Presenters: Anna Carlson, Bemidji State University, Jordan Lutz, Bemidji State University, and Alyssa Hauser, Bemidji State University
Located in Northern Minnesota, Bemidji State University (BSU) operates within a dispersed, rural, and diverse community. With a longstanding commitment to carbon reduction, BSU has strategically partnered with the university's electric utility provider, Otter Tail Power Company, to improve energy efficiency since 2017. By participating in a Commercial Process Efficiency collaboration, BSU qualifies for rebate dollars tied to energy planning and nameplate demand reduction. The energy planning process includes members from Otter Tail, university staff (Facilities, IT, and Sustainability), and third-party engineers. Qualifying efficiency projects relate to upgrading lighting, HVAC systems, and other sources of electricity consumption. The collaboration also enabled completion of a geothermal feasibility study, identifying how campus could shift from existing natural gas boilers to ground-source heat pump systems in a piecemeal manner over the coming decades. Findings of the collaboration suggest BSU has the potential to cut CO2 emission by roughly 40% and achieve annual energy cost savings of over $450,000. From the utility perspective, the Process Efficiency program both helps reduce the demand curve of a large commercial consumer and helps the utility meet annual electricity savings mandated by the state of Minnesota. Thus far, BSU has received nearly $600,000 in rebates from Otter Tail for this work. Though not a true green revolving fund, all rebate dollars are intentionally funneled into a cost center for investment in subsequent efficiency projects. The University expects to see reductions in energy consumption (~6%)) and average monthly energy bill (~7%). During this time, however, the university also experienced reductions in energy use on campus attributable to COVID-related closures. This presentation will explore efforts to parse out these variables while conducting an annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Presenters will speak to ongoing carbon reduction strategies post-pandemic, including possible geothermal retrofitting, as BSU attempts to build back better. Participants will also learn how they may leverage similar opportunities to achieve efficiency upgrades in collaboration with utility providers.
Presenters: Kristen Mastel, University of Minnesota, Olivia MacIsaac, Butler University, Marta Petermann, Hiawatha Public Library, Suzanne Teghtmeyer, Michigan State University, and Carol Sevin, Kansas State University
Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change grants is a pilot program to help public and academic libraries engage their communities in programs and conversations that address the climate change crisis. Seventy-five libraries were provided funds for programming to engage the communities in climate-related discussions and activities. In this session, you will hear from five libraries that received funding and how they worked with their communities and beyond to support sustainability.
Part 1: Intercultural Sustainability Leaders (ISLe): Integrating Equity and Sustainability Through Discourse
Presenters: Clement Loo, University of Minnesota Morris, Troy Goodnough, University of Minnesota Morris, Jasmine Pryor, University of Minnesota Morris
Oral Presentation Description: UMN Morris is broadly recognized as a leader in the domain of sustainability within higher education. To maintain our position within the vanguard we are working to more robustly integrate sustainability and equity. One way we are doing this is through the Intercultural Sustainability Leaders program (ISLe). ISLe was developed through a partnership between the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs at UMN Morris with the support of funding from the Institute of the Environment's inaugural round of DEI Grants.
In our presentation we will discuss the objectives and the strategies employed within ISLe to broaden representation of Indigenous students and students of color within sustainability-oriented programs and to broaden the cultural perspectives informing efforts to improve campus sustainability at UMN Morris.
Part 2: Addressing Environmental Justice at Macalester: Creating an EJ Framework and Resource Calendar
Presenters: Matthew Najberg, Macalester College and Christine McCormick, Macalester College
Lightning Talk Description: Sustainability has been a focus of Macalester College since 1960. In recent years, the justice dimensions of sustainability have become a larger focus within the Sustainability Office's efforts. Environmental injustices have been affecting the health and well-being of communities of color for decades; striving for true sustainability requires centering the needs and voices of those most affected. Macalester's sustainability goals needed to be updated with an intersectional foundation that acknowledges and begins to dismantle structural racism and settler colonialism. Thus, we've created several initiatives to begin laying the foundation for a more just campus.
