Bike. Run. Drive: My Active WashU Commute

Written by Rachel Twedt, Multimedia Content Management Specialist, University Marketing & Communications There are many great reasons to actively commute to WashU by foot or bicycle – not having to search – or pay – for a parking spot; no sitting in traffic; saving money on fuel; a reduced carbon footprint – but the reason […]

DocuSign Aims to Impact Sustainability at WashU

Photo of forest taken by Steven Kamenar.

Written by Brian Lallish, Communications Specialist, Office of the Vice Chancellor & Chief Information Officer Does your department or group use written agreements that require ink-on-paper signatures with a printing, faxing, scanning, and emailing process? Washington University in St. Louis uses DocuSign to automate and manage documents that require signatures. DocuSign enables faculty, staff, and students at […]

Making the Best Organic Food Decisions

Written by Office of Sustainability student associate, Jarea Fang A new year often means a chance to start anew, and for many, new year resolutions involve staying healthy – whether it be through exercise, self-care routines, or by eating more nutrient-packed food. As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, it is especially important that we choose our […]

Green Labs Program: The 2022 International Freezer Challenge

Written by Alicia Hubert, WUSM Sustainability Lead and Green Labs Program Coordinator  Research labs rely on a wide range of appliances and electronics to complete their research and function on a daily basis. Chances are, your lab has at least one -20 freezer, -80 freezer, or even a -150C freezer, if not several of each. These […]

Winter Break Carpools

Written by Parking & Transportation’s Alternative Transportation Coordinator, Becca Gilberg. Driving home for winter break or just heading to the airport? Need a ride, interested in helping a student who doesn’t have a car or looking for someone to split the cost of gas? Check out WashU’s commuter platform – WashU Rides – to search Rideboard listings, post your own, and contact potential carpool matches.  Getting […]

WashU Adds Solar to Four East End Buildings

Written by Office of Sustainability Student Associate, Serena Earp, Class of 2024 In mid-September of this year, WashU completed the installation of solar arrays on four buildings on the East End of the Danforth Campus—another step in the right direction for WashU’s sustainability goal of decreasing reliance on fossil fuels. The panels were energized on […]

A Summer on the Farm

Written by Office of Sustainability Student Associate, Stephanie Berger, Class of 2022 While many of my classmates spent the summer working in offices or on Zoom, I spent every day of my summer outside, working as a farm apprentice at Zumwalt Acres (ZA) in Sheldon, IL. Zumwalt Acres’ mission is ambitious: cultivating the land through […]

Ensuring Food Security for Students

Written by Claire Conroy, MS, RDN, LD, Special Events Coordinator – Dining Services & Business Operations At the end of the semester, some students may find themselves running out of meal points.  There is no consequence to running out of meal points, and students have the option to add Bear Bucks to supplement their remaining […]

Microplastics, a Macro Problem

When the first fully-synthetic plastics were invented in the early 20th century, they were a technological miracle. Human manufacturing was no longer confined to nature, and soon plastic made its way into everyday products from food packaging to cosmetic care. Despite the advancement that humanity made with the help of these polymers, however, concerns over plastic waste were […]

Active Commuter Hub Re-opens!

Active Commuter Hub

The Active Commuter Hub is a campus amenity available to WashU community members. The Hub had been opened initially for only a few short months before being closed due to COVID. The Hub is located in the basement level of Schnuck Pavilion and features daily cubbies that are openly available and four shower rooms and […]

Med Students Making Moves in Sustainability

One of the key phrases that continuously circles through the Office of Sustainability is waste reduction. Students across WashU’s campuses are advocating for the university community to reduce waste wherever possible. The WashU School of Medicine’s (WUSM) Sustainability Group is especially concerned about waste reduction, considering their chosen field is notoriously one of the more wasteful industries in the nation.   […]

U.S. Declares 23 Native Species Extinct

By Julianne Aronson, Talia Ogliore, Angela Yokley The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced on Sept. 29 that 23 species endemic to the United States are now extinct. Among this declaration are eight freshwater mussels, eleven birds, one bat, two species of freshwater fishes, and one flowering plant.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s proposal for […]

WashU Student Develops Environmental Justice Tool for The Nature Conservancy

During the spring semester of her junior year, Julia Feller, an intern with the Office of Sustainability, worked for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri. There, she created the St. Louis EcoUrban Assessment, an interactive project that maps environmental racism in our region. Using ArcGIS technology, she compiled, processed, and analyzed environmental and demographic data, and made a […]

October is Active Transportation Month!

