December 1, 2010
Committee Members: Patrick Caddeau, Kathy Hackett, Robin Izzo, Jenna Losh, Malavika Balachandran, Miyuki Miyagi, Stu Orefice, Shana Weber
Committee Members Absent: Helen Chen, Pablo Debenedetti, Thomas Kreutz, Paul Lewis, Denise Mauzerall, Michael McKay, Thomas Nyquist, Rachel Park, Donald Weston
Other Attendees: Chrissy Badaracco, James Boehlert, Rena Chen, Rick Curtis,
Stephen Elwood, Justine Hausheer, Kim Jackson, Michelle Liu, Lisa Leisinger, Ruth Stevens, Alexandra Valerio, Kristi Wiedemann, Anna Zhao
• Open House Recap: The Sustainability Open house was a great success. Attendance is estimated to be around 1000 people. The Art competition was a great success, and there is potential to make the art contest a yearly event.
• Sustainability Report published: The report published on November 15th, and is available on the sustainability website. We are making progress in the strength of our data and metrics associated with the report, and the Office would like to thank everyone here that helped pull that data together.
• Frist Sustainability Kiosk / Display update: The Office of Sustainability is beginning an intensive design process with a design firm. The first stage will involve three planning and design concept meetings with the firm, after which they will have to sell us on their final concept before we will invest further. We will be looking for student input during the design stage, and we will keep the PSC updated as the process unfolds.
• AASHE Conference 2011, October 9-12 in Pittsburgh: Shana attended the 2010 AASHE conference in Denver this past October, and next year’s conference will be closer to Princeton. Shana encouraged increased participation in next year’s event, given the close location and value of AASHE as a resource. Shana also emphasized that, as a leader in campus sustainability, Princeton has many things to share with the AASHE audience.
• High Meadows fall 2010 Civic Engagement grant recipient project presentations: Three recipients of High Meadows funding outlined their projects.
1. Alexandra Valerio ’11 “Pull the Plug - Social norms as an inducement of sustainability behavior”:
For her thesis project, Alexandra built off of a thesis project conducted by a member of the class of 2010. Her project explores the way messaging influences social behavior and compliance, in relation to sustainability.
The previous experiment selected student dorms, and randomly assigned each dorm to a certain form of messaging about pulling the plug over winter break. Posters were placed on the doors of each dorm room, and each building received a different type of messaging. Examples of the messaging included a general, environmentalist message: “Save the environment, pull the plug over winter break.” Other messages played off of social norms, along the lines of: “75% of Princeton students pull the plug over winter break, make sure you do too.” The student then entered student dorms rooms during break to check if they had indeed pulled the plug. Previous research has shown that messages that play off of social norms are more effective than the general environmental message.
Alexandra’s project builds off of this research by correcting errors in the initial experiment to achieve a higher quality of data and results. She has narrowed down the message types from seven to four. Her message types include the general environmental message, a focus-theory message (“75% of students in your dorm pulled the plug last year.”) and two social pressure messages. The positive social pressure message will tell students that the dorm rooms of students that unplug will be posted. The negative social pressure message will tell students that the dorm rooms of students that do not unplug will be posted. These messages will examine student motivation to comply when there is potential positive or negative social repercussions to their actions.
Other changes include checking the rooms a few days into break, to make sure all students have left campus before she collects data. Lastly, Alexandra feels that students in the selected dorms were likely to opt out of the study due to concerns over room inspections. Her pre-study survey will emphasize that the room inspection is only to examine their un-plugging, and students will not be penalized for fire code infractions, etc. This will hopefully improve the data by increasing the sample size.
2. Rena Chen ‘11: “An Environmental Discourse on and Culinary Sampling of Non-Western Sustainable Foods”:
Rena’s project explores the importance of alternate protein sources to both human nutrition and human culture. Human phobias of insects are on the rise, as western society spends more time indoors in an increasingly sanitized environment. Yet insects are a very important part of the cuisine and culture in developing countries. Her project is meant to start the discussion on how and why insects are a valuable alternate source of protein. She also wants to explore how to encourage developing countries to utilize alternate protein sources, in the face of their desire to imitate western culture.
