Karin Dienst (left) and Emily Aronson from the Office of Communications examine a finalist from the Arts Council of Princeton in the Trash Sculpture Contest that was part of the Sustainability Open House Tuesday, Nov. 16. More than 500 members of the campus and local communities attended the event in Chancellor Green to learn more about green initiatives from University and area groups concerned with the environment.
Photo by Brian Wilson
Watch a video on students involved in Princeton's sustainability efforts.
Watch a time-lapse video of the winning team assembling its trash sculpture.
One person's trash …
A total of 34 campus and community teams took artistic license with their recyclables and entered a Trash Sculpture Contest sponsored by Princeton's Office of Sustainability as part of the Sustainability Open House.
Entries had to be made of materials that would have been discarded or recycled. Teams were required to include at least one child (12 years old or younger) and at least one adult (18 years old or older).
During the event, the artists had fun describing to those attending how they constructed their pieces. Alex Heffelfinger talked about the 40 hours it took his family to construct a cube called a "Menger sponge" out of 2,400 baseball cards -- and no adhesive.
Prize winners were:
• First place: University League Nursery School for a work made from discarded toys, including two ducks swimming in "Lake Carnegie."
• Second place: the Heffelfinger family for the Menger sponge made of baseball cards.
• Third place: Sophia and Hsihsin Liu for a jellyfish made from bubble wrap and plastic from soda bottles.
• People's Choice: YWCA Princeton After School Program for a pair of hats and ponchos made from drink boxes.
The first- through third-place prizes are a cash award ($500 for first prize, $250 for second prize and $100 for third prize) designated by each team to a sustainability initiative. The People's Choice winner earned a gift basket.
Also a finalist in the Trash Sculpture Contest, this bird made from recycled wire came all the way from New Mexico. It was created by Wanda Fuselier and Amy Yurwit.
Photo by Brian Wilson
High Meadows Foundation co-founder and former Princeton trustee Carl Ferenbach speaks with Denise Mauzerall, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs, during his tour of the open house. Since 2008 and supported by the High Meadows Foundation sustainability fund, 11 often multiyear faculty research projects have been initiated investigating sustainability solutions using the campus as a laboratory.
Photo by Brian Wilson
Don Cobb from Ford explains the features of the company's electric Fusion to freshman Chloé Cheney-Rice.
Photo by Brian Wilson
Open house sustains green momentum
Posted November 18, 2010; 12:00 p.m.
Opportunities for environmental internships were showcased at one table, while another booth demonstrated a device that recovers heat from Princeton's cogeneration plant. Students from Greening Princeton offered sustainable food samples, and artists displayed their award-winning trash sculptures.
More than 500 members of the campus and local communities converged on Chancellor Green Tuesday, Nov. 16, to learn more about green initiatives at Princeton University's second Sustainability Open House. About 45 campus and community groups staffed interactive displays and demonstrations to showcase their efforts to protect the environment and to gather feedback from attendees. In addition, more than 30 teams entered a Trash Sculpture Contest (see sidebar).
Danny Growald (left) spoke about the growth of student interest in sustainability in his remarks during the opening ceremony, where he was introduced by Executive Vice President Mark Burstein. (Photo by Brian Wilson)
In opening remarks, Danny Growald, a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and the former undergraduate chair of Princeton Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (SURGE), discussed the swelling interest in sustainability on campus.
Growald, who was introduced by Executive Vice President Mark Burstein, said when he joined SURGE as a freshman, he was one of only two undergraduates in a group that was mostly graduate students. That year, he and another undergraduate represented Princeton at a national youth summit on climate change in Washington, D.C.
"I didn't immediately sense that we had a powerful environmental community on campus. There were a lot of powerful individuals, but it hadn't coalesced in a way that now has been starting to happen -- the open houses have been an example of that," he said, noting that two years later 50 Princeton students attended a follow-up to the national summit. "It says something about how student engagement and involvement has really grown."
Shana Weber, manager of the Office of Sustainability, agreed that the open house demonstrated a greater dedication to sustainability -- on the part of both those contributing and those attending.
"I think by all counts this was a wonderful event," said Weber, whose office organized the open house. "The evening was a vibrant celebration of the growing commitment and creativity the campus and greater community is bringing to the sustainability challenge. I was especially inspired by the increased depth of awareness and passion that so many participants and visitors brought to the event compared to our open house of 2008. We have come a long way as a community!"
