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Minimizing floods, reducing pollution: UT celebrates new rain garden

A recent nine-figure estimate by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent future flooding that has in recent years plagued the city of Findlay included a series of expensive water diversion pathways and a Herculean effort to remake the Hancock County landscape.

The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center will be visited by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur to help highlight an alternative that can store floodwater, prevent storm sewers from being overwhelmed, all while improving water quality. UT will unveil a new rain garden Monday, Oct. 5, at 3:30 p.m. at the Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road in Oregon.

The rain garden was designed by a local junior high school robotics team.

“Rain gardens provide green opportunities for storm water treatment and storage and water resource protection,” said Dr. Hans Gottgens, UT professor of environmental sciences. “At the same time, the gardens serve as natural laboratories for students and researchers and help preserve natural habitats for a diverse array of species.”

A rain garden is installed in a depression where floodwater might normally gather, Gottgens explained. Deep-rooted vegetation that tolerates wet soil is planted and when combined with imbedded irrigation drains, storm water is absorbed and slowly released into the surrounding soil, helping to prevent surface flooding.

The garden also serves as a natural filter as pollutants in the water are retained and broken down by microbes in the soil, leaving clean water to re-enter lakes, streams and the evaporation cycle, he added. A rain garden can be any size, formally landscaped or filled left to grow naturally.

“We anticipate that our Lake Erie rain garden demonstration project will not only purify our building and parking lot runoff water, but inspire the public and commercial sites to construct their own,” said Dr. Carol Stepien, UT director of the Lake Erie Center.

In fact, the University already has installed rain gardens on its Main Campus for educational, environmental and flood control purposes.

While no one is suggesting rain gardens alone can solve flooding problems as massive as those that occurred in Findlay, when faced with a price tag of more than $100 million, the city also might consider rain gardens to mitigate flooding in some of the city’s most sensitive areas.

Nursery school to hold ‘green’ open house

For more than 30 years, Apple Tree Nursery School has been dedicated to providing quality child care as a convenient and affordable service to students and employees of The University of Toledo.

In addition to providing quality care, Apple Tree recently has started raising “green” awareness for all attending children. See how these children are learning smart environmental habits at the Growing Green Open House Thursday, Sept. 24, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Apple Tree Nursery School on Main Campus.

The open house will include a full tour of the facilities, a look at some activities that demonstrate the development of “green” awareness, and some of the children’s thoughts on being “green.”

“We started our initiative by introducing the children to proper recycling techniques and gardening, and we even tried our hand at composting,” said Sherry Roush, director of Apple Tree Nursery School. “Now we have taken things one step further by gardening indoors and introducing the students to solar technology — like the solar oven our preschool group uses to make nachos and cheese.”

Apple Tree has received full accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Academy of Childhood programs. In addition, Apple Tree was awarded three stars in Ohio’s quality rating system.

For more information on this public event, watch the video below or contact Roush at 419.530.1070.

Cleaning up community one stream at a time

Ever notice the debris along the Ottawa River that runs through UT’s Main Campus?

clean-your-streams-logoOn Saturday, Sept. 12, volunteer a few hours and become part of the solution at the 2009 Clean Your Streams event, which includes a kickoff location starting at 8 a.m. outside Carlson Library. The University is a partner for the community-wide event, which will have more than 700 volunteers and more than 30 cleanup sites in the Toledo area.

“Over 190 volunteers registered at the UT site for the Clean Your Streams event on Sept 13, 2008, in the pouring rain,” Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT associate professor of geography and planning and chair of the President’s Commission on the River, said. “And more than 50 large bags of garbage and several large items were removed from the river on campus.”

Light bulbs, tents, grills, CD players, a car door and a 50-inch TV were among the items found last year by 760 volunteers who scoured the banks of area waterways.

Clean Your Streams is part of the Ohio Coast Weeks Program and the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Event. In Toledo, the event is organized by Partners for Clean Streams.

