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Campaign to promote sustainability efforts at the University of Oregon

Sustainability Efforts

As a division of Student Affairs, University Housing participates in a wide spectrum of sustainability efforts. University Housing’s sustainability efforts date back to the days before sustainability was a buzz word and are continually growing as new opportunities present themselves. Our “Ducks for Sustainability” campaign features everything from recycling competitions to energy controls, product purchases, and general business practices. See below for a list of current sustainability projects in University Housing at the UO.

How do you keep 22,176 plastic bags from filling our oceans and landfills?
- Use a reusable bag!

If you began shopping TODAY with a cloth bag instead of plastic ones, you would save over 22,000 BAGS IN YOUR LIFETIME. If just 1 of every 5 people in the United States did the same, we would save 1,330,560,000,000 bags over the course of our lives.
- Pocono Green

UO reusable bags are available for $1 or 1 meal point at Grab ‘n’ Go Marketplace.

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  • Residents donate unwanted clothing and household items at the end of the year to community organizations who then distribute to needy families. This saves several dumpster loads daily over the last couple weeks of spring term. This effort was spearheaded by custodial managers many years ago.
  • The Residence Halls host sustainability programs each year such as the Civil War Food and Blood Drives and Recycle Mania (2nd in the nation in 2005).
  • University Housing regularly reviews proposals from student groups, such as the Residence Hall Association, to use products that promote sustainability.
  • Several Community Conversations panels have addressed environmental topics and the issue of sustainability including “The Global Energy Crisis, Regional Green Energy and Campus Initiatives” and “Frankenfood or One Seed Feeds the World?”.
  • Within the halls there have been programs involving site visits and service work with Food for Lane County and Habitat for Humanity, as well as events to help support groups like UNICEF.
  • University Housing has programmed around energy conservation with programs like “Reduce the Juice” and “Do It In The Dark,” encouraging energy use awareness.
  • Each year, RHA has participated in a points drive to donate food to Food for Lane County, donating over 5000 lbs each Thanksgiving.
  • Common equipment (vacuums, etc) is available at each area desk to help reduce the need for individually purchased items.
  • The housing application process and returning resident sign-up have moved from paper processes to an on-line process (returning resident sign up is exclusively on-line).
  • Student staff members teach residents how to use the bus system and use that system to travel to events in town rather than taking cars or vans.
  • Old flyers are used in the Programming Resource Office for die cuts.
  • Students recycle their laundry cards annually.
  • Many forms have been updated and have become smaller or downloadable for electronic transactions.
  • Campus Recycling has been integrated into the training of the professional staff.
  • University Housing has programmed around issues of recycling to raise awareness.
  • Recycle bins are located in each resident room and throughout the dining and mail areas.
  • Collaborative Partner with CASL House Project.
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  • Some of the communities have and maintain community gardens and frequently hold yard sales instead of disposing of goods to landfills.
  • Family Housing hosts an annual yard sale and encourages an exchange program when families move in and out.
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University Housing Dining Services is about more than simply sustenance. We recognize that how we choose to operate can effect the environment and the larger community. Our highly rated dining program and staff take great pride in how we support students and the campus community in the following ways:

University Housing's chefs are classically trained professionals who take pride in cooking from scratch using fresh seasonal ingredients and insure that the Dining Service staff is well trained in the latest food safety and authentic cooking techniques.

Sustainable and healthy decision making guides Dining operations by:
  • Supporting local purchasing whenever possible with over twenty local farms and producers. Examples include:
    • Surata Soy Foods, Painted Hills Natural Beef, Springfield Creamery, Shepherd’s Grain, SoringHart Fine Foods, Williams Bakery, Humble Bagel, The Muffin Mill, Tobys Family Foods, Umpqua Dairy, Wildtime Foods, Allann Bros Coffee, Pacific Coast Fruit Co.
  • Much of the beef served is raised in the Pacific Northwest by Painted Hills Natural Beef – where it is grass fed with NO hormones and NO antibiotics.
  • Milk is purchased from local dairies and is free of antibiotics and Bovine Growth Hormones.
  • Trans fats are not used to fry food, only non-hydrogenated rice oil to reduce the level of trans fats for a healthier diet. Rice oil is trans-fat free and high in natural antioxidants.
  • A wide selection of both vegan and vegetarian entrees and award winning vegetarian menus (over 10,000 lbs of tofu a year) is available daily in addition to authentic international favorites such as Kimchee, Sushi, and Bahrimi.
  • Baking flour comes from Shepherd’s Grain, a locally grown wheat that is direct tilled in a sustainable manner and it tastes great.
  • Coffee served is fresh, locally roasted, organic and fair-trade certified from Allann Brothers Coffee delivered to us within 36 hours of roasting.
  • Styrofoam is not used by Dining Services.
  • Recycled content such as non-bleached paper napkins are used in lieu of harmful bleached products whenever available.
  • Unused foods are donated to the local food bank for families in need.
  • We use compostable service ware such as coffee cups, drink cups, plates, napkins, etc, that are collected and turned into compost at a commercial composting site.
  • Bio Diesel fuels are created from spent fryer oils.

Current Projects
  • Making nutritional information readily available including low fat, sugar free, and gluten free choices clearly labeled to assist in making healthful choices
  • Seek out and maximize additional local purchasing options, such as Shepherds Grain and Painted Hills Beef.
  • Install water refill stations to encourage the use of refillables in lieu of disposable water bottles.
  • Water Bottles are given to each resident at the beginning of the year to encourage use over paper cups.
Carson/Barnhart Dining
  • Vegetarian and vegan entrees available daily
  • Nutritional information is available, including low fat, sugar free, and gluten free choices clearly labeled to assist in making healthful choices.
Fire ‘n’ Spice Grill
  • Cage Free Eggs are available at breakfast daily.
  • A wide variety of fresh vegetables are delivered daily and quickly stir-fried to-order, to retain freshness and nutrition
Grab ‘n’ Go Marketplace
  • Organic fruits are regularly available in addition to other healthful choices.
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Concurrent with sustainable design and energy control development for the Living-Learning Center, University Housing facilities staff updated energy controls to existing residence halls (Barnhart, Riley, Carson, Earl) and the Living-Learning Center.

Living-Learning Center energy controls and metering will allow residents to know their energy usage by floor, facilitating energy use contests and educational programming on sustainability issues. Business Energy Tax Credits for sustainable features of the Living-Learning Center are $350,000, 25% of which University Housing will receive.

In addition to the new construction efforts at the Living-Learning Center, facilities sustainability efforts include:

  • Replacement of all domestic hot water heaters with double wall, semi-instantaneous steam heaters for more efficient energy use and quicker response time.
  • Ongoing replacement of heating condensate vacuum systems which ensures maximum return and better condensate heat transfer.
  • Replacement of Carson hydronic converter which decreased steam usage by at least 50%.
  • Variable frequency drives installed on Riley air conditioner compressor and condenser fans to decrease energy consumption.
  • Barnhart chiller and condenser fans replaced with air cooled chiller with non CFC refridgerant.
  • Housing is presently doing infrared scans of single ply roofs at Barnhart, Carson and Earl to detect and prioritize future insulation and replacement needs.
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  • Installation of steam and electric meters in all residence halls for actual versus estimated usage by the university’s power plant.
  • Technical Assistant studies in all residence halls to determine energy usage and reduction opportunities were completed.
  • Applied for and received BPA energy grants to retrofit all lighting in all complexes to T12 fluorescent lights and all shower heads with water saving shower heads.
  • Completion of first asbestos survey and management plan in state facilities to prioritize abatement projects and manage non-friable asbestos in place versus sending it to land fills.
  • Retrofit all exterior lighting for more energy efficiency.
  • Increased, revised and updated preventative maintenance procedures, inspection schedules and database records in response to utility performance noted in monthly usage reports generated from meter readings.
  • Funded design and construction of six energy efficient living units in East Campus with Center for Housing Innovation, measuring building performance for lab studies the following year. Now called Moon Court.
  • Designed and completed 296 new living units that met or exceeded EWEB “Energy Smart” and State Department of Energy (SEED) goal.
  • Tested and begin phasing “Green” chemicals in to daily cleaning procedures. See Custodial Cleaning Chemicals list below.
  • Funded retrofit of all T12 fluorescent light ballasts and tubes in all residence hall buildings with newly developed T8s for further reduction in energy usage and mercury levels. Received $90,000 in Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) for these efforts
  • Recycle all lamps whether from simple outage or relamping cycle versus simple disposal.
  • Completed three dining remodels in Hamilton using recycled and “green” products, such as marmoleum sheet flooring, plyboo wood floors, and sun flower seed table tops.
  • Completed comprehensive Facilities Assessment to identify and prioritize deferred maintenance and more energy saving needs and opportunities.
  • Exceeded SEED requirements and met targeted "silver" rating level in the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system in the design and construction of Living-Learning Center.
    • Shower drain water heat reclamation
    • Insulated windows
    • Commissioning of all systems during and after construction
    • Flushed building air for 14 days
    • Recycled 100% of all construction debris
    • Solar hot water heating
    • Sun shades on southern elevations
    • DDC controls on all systems with metering by floor for resident education
  • Re-roofing projects designed with more reflective roofing material to avoid heat gain.
  • New dish machine in Carson Dining is more energy efficient than others saving almost 1/2 gallon per rack and is arranged for water heat reclamation and auto shut down.
  • Upcoming projects with sustainability opportunities will include the reseal of Earl windows and replacement of Carson windows. In addition, Housing is presently doing infrared scans of single ply roofs at Barnhart, Carson and Earl to detect and prioritize future insulation and replacement needs.

University Housing's main office staff have worked in conjunction with the University Energy Studies department to arrive at sustainable methods to cool their main offices since it has been a conscious effort on housing staff's part not to expend energy resources or funds on the issue of comfort during summer months.

A combination of lighter colored roofing, dual skylight sun shading, additional insulation and evaporative cooling at window and entry points, as well as on the roof, has made a noticeable improvement for customers, staff and visitors.

Mechanical cooling is one of the largest users of energy, thus housing is working to avoid or minimize it's use not only in new facilities like the LLC, but in older buildings as well.

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Products labeled “green” are certified by Green Seal, and considered to be less harmful to human health and the planet.

All-purpose cleaner: Stinger
Sustainable Earth #60 “Green”
Disinfectant cleaner: Envirocare Neutral Disinfectant Cleaner
Environmentally friendly but not “Green”
Quat 64
Shower Cleaner: Sustainable Earth #70 “Green”
Sustainable Earth #65 “Green”
Sanitizer: F25 No-Rinse Sanitizer
Evaluating Sustainable Earth #66
Carpet Shampoo: Triguard (being discontinued)
Evaluating Sustainable Earth #62
Carpet Spotter: General Spotter
Evaluating Sustainable Earth #67
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By utilizing a central office within University Housing for publications, the amount of paper waste has been reduced. Additionally, this central office works to design print material using the least amount of paper. Whenever possible, the paper selected for publications has recycled content and post consumer waste, and is milled in the United States. For large quantity press publications, paper is currently being used (in 2006-7) that contains at least 25% post consumer waste, 50% total recycled content, from a U.S. paper mill that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC is an international network to promote responsible management of the world's forests. Almost all materials used by University Housing are recyclable.

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  • Consolidate orders when possible to reduce delivery trips which saves on packing, fuel and paperwork.
  • Online order processing and e-invoicing.
  • Purchase recycled goods or goods with recycled content to the greatest extent possible.
  • Purchase appliances and equipment that specify Energy Star Efficient.
  • Computers specify Energy Star Efficient.
  • Surplus sale of excess or obsolete equipment.
  • Utilize campus office supply surplus warehouse at PLC.
  • Copier networked for document sharing via scan and send technology.
  • Encourage double-sided copying as default.
  • Purchase locally when reasonable.
  • Include language on contracts requesting that vendors use recycled materials or sustainable practices to the greatest extent reasonable.