Engineers Without Borders, a student group involved in projects such as experimenting with solar panels on campus and building stoves in Peru, hoped to generate more interest at the open house. From left, junior Barbara Hendrick and senior Mohit Agrawal talk with sophomores Jessi Saylors and Anna Jang. (Photo by Brian Wilson)
Many of the displays represented the working groups, academic and research programs, and student initiatives that are part of the Sustainability Plan adopted by the University in February 2008. The first open house took place that fall to help launch the plan.
This year's event coincided with the publication of the second annual Sustainability Report. The online report describes progress toward goals, including a 2.5 percent reduction in campus greenhouse gas emissions.
Ted Borer (right), energy plant manager, demonstrates some of the equipment used by the facilities department to conserve energy. (Photo by Brian Wilson)
One of the more technical displays included several pieces of equipment used by the facilities department in its energy conservation efforts. Ted Borer, energy plant manager, offered a nontechnical explanation for visitors.
"What this is doing is recovering the heat from our cogeneration plant as exhaust," Borer said as he demonstrated one device, a three-foot-high cylinder with two chambers. "So hot exhaust goes in the bottom. It will flow up through here and come out the top. The water will get heated up by the exhaust and come out much warmer. So that's preheated the water that comes into our plant by cooling off the exhaust that would normally go out the chimney."
Simon Grote, Cotsen Fellow and lecturer in history, stopped by the open house after his class in East Pyne. In his first year at Princeton, Grote said he learned quite a bit about the University's sustainability work by visiting the displays. "People have really thought things through," he said. "A lot of cost-benefit analysis has gone into this [effort]."
An academic program involved in the Sustainability Plan and the open house was the Princeton Environmental Institute. Holly Welles, manager of communications and outreach, provided attendees with information on the environmental studies program -- an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate program -- as well as newsletters describing research and activities by faculty, students and alumni. She also showed a video on internships. "Our internship program has grown from being just a handful of students to 94 students in 21 countries this last summer," she said.
The Greening Princeton table with peanut butter sandwiches and a variety of toppings was a popular stop for all ages. (Photo by Brian Wilson)
Student groups represented included Greening Princeton, which handed out peanut butter sandwiches with a variety of toppings, from pretzels to peaches. "We're trying to encourage people to experiment with alternatives to typical peanut butter sandwiches to show them that there are so many ways to replace meat in their diet," said junior Christina Badaracco.
Chef Rob Harbison also provided samples of food, focusing on the sustainable offerings from Princeton's Dining Services, which purchases 52 percent of its food locally (within 250 miles): Bell & Evans chicken, Terhune Orchard apple turnovers, cranberry orange cookies and spa water.
A crowd fills the "hyphen" connecting Chancellor Green with East Pyne, where several tables and demonstrations were staged. The open house also extended to the lower level and outside the building under tents. (Photo by Nick Barberio)
Princeton's first Sustainability Open House was focused primarily on the campus. This year, local nonprofit organizations and businesses were invited to participate with the goal of promoting more collaboration between campus and community groups.
Freshman Alan Chang (right) discusses transportation programs with (from left) Jay Thakkar and Nick Cecconi from the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Authority. (Photo by Brian Wilson)
Judith Robinson, who manages the Princeton Farmers Market near the Princeton Public Library, said, "It's terrific. The more that people can get more familiar with all the different aspects of the environmental concerns and food, the better. We interface all the time, and there are lots of organizations here."
Mike Wiley of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority read about the event on Princeton's website and decided to come and check it out.
"We finance clean energy companies, and sustainability is a component of that," he said. "I'm also working on an internal sustainability initiative, so I thought I could get some best practices and ideas as well."
Princeton freshman Alexander Creely was chosen as the winner of the scavenger hunt that was part of the open house. He will receive $400 worth of gift certificates to local green restaurants and retailers. Participants were provided with entry forms requiring them to answer questions by visiting 10 of the tables, writing down answers such as the type of edible plant Riverside School grows in its parking lot; one overseas location where Princeton's chapter of Engineers Without Borders works; and the brand names of two electric carts the University uses. Creely's form was selected from among 36 completed questionnaires.
Isabel Milley shows off the first-place-winning trash sculpture her school created to brother Alexander. The University League Nursery School (UNLS) captured the title with an artwork made from recycled toys brought in by the children. "Even the 2-1/2-year-olds got into it!" said school director Cindy Williams. Their $500 prize will go to Organizing Action on Sustainability in Schools, a nonprofit consortium of Princeton area independent and public schools that share ideas and resources regarding sustainability initiatives. (Photo by Brian Wilson)