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For the first time ever the University of Minnesota participated in Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), an energy and water saving competition between residence halls nationwide. CCN serves as a common voice to motivate thousands of students to work together in conserving limited resources. CCN is also about having fun with conservation, they have a poster contest in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation awarding large cash prizes to the top 3 contestants and they set up some great pages for interaction between students in all corners of the US. Participants of CCN have until April 25th to submit their data, check back for the national winners in a few weeks!

University of Minnesota competed in the energy sector because we do not have an accurate means of tracking our water usage. To track energy use, a two week baseline sample was taken before any residents became aware of the competition. After the baseline was complete on-campus residents were notified of our enrollment in CCN 2014 and explained the purpose of our participation- to reduce environmental impact and mitigate the effects of climate change. The residence halls were encouraged to be mindful and conservative of energy during the two week competition, Feb 23nd through March 15th, The residents participating could keep track of each individual halls energy saving progress with the UMN Dashboard, depicting a red or green arrow explaining the amount of energy your hall is either saving or consuming. Students could also read ideas on the dashboard site that would help them conserve energy called "commitments". These commitments are formulated to fit into the everyday lifestyle of a student, they are small tweaks to a daily routine to make a conservation impact. Examples of these commitments are, "adjust your computers power setting so it goes to standby after 5 min of inactivity", "unplug appliances not being used to eliminate vampire power", "combine the contents of your mini fridge with your roommate and use only one", or "take the stairs instead of the elevator".

A total of 116 students made commitments, the most popular commitment made by residents was to "turn off the lights in common spaces at night".The top three residence halls, Yudof, Bailey, and Frontier, saved a total of 9,306 kWh.

  • Yudof had a 5.2% reduction which saved 7,774 kWh

  • Bailey had a 1.6% reduction which saved 862 kWh

  • Frontier had a 1.0% reduction which saved 670 kWh.
  • Combined, CCN has resulted in a total savings of $92,222.46 (based on our rate of $9.91/kWh). Just goes to show how a little effort goes a long way. It is too often assumed that small conservation efforts don't make a difference, we are here to remind you that It All Adds Up!

    Earth Hour 2014

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    Mark your calendar! Earth Hour is from 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm on March 29th, 2014!

    What is Earth Hour?
    Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement uniting people to protect the planet, and is organised by WWF. Engaging a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues, Earth Hour was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

    Earth Hour aims to encourage an interconnected global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world.

    How can I become a part of the Earth Day Campaign?
    The first thing anyone can do to get involved is to turn off their lights on Saturday, March 29, 2014, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. But there's much, much more. But our full ambition is for people to take action beyond the hour. Whether it's supporting a crowdfunding or crowdsroucing campaign on or getting involved in Earth Hour campaigns in their own country, or starting the movement in their own community. The vision is always to do more, so make the light switch the beginning of your journey.

    Are you ready to make a change?

    Countdown Clocks

    Dining Hall Renovation

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    The University of Minnesota has had numerous renovation on multiple buildings to enhance energy efficiency, as well as urging and pushing the campus towards a more sustainable lifestyles. One of the most recent renovations was done on Comstock Residence Hall dining room.


    Diners returning to the Comstock Hall Restaurant after the winter break are witnessing an "extreme dining room make-over" with a total transformation of the dining room spaces. Carpet, tables and chairs have been updated with environmentally friendly products. The furnishings are not only made from recycled materials, but the products are made from materials that are also easily recycled when it comes time to renovate again.The new tables also boast laminates and wear layers made of 100% natural corn and soy product which are adhered to the substrate using a vacuum process and water-based adhesive. Complementing the tables are equally bio-friendly wood chairs.As an added bonus, seating is manufactured from reusable/recyclable materials using processes that seek to minimize waste of natural resources. This endeavor started as a "green" project long before the new furniture and carpeting arrived. Comstock Hall residents were involved from the very beginning with choices of carpeting and furniture. The old furnishings were, when possible, repurposed to other residence halls, other university buildngs and to the general public through the University's ReUse Center. The project strived to reduce the amount of material that would eventually end up in landfills - seeking to recycle and repurpose as much material as possible.

    Similarly, the new residential Restaurant located in the University's new 17th Avenue Residence Hall also features biofriendly furnishings.


    The decor incorporates natural materials. All tables and chairs were made by a local company from sustainable materials. Frosted glasses serves to divide the space but also allows light into any part of the facility. In addition, high windows were also incorporated to reach MN B3 building standards. In order to make the facility as efficient as possible, the hoods feature demand control ventilation and an energy-efficient dishwasher. Other sustainable features include high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, a vegetated roof, rainwater reclamaion system and other heat recovery mechanical systems.

    Living Lab

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    You probably have seen a few signs that say "Living Lab" all across campus at various locations. Have you ever wonder

    What is Living Lab?
    The concept of a living laboratory is acutally quite simple. The University aspires to create a "living laboratory" in which the campus grounds are not only a backdrop of campus life, but an integral component of teaching, research, and outreach. As such, the campus grounds will be a medium for innovation, testing, demonstration, and learning. Check out some of our past Living Lab projects below

    TurfGrass Living Lab Project

    Community Connections Garden

    How can I be part of Living Lab?
    If you have an innovative idea or project that you want to experiment with, Living Lab is a great choice. Below is the process and deadlines to apply for Living Lab 2014. The Twin Cities Sustainability Committee has developed a process to facilitate identification and implementation of living laboratory projects. The Committee invites proposals from the University community to utilize campus grounds as a living laboratory. Selected proposals will be provided space on the campus grounds and assistance facilitating project implementation. Living Lab is open for Spring 2014 request for proposals now through March 28, 2014. Click here for more information.