October is Active Transportation Month (ATM) at Washington University. The goal of ATM is to motivate staff, faculty, and students to kick the car habit and try active, low-carbon means of transportation. If you cannot imagine going car-free, consider carpooling or budgeting time to try transit one or two days during the month. If you are […]

A Decade in Sustainability

Phil Valko is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability at WashU. He is a WashU alum, avid bicyclist, proud girl dad, and champion of sustainability efforts across WashU’s campuses and the St. Louis region. Phil just celebrated his 10 year anniversary working at WashU, so we thought we would take advantage of the opportunity to learn more […]

New Students Welcomed to WashU’s Sustainability Culture

Students pose in front of recycling compacter. They stand amidst trash that has yet to be sorted.

The class of 2025 is the largest and most diverse class in the history of the institution. A record 1,987 first-year students have joined our vibrant campus, and we look forward to the richness they will bring to our community. First-year students were met warmly by Washington University Student Associates (WUSA) and offered professional assistance by movers […]

Demystifying Sprinkler Usage at WashU

By Jarea Fang  The grass is greener where you water it, and that is certainly true of WashU. Danforth Campus, which is known for its park-like landscape and plots of green, uses irrigation to water about two-thirds of its green space. Every year irrigation becomes a familiar sight to WashU eyes, and passersby have long learned to swerve in their […]

Rethink Your Commute

The absence of a daily commute has been an unexpected perk of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as WashU staff and faculty are slowly transitioning back to campus offices, daily commutes are once again becoming a widespread reality. This transitional time is a perfect opportunity to upgrade your commuter habits into a more sustainable, social, and […]

Shutting the Sash: The Easiest Green Labs Habit

By Jarea Fang  Labs account for over 1.6 million square feet of space across WashU’s campuses, and in some cases, they can use 5 to 10 times the amount of energy an office space does. Lab energy use comes from built-in equipment and systems, such as specialty HVAC units, humidification systems, and more; these systems, for the most part, […]

In Celebration of the Plastic Free Ecochallenge Community

By Jarea Fang  Jarea Fang, Communication Associate at the Office of Sustainability, is one of the 90 WashU Plastic Free team members who participated in the 2021 Plastic Free Ecochallenge. She shares about planning the Ecochallenge, the community she built with her teammates, and most importantly, the long-term importance of an individual’s plastic free journey.   The July Plastic Free […]

Participate in Strategic Planning!

Beginning in early 2021, Washington University in St. Louis launched an 18-month strategic planning process to develop a roadmap that will guide the university’s direction over the next decade. The planning process has been organized with working groups exploring nine issues that cut across any one school or department, including a working group focused on […]

New Director Position opens for WashU School of Medicine

WashU School of Medicine has created a new position: Director of Energy, Sustainability, and Infrastructure. This position will be housed within the Operations and Facilities Maintenance Department. Now with two dedicated full-time staff, the visibility and impact of sustainability initiatives on the Medical School campus have expanded leaps and bounds, and highlights the importance that […]

The 2021 Plastic Free Ecochallenge Begins

By Jarea Fang Finally, it is that time of year: Plastic Free July, during which citizens around the globe raise awareness about plastic waste and advocate for ways to reduce single-use plastics in our daily lives. In celebration of July, our WashU Ecochallenge team is once again gathering its members to #breakfreefromplastic by participating in […]

Share our Stuff: WashU’s Impact on the Greater Community

This summer the Office of Sustainability celebrated the 12th anniversary of the move out donation program, which includes both Share Our Stuff (SOS) and Lighten Your Load (LYL) programs at WashU. Partners like Residential Life, The Office of Government and Community Relations, and Quadrangle Housing provide students with an outlet to engage in sustainable practices […]

Sustainability on Display at Historic Commencement

On the Friday evening before commencement, Danforth Campus faculty and staff received a communication that the university would no longer restrict the number of guests allowed each graduate. The recent lifting of local Covid-19 restrictions enabled graduates to invite all of their loved ones to witness this momentous occasion in person; a wonderful gift to […]

Join July’s Plastic Free Challenge!

The past 16 months have turned all of our routines on their heads, even impacting many of our sustainable habits. Whether you’ve fallen off the wagon or are getting on for the first time, the Plastic Free Ecochallenge is a great opportunity to get on track with sustainability goals. There are myriad ways to curb […]

Welcome, Heather Craig, New WUSM Sustainability Coordinator!

