A Personal Small Step to Sustainability

By: Anderson Lewis

When someone makes a conscious decision to live more sustainably, it is easy to get discouraged by the mindset of “I’m just one person. What difference can I really make?” But when it comes to being sustainable, the Axiom “ the little things make the biggest difference” can certainly hold true.  Don’t get me wrong; I still think much has to be done before humanity can reach a state of benign or regenerative interaction with our natural environment. However, it is dangerous for us to assume that our seemingly small actions do not have a meaningful, positive impact.  For example, it is easy to equate turning the lights off when you leave the room to saving a few cents. No big deal, right?  However, when you factor in the process energy used to harvest and transport the raw material used to create your energy, the transmission losses from power lines, and all the carbon emissions associated with this overall process, it makes turning off the light seem more important.
Having the ability to measure the positive impacts of your sustainable actions and track your progress is a great motivator to continue being more sustainable.  Knowing where you started from (your initial energy usage, water usage, etc.) gives you a baseline to compare improvements against (aka benchmarking).  This allows you to see if your changes (actions, energy retrofits, etc.) are indeed positive and can help guide your decisions on where to focus future actions to make the largest impacts.  Lastly, associating your sustainable accomplishments (energy saving, water savings, etc.) with an easily comprehensible reference can make them more palpable and rewarding.  For example, it is hard to know if saving 1 kWh is good or not, but when you consider that 1 kWh could power a T8 fluorescent lamp for 31 hours and 15 minutes, it gives greater context to your accomplishments.
At IBE, we have been diligent about tracking information from the projects we have worked on.  This historic data is helpful to us in multiple ways.   First, it allows us to compare and contrast different project types and their performance and to monitor how the sustainability of our projects has progressed over the years. This helps us know that we are on the right track to higher levels of sustainability. Second, this historic data acts as a marketing tool for the IBE, allowing for us to more easily convey the benefits of our services to clients and more accurately predict what type of performance and savings our clients should expect. Lastly, when this historical data is put in easily understandable terms or comparisons, it can really act as a motivator for IBE staff/project stakeholders and affirm the fact we are making a meaningful positive impact.  For example, in total, projects that the IBE has been involved on have diverted over 15,000 tons of waste material from the landfill (the equivalent weight of 60 statue of liberties).  These materials were recycled and reused in various ways and reduced the amount of raw materials that would have been harvested to meet the needs that this recycled material filled. In addition, the aggregate of IBE projects on average save approximately 95 million gallons of water a year (enough to fill 143 Olympic sized swimming pools (assuming a 2 m depth).
If these aforementioned accomplishments seem large, well, it’s because they are! And this is before considering the added energy/carbon savings that come from not having to harvest, transport raw materials to produce new materials or to treat and transport the water saved.  At IBE we are proud of our accomplishments but recognize that there is still so more to be done.  We will not rest on our laurels and encourage you to do the same.
In the global scheme of things the changes we have helped instate might be small but they are far from insignificant. If everyone were to view their own actions in this way then all these small actions will add up to one big change.

Sustainable Building Associate Job Opening

The Institute for the Build Environment is now looking to hire a new member to our team. Please read the following job description:
Sustainable Building Associate
Job Description
The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) is housed within the College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU). IBE is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and staff who focus on sustainability and quality of the built environment. Our paid internship program offers experiential education and practical knowledge for students who aspire to be leading professionals in the design, development, and construction fields. Students are supported and mentored by senior institute staff and provide professional work products for our clients.
The Sustainable Building Associate performs tasks related to project management, integrated design, and LEED coordination and certification through a variety of research and professional projects. Associate internships typically start at 5-10 hours per week with the potential for additional hours as project work allows. 
Primary Duties
  • Assist with green building and LEED administration consulting services, including:
    • charrette participation and reports
    • specification and drawing reviews
    • green products and materials research
    • client relations/communications
    • project management
    • general contractor support and education
    • managing LEED certification documentation
  • Contribute to IBE blog posts and quarterly newsletter
  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Strong ability to take initiative
  • Basic skills in internet research
  • Exceptional enthusiasm and a commitment to learning
  • Competency with Microsoft Office products
  • Must be able to commit at least 12-16 months and work at least 5 hours per week toward internship
  • Knowledge of green building and LEED Rating System preferred, but not required
  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field (Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Urban Planning, Interior Design, Construction Management, or other) preferred, but not required
  • Interns are expected to pass the Green Associate exam within 6 months of hire and the LEED Accredited Professional exam within 12 months of hire
To Apply
Please include the following in your correspondence:
      A.  A cover letter that includes:
1.      An overview of your key strengths, both professionally and personally
2.      A description of your past experiences related to the primary duties and qualifications
3.      The reasons you feel you’re a great addition to the IBE team
B.  Your resume
C.  A writing sample (for example: a class paper, blog article, essay, report, etc.)
Submit your cover letter and resume to April Brown at april.brown@colostate.edu by February 28. Include “Sustainable Building Associate” in the subject line.
Colorado State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Colorado State University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. The Office of Equal Opportunity is located in 101 Student Services. 

