Rainwater Irrigation & Remote Monitoring

Total Amount Awarded: $75,000

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

Irrigation water is a major contributor to water usage on the University of Washington Seattle Campus during the dry summer months. The University of Washington (UW) is determined to reduce its water consumption as declared by the Climate Action Plan in 2009. UW Facilities Ground Management made significant strides in improving irrigation. Landscaped areas are irrigated through a combination of drip and sprinkler systems connected to an intricate pipe networks that is centrally controlled and supervised through an advanced system of remote monitoring. Irrigation water is purchased from Seattle Public Utilities; however, alternative water sources such as harvested rainwater can provide the necessary water for irrigation. Therefore, this project proposes to monitor for water quality and quantity by constructing a rainwater collection system on UW Seattle Campus. Furthermore, this project will use the collected water to irrigate a small area on campus. The rainwater-irrigated landscape will use a drip irrigation system with a feedback control system similar to the larger irrigation infrastructure on campus. Remote sensors will collect empirical data on irrigation water delivered and soil moisture. The collected data will be used to create a model for how the rainwater harvesting can be used for feedback controlled irrigation systems.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

In the 2009 Climate Action Plan, the University’s vision was broken into five issues known as the grand challenges. This project falls under the final goal of maintaining and building infrastructure and facilities “to insure the highest level of integrity, compliance and stewardship.” More specifically, this project aims to reduce the amount water purchased by the University of Washington by using rainwater harvest to supply irrigation water. Furthermore by capturing rainwater in a cistern and using it for irrigation purposes, this project reduces the amount of water being discharged into Lake Washington.

Proposal Objective (1): Remotely monitor the quantity and quality of rainwater collected in the cistern and soil moisture to allow for continuous data and more accurate representations of the quantity and quality of rainwater resources.

This objective is designed for Objective 3 (O3) of the Environmental Stewardship & Stewardship Office Strategy Map for 2013-2016 that aims to improve operational performance through measuring and monitoring performance.

Proposal Objective (2): Create an empirical model and design recommendations for rainwater supplied irrigation control systems that can be implement across the UW campus.

This object is aimed to reduce the amount of potable water purchased by UW as well as reduce the amount of untreated water following into Lake Washington through the storm drains.

Irrigation water has a major impact on the amount of water used on the UW Seattle Campus. The Each summer water usage spikes due to the increased amounts of irrigation. Husky Sustainable Storms and other initiatives around campus have proven that stormwater is a problem if not properly treated particularly at the University of Washington where stormwater drains are piped directly to Lake Washington. The intent of this study is to collect data from which an empirical model and detailed design recommendations can be made for larger projects or application on other areas of campus.

Timeline:

Milestones are indicated by an *
*January 15, 2016 – Notification of the Award
Jan. 2016 – Feb. 2016 Detailed construction drawings and collection of engineer’s estimate
*March 1, 2016 Submission of design and construction documents to all University Stakeholders
Mar. - May 2016 – Communicate with Capital Projects and University Architects to clarify project and encourage approval.
Specific remote monitoring equipment and work with CEE IT to setup data collection through University wireless system
*May 1, 2016 University approval of project
May 2016 - Order of cistern construction materials, schedule University labor resources to meet construction timeline, and order remote monitoring equipment
*August 1, 2016 Construction begins
Aug. 2016 Construction of cistern and connection to existing irrigation system.
*August 31, 2016 Construction complete
Sept. 2016 Installation of remote monitoring
*September 15, 2016 – Data collection begins
Sept. 2016 – Mar. 2017 – Weekly manual validation checks of monitoring data
*Mar 31, 2017 – Data analysis beings for model development.
Mar. – May 2017 – Model development and publication drafting
*June 1, 2017 – Submission of academic articles
June 2017 – Presentation at domestic academic conference.

