Position Opens at the Office of Sustainability

The team of sustainability professionals at WashU is comprised of seven full-time employees. Phil Valko has been the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability since 2011 and Cassie Hage was promoted Assistant Director in 2019 but has been on the team since 2015. All joining in 2017, Michelle Patterson is the Office’s Business Manager and Internship […]

Vanpooling: An Inspiring Commuter Story

Donna Krekel, Senior Research Administrator in the department of Otolaryngology, and Gary De Wet, Technical Support Specialist at the Office of WUSM Chief Information Officer, have been vanpooling to and from the WashU School of Medicine campus every day of the week for over 20 years. Their vanpool party, which has been running since 1999, […]

New Resource Provides Options for Sustainable and Ethical Coffee

Coffee is a luxury good, yet the average person living in the United States drinks around two cups a day. In 2010, 5,600 paper cups were disposed of every day at WashU, most of which were coffee cups. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the carbon footprint of drinking […]

Guide to Mindful Holiday Celebrations

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the winter, the holiday season is upon us. It’s the time of cold temperatures, glowing lights, gift-giving, and family feasts. However, like the rest of 2020, this year’s holiday gatherings will look different. As public health officials ask us to keep our gatherings small, sticking only […]

St. Louis: the New Hub for Sustainable Laboratories

In late 2019, a group of 10 individuals from a variety of organizations and companies in the St. Louis region came together to form the board of the new St. Louis Chapter of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL). St. Louis is a hub for scientific research and has some of the world’s best […]

The EES Internship Program Grows and Adapts

Despite the uncertainties and disruptions that came with the fall semester of 2020, the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (EES) Internship Program is stronger than ever. All the program partners have continued offering various positions and adjusted some of the roles to accommodate the changes brought by the pandemic response. In total, this semester, the EES […]

A Successful Series on Sustainable Living

Since the onslaught of Covid-19, the Office of Sustainability is among many groups who have had to come-up with creative ways to engage with the WashU community. Transitioning to virtual content has presented some challenges, but it also came with new opportunities for increased accessibility and creative use of digital tools within our programming. To […]

Custodial Reduces Plastic Throughout WUSM Operations

Reducing plastic use is a critical step to decreasing both waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The custodial department at the WashU School of Medicine has taken this idea and ran with it by reducing their dependency on plastic throughout their daily operations. What started as an initiative to find plastic liners that actually fit the […]

Electric or Gas Leaf Blowers…Neither?

As we transition into autumn, leaves will soon begin to fall and scatter throughout lawns and streets. How will you manage your leaves this fall? Selecting the right equipment and strategies can minimize environmental impact.

Students Lead Charge for Off-Campus Composting

Increasing access to composting has been an ongoing effort at WashU. Responding to a popular student demand, composting came to the DUC in September 2019, at the same time as the pilot program for residential composting on the South 40 became a permanent service. While these programs offer a robust composting infrastructure on campus, a […]

Help the League of American Bicyclists Judge WashU’s Bikeability

Do you ride a bike on the Danforth campus? Help WashU earn designation as a Bicycle Friendly University by filling out this survey! WashU is currently certified as a Bicycle Friendly University at the Silver Level by the League of American Bicyclists. This designation recognizes colleges and universities for achievement in the 5 E’s of […]

New Solar Surges in Gateway Region

The pandemic has prompted many people to think differently about their daily lives, and for some this has included making the investment to make their homes more resilient with renewable solar energy. One local program, Grow Solar St. Louis, has made this process easier and more affordable for over 62 property owners who have committed […]

Midwest Climate Summit in Full Swing

The Origin of the Midwest Climate Summit On average, Midwest states lag behind the rest of the country on energy efficiency, decarbonization of the electric sector, transportation electrification, and green building. However, the Midwest is also home to states, cities, businesses, institutions, and organizations that are national climate leaders and can serve as models and […]

Climate Change Induced Extreme Weather: A Collection of the Latest Coverage

Wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, heat waves– all are making headlines as symptoms of a larger climate crisis. Although climate change used to be relegated to talks of future disaster, an increasing number of media outlets now recognize that the crisis is upon us, and that it is taking the shape of extreme weather that rocks communities […]

Midwest Climate Summit Kicks Off October 2

If the 12 states that comprise the Midwest were a country, they would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas-emitting nation on the planet. On average, Midwest states lag behind the rest of the country on energy efficiency, de-carbonization of the electric sector, transportation electrification and green building. At the same time, the Midwest is home to […]

University Reaches Major Sustainable Building Milestone

East end project buildings, January Hall awarded LEED Platinum recognition. Five buildings on the Danforth Campus at Washington University in St. Louis achieved the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) highest green building certification, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. The five LEED Platinum certifications — all issued at the same time — are […]

Deia Schlosberg, Filmmaker

Director and producer of the 2019 documentary The Story of Plastic, Deia Schlosberg is an educator, activist, and journalist who graduated from WashU in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Communications. Then, after a two-year off-road, 7800-mile trek in the […]