Colorado State University is committed to providing a safe and productive learning and living community. To achieve that goal, we conduct background investigations for all final candidates being considered for employment. Background checks may include, but are not limited to, criminal history, national sex offender search and motor vehicle history.

Coors Field Sustainable Garden

By: Colin Day

The Institute for the Built Environment has finished its first growing season in the urban garden business. In collaboration with ARAMARK Food Services operating at Coors Field, our executive management and graduate student interns implemented the installation of the Coors Field Sustainable Garden, located at Gate A of the stadium in Denver, before the commencement of the 2013 baseball season. ARAMARK food services, an industry leader in public venue scale food service and facility maintenance, contracted IBE to assist in the creation of a pilot garden space, a first within major league sports venues. The goal was to realize the vision of on-site, sustainably produced food. The design mimics a baseball stadium with raised beds terracing upwards from the garden’s ‘infield’ to the ‘outfield’, to the ‘stands’. Ornamental flowers, followed by herbs and beneficial garden plants, followed by vegetables were on display for the ½ million fans that pass through Gate A over the course of the Rockies’ season.

The vision of ARAMARK to display and provide healthy, sustainably produced herbs and vegetables on-site as a part of their food operations is an example of a large company-wide commitment to sustainability. ARAMARK promotes sustainable practices in food purchasing, environmentally responsible consumer choices, greenhouse gas conscious building operations, energy and water conservation measures, green cleaning, greening their delivery fleet and ethically managing their waste products.

IBE facilitated design development, chose sustainable materials that would best suit the project ethos, contracted local, organic plant propagation, managed PR communication from conception to implementation and participated in the installation of the garden. During the 2013 growing season, the Coors Field Sustainable Garden provided 600 sq/ft of on-site, sustainably produced and managed vegetables, herbs, flowering ornaments, and plants that promote beneficial garden ecosystem functions to on-site chefs through the 2013 growing season. The harvest included heirloom varieties of tomatoes and peppers and a wide variety of herbs that were harvested by the IBE team and on-site kitchen staff during late August and early September of 2013.

IBE has successfully contracted to expand the scope of our involvement with ARAMARK in the 2014 growing season. This will include outreach to educational and city programs in the Denver area with an emphasis on community involvement and healthy, sustainable food choices for at-risk and under served youth communities. In order to realize these goals, our project team will pursue partnerships with programs such as and Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), as well as potential coalitions with governing bodies such as the Denver Public School System. Additionally, our crops selections will be expanded to lengthen the growing season and increase the variety of selection and nutrition within the beds.

Ultimately, IBE hopes to develop the ‘The GaRden’ as a component of ARAMARK’s Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) goals.  With outreach to other interested ARAMARK facilities with assistance from Denver ARAMARK management, the goal is an export of sets of guidelines and toolkits that assist in the establishment of sustainable gardens at other ARAMARK venues. Through the connection between relevant programs in higher education to nearby ARAMARK facilities, the potential ensuing collaboration would include regionally relevant outreach agendas.

Our experience at Coors Field in collaboration with ARAMARK corresponds with our ethos of sustainable design in the built environment, regionally relevant projects, and educational outreach that intends to spread understanding about sustainable activities and their impacts on health. IBE looks forward to breaking ground at Coors Field again during the 2014 growing season with our project partners at ARAMARK.

IBE is Hiring Graduate Student Interns!

The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) at Colorado State University is accepting applications from first year graduate students in Construction Management, Interior Design, Business Management, Civil Engineering, and Landscape Architecture with an interest in sustainable design, development, and green building for the position described below.
Sustainable Building Associate:
Sustainable Building Associates at IBE gain skills and work experience, such as project management, integrated design, LEED coordination and certification, design charrette facilitation, green products and materials research, through a variety of research and professional projects. Associate internships typically start at 5-10 hours per week with the potential for additional hours as project work allows.  IBE anticipates hiring up to two interns this spring and possibly additional interns in the fall.  IBE has been recognized for this green jobs training model in a recent USGBC publication, Hands-on LEED, available at http://www.centerforgreenschools.org/hands-on-leed.

If you are interested, please send a resume and letter of interest to Josie Plaut at josie.plaut@colostate.edu and copy Brian Dunbar, brian.dunbar@colostate.edu.

Green and Gold…and More Green: Alumnus Discusses the Green Start He Got at CSU

By Katie Boeder

We often speak of alumni “bleeding green and gold”, but in the case of John Mlade, he has an extra dosage of green in his blood. A 2005 Masters of Science graduate in Construction Management, John led a green building movement on campus and beyond.

“It’s not just what I needed to do, it’s what I wanted to do,” explains John. “The opportunity was there.”