Primary Faculty:
Jessica  
Kaminsky
Primary Staff:
Brian 
Davis
Primary Student:
Leigh 
Allison

This project was funded during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Irrigation System Sustainability Improvements for Washington Park Arboretum’s Azalea Way

Azalea Way Irrigation project
Total Amount Awarded: $52,323

The Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) is an accessible, living laboratory and a portal to the University of Washington for both those affiliated and unaffiliated with the institution. Established in 1934, it is co-owned and managed by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation. Its extensive plant collections are known amongst its botanic garden and arboreta peers to be one of the top five in the nation. Over 250,000 visitors a year walk our 230 acres with binoculars, cameras or dog leashes in hand ready to explore and learn while simultaneously getting exercise and outdoor experiences.

Currently, our antiquated irrigation system contradicts the University of Washington’s sustainability goals, as it uses over five million gallons of water in a six month period. We believe this water use can be substantially decreased by updating the irrigation system in the Arboretum with newer systems that account for rainfall, temperature fluctuation, water loss through evaporation and transpiration, and soil moisture sensing. With the help of the Green Seed Fund we aim to hire an irrigation auditor to audit one of the oldest and historic sections of our irrigation system, Azalea Way. We also plan to use these funds to implement recommendations from the audit and replace two of three oldest controllers. We will also add water flow sensors to three controllers (two new and one old) to compare water usage between the updated system and the outdated controller. We expect this system upgrade to drastically reduce water consumption and irrigation labor hours on Azalea Way.

Designed by the famed Olmstead firm in 1939, Azalea Way is a high-traffic gateway into the 230 managed acres of rare, historically important and stunningly beautiful plants in the Washington Park Arboretum. Unfortunately, while it is beautiful above ground, behind the scenes lies an aging irrigation system that can be operated more efficiently with modernized controls and site condition sensor inputs.

As a University of Washington facility, the Arboretum is one of the most tangible faces that the UW presents to the public. A modernization of the antiquated irrigation system will be an excellent tool to educate and inform the public of the University’s level of environmental sustainability that we strive for on all our campuses. This large scale, system oriented project can be replicated on multiple UW campuses and can have lasting effects on purchasing, modernization, and installation of irrigation systems within the University and the entire Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department. This unique partnership with SPR allows the funding of this grant proposal and subsequent results distribution to cast a much larger net within Seattle and the Puget Sound region than just within the University of Washington system.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

As stated on UW’s campus sustainability website, significant amounts of water are used for irrigation on all university lands, and UW has spent approximately $3 million on water conservation efforts since 2001, thus dramatic reductions in water consumption by the University have been achieved. However, this does not accurately reflect the water consumption at UW Seattle, because Seattle Parks and Recreation pays the water bill at the Arboretum, even though the University owns the plants being watered and UW employees maintain and operate this system. Therefore, no water usage in the 230 acre arboretum is included in these figures. Sadly, if the Arboretum were to be include in these figures, the impressive reductions might be substantially decreased. The Arboretum has already consumed over 5 million gallons of water in 2015 alone.

Our first specific goal of this project is to drastically reduce the amount of water the Washington Park Arboretum uses on the historic Azalea Way thereby helping the University of Washington reduce water consumption and achieve its sustainability goals. If successful this reduction of water use in 1/3 of the outdated irrigation areas in the Arboretum will have no negative effects on the plants in that area or the visitor’s experience in the Arboretum. Upon completion we will have the information needed to move forward with a proposal to the Seattle Parks Department that they implement water saving strategies in the remaining 2/3 of the Arboretum’s grounds.

In addition to water use reduction, this modernization will reduce the amount of irrigation labor hours on Azalea Way. This will be evaluated by reviewing daily time sheets from 2015 to document the amount of hours spent repairing or adjusting the irrigation controllers on Azalea Way. Time spent adjusting or repairing the new controllers and upgraded system in 2016 will also be documented and compared to 2015 to quantify the expected reduction of irrigation labor hours on Azalea Way.

A second goal of this project will be to educate the public on our effort to reduce our water consumption without negatively impacting the visitor experience. The Washington Park Arboretum hosts over 250,000 visitors every year, many of them current students, employees or alumni of the University of Washington. To continue with the University’s educational mission we plan to produce signs explaining the project, promote free classes to the public promoting water reduction strategies and how that can translate into their own gardens, and make a final project presentation open to the public. We will also work to educate park visitors regarding the University’s commitment to research on sustainability, the Green Seed Grant program, and how the public can help support and follow this endeavor.