Volunteers may check in at 8 a.m. at any of the following locations:

• Upper Ottawa River — Olander Park Shelter House, 6360 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania;

• Middle Ottawa River — UT Carlson Library on Main Campus;

• Middle Ottawa River — St. Francis High School, 2323 W. Bancroft St., Toledo;

• Lower Ottawa River — Washington Township Fire Station, 2469 Shoreland Ave., Toledo;

• Swan Creek — Swan Creek Watershed, 1865 Finch St., Toledo;

• Lower Maumee River — International Park, 26 Main St., Toledo;

• Lake Erie Tributary and Middle Maumee River — Lake Township Friendship Park, 27975 Cummings Road, Millbury; and

• Maumee Bay Tributary and Lower Maumee River — Oregon Municipal Building, 5330 Seaman Road, Oregon.

Clean up will begin promptly at 9 a.m. For more information and to register groups, go to www.partnersforcleanstreams.org/cys.html.

Lawrence stressed Clean Your Streams is a great opportunity for students involved in a fraternity or sorority to gain philanthropy hours.

Can’t make the Clean Your Streams event? Not to worry, there are a couple events organized by the President’s Commission on the River planned for the 2009 Celebrate Our River Week.

Join the University of Michigan Arts on Earth Program for a Mapping the River presentation Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Student Union Room 2582.

Or meet on the north side of the Center for Performing Arts to celebrate the planting of its rain garden Thursday, Sept. 10, from 4 to 6 p.m.

For more information on Celebrate Our River Week, contact Lawrence at patrick.lawrence@utoledo.edu or 419.530.4128.

Memorial Field House renovation sets gold standard

The renovated Memorial Field House is so green it’s gold.

Students milled around and studied in the Memorial Field House, which received a gold rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

Students milled around and studied last week in the Memorial Field House, which received a gold rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The former home of Rocket basketball games and rock concerts reclaimed its pivotal place in the lives of University of Toledo students last semester, and now it has been certified as a green building with a gold rating under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

It is the first LEED gold rating for a UT building.

“As a University known as a leader in alternative energy and sustainability, we are proud that all of our new construction is focused on being as environmentally friendly and energy-efficient as possible,” said Chuck Lehnert, vice president for facilities and construction. “This is the first of what we think will be many accolades for our green building efforts.”

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the rating to the Memorial Field House for meeting a very strict set of parameters to cut energy and water use and lessen a building’s carbon footprint. Specifically, the field house earned points for installing energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems, providing large amounts of natural light, planting water-efficient landscaping, and recycling building materials.

The building also received points because of its close proximity to two bus loops and a conveniently located bike rack, making it a potentially efficient destination.

A gold ranking is the second highest in LEED’S four-tier green building rating system, which ranges from basic certification to platinum status.

The Memorial Field House, constructed in 1931, was totally renovated at a cost of $27 million and opened in January with 54 state-of-the-art classrooms, 70 faculty offices, a three-story central atrium and a 250-seat auditorium.

UT plans to seek a minimum of LEED silver ratings for all ongoing construction projects.

UT expertise to take center stage during monthly broadcast on WJR

The “Voice of the Great Lakes” will soon be trumpeting the accomplishments of The University of Toledo as they relate to sustainability, the environment and alternative energy.

Detroit’s WJR Radio and UT have formed a partnership to produce a new program, “Environmentally Sound,” that creators say is complementary to the missions of both organizations.

“This monthly, hour-long program will focus on areas where UT has a track record of success in helping to move our nation toward a ‘greener’ world,” said Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for equity and diversity, who is host of the program. “With each episode, we’ll be tapping into the work that has earned UT a reputation as a leader in sustainable sources of energy, at the latest trends in the sustainability movement, inviting some of the world’s leading experts to add their voices to this important discussion.

According to Burns, the program will not only focus on UT’s regional efforts, but will also look globally at the latest trends in the sustainability movement, inviting some of the world’s leading experts to add their voices to this important discussion.

The first episode of the pre-recorded program will air at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, on WJR Radio, 760 AM.

Guests scheduled to appear include UT President Lloyd Jacobs; Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president for research and development; Dr. Daryl Moorhead, UT professor of environmental science; Dr. Carol Stepien, director of the UT Lake Erie Center; and Emilia Askari, environmental reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

“This show gives us a tremendous opportunity to position the University as a thought leader in this important area through a wide-reaching radio signal,” Burns said. “I invite everyone to tune in and help make the program a huge success.”

UT signs consultants for Campus of Energy and Innovation

The University of Toledo has signed an agreement with BottomLine Resource Technologies of Columbus, Ohio, to serve as a consultant in the transformation of its Scott Park Campus into a dedicated Campus of Energy and Innovation.

