college

Greening Your Child’s College Years

By Lina Younes

Many parents are getting ready for their children to start a new chapter in their lives: going to college. As parents, we’ve made our best efforts to ensure that our children are ready academically and financially as they leave the family nest. Whether these young adults are going to live in a dorm, an apartment or continue living at home, this is an opportune moment for us, as parents, to reinforce green-living habits. Since many will be on their own for the first time, they will benefit from knowing how best to save natural resources and money during this new stage in their lives and beyond.

How about some useful tips that will help them save energy, conserve water and reduce waste?

  • Use Energy Star certified light bulbs in living quarters to save energy while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Thinking of getting a new computer, printer, or electronics for college? Make sure the new device is Energy Star certified. Furthermore, turn your electronics to “sleep mode” when your away from your computer or use a power strip to turn your electronics off for additional energy savings.
  • Is your student getting a new cell phone or mobile device? Encourage them to eCycle the old one.  By eCycling your computer or your phone, you prevent valuable natural resources from being wasted in landfills. Recycling electronics also helps to reduce pollution that would otherwise be generated during the manufacturing process.
  • Water use has a big impact on the environment. Remember to turn off the tap while brushing teeth or shaving and take short showers.
  • Safer detergents. Your children will (perhaps begrudgingly) need to keep their clothes and living space clean. Why not use products with the DfE Label (Design for the Environment) that perform well, are cost-effective, and are safer for the environment?
  • Are your children really environmentally conscious? Do they want to determine their carbon footprint? Have them measure their own carbon footprint with this personal calculator to see their impact on the environment.
  • So, do you have any words of green wisdom that you want to share with us? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Encouraging Design Thinking to Develop Integrated Green Infrastructure Solutions

By Ken Hendrickson

Campus Rainworks Challenge - click for more information!When you hear the words “design” or “designer”, what comes to mind?  The latest couture on the runway?  Swiss furniture with names that are hard to pronounce?   While you may envision the products of design, I tend to think about design thinking – the process of working through a complex problem. In many cases, I believe the understanding gained during this process is more important than the product or end result.  Design can result in beautiful or interesting things, but design thinking can help to integrate multiple disciplines, create positive change and advance our understanding of the world.

We’ve all heard the phrase “thinking outside the box” – to be creative and not use the same old thinking to solve complex problems.  Design thinking takes that a step further.  It helps to reframe the problem, consider information from several fields and test possible solutions.  It’s a perfect vehicle for advancing ideas in new and unexpected ways.  This explains the popularity of design competitions as a way to encourage creative thinking around a particular set of environmental problems.

One example is the use of design competitions to explore the possibilities of green infrastructure to address urban stormwater. These green techniques use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater close to its source.  They also have the potential to provide additional social and environmental benefits.  Design competitions are helping to build an interdisciplinary discussion around the potential of green infrastructure – thinking outside the pipe.

Region 3’s Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Initiative did a webcast this spring exploring how design competitions can be powerful tools to spur innovation and adoption of green infrastructure communities. View the archived webcast by visiting http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/watersheds.htm#g3academy and clicking “G3 Academy Studio.”

The Community Design Collaborative, Philadelphia Water Department, and EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office are partnering to host Infill Philadelphia: Soak it up!, an exhibition of best practices in green stormwater infrastructure.  The goal of the exhibition is to showcase projects that soak up stormwater while creating healthy, engaging, and visually-appealing urban places.  Selected entries will be on display at Philadelphia’s Center for Architecture this fall. The exhibition is also a build up to a national design competition.

Design competitions can also engage and educate students.  The EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge seeks to engage college and university students from multiple disciplines to develop green infrastructure solutions.  This design competition is an exciting opportunity for college and university students to be on the cutting edge of a real-world issue and contribute to the discussion.  Students must form teams and register to participate.  Registration for the competition is open from September 4 to October 5, 2012, and entries will be due on December 14, 2012.   Visit the Campus RainWorks website for more information about the competition.

Have you ever thought about designing something to solve a problem?  How did your thinking change from when you started designing to when you developed your solution?  What kinds of things did you have to consider?  How would you design green infrastructure for your neighborhood?

About the Author: Ken Hendrickson has worked at the EPA since 2010 and is the Green Infrastructure staff lead in the Office of State and Watershed Partnerships.  Ken has a background in landscape architecture, geology, and watershed management.  He enjoys working to empower communities to improve their environment and finding solutions that create more resilient social, environmental, and economic systems. When not in the office, Ken enjoys challenging and rewarding outdoor activities and creative indoor hobbies.

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource.  Throughout the year, EPA will be highlighting different aspects of the history and successes of the Clean Water Act in reducing pollution in the past 40 years.  The month of August will focus on Science and Innovation.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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College – An Opportunity To Live Green!

By Lily Rau

During this back to school season I have been reflecting on my college experience and the different places I called home. I lived in the dorms my first year and then moved to apartments off campus for my last three years. Reflecting on these homes reminded me of the fear and excitement of moving into your first place. For some of us, this is the first time we must think about paying bills, buying furniture, or cooking for ourselves. In addition to some tough choices, having your own place provides you with opportunities to make environmentally friendly decisions!

The largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities come from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production and transportation. Whether you live in a dorm or an apartment, here are a few simple ways a recently independent college student can help reduce these emissions and protect the climate:

  1. Buy ENERGY STAR products: You may be deciding which mini-fridge or light bulbs to purchase for your dorm or apartment. Look for ENERGY STAR products that meet energy efficiency requirements and can save you money while protecting the environment.
  2. Turn off the lights: Our parents yelled at us for a reason. Leaving the lights on raises the energy bill. Whether you’re paying the bills in an apartment, or not paying the bills in a dorm, leaving the lights on uses more electricity and contributes to climate change.
  3. Unplug electronics: Did you know that appliances and electricity-powered devices use electricity even when they are turned off? When you leave for Christmas or Spring break, make sure to unplug all TVs, computers, DVD players, chargers, radios, cable boxes, and mini-fridges.
  4. Get familiar with public transportation: Many colleges don’t allow students to bring their cars to school their first year. If you can’t bring your car to school, embrace it! Get familiar with the public transportation in your area. Maybe you’ll discover you don’t need a car your second year. This is good for the environment and fuel savings, which is great for a student on a budget!
  5. Get involved: Become an OnCampus ecoAmbassador and work with your school and fellow students to make your campus more environmentally friendly!

For more ideas check out EPA’s back to school tips. Join the discussion with your own back to school tip. Tell us how you’re greening your dorm or apartment!

About the author: Lily Rau is an intern in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. She is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and is passionate about protecting the environment.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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What I Wish I’d Known Before I Moved Into a Dorm

Rosemarie Stephens-Booker

By: Rosemarie Stephens-Booker

Summer is here, and for many families this is a time of preparation as their children get ready to head to college in the fall. Several of my co-workers are in the thick of this planning process, and hearing their stories has led me to reflect on my own journey into college life.

Eight years ago I spent my last summer in the house I grew up in. I was amazed at how quickly the time passed between graduation day and packing the car to leave for college.

But was I ready?

Of course, my neighbors, friends and family tried to prepare me for those sleepless nights in the library, endless hours in the biology and chemistry labs, and the very real freshman 15. But, no one warned me that my entire summer would be filled with shopping trips for those essential college dorm room “must haves.” I remember shopping for the best compact refrigerator, laptop or desktop computer, the multi-colored light fixtures for my room, and most importantly…my first television. I thought about how certain purchases would look with the décor of my soon-to-be new home, and my roommate and I talked about what size television we should purchase. I also knew that I wanted to find a good compact refrigerator. But despite all of this planning, I never thought to look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Did you know products like those listed above make up a significant part of the energy used in the average college residence hall?  At that time in my life, I didn’t even know that most the electronics I bought were available in an energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR labeled model.

I have since learned that my purchasing decisions can have a positive impact in the fight against climate change. By choosing an ENERGY STAR qualified computer or TV, I help reduce my college’s energy bills and help prevent the release of harmful carbon pollution resulting from the burning of fossils fuels used to generate electricity. If every TV, DVD player and home theater system sold this year were ENERGY STAR qualified, we would prevent more than 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the annual emissions of more than 300,000 cars.

Today, the little blue ENERGY STAR label can be seen across more than 65 different product categories including lighting, appliances, and electronics. So, don’t be like me — look for the ENERGY STAR!

Connect with us through Facebook, Twitter, and at energystar.gov to learn more ways to save energy, help your college-age loved ones not blow a fuse in the dormitory, and help save the environment.

Rosemarie Stephens-Booker begin her journey with the  ENERGY STAR Program as an EPA intern, and worked on the 2007 “Change a Light, Change the World” campaign.  After completing college she continued to support the ENERGY STAR Program in various roles, including traveling with the ENERGY STAR exhibit house, supporting the Green the Capitol initiative with qualified vending machines, appliance marketing, consumer education and appliance recycling initiatives. She is an avid theatre lover and a professional classical vocalist.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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GRADUATING…NOW WHAT?

graduationIts spring and graduation is just around the corner.
High school juniors and seniors are probably being asked all sorts of questions, like:

Where are you planning on going to college?
What are you majoring in?
What do you want to do?

However, you may be freaking out at the thought of having a stranger for a roommate or about living 100 miles from home. You’re also starting over in college with new clubs, interests and experiences, and you don’t know where to begin. There’s no time to think about what you may be interested in majoring in yet.

What if you could bring your passion for the environment with you and expand it in college?

The EPA’s OnCampus ecoAmbassadors program could be what you’re looking for. You can help implement projects from EPA programs to green your campus, promote environmental awareness and find resources to learn about EPA related careers.

Want to know how to start? Check out EPA’s You Tube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAx6CzUx8Vc&feature=plcp&context=C4e6434dVDvjVQa1PpcFPdEiR2XqqsvQ-y5cmqldEtmAnKSHxtQRk%3D

Yvonne Gonzalez is a SCEP intern with the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She is currently pursuing a dual graduate degree at DePaul University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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