sustainablespu

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


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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

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Arnett Hall Receives LEED Gold Certification


Arnett

Completed in August 2014, Arnett Hall is the newest residence hall and building on campus. Located at the corner of 6th and Bertona, Arnett houses up to 150 students. In recognition of its sustainable design and construction, Arnett was recently awarded LEED Gold certification.

Arnett Hall was certified under the new LEED for Home Mid-rise Multi-Family category, which places a high emphasis on durability, occupant awareness, and energy performance. Arnett joins Eaton Hall and the Cremona Classrooms as LEED-certified buildings on the SPU campus, and SPU is committed to achieving a minimum of LEED Silver certification on all new construction. LEED certification involves verifying that a building was designed and constructed to achieve various credits in categories such as building materials, location, energy, landscaping, water efficiency, and air quality measures for the building. Meeting specific requirements can improve the level certification that the building receives, whether through an upgrade in material quality or additional energy-saving features. Here are a few points to highlight: Continue reading


A Reflection on the Sustainability of News


ChrisAndAnnHow do you react when you hear bad news? Usually all we need to do is turn on the local news to find out. To put it broadly, bad news seems to have either a depressing or motivating effect, with the former often being dominant. To be motivated by bad news is something at once very difficult and very important for us to attempt at various times in our lives. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by negativity and thus succumb to it, but to overcome it and instead become energized to make a difference, whether it’s in our own lives or outside of them, is a truly sustainable human achievement.

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Little Libraries and Communal Sustainability


librariesI was recently walking through Queen Anne when I spotted something rather extraordinary in the front lawn of the house to my left. Standing atop a wooden post was a white box with a clear door that opened to a small selection of books, nestled tightly inside, waiting for the right person to come along and choose them. The writing on the box made it clear that an honest person could do just that, so long as they had another book on them that they were willing to part with. The exterior of the book-house read:

Little Free Library

Take a book, leave a book Continue reading


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Steps to Happiness: Environmental Quality


SeattleSkyline_300Media and research often talks about how people affect the environment, but few are concerned about how the environment affects people. Issues like greenhouse emissions, waste management, and air quality actually influence our levels of happiness and satisfaction in life.Though we have posted about environmental awareness before, this post primarily concerns how environment directly affects your happiness. Continue reading


Sustainability & Film Series: WALL-E & Waste


wall-e-and-plant1Using tried and true techniques that the company has mastered in the past decade, Pixar creates cute, comic movie characters to access serious themes that relate to the real world. Marlin the clownfish displayed the trials of single parenthood, Woody and Buzz witnessed the painful process of growing up, and, most recently, Merida must navigate the volatile nature of mother-daughter relationships.

In Wall-E, Pixar raises environmentalist awareness with a particularly sympathetic main character, and – in my opinion –  the most adorable robot since R2-D2.

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How Much Plastic Is In Your Life?


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How many plastic items can you reach out and touch right now? One certain item would be the screen you are reading this on. For me, I can also count my keyboard, my phone, my reusable coffee cup, my tape dispenser, and my belt. The more I look around, the more plastic I embedded into my daily life.

Continuing the dialogue following the plastic bag ban in Seattle, the Burke Museum takes a closer look at our relationship with plastic in its ongoing exhibit “Plastics Unwrapped.” Located on the University of Washington campus, this exhibit explores plastic’s interactions – both positive and negative – with human life, and how plastic technology is changing global culture.
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