Join WashU Together in the People’s Ecochallenge this October

WashU’s Fall 2020 semester has finally commenced. As many faculty, staff, and students return to campus amidst a global pandemic, protocols have been put in place to ensure the safety and prosperity of our community. It goes without saying that this will be a semester unlike any other. That said, even amidst all these changes, […]

Medical Campus Expands Native and Adaptive Landscapes

As part of an effort to upgrade its campus entrances, the WashU Medical School conducted a major landscape transformation within the two large triangle areas associated with the new “Washington University Medical Campus” signage near the 64-40/Kingshighway interchange. Since its completion in the fall of 2019, the project, which consisted of the replacement of turf […]

Climate Solutions: New Commercial Solar Program

Now more than ever, the climate crisis is on the minds of people all around the world. Due to the urgent need to implement effective solutions to this social and environmental crisis, we will be regularly featuring stories of climate solutions adopted at the university and at the local, state, and national levels to inspire […]

Consider Public Health When Choosing your Commute

When COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic in mid-March, putting a stop on long-distance travel and reducing dramatically vehicular traffic, we witnessed a direct and significant improvement of our air quality. Photos of unusual blue and clear skies over large metropolitan areas were one of a few things that cheered us up in these dark times. […]

WashU Together’s Plastic Free Journey

In celebration of Plastic Free July, staff and students from the Office of Sustainability came together to participate in the virtual Plastic Free Ecochallenge, inviting the broader WashU community to gather in the “WashU Together” team. Building up on the success of the Earth Day Ecochallenge, this virtual program ended up being the perfect opportunity […]

Tips for Safe and Effective Cleaning During COVID-19

Remaining safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to revisit all aspects of our lives, from work to travel to cleaning. To prevent the spread of the virus through surfaces, sanitation and disinfection procedures have become more meticulous and frequent, as we try our best to keep ourselves and our community safe. More intense […]

Burning Kumquat Garden Thrives While Students Away

The mission of Burning Kumquat, a student-run organic garden at Washington University in St. Louis, is “sharing the joy of freshly picked vegetables with the world.” While the “world” — with the closure of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic — has gotten smaller, the mission has not, thanks to faculty fellows and their families. When […]

Climate Solutions: St. Louis Encourages Climate and Energy Action with Policy Toolkit

In recent months, St. Louis has made headlines for the adoption of several climate-forward policies and initiatives. These include the City’s passage of a solar-ready ordinance and Building Energy Performance Standard, St. Louis County’s adoption of updated building energy codes, and the success of the first phase of the regional Grow Solar residential group-buy program […]

Rethinking the Way we Dress

Being stuck indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us realize something tremendously important: Our closets are too big. The scheme of fast fashion, cheap and trendy clothing that are quick to produce and quick to become unstylish, has caused us to simultaneously buy and throw away at an increasingly quicker pace. In […]

Thank You, #WashU20

This year’s Postcards of Appreciation released by Public Affairs to express WashU’s gratitude to the Class of 2020 include many students with whom we had the chance to work with! To Natia, Jacob, Scott, Tessa, and the MANY others from the Class of 2020 who contributed to sustainability efforts at WashU, in the St. Louis […]

What we’re Reading on Racial Justice and the Environment

The global mobilization for Black lives and racial justice that we are experiencing today brings us to take a close look at how our disciplines have been perpetuating white supremacy and racism. We are challenged to take every action possible to dismantle these mechanisms, and to ensure that the work we do deliberately and simultaneously […]

Join WashU Together in the Plastic-Free Ecochallenge!

We’ve been thinking a lot about plastic lately. First, our team of staff and summer associates all watched “The Story of Plastic”, an award-winning documentary directed by WashU alumna Deia Schlosberg (free streaming opportunity provided by Ecocyle until the end of June). The movie tells the story of a product that was introduced to us […]

Working Toward Food Security for Our Students

According to a 2018 study published by Bon Appetit Management Company – WashU’s main Dining provider – soaring tuition costs and inadequate financial aid have caused food insecurity among students to rise. The growing gap between students’ basic needs and what they can afford has forced many to sacrifice their basic needs in order to […]

70+ Homes Went Solar with Grow Solar STL Phase 1. Now to Phase 2!

WashU is partnering with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to offer a second phase of Grow Solar St. Louis! Grow Solar is a group-buy program for residential solar that makes it easier for homeowners and small businesses to install solar and slash their carbon emissions. The program is designed to […]

Periods are a Pain, but less so with Reusable Products

For about half the human population, menstruation is, or has been, a monthly part of life. But for many, adequate period management is still beyond reach. Unicef reports that 2.3 billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation services, like clean running water and soap, which are essential to keep healthy while on […]

Climate Solutions: St. Louis Leads Midwest with New Building Energy Performance Standard

Now more than ever, the climate crisis is on the minds of people all around the world. Due to the urgent need to implement effective solutions to this social and environmental crisis, we will be regularly featuring stories of climate solutions adopted at the university and at the local, state, and national levels to inspire […]