The campus will serve as a hands-on alternative energy laboratory used for teaching, research and demonstration, as well as to generate energy and reduce the University’s carbon footprint.

UT, a national leader in solar energy research, is the only university in the country to commit an entire campus to advancing renewable, alternative and sustainable energies. Proposed projects will include work with wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, energy storage, electric transportation, and transformational grid analytics and modeling.

BottomLine, a subsidiary of Juice Technologies LLC, is a company engaged in consulting, development and program management for utility-scale renewable generation projects, smart electric grid initiatives and energy efficiency projects.

The firm will immediately begin conducting an energy audit of the entire University, highlighting recommended energy conservation measures and potential energy savings. BottomLine also will work with UT to obtain financing for the projects and oversee the implementation process.

“We are energized and excited to manage The University of Toledo’s ambitious plans to become more efficient in the use of electricity and more energy independent through the installation and operation of renewable energy generation,” said Richard D. Housh, BottomLine chairman and CEO. “UT will become the national leader in energy innovation on a campus setting.”

Thomas Hurkmans, BottomLine president and CFO, added, “We will work diligently to assist UT in building all aspects of this project to ensure the lowest possible cost and maximum operating flexibility. This will likely involve innovative public-private partnerships.”

In addition to the many educational opportunities, the Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation is expected to foster regional economic development through commercialization and business incubation efforts.

“We are very pleased with our selection of BottomLine Resource Technologies to manage this complex and very important project,” said Chuck Lehnert, UT vice president for facilities and construction. “The Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation will be a great resource for our students, as well as a premier location for advanced research and demonstration of energy technologies.”

UT has requested federal stimulus money to support the project.

Dedication of memorial rain garden on UT’s Main Campus

A formal rededication of the rain garden between Lot 10 north of the Glass Bowl and the Ottawa River on Main Campus will take place Tuesday, June 16, at 11:30 a.m.

All are welcome to attend as the garden is dedicated in memory of former UT staff member Carolyn Edwards.

Edwards, a former secretary in the Alumni Relations Office, passed away in 1993. Her family established a fund in her memory for a garden.

The rain garden was a project of the President’s Commission on the River and was initially presented to the campus community in September with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The garden actively manages storm-water runoff by collecting water and filtering out pollutants before it drains directly into the Ottawa River. It also serves as an outdoor classroom for students studying water quality environmental sustainability practices.

UT to anchor Great Lakes education May 18-22

Northwest Ohio will be the center of information and education about the Great Lakes this week, May 18-22, as The University of Toledo hosts the 52nd Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research.

logo09soIn addition to providing the latest in research to the world’s leading scientists, educators and researchers, the conference offers several opportunities for the public to interact with the people whose work shapes the future of the Great Lakes.

“Some of the questions we get every year from the public are ‘Is the water safe to swim in? Can I eat the fish I catch? What’s next for Lake Erie as far as tourism goes?’” said Dr. Carol Stepien, director of UT’s Lake Erie Center and chair of the conference’s organizing committee. UT offers this annual conference in partnership with the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

“With this year’s theme of ‘Bridging Ecosystems and Environmental Health Across Our Great Lakes,’ we can answer these questions,” Stepien added. “We’re thrilled to have two keynote speakers whose research has been crucial in promoting a greater understanding of how science, environmental issues and public health are connected.”

In addition to more than 500 presentations throughout the week, the conference will feature a Great Lakes Public Forum offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday, May 18, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ingman Room on Main Campus. The free forum, “Setting the Course for the Next 25 Years,” allows public participants to discuss the issues, opportunities and challenges posed to the Great Lakes region.

The conference’s keynote speakers are world-renowned scientists whose work connects Great Lakes research to public health concerns.

Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the National Center for Environmental Health Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will address “Health and the Environment: The Great Lakes Region” at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 19, in Doermann Theater on Main Campus.

On Thursday, May 21, Dr. Rita Colwell will speak on “Climate, Oceans, Infectious Diseases and Human Health: The Cholera Paradigm” at 11 a.m. in Doermann Theater.

Colwell is a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior adviser and chairman emeritus of Canon U.S. Life Sciences, and president/chief executive officer of CosmosID Inc.