Insects as alternate protein sources are highly sustainable. Although small creatures, insects are much more efficient than conventional animals, like cows, at converting calories into biomass. They also require fewer resources, a benefit when resources are scarce. For example, it requires significantly more water to maintain a cow than it does to maintain an equivalent mass of insects.
Rena’s project has organized three campus events to date. A lecture from a visiting professor, an exhibit on sustainability and nutrition, and a bug-tasting event. The bug-tasting highlighted the whole bug in its dishes, and Rena is interested in trying a second tasting event with less-identifiable bug parts.
3. Michelle Liu ‘13: “Sustainable Engineering and Development Scholars”
Michelle gave an overview of the SEADS Program at Princeton, which is starting the conversation on sustainability in the context of international development.
The 12 week program runs from October to March, and is offered as a not-for-credit course for Princeton freshman and sophomores . There is a one hour session each week followed by reading outside of class. Classes fall into one of four categories: moderator lead discussions, skill building workshops, community outreach, and discussion of reading and assignments. The course seeks to prompt discussion on the question “what is sustainable development?”
• NJ DEP WasteWise meeting summary: Representatives from the Office of Sustainability attended a New Jersey WasteWise Meeting.
WasteWise is a free, voluntary program launched in 1994 under US EPA to reduce solid waste and promote recycling. Nationwide, the program has 2700+ members. States can partner with the EPA and tailor program to meet regional needs. New Jersey has a WasteWise Business Network with over 30 members, including 7 universities & PPPL. Members consist of US businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations. The Office attended the meeting to assess the value of becoming a WasteWise member.
NJ membership benefits include biannual meetings, information resources, special events, PR. The Office feels that membership in WasteWise would be a beneficial resource for the office.
The November meeting consisted of four presentations:
First was a documentary entitled ‘So Right So Smart,’ which focused on business success stories. The main feature was the carpet company, Interface. In a time of financial hardship, Interface began inadvertently adopting sustainable practices in an effort to save money. When the heads of the company realized that ‘going green’ was not only cost-effective, but also a social responsibility, the company was transformed. They now have the goal of zero waste production by 2020.
The second presentation was given by the Morris County Recycling Dept. Their presentation discussed effective behavioral strategies to promote recycling. Based on research and their experience, they recommend three strategies. First, have personal contact with the person when discussing recycling. Second, give them something. A small gift, like a re-useable water bottle, will make them more likely to participate. Lastly, have them sign a pledge. They will be more likely to follow through if they put their name to a document.
The third presentation was given by representatives from Green Depot, a building products retailer that devised their own rating system to clarify a products’ environmental attributes. The ratings address origin, energy, air quality, responsibility and more.
The final presentation was given by the Hunterdon Medical Center. Their hospital’s recycling rate is among highest in NJ, and they divert electronics, compostable food, wood, furniture, and grease from the waste stream. They won the 2010 NJ Recycling award. In their presentation, they stressed the importance of a cross-functional recycling committee and policy adoption. Additionally, their compost is sent to same facility Princeton Township uses in their food waste recycling pilot program.
Next Steps: The office will meet with John Baer and decide if we will join WasteWise.
IV. Policies / Initiatives
• Charter revision : We are proposing additional changes to the PSC charter. Please review the suggested changes sent out with the agenda via email, and provide the Office with any suggestions, concerns, etc. We will discuss the feedback and changes at the next meeting in February.
• New recommended policies/initiatives: The only new policy to report is that is the STARS adoption is approved, we will be thinking about how to shift the sustainability working groups to reflect STARS and its data categories.
• Policies/initiatives currently under consideration/in process:
- Bottled water reduction
Update from Stu Orefice: the past year has seen a 14.6% reduction in the bottled water sales on campus, the goal being 10%.
- Electric cart policy
- On-site food and animal waste composting
- Green Monday coordination with Office Max potentially underway
Next Meeting: February 2, 2010