    Electric Vehicle Stations

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    Are you an environment lover who has been using environment-friendly electric vehicles? Kudos to you! We applaud you for your sustainable effort and we also understand how inconvenient it can be when your vehicle runs low on electricity. No more worries, the University has seen through your concern!

    With the help of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Parking and Transportation Sevices received a grant for the purchase and installation of six Level II(*) Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS). Each station has the capacity to charge two vehicles simultaneously, and will be installed on the Twin Cities campus in facilities open to the public.They will be located across East Bank, West Bank and St. Paul. Below is a more detailed location list

    East Bank:

  • Lot 37 - space adjacent to entrance lane at parking booth

  • Oak Street Ramp - ground floor adjacent to west ramp exit

  • Washington Ave Ramp - level 2 down ramp to exit booths next to Hourcar spaces
  • West Bank:

  • 21st Ave. Ramp - level 2 east end next to elevator lobby and Hourcar spaces

  • Lot 86 - adjacent to entrance lane north side of lot
  • Saint Paul:

  • Gortner Ave. Ramp - level 1 across from exit booths
  • There will be no charge to the user of the stations, other than the parking facility fee.

    The stations are still in the process of testing prior to opening to public and should be ready to use within the next few months!

    (*) Level II charging station: Level 2 supplies 240V, like what an electric dryer or oven uses. It goes through a box and a cord that improves safety by waiting to send power to the plug until it's plugged into an EV. Level 2 allows for a wide range of charging speeds, all the way up to 19.2 kilowatts (kW), or about 70 miles of range per hour of charging.

    Food Day Recap

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    Food Day 2013 celebrated the everlasting partnership between humans and food- not just food in general, but healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and grass roots movement to encourage populations to buy local, fresh foods instead of processed or packaged food. The Food Day coordinators explain it simply; "Food Day envisions shorter lines at fast-food drive-throughs--and bigger crowds at farmers markets."

    The mission of Food Day is too:

    - Increase awareness of the good work that the University of Minnesota and Twin Cities community do for food, nutrition, and health.

    - Educate on practical and affordable ways to incorporate healthy foods into our diets.

    - Increase understanding of and appreciation for the complex relationship between people and their food while educating about food's ties with health and the environment.

    - Celebrate the diversity of foods and food cultures in Minnesota.

    THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR PARTICIPANTS!!! We couldn't "Eat Real" without your support.

    Coffee- Peace Coffee
    Dried Fruit - Bare Snacks
    Jelly Mellon - Cornercopia Student Organic Farm at the University of Minnesota
    Boxed Lunches - Common Roots Catering
    Almond Crisps - Blue Diamond Almonds
    Gluten Free Cookies - Mary's Gone Crackers
    Peanut Butter - PB Crave
    Apple "Honey"- Bee Free Honee
    Spiced Lentils - Dice 'N Spice
    Gluten Free Brownies and Bars - Down in the Valley Bakehouse
    Almonds & Antioxidant Mix - Bergin Fruit and Nut Company
    Spices- Minnesota Nice Spice
    Quinoa Salad - Whole Foods Market, Lake Calhoun
    Pumpkin Scones - Breadsmith MN
    Whole Grain Bars - Thuro Bread
    Chocolate - Endangered Species Chocolate
    Lunds and Byerly's

    Food Day!

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    Come join us this Thursday, October 24th from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, in Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union to celebrate National Food Day!

    What is Food Day you ask?Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. It builds all year long and culminates on October 24.
    Food Day aims to help people Eat Real. That means cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein. Food Day envisions shorter lines at fast-food drive-throughs--and bigger crowds at farmers markets.

    This annual event involves some of the country's most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.

    With Food Day, we can celebrate our food system when it works and fix it when it's broken. Across the country, 3,200 events took place in 2012 and 2,300 in 2011, from community festivals in Denver, Savannah, and New York City, to a national conference in Washington, DC, to thousands of school activities in Portland, Minneapolis, and elsewhere.

    So swing by Great Hall and grab free catered lunch from Common Roots Catering! There are tons of free samples and prizes. More information about the event can be found here.

    Have nothing planned for Thursday? Volunteer at for Food Day! More details can be found here.

    Want more information about Food Day? Check out UMN Food Day on Facebook.

    As many of you might not know, the Next Generation Environmental Leaders, which is a collaboration between students from the Twin Cities campus and Morris campus, were named winners of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2013 Student Sustainability Leadership Award at the AASHE's nation conference, held through Oct 9 in Nashville, Tenn.

    U of M students first connected with Minnesota's political leaders in 2012, brainstorming with Anderson on ways to participate in the Environmental Congress and engage in developing solutions toward sustainability issues. From there, the enterprising students developed and planned a statewide "Next Generation Environmental Congress" for February 2013, a month before the full Environmental Congress.

    Over the next 12 months, this civic-minded group of University students, led by Natalie Hoidal and Christy Newell, reached out to statewide youth through social media, meetings, posters, phone calls, presentations and more. They teamed with University of Minnesota students from all five campuses, as well as groups including the Youth Environmental Advocates-Minnesota (YEA-MN), the Minnesota Youth Environmental Network (MNYEN) and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) to develop a unified partnership through which the next generation of Minnesotans could voice their concerns to the EQB. Funding for the work was provided in part by a Mini Grant from the University's Institute on the Environment.

    What made this project even cooler was that they got Governor Mark Dayton to be involved!

    As winners, the main collegiate members will have the opportunity to present their leadership story and will be included in a feature piece on the awards in Sustainability: The Journal of Record.

    Click here if you want to find our more about the team!

    How can we make plastic more sustainable?

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    Plastic. A word so simple yet so problematic. Take a look at this video to find out how YOU can make plastic more sustainable. Props to the Institute on the Environment for the video!