Both keynote presentations are free and open to the public.

The International Association for Great Lakes Research is a scientific organization comprised of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes and their watersheds. More than 1,000 members worldwide contribute to the association’s goals of promoting and communicating research pertaining to large lakes.

Going green, one sofa at a time

The golden rule of green — “reduce, reuse, recycle” — will be on display throughout UT this week.

As students pack their bags for the summer, UT has again partnered with Goodwill of Northwest Ohio Inc. to recycle their unwanted living items, including furniture, electronics and even mattresses in good condition.

Staffed Goodwill trailers will be at Carter Hall, Ottawa House and Parks/McComas Village from noon to 8 p.m. through Friday. Students are encouraged to bring discarded items to these locations.

“Last year, we diverted well over two tons of clothing, carpeting, housewares, appliances and furniture,” said Bob Boyd, manager of building services. “We want to do even better this year. Before students toss it out, we hope they think about whether it can be used by someone else.”

This is the third year that UT and Goodwill have formed a recycling partnership. In addition to promoting a greener campus, the program also saves a substantial amount in the cost to remove and dispose of discarded items.

Trash, however, will not be accepted. A list of acceptable items — as well as those not recyclable — is available on the Goodwill Web site, www.goodwillnwohio.com/donate.html, and on flyers posted throughout Main Campus.

Faculty and staff who would like to get in on the green action are encouraged to participate in UT’s recycling program, which accepts beverage containers (plastic, glass and aluminum), paper (copier/fax, newspapers, magazines and catalogs) and corrugated boxes on Health Science and Main campuses.

“We also accept old computer hardware after it has been cleared by Property Control,” Boyd said. “Just call 419.530.1021 so we can schedule a pickup.”

Faculty and staff can arrange for pickup of large amounts of recyclables by calling the same number.

“We’re trying to keep an ‘Earth Day’ frame of mind year-round,” Boyd said, noting that members of the University community are encouraged to bring recyclable items from home. “It benefits everyone, from our small corner of the community to people around the world.”

Recycling Program looking to increase awareness, statistics

While UT’s Recycling Program continues to grow, administrators feel more can be accomplished with some help.

To increase the volume of recyclables, Tom Trimble, associate director of the Student Union, and Diana Ganues, director of building services, recycling and internal moves, are working together to find a recycling container that will work best for the University.

webgreen-logo1They are experimenting with four different containers that are placed in various locations in the Student Union on Main Campus.

They are ErgoCans that are made from 50 percent recycled polypropylene plastic. These cans are made locally by SNSfilms, which is located on Dorr Street across from the University. SNSfilms is experimenting with formulas and hopes in the future to make the containers out of 100 percent recycled material.

This company allows for personalized graphics on the containers; this would be a benefit to the Recycling Department as well as other departments across the campuses.

“The University has a new catchy logo, and we want people to associate it with the recycling program that UT offers,” Ganues said, referring to the blue and gold make green graphic.

“The University has been recycling on campus for many years, but the Recycling Department wants to increase the volume of recyclables,” Ganues said. “We know that there is recyclable material on campus that still goes into the landfill. We set a goal this year to increase recyclables by 5 percent and expect to collect about 30,000 tons a year with this number steadily increasing as people become more aware of the recycling program.”

Another way the University is trying to increase recycling is teaming up with Goodwill of Northwest Ohio to recycle items that students leave behind after moving out in the spring. In previous years, clothing, house wares, furniture and small appliances have been collected, recycled and reused.

During the 2008 football season, recycling paired with ZooTeens, an organization that offers volunteer opportunities to students between the ages of 13 and 17 who have a strong interest in education, animal science and conservation. The ZooTeen volunteers passed out T-shirts with the football schedule and recycling logo on it to help encourage tailgaters and spectators to recycle. “We noticed a slight increase in recyclables from previous years,” Ganues noted.

The University recycles in every building on all campuses. There are containers set out for collecting aluminum, glass and plastic, as well as paper, magazines and catalogs.

In addition, the University recycles other items, including cardboard, batteries, computers, tires, steel, wood, fluorescent light bulbs, ink jet cartridges and vehicle fluids.

For more information or to get involved in the recycling efforts at UT, contact Ganues at 419.530.1444.