John joined the Colorado State University campus after completing his undergraduate degree in biological conservation and geography from the University of Wisconsin Madison. “I knew I was interested in environmental building, and I was looking for a place that fit,” explains John, on why he chose CSU for his graduate schooling.

He soon found himself in the office of Brian Dunbar, professor and director of the Institute for the Built Environment, a multidisciplinary institute whose mission is to promote stewardship and sustainability of natural and built environments through research-based, interdisciplinary educational forums. John became a graduate research associate with IBE and founded the National Committee of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Emerging Green Builders, a student and young professional group that fosters industry growth and transition in the green building industry.

“John was one of the first IBE graduate interns who has benefitted from CSU’s land grant mission of serving communities in Colorado and beyond. While at IBE, John conceived ideas for our first LEED projects, including Fossil Ridge High School,” explains Brian.

While a graduate student, he also developed and taught multiple courses on sustainability across CSU. In 2004, he was awarded the Colorado State University Campus Sustainability Award. “By the time I graduated, most graduate students in the Department of Construction Management were studying green building,” explains John, who also had the opportunity to lead the green renovations at Guggenheim Hall, which houses the Department of Construction Management. “The classrooms were some of the earliest green projects on campus and served as an excellent service learning project led by Brian Dunbar.”

When talking to John about CSU, it is hard for him to tell a story without mentioning Brian. “He’s got a soft-guiding hand and is great at empowering students to think. He participates in the journey, asks questions, and enables the students to discover,” says John. “My respect for Brian and the IBE runs deep.”

In May of 2010, John had the opportunity to come back to Fort Collins and join forces with Brian and IBE to participate in their new regenerative design research. “Their current Living Environments in Natural, Social, and Economic Systems (LENSES) project is exceptional by nature and has the potential to transform the industry,” adds John.

Following in Brian’s footsteps, John is well on his way to transforming the industry also. As a national sustainable design leader at Perkins+Will, one of the largest architecture firms in the country, he facilitates sustainable design with some of the largest planning, engineering and construction companies in the world. John is responsible for over 22 million square feet of LEED registered building across the globe…and counting.

“John continues to be a pioneer, greening top projects around the world,” adds Brian. “John is a living example of the promise of our land grant mission and CSU’s strong commitment to sustaining our planet.”

In recent years, John has been an impactful donor to the IBE. “I feel like I owe so much to IBE for where I am,” he explains. “I want to help support students and the special projects that provide such important hands-on experience.”

His passion for helping students become the future leaders in sustainable building runs deep…as deep as his green and gold. In his words: “Do what you love and then make it green.”

Call for Applicants!

Student Team Member, 
R2P2 (Research to Practice Program) Team

The Institute for the Built Environment has been selected by the U.S. Green Building Council to pilot a national initiative to develop educational products from green building case studies.  The goal of these “teaching case studies” is to illustrate general green building principles, to illustrate the application of specific green strategies, and to give learners the tools to apply principles and strategies in their own unique situations.  The R2P2 team will work together to develop issue-based stories based on case study data, guided analysis for learners, and teaching notes for instructors.

Position Description

IBE staff and a small, diverse group of graduate students will form the R2P2 Team.  A student is desired from the programs of Construction Management, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Business Management, Technical Journalism, and Education with interests in green building, sustainable schools, teaching, and/or curriculum development.

The diverse Student Team Member experience will closely resemble a graduate level course.  Each student will design and develop an educational product, guided by team leaders.  Students will be required to attend weekly team meetings and periodic individual meetings with team leaders.  A strong sense of self direction, motivation, and innovation is required. Skills in design, video, communication and web are a plus.

This single semester experience will end with the completion of example educational products in early December.  The student created projects will be compiled into a publication for dissemination to teachers and professionals across the nation. Total expected time commitment is estimated at 45-55 hours. Course credit may be pursued through an independent study if desired.  Stipends of $500 will be granted to students upon project completion.

If you are interested, please send a resume and letter of interest to Stephanie Barr, s.barr@colostate.edu , and copy Brian Dunbar, brian.dunbar@colostate.edu.  Applications due by August 26th.

Internship Announcement

The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) at Colorado State University is accepting applications from first year graduate students in Construction Management, Interior Design, Business Management, Civil Engineering, and Landscape Architecture with an interest in sustainable design, development, and green building for the position described below.

Green Building Associate:

Green Building Associates at IBE gain skills and work experience, such as project management, integrated design, LEED coordination and certification, design charrette facilitation, green products and materials research, through a variety of research and professional projects. Associate internships typically start at 5-10 hours per week with the potential for additional hours as project work allows.  IBE anticipates hiring up to three interns this summer and possibly additional interns later in the school year.  IBE has been recognized for this green jobs training model in a recent USGBC publication, Hands-on LEED, available at http://www.centerforgreenschools.org/hands-on-leed.

If you are interested, please send a resume and letter of interest to April Wackerman at april.wackerman@colostate.edu (and copy Brian Dunbar, brian.dunbar@colostate.edu).