sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Connecting the Missing Link


This summer I’ve enjoyed running on the Burke Gilman Trail (BGT). Some evenings I’ll use the trail to connect my route from SPU to Gasworks Park; other times I’ll run from yoga in Ballard towards Fremont to get back home. Rain or shine, thousands of cyclists and pedestrians frequent the 19.8-mile trail every day. Extending from Bothell to Ballard, the multi-use trail runs alongside various bodies of water including Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Fremont Cut, Salmon Bay, and Shilshole Bay.

bgtmapwithpins

The Burke Gilman trail with various road access and recreational points along the way.

The BGT has been one of the best surprises and most accessible places for me to exercise, although I’ve always felt leery (Leary) about running through the Missing Link. Following those feelings, I decided to do some research on the mile-and-a-half portion and how its completion may affect trail-users at SPU.  Continue reading


1 Comment

The Commute


Almost half of SPU’s student body commutes to campus. Have you ever wondered how all of that time getting to and from campus contributes to overall student wellness and SPU’s environmental footprint? Over the last few months, we’ve collected a bit of data to find out.

In terms of happiness, studies connect commuting to lower rates of well-being, physical exercise, political activity, and life satisfaction as well as higher levels of emotional and relational stress. At the same time, some studies have found that the happiest commuters are those who walk, cycle, or take the train to work. In addition to increasing happiness, fewer greenhouse gas emissions are emitted into the environment by commuters who are able to take advantage of these options. If you’re a commuter unable to walk or cycle, consider carpooling or taking public transportation even a few times throughout the year to decrease your eco-footprint – every bit helps. Additionally, be sure to check out the resources offered by SPU’s wellness initiative! 

As far as environmental footprint goes, commuting mileage has a bigger institutional impact than one might think. In 2011, faculty and staff commuting made up 6% and student commuting accounted for 23% of our total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.  To continue our efforts in effectively measuring and lowering SPU’s GHG emissions, we conduct an annual Student Commute Survey. Continue reading


1 Comment

Follow up on the Food Waste Fight and Faith


In some of my previous posts I touched on the problems of food waste , as well as some solutions for the rising problem in America. I also appreciated and reflected on parts of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter in a 3 part series about how faith and sustainable practices go hand in hand. The Pope is not the only person who has noticed this connection and is asking faith communities to step up to the issue of climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency here in the states has also recognized how the faith community can partner in helping the planet. With this thought, the EPA has launched their Food Steward’s Pledge to help reach the goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent in the next 14 years.

This move towards encouraging members of the faith community is based on changing food waste through systemic channels. In an interview with NPR, Gina McCarthy the EPA Administrator says that this strategy allows the EPA to tap “into incredibly motivated and dedicated people”. NPR’s report goes on to highlight many religious groups who are taking part in the food waste fight, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or other faith groups.

Continue reading


Earth Day(s) Events around the country


I’m guessing that if you follow this blog or are even just checking it out for the first time, you know that Aprill 22nd was Earth Day! I wanted to highlight a few things I found going on at other universities and our own that reflect on the importance of Earth Day.

Food on the front page at George Washington University in Virginia:

At GW, food and agriculture were the main concern of an event that took place Thursday night. Experts spoke at the Feeding The Planet Summit and discussed the future of food and how to fight hunger appropriately using science and sustainability. You can also check out some of their highlights.

SPU’s Scientific Discussion Group:

Scientific Discussion for EarthDayOur own scientific discussion group that meets about weekly on campus honored Earth Day as well. On Tuesday there was a discussion on agriculture as well, regarding the conservation of the grasslands in the U.S. and livestock. The group watched a TED talk and then discussed points from it. If you’d like to, you can still catch the TED talk. You can also get involved by going to their upcoming event next week regarding water conservation.  Email crowderr@spu.edu if you’d like to know more or be added to their email list.

Berkley’s efforts shine at summit: Continue reading


SPU’s Transportation Incentives


2x15_Sword_of_Destiny_(18)If you’re an SPU employee looking for a little extra motivation to sustainablize (coinage) your commute to campus, I have info to share. Did you know that SPU offers free lockers and shower access at Royal Brougham Pavilion to employees who bike or walk to work at least three days a week? SPU’s two zipcars are also available for up to 2 hours a day and 12 hours a month for personal use to those who go green to work. Even better, an SPU orca card is available to eligible employees for anytime use, letting you bus around the city for free. You can check out a complete list of the potential benefits SPU offers to sustainable commuters here.


SPU’s 2012 Green Feats


greenCongrats to SPU! Seattle City Light recently mailed the school a report of their environmental achievements for the year of 2012. Participating in the company’s green up program, SPU prevented the release of 63767 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, added 45400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy to the power grid, and had an overall carbon-emissions impact similar to planting 741 tree seedlings. What would the ideal green celebration look like? Perhaps some organic chocolate cake eaten in a circle around a newly planted tree, followed by some dish washing in a nearby river. I’d say SPU deserves this kind of party.


1 Comment

Getting to Know Our Trees


yaySometimes I forget how lucky I am to be living in a city with trees around every corner, lining sidewalks and providing helpful summertime shade. It’s only when I see a city without the same amount of bark that I realize how remarkable Seattle is. To be able to appreciate so much nature in such an urban setting is truly something to be thankful for, and no city matches Seattle in terms of tree diversity. Since trees are such a frequent and welcome presence to us here, perhaps we should take the time to be neighborly and learn some of their names. First off, let’s take a look at the three most present types of trees in Washington State. Continue reading


2 Comments

Showers and Water Conservation


showerI’ll be the first to admit it. I like my showers long. There’s something about being in an isolated space under the constant reassurance of soothing hot water that lets you relax on a level rarely possible elsewhere. Unfortunately, long hot showers aren’t the best activities when practicing sustainability. For those like me with a special fondness for lengthy showers, cutting down bathing time can be difficult. My first reaction to this instrument of torture  shower-timer I discovered online was unease; it cuts off the water automatically after a certain time. The thought of being suddenly stuck without water with shampoo in your hair is quite unpleasant. It’s even programmed so that you can’t turn the water back on immediately. Just cruel. Fortunately there are less extreme options as far as shower-timers go, but these, of course, require more self-discipline. Can we do it? I say we stick it to the shower timers out there that don’t think we can. We don’t need them to turn the water off for us. We have hands and we’re capable of twisting a shower nozzle. Continue reading


Bike-to-Work Profile: Prof. William Purcell


William-PurcellDespite two bad knees and difficulty walking long distances, Bill Purcell still makes a regular 9-mile bike commute. Up a steep hill no less!

Professor William Purcell, the Chair of Communication and Journalism, has taught at Seattle Pacific University since 1995. He has been a regular bike commuter for 6-7 of those years. Now, Purcell leads the Bike Profs team in SPU’s Commute Challenge.

Purcell advocates that biking is easy enough once you take the leap to start. Continue reading


SPU Takes the Challenge: Bike to Work Month!


images (3)During the month of May, National Bike to Work Month, Seattle Pacific University is hosting a Commute Challenge for faculty and staff! Participants of the challenge commit to biking to work at least three days a week, and keep track of their mileage. They are broken up into five teams: SPU Northenders, SPU Sharrows, SPU Southenders, SPU Psychlers, and Bike Profs.

To support our faculty & staff,  we will be posting bike-related articles throughout the month: tips, tricks, information, and – my personal favorite – profiles of Seattle Pacific University professors and staff members who commute by bike. Continue reading