An additional outcome of this research will be education of landscape professionals. The University of Washington Botanic Gardens plays a significant role in the education of local horticulturists, landscapers, arborist and groundskeepers. Through our professional continuing education program, ProHort, we plan to offer classes to these professionals to inform them of our results and how they can incorporate water saving strategies into their work.
As an educational leader and sustainability model, the University of Washington has the ability to be a living, learning laboratory to multiple groups visiting the Washington Park Arboretum. Our 230 acres is integral in the lives of students, landscape professionals, alumni, and tourists to name a few. Our research will be a highly visible example of the University of Washington’s commitment to sustainability and research in water conservation.

Timeline:

The time frame of this grant funding cycle is ideal for successful implementation of this project. Currently drained and winterized, our irrigation system will not be used again until late spring or even early summer. Any alterations or complications encountered during installation will not put stress on plants not receiving water, as they will not need supplemental water from the system at that time anyway.

This project will begin in February 2016. After the irrigation system is recharged with water staff will troubleshoot and perform obvious and minor repairs needed in preparation for the audit. We will then have a systems audit on the three controllers on Azalea Way and the valves, zones, and spray heads associated with those controllers. We will install new controllers and flow sensors and all required hardware and software for the new system in February, March and April to have the system tested and ready to go by May when we will likely have to begin watering the gardens.

We will run the system for the watering months of May through October gathering data about water usage, employee hours, and plant health. We will compare these new data with data from previous years as well as with data from the new flow sensor installed on the older controller monthly. Irrigation systems will be winterized in November, so all data collection will end in October 2015.

Primary Faculty:
Jon 
Bakker
Primary Staff:
Kathleen 
DeMaria
Primary Student:
Ryan 
Garrison

This project was funded during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Developing Best Management Practices for Campus Stormwater

Campus Stormwater project
Total Amount Awarded: $62,586

The explosive enrollment growth at the University of Washington Bothell (UWB)/Cascadia College (CC) joint campus has been manifested in an aggressive building plan resulting in ever more impervious surfaces, and an ongoing reduction of the surrounding forested area. This, in turn, is increasing the flow and reducing the quality of stormwater discharged to the adjacent campus owned wetland and North Creek.

The UWB/CC joint campus features one of the state’s largest wetland restoration areas, which contains the final reach of North Creek before it discharges into the Sammamish River. Since its inception in 1998, the 58-acre restored floodplain and creek channel has reduced flood discharges downstream and provided other ecosystem services, such as improving water quality and providing habitat for a diversity of native plants and animals. The wetland also serves as a living laboratory for students and faculty. Moreover, the successful stewardship of this wetland and fluvial ecosystem exemplifies UWB’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

This project serves to preserve this wetland ecosystem, North Creek and downstream waters by: (1) instituting a new methodology to monitor and evaluate the impact of campus landscape changes on stormwater flow volumes and quality; (2) assess the impacts of the stormwater discharges on the functionality of the wetland and what is discharged to North Creek; and (3) recommend best management practices and design improvements for the campus stormwater system and surface water features in the wetland.

A thorough assessment is required to characterize the current and potential impacts of the stormwater to enhance our management plan. This project proposes to address this need via a multi-faceted approach. A research team, consisting of faculty, staff, and students, will work to:
1. Monitor discharges and the quality of stormwater flowing from the campus into the UWB/CC wetland.
2. Determine the capacity and functionality of the bioswales and other catchment basins that receive the stormwater.
3. Assess the impacts of our stormwater runoff flows on fluxes of nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria to North Creek.
4. Develop Low Impact Designs (LID) to reduce the velocity/volume of flow in addition to improving water quality of this runoff through bioremediation.
5. Utilize the UWB Geodatabase as the repository for data and analysis.
6. Create an estimate of the change in value of ecosystem services provided by the wetland.

This work, initiated over a one-year period and maintained long-term, will enable us to make informed campus sustainability decisions relevant to the impact of stormwater on human health, environmental quality, and our compliance with environmental standards. In addition, the project will engage many UWB undergraduate students directly in environmental sustainability research, using the campus as a living, learning lab in a collaborative process with our faculty and facilities staff.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The UW Environmental Stewardship Policy Statement describes the UW sustainability goals as follows: "By exercising effective management over its activities, the University will promote the sustainable use of its resources, seek to minimize risks to and negative impacts on the environment, and underscore our commitment to protect human health and the environment. Such effective management is exercised through the application of the following expectations:
• The University requires all activities to meet or exceed conformance with applicable environmental standards, regulations, and guidelines.
• Teaching, research, and service activities are conducted in a manner that seek to minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote sound environmental practice.
• Operations reduce resource consumption to the maximum degree feasible.
• Environmental stewardship and sustainability opportunities are promoted in land use, development, and construction practices.
• Environmental concerns are incorporated as a significant priority in University decision-making" (University of Washington, 2004).

Our project would enable us to make significant contributions to meeting or exceeding all of these expectations. Specifically, we will collect the data necessary to make informed campus sustainability decisions relevant to the impact of campus stormwater on environmental quality and our compliance with environmental standards. Specifically by monitoring the flow, quality and bacterial content of stormwater discharges flowing from the campus into the UWB/CC wetland, we will be able to understand our inputs and develop LIDs (i.e. improved bioswales) to reduce the velocity/volume of flow and improve the water quality of this runoff. Furthermore, by assessing the value of these ecosystem services, we can develop cost benefit analysis that can be used in management decisions. In addition, conducting the project will engage many of our undergraduate students directly in important environmental sustainability research in a collaborative process with our faculty and staff, utilizing our facilities.

Timeline:

STORMWATER FLOWS (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter - Spring 2016
+ Measure runoff during storm events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase and integrate with water quality data: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

WATER QUALITY: MICROBIAL CONTENT (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter 2016
+ E. coli and Camplylobacter jejuni sampling on campus and during rain events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Laboratory analyses of E. coli and Camplylobacter jejuni samples: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

WATER QUALITY: NUTRIENTS AND OTHER POLLUTANTS (tasks)
+ Identify desired sampling sites: Winter 2016
+ Generate site map: Winter 2016
+ Sample on campus and during rain events: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Laboratory analyses if needed: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Produce GIS maps of data collected via Geodatabase: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

ECOSYSTEM VALUATION (tasks)
+ Utilize all data gathered on water quality and quantity in Geodatabase to create maps that display baseline data and change results: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Create hotspot analysis based on maps: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Work with County, City to measure impacts and report finding to them: Spring 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Analyze current land use patterns and projections of development: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Determine ecosystem service implications of stormwater changes: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Determine economic implications of stormwater changes to ecosystem: Summer 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit progress reports: Winter 2016 - Fall 2016
+ Submit final sub-project research report: Winter 2017
+ Present research at conferences and symposia: Winter 2017 - Spring 2017

Primary Faculty:
Robert 
Turner
Primary Staff:
Charlotte  
Rasmussen
Primary Student:
Dawn 
Hatfield

This project was funded during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Reducing non-recoverable waste: Examining opportunities for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) reuse within UWMC and HMC

Total Amount Awarded: $39,924

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

We seek Green Seed Fund funding to pursue an innovative study of durable medical equipment (DME) reuse and recycling that aims to reduce non-recoverable waste generated by University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) and Harborview Medical Center (HMC). DME includes wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs, and other assistive devices necessary for mobility and activities such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Individuals with chronic medical conditions or injuries that impair performance of daily activities may require DME. Wheelchairs, walkers, and other types of DME have the potential to be reused. Few studies have examined DME reuse or described the amount of non-recoverable waste from DME. Community organizations offer reuse programs that help reduce the amount of DME discarded into the landfill. However, at the current time, UWMC and HMC clinicians do not routinely use these resources. What is established in the literature on hospital sustainability is that employees benefit from explicit training on reuse and recycling processes in order to establish behaviors that reduce waste. Therefore, we propose a qualitative study and in-depth policy analysis to examine current processes within UWMC and HMC for prescribing and disseminating DME and to identify costs and benefits of DME reuse. Key informant interviews and focus groups will be conducted to gather data on current practices of DME reuse and recycling and to identify potential policy barriers and facilitators to reuse. Results of the policy analysis will inform the development of a training module instructing rehabilitation providers on processes for DME reuse and recycling. The outcomes of this proposed project will contribute to the campus sustainability goal of eliminating non-recoverable waste that goes into the landfill.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

Proposal goals/objectives:

Our proposed project addresses UW’s sustainability goals of eliminating non-recoverable waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (UW, 2009; UW, 2010) and has the following objectives:

1.      Describe the current process used by UWMC and HMC rehabilitation providers to prescribe and disseminate DME to identify potential opportunities to decrease non-recoverable waste generated by the University.

2.      Identify factors, such as patient safety, infection control, provider liability, and other policies that need to be considered with DME reuse.

3.      Describe the potential benefits and costs to patients, UW Medicine locations, and community organizations of a widespread DME reuse initiative.

4.      Create a training module for rehabilitation providers to establish employee values and behaviors that align with UW campus sustainability goals. The module will increase awareness of DME donation programs in the community and help rehabilitation providers establish the behavior of educating patients about options for DME donation.

5.      Identify other potential opportunities and recommendations for collaboration across the University to reduce non-recoverable waste generated by UWMC and HMC rehabilitation processes, as well as additional opportunities for change in rehabilitation processes that may impact hazardous waste reduction, disposal costs, or community green profile (UW, 2009; UW, 2010).

The accomplishment of these objectives will help the UW achieve its sustainability goals (UW, 2009; UW, 2010) by identifying opportunities within current UWMC and HMC rehabilitation processes to recycle or safely reuse DME, reducing the amount of non-recoverable waste generated by the University. Accomplishment of these objectives will ensure that rehabilitation providers are aware of any internal processes that may already exist for recycling scrap materials from discarded or unusable equipment and will identify strategies for provider behavior change that may be necessary for following recycling processes.

The objectives of this proposed project also address the UW’s sustainability goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (UW, 2009; UW, 2010). If DME is able to be safely reused and redistributed to patients, emissions from the production of new products would be subsequently reduced. Further, we anticipate that our policy analysis may identify other opportunities to increase efficiency in the coordination of DME reuse among patients, UW Medicine locations, and community organizations that could result in decreased travel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Timeline:

Please see the uploaded PDF document describing the timeline of the proposed project.

Primary Faculty:
Jennifer 
Pitonyak
Primary Staff:
Alan 
Knue
Primary Student:
Anne 
Ordway

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Value-driven property-investing strategy for the UW campus—A lighting example

Total Amount Awarded: $69,277

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

The objective of this study is to demonstrate that lighting retrofits, which include personal controls and dimming capability, can generate significant energy savings and improve occupant experience/satisfaction, ultimately leading to better worker performance. The University of Washington (UW) has retrofitted and replaced existing lighting fixtures in university buildings with more energy-efficient fixtures as part of the campus-wide energy conservation effort. Although a reduction in electric power is a measured performance metric, the associated occupant experience is not currently evaluated. For example, replacing an incandescent lamp with a florescent light can reduce the total electricity consumption, but the associated light quality and impact on occupant performance are not assessed. However, there is emerging evidence that workspace strategies (e.g., lighting quality) impact productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, and even innovations in organizations. And because organizations are ultimately dependent on their human capital, finding empirical data to demonstrate that high-performing interior space (e.g., with individualized controls) affects employees in a positive way is crucial. 

The study will address the following research questions: (1) How much electricity savings can a lighting control strategy add to the existing lighting system without any control strategies? (2) What are the values added in terms of economics, but more importantly, what are the values added to the occupants? (3) Does a recent lighting retrofit project on campus perform according to established lighting audit protocols by such agencies as the Illuminating Engineering Society; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)? (4) If not, what deficiencies exist, and how can they be resolved? (5) How can the university monitor the lighting performance of all buildings on campus in the future to provide a superior occupant experience in buildings?