WashU Together Ranks High in Earth Day Ecochallenge

To make up for the cancellation of in-person on-campus events this spring, the WashU community came together virtually to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and take action for a better shared future. More than a hundred of us, across campuses and university affiliations, formed the WashU Together team in the online Earth Day […]

50 Years of Earth Day – Looking Back… And Forward

On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States took a stand to demand a better way forward for our planet. Here we are 50 years later, ready to celebrate the achievements of the environmental movement, and give each other inspiration and motivation to keep fighting the fights of climate […]

COVID-19, Resiliency, Climate, and the Environment in the News

The dramatic and rapid changes in behaviors of individuals, organizations, and systems at all scales induced by the COVID-19 pandemic affect our environment, climate, and ecosystems. What does our reaction to the pandemic say about our ability to tackle climate change? How does social distancing impact greenhouse gas emissions? Has COVID-19 helped ease air pollution? […]

Climate Solutions: LED Lightbulb Replacement at Home

Upgrading your lights to LEDs is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon emissions and reduce energy costs. More time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to develop a priority list of home energy efficiency and decarbonization projects that you can work through in the coming months and […]

City Nature Challenge: Biodiversity Documenting Spree

The 2020 City Nature Challenge invites cities around the world to document their local biodiversity, embracing the collaborative aspect of sharing nature observations with a digital community and celebrating the healing power of nature. This bioblitz-style event engages citizens in a biodiversity documenting spree from April 24-27. The aim of the international project is to […]

Bryné Hadnott, Image Processing Engineer

Bryné Hadnott graduated from Washington University in 2013 with a BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Since then, she has had an incredibly diverse career, ranging from science reporting to research on Mars to, most recently, imaging solutions for a global intelligence company. At her current job, Hadnott works as an image processing engineer for […]

Join “WashU Together” in the Online Earth Day Ecochallenge

Note: If you join after April 1,you can still back log your actions up to 4 days! On the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people in the United States took a stand to demand a better way forward for our planet. Here we are fifty years later, and Earth Day is now recognized […]

10 Activities to Stay Happy & Healthy During Confinement

We are living through strange, stressful times. As messages echo on social media platforms and news channels provide information in a panicked scream, it is important to prioritize your health and the health of those around you. As many are cut off from their normal routines, jobs, and interactions, usual methods of self-care and wellness […]

Sustaining Our Community During the Crisis

COVID-19 has profoundly laid bare extreme vulnerabilities hidden in plain sight within our society. Some of those exist within the WashU community, many exist in the St. Louis region and, of course, similar vulnerabilities pose challenges globally. This pandemic has also shown society’s strength and grit. For every vulnerability is a measure of justice as […]

Housekeeper Naila Smajic’s Unique Approach to Recycling Education

Have you ever seen a contaminated recycling bin and felt a twinge in your heart? Perhaps given it a sad look, sighed, and moved on? It is a common reaction, but one that Naila Smajic transcended. A staff member on the Housekeeping team on the South 40, Smajic encounters a lot of misrouted waste, yet […]

Conserve Energy through Office Closure

As offices are shutting down and employees are transitioning to remote work, there are many ways to maximize energy-saving potential. Before you leave your work-space… Follow these best practices at the office for spaces that will be unoccupied for an extended period of time. Coordinate with your office mates to make sure that the last […]

The Office of Sustainability Adjusts to COVID-19

WashU is now one of the many institutions who has closed its campus doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The suite of radical measures that have been so rapidly adopted in the past week put priority on the health and safety or our community, which is the most important thing. The world’s […]

Kady McFadden, Deputy Director of the Illinois Sierra Club

Graduating Washington University in 2011 with a BA in environmental studies and political science, Kady McFadden has worked in environmental advocacy with a variety of different groups, including the Sierra Club and, most recently, as a board member of the Illinois Environmental Council. Through network made up of grassroots movements and partnerships with local advocacy […]

This Spring, Active Transportation is the Way to Go

After a long and cold winter, what better feeling than offering your body some physical activity in fresh air? Join the Office of Sustainability, Parking & Transportation Services and friends for a season of exciting events and programs centered around active transportation. In support of WashU active commuters, the recently-opened Active Commuter Hub provides a […]

Green Cup Celebrates its 10 Years Anniversary

Every spring since 2011, WashU’s South 40 Residential Colleges compete to reduce energy use and adopt more sustainable lifestyles, taking away hundreds of metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and helping the university save money on electricity costs. Traditionally, the competition takes place over a 4-week period during which students do all they can […]

WashU High in International Sustainability Rankings

At the end of 2019, WashU was ranked 5th among the United States’ Most Sustainable Universities, according to the UI Green Metric World University Rankings. Washington University in St. Louis ranked 60th among participants from across the globe. UI GreenMetric World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings on sustainability. It is an initiative […]

Swap Your Conventional Light Bulbs for LEDs at No Charge!

Did you know that on average, lighting accounts for as much as 15% of a household’s energy consumption? However, this usage can be easily reduced if lights are only used when needed and bulbs are efficient. As described in the table below, there are significant differences between the three main types of light bulbs: LED, […]