The Sustainability Team at Washington University continues to grow with the addition of its newest member, Heather Craig. Heather will be taking over the role of Sustainability Coordinator at the School of Medicine. Heather is located in the Operations & Facilities Management Department on the WUSM campus and will work closely with the Office of […]

Climate Solutions: St. Louis Sets New Building Energy Performance Standards

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 […]

Sustainable Commencement Celebrations

It does not need to be said that the past year has wreaked havoc on established programs–commencement is no exception. Since 2014, Washington University in St. Louis has pursued zero waste receptions throughout commencement celebrations. In years past, WashU has provided recyclable or compostable serviceware at receptions, set up waste collection stations, collected paper programs […]

Farewell, Class of 2021!

The end of another year is upon us, which means we must say farewell to another cohort of students in the Energy, Environment and Sustainability (EES) Internship program. The EES partners, which consist of Environmental Studies, Office of Sustainability, Tyson Conservation Corp and WashU Climate Change Program, are thankful and proud of all the graduating […]

Green Labs Spotlight: The Kaufman Lab

The lab of Dr. Charles Kaufman at the Washington University School of Medicine is a tight-knit group of researchers studying the mechanisms that control the onset of melanoma cancer and identifying cancerous cells as early as possible. They are also deeply committed to sustainability on campus and in their personal lives. As regular participants in […]

Reflection on Community Science and Environmental Justice

On Sunday, April 18th, Office of Sustainability staff along with students from the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Internship Program participated in a clean up initiative at O’Fallon Park, located in North St. Louis City, less than a mile from the Mississippi River. The volunteer project was one of several Environmental Justice Days of Action, organized by earthday365, a local […]

Non-Fungible Tokens and Climate

Although cryptocurrency has been around for at least a decade, public discourse on digital currencies has been evolving as society finds new ways to implement and interact with it.  NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are increasingly becoming a popular investment vehicle (read: dalliance) in the crypto realm as artists and content creators are finding a new, […]

Go Green for the Red this Earth Month

When I heard Guhar Goyal talk about her first period in the beginning of the Go Green for the Red panel, I felt a wave of discomfort wash over me. Immediately after, I felt ridiculous. Why should I feel uncomfortable hearing someone talk about a natural process that I myself experience every month? This may […]

Magnolia Allee Replaces Invasive Monoculture

If you have been exploring the flowering trees coming to life across campus, delighting in the rich smells, colors and textures, you may have noticed one corridor that is conspicuously absent. The path between the DUC and Simon Hall has brightened many springs with the dense white clusters of Bradford pear blossoms, lining a favorite […]

Discussing Plastics: Film Screening and Call for Citizen Science

Directed by WashU alumna Deia Schlosberg, The Story of Plastic (2019) covers the life cycle of plastic from production to pollution, from refinery to recycling, dismantling the myths of Big Plastic and exposing the human and environmental devastation along the way. Reducing single-use plastics is an important priority for the Office of Sustainability, which is […]

Join the WashU Ecochallenge!

Once again, we are participating in Ecochallenge’s annual Earth Month challenge. The Office of Sustainability invites all of the WashU community to join in on the fun! The Earth Day EcoChallenge is a 30-day environmental and social engagement program that began April 1st, 2021 and will remain open for registration and participation throughout the month […]

Sustainability Coordinator Position opens for WashU School of Medicine

In 2018, the WashU School of Medicine established a Sustainability Coordinator position within the Operations and Facilities Maintenance Department. With a dedicated full-time staff person, the visibility and impact of sustainability initiatives on the Medical School campus have expanded leaps and bounds, thanks to Alicia Hubert, the current Sustainability Coordinator. Alicia will be transitioning to […]

Welcome, Aamna Anwer, New Sustainability Coordinator

The Office of Sustainability is excited to announce that a new member has joined the team! Aamna Anwer has filled the position of Sustainability Coordinator to become one of the seven full-time staff in the office. As the Sustainability Coordinator, Aamna will work with partners across the university to embed sustainability into campus life and operations. Specifically, she […]

Greenwashing: Ensure Your Dollar Counts

If you take a tour of the average grocery store, chances are that you will see illustrations of trees and leaves, maybe vern waterfalls and birds lurking in branding of many food products.  A closer look reveals that they also have words like “natural,” “eco-friendly,” or “fresh” splashed across their label. Though you are not […]

WashU Named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University

The League of American Bicyclists, the premier grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike, has honored the WashU Danforth campus with a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University award in recognition of the institution’s achievements in promoting and enabling safe, accessible bicycling on campus. WashU was first designated a Bicycle […]

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 […]

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 […]

Virtual Campus Sustainability Tour Includes Award-Winning East End Project

At a time when virtual experiences must often replace in-person ones, we are pleased to announce significant updates to the virtual Danforth Campus Sustainability Tour that was unveiled a couple years ago.  The interactive GIS map-based tour now features 24 stops, starting with the new grand entrance to the Danforth Campus, the award-winning East End […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]