch its progression from dormancy to bloom.

~ Author Nicholas Waskowski, Evironmental Sustainability Student Associate~

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If a butterfly can visit our rooftop garden on the 5th floor of Wabash, so can you:) Please join us for a harvest day tomorrow from 9:30am-12pm. All are welcome, even just to check things out! Email rquesnell@roosevelt.edu with questions
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