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Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Poster Gallery

The Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference will feature posters on the topics of sustainability initiatives and environmental projects that represent the work from students, faculty and communities in Arizona.

These posters will be on display throughout the conference and featured during networking breaks and lunch in the North Ballroom.

Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff strives to maintain a beautiful and useful campus landscape while facing the extreme climate found at high elevations. From 2011 to present, the NAU Green Fund has sponsored the Sustainable Landscape Maintenance Project. The project studies environmentally-friendly landscaping practices which can eliminate the need for synthetic herbicides. Field and greenhouse experiments are employed to identify and test sustainable practices, seeking materials and methods which are non-polluting, cost-effective, and result in an aesthetically-pleasing landscape that does not pose human or environmental health risks.

Twenty-three students, from various degree programs, have participated in the project, gaining research and job experience for both academic credit and wages. Facility Services has collaborated with these students to test materials and practices and has adopted some of the project's recommendations. While being student driven, this project has thrived by developing strong collaborative ties between students, faculty, and Facility Services staff.

In August 2012, the University of Arizona's (UA) Students for Sustainability (SFS) developed an initiative to educate UA Greek Life in becoming more sustainable. Greek Life is the largest organization on campus, as fraternities and sororities make up 13% of the student population. As a large organization, Greek Life generates considerable amounts of waste. In an effort to encourage recycling, enhance resource conservation, and promote programs and methods that help reduce waste on the University of Arizona campus, SfS introduced Greeks Think Green. Greeks Think Green is an initiative committed to reducing waste through the implementation of proper landfill, recycling, and compost receptacles along with proper signage throughout each chapter's residence. Greeks Think Green plans to focus on the importance of education in order to incorporate waste reduction practices throughout all chapter facilities and then move towards other approaches in creating a sustainable Greek environment.

Accessible Green Space and Community Development: Communication, Information Sharing, and Deliberate Co-learning in the Development of Social Capital. Since 2012 Las Milpitas de Cottonwood Community Farm, located in southern Tucson and operated by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and a local high school, has developed community via gardening and commonly accessible space. Collaboration and interaction among stakeholders of various backgrounds is essential in the farm's operation and development, and the space serves as a hub of communication, information-sharing, and deliberate co-learning. Highlighting areas of interest identified by community members and the researchers, this research represents an innovative approach to examining and understanding the development of community and social capital within green spaces.

UA Project Green is a new method to help students program with sustainable goals. The project is based around a certification program that provides a simple guide to ensure sustainable aspects in student programming. A poster is provided for the program that educates participants attending a program on sustainable practices and the efforts made by the leaders of the program. This poster is a tool for practitioners and students to use to engage other students in creating programs with sustainable practices.

All around the country a major issue that Universities are encountering is student transportation on campuses and how to make it safe and efficient. The greatest issue being the vehicles, from bikes to campus service vehicles, mixed with pedestrian students. At the Tempe ASU campus, much research has gone into the condition of safety and traffic flow, which has led to the introduction of the Walk Only Zone. As part of the Campus Access Plan, the Walk Only Zone is intended only for students traveling on foot. Students with bikes, skateboards, skates, or scooters are required to dismount and walk in these zones. The Walk Only Zone has three phases, the first of which having been instated for the Fall 2013 semester. The goal of these zones is to reduce the number of collisions and other incidents that jeopardize the safety of students as they travel on campus.

While being proactive about being sustainable at a university level is vital, the more pressing issue is how to make sustainability relatable and thus more compelling to become involved with. Engaging educational material and relatable marketing campaigns have an ability to encourage students to listen more actively about the effects of small acts of environmental friendliness. Students have a lot on their plate as is; courses, extracurricular activities, a part-time job, and adjusting to college life in its own self is stressful and a lot to handle. Providing material that channel into college students' way of life, popular social media modems, or college humor helps create that relatable foundation that may be the link between becoming active or remaining unmotivated.

Cleaning products and activities are integral to maintaining healthy home and work environments, however many commercially available cleaning solutions have toxic effects on humans, and the environment, while greatly burdening waste management systems. "Green cleaners" have become prevalent alternatives to products containing harsher chemicals (ie. VOCs). Complete substitution of traditional cleaning products may not be reasonable, but it is possible for individuals to better understand when it is appropriate. To optimize less toxic, and sustainable techniques for maintaining hygienic environments it is necessary to: 1) Understand detrimental impact of compounds on environment, and human health, 2) Define cleaning or disinfection needs for microenvironment, and 3) Know when substitutions can be made while still meeting needs. An effective and versatile way to communicate this information will ultimately promote choices and behaviors that are beneficial for immediate and long-term/ trans-generational human health, waste management infrastructure, and the environment.

This presentation will focus on the results from a study done on ASU's Tempe Campus that worked to find out what students perceive are the benefits and barriers are for recycling on campus. The study also explored social norms/beliefs around recycling. By understanding exactly what students think about recycling behaviors and recycling we have a better chance at creating solutions that directly target low diversion rates and contamination problems.

In 2011, University of Arizona's (UA) Students for Sustainability (SfS) saw an opportunity to bring together an entire community to embrace sustainability. Tens of thousands of fans populate the UA campus during athletic events, bringing in people from all across the country to witness Arizona Athletics. Athletic events produce a large amount of waste, which takes a toll on the environment. This student-led initiative encourages fans to become leaders in sustainability through education and eco-friendly practices. During home football games, student employees and volunteers interact with the public through educational games, educating them about how they can make their tailgating experience more environmentally friendly. Employees and a hired club collect recycling from the stadium after the game and collect recyclable materials during tailgating. As a result of these efforts, in 2012 and 2013, Greening the Game diverted a total of 61 tons of recycling away from the landfill.

The UA Community Garden has been growing since 2011, with multiple managers and interns as is the nature of a student-run project. This presentation is meant to convey the lessons learned by two of the most recent managers, especially those dealing with engaging the community, providing a space for students, faculty and community to grow their own food, working against the 'food island effect' on the UA campus and collaborating with other entities on and off campus. Currently, the garden has over 100 plots that are rented out to people each semester, along with a lecture series hosted by various faculty members or community members. In the near future, the garden interns will begin a workshop series hosted by themselves and other student gardeners, aimed at those students who are not yet involved but want to explore alternative food options and urban agriculture. The garden has grown in scale and scope over the years, and the interns involved in the project have trial tested many ideas, along with working with university departments and outside entities. While problems still arise in keeping the garden functioning, future gardeners could have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of their peers and predecessors.

In July 2013, the University of Arizona (UA) launched the undergraduate Off-Campus Housing Sustainability Coordinator (OCHSC) position to bring sustainability into the homes of students living off-campus. The OCHSC consults with local apartments on infrastructure improvements and sustainability education for their residents — mostly UA students. Participants will understand the importance of building strong community relations; how to successfully pitch partnerships with non-university entities; and how to develop a successful program. Innovative off-campus resident engagement programs will be discussed along with tips on how to promote sustainable infrastructure with the complexes. Attendees will be motivated to implement similar programs in their Arizona institutions.

a sustainable program using local recycled glass, no-cost steel dust waste, carbon dioxide, and adobe to create highly durable building blocks, poured sidewalks and floors, ramps, and artworks. This multi-faceted project is based on the local recycling of glass bottles on the Tohono O'odham Nation. The glass bottles are put through a pulverizer and separated into fine and coarse cullet, both of which are used as aggregate to make pre-cast building products and larger structures.

It has become almost commonplace for universities to articulate a vision for their campuses as "living, learning sustainability laboratories," where students work alongside staff and faculty to learn, test, and demonstrate solutions to a range of local and global challenges. At the University of Arizona, there are numerous co-curricular programs, courses, and other opportunities that expand sustainability learning experiences outside of the classroom walls to the whole physical campus. As the number and type of these programs has grown, participants have recognized the need to pay greater attention to how these programs can best work together and with campus operational units to increase their collective success and overall impact. In 2013, the UA Office of Sustainability and Bureau for Applied Research in Anthropology launched an assessment of student and employee engagement in campus sustainability initiatives. The assessment aimed to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with campus sustainability efforts and lay the groundwork for building partnerships to enhance, expand, and align opportunities for engaging students in these areas. Researchers from the assessment will present an overview of their methods, goals, and major findings relating to the benefits students and employees reported from their campus sustainability involvement and the challenges they faced when working in cross-campus collaborations. An interactive discussion between presenters and audience members will follow exploring ideas and best practices for engaging students and creating effective collaborations. Participants will brainstorm a set of actionable ideas for addressing key challenges reflected in the assessment findings and in their own work.

The goal of University of Arizona Career Services is to serve all students at the University of Arizona to develop and implement career plans, gain career-related experience prior to graduation and professional career employment after graduation. Students are increasingly valuing and looking for jobs and careers that are sustainable, eco-friendly, renewable, or green. These words are too often used interchangeably, taking on different meanings depending on who is using them and in what context, leading to false assumptions that only careers in science, engineering, or agriculture are green or sustainable. UA Career Services has developed the online resource, the Green Careers Guide, to help students learn more about the broad applicability of sustainability across career fields. Through extensive research Career Services was able to develop definitions of green careers that align with the sixteen U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics career clusters, create a guide to understanding green careers and package resources to help students find green careers regardless of their major or career interest. This poster session will explain the process that went into the research, development and implementation of this effective online resource, and will provide helpful insight for attendees to develop similar resources for their campuses.

Our land we inhabit and the ways we perceive it, engage and inform how we choose to experience and adapt to it. There are mystical qualities about a place that speak of its beauty and its starkness. The awareness of this sensory realm is what we choose to explore and stimulate.

The University of Arizona (UofA)'s Organic Land Stewardship Program has converted management of the central mall and surrounding areas from synthetic to organic soil amendments. Covering more than 10 acres of turfgrass and trees, it is the largest project of its kind at any public university in the United States. Synthetic amendments can have a number of negative impacts, including leaching through the soil profile to contaminate aquifers, draining into waterways to cause eutrophication, and volatilizing into greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. The use of fossil fuels in the production and transportation of synthetic amendments also contributes greenhouse gases. In addition to avoiding these negative impacts, organic amendments may offer additional benefits for the soil including greater nutrient stability and carbon sequestration, decreased water use, and the suppression of pathogens. However, a holistic assessment of the varied systems-level impacts of a switch to organic management has not been previously performed. UofA has adopted compost and compost tea as the organic amendments because there is little investment in new equipment for their distribution, an important consideration in the currently challenging economic climate of higher education. An interdisciplinary UofA team has been evaluating the effects of this transition to organic management over the last two years, On control and treatment plots in actively-used medium-traffic areas on campus, we are characterizing the effect of organic applications over time on (i) soil physicochemistry (ii) microorganism community diversity, and (iii) ecosystem greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) emissions. Community profiling is being accomplished by high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA "identity" gene amplicons providing a detailed view into turfgrass microbial communities.