We began by creating an environmental justice framework and toolkit. The goal of this framework is to apply an environmental justice lens to the goals of the Sustainability Office, as well as the departments and processes closely related to those goals. The tool kit is a series of questions meant to be applied to future and current initiatives in order to evaluate whether or not they take environmental justice into account.
We wanted the focus on environmental justice to expand beyond the Sustainability Office, and this inspired the creation of an environmental justice resource calendar. The calendar has monthly environmental justice topics including the basics of EJ, food justice, land sovereignty, and weekly resource recommendations in a variety of media forms. We also created a supplemental document with links to and descriptions of more resources. Our hope is that the calendar serves as a conversation starter both within and beyond the Macalester community because the first step to addressing environmental injustices is understanding them.
Part 3: Finding Intersectional Solutions to Environmental Sustainability & Social Justice
Presenters: Nyasa Henderson Meany, Augsburg University and Monica McDaniel, Augsburg University
Oral Presentation Description: Nyasa Henderson Meany is an undergraduate student at Augsburg University. She is studying a major in Intersectional Environmentalism, and two minors in Environmental Studies and Political Science. The environment is very important to her; it's what she wants our leaders to prioritize. As a Black woman, issues around racial equity are equally important to her; it's what she wants our leaders to also prioritize. From her experience, social justice issues are at the forefront of environmental sustainability work. She is curious to learn how issues of social justice and environmental sustainability intersect. She can't wait to build more community and civic engagement to make Augsburg University, Minneapolis, and the Midwest a place where people of all backgrounds can find their place in social justice and environmental movements.
During the summer of 2021 and continuing into the 2021-2022 school year, Nyasa is conducting research with Monica McDaniel, the Sustainability Officer at Augsburg University, to identify issues at the intersection of environmental sustainability initiatives and social justice efforts. During this presentation, Nyasa will share some of the preliminary data coming out of her exploratory, action-based research study: Finding Intersectional Solutions to Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice. Thus far, she has conducted 14 individual interviews and demographic surveys to hear from leaders in social justice work and leaders in environmental sustainability work. She hopes to share the initial findings from this research in order to support both environmental sustainability leaders and social justice leaders to adapt actions that are at the intersections of both movements. Through this presentation, attendees will have an opportunity to learn about her research methods, get a peek at preliminary data, and have a chance to engage in conversation about the intersections and disconnects among these movements and initiatives.
Presenters: Ryan Ihrke, College of Saint Scholastica and Casey Meehan, Western Technical College
Workshop Description: "If we want to make it safely and sanely through all the challenges coming our way, we're going to need to come out and play." -Bernie DeKoven
Those who are directly engaging with the challenges posed by the climate crisis have likely felt moments of anxiety, anger and despair; and those who are new to working towards sustainability can be overwhelmed and hesitant to engage at all. The danger in either case is that we are left feeling drained and numb.
How might we engage in this work that leaves our students, our community, and ourselves feeling renewed at a time when everything in this world seems to be going so wrong? What if we took a more joyful approach rooted in playfulness?
Drawing on the work of writers, educators and researchers on the benefits of play and playfulness, this workshop provides an introduction to how joy and playfulness can serve as important and necessary tools needed to balance the negativity inherent to being aware and engaged with sustainability work. Participants will reflect with others on the opportunities and barriers to integrating playfulness into their sustainability work, and, through their participation, they will be reminded how to take a more joyful path in their personal and professional activities. This workshop is suited for anyone interested in exploring the possibility of feeling more renewed - and helping others feel more renewed--by their climate justice and sustainability work.
Presenters: Nicole Neuberger, Student at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Health Promotion and Wellness Major, Intended Graduation: May 2022
Social Wellness Moment Description: Wellness is a multidimensional concept that includes the Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Career, Intellectual, Environmental, and Social dimensions of wellness. Social wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people in the world. The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. This session will explore one dimension of wellness and introduce participants to the concepts and explore activities to incorporate into their daily life.