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Summer Sustainability Round-Up

Over the summer, WashU staff and faculty supported a variety of sustainability projects and initiatives across multiple campuses. Learn more about several key accomplishments below.

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Projects

  • Installed a 25 kilowatt (kw) rooftop solar array on the Academy Building, just across Forest Park Parkway from the Danforth Campus (the photo above shows the installation mid-process). Over the past two years, the university has added nearly 575 kw of solar panels across the various campuses. Together, they will produce enough emission-free energy to power the electrical usage of 70 average U.S. homes and save the university over $100,000 over the first 10 years.
  • Replaced the sidewalk on the east side of Big Bend Boulevard from Forsyth Boulevard to Forest Park Parkway with a separated pedestrian and bicycle path. This dual path will provide more convenient and safe commutes for pedestrians and bikers, better connecting the Big Bend MetroLink station to campus and the South 40.
  • Completed construction on the new Rubelmann House on the South 40. It is targeted to achieve LEED Gold certification. LEED certification is an internationally recognized rating system that focuses on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. WashU has a LEED Silver minimum standard for new buildings and major renovations.
  • Retrofitted light poles on the south parking lots along Forsyth Boulevard, parking lot at Simon Hall, and roadway lights on Olympian Way to the Athletics parking lot. The new LED lights are longer lasting and significantly reduce the need for maintenance.

Sustainable Landscaping

  • Completed a large landscape project along Forsyth Boulevard, between Wallace Drive and Tolman Way. The plants selected are largely native or adaptive species and include 600 shrubs, 80 trees, and 7,000 perennials. The project team removed turf grass, which costs more to maintain and requires approximately 50% more water. The plants have an increased root depth, which will lead to greater rain infiltration. The plants will also significantly increase carbon sequestration and create habitat for a greater number of bird and pollinator species.
  • Began preliminary work on Danforth’s Oak Allee tree replacement project, including yard drain repairs to minimize surface water runoff and installation of water-efficient irrigation. Tree re-plantings will take place in late September and are part of the university’s long-term plan to increase the current campus tree canopy from 16% to 35% by 2035. The oak trees that were removed were in poor health. The new trees will be planted further apart to support longer, healthier lives.

Climate Change Initiative

  • Alumnus Rachel Westrate (BA ’16) worked with Professor Beth Martin of Environmental Studies as a summer Climate Change Initiative intern. She began planning for the second annual WashU Climate Change Negotiations that will be on campus October 22, 2016. The mock negotiations will allow WashU and St. Louis area students to simulate what the actual international climate negotiations are like. Participants will discuss issues that delegates are expected to grapple with at the next international meeting, which will take place in Morocco.
  • Rachel also began planning for a debate-connected panel discussion, titled “Environmental Politics: What you need to know.” The discussion will kick-off with an introduction on the current state of environmental politics and a panel of WashU students sharing the environmental issues most important to them in the upcoming election. The panel will be followed by a Q&A and debate period. This event is meant to serve as a platform for engaging, productive, and respectful conversation around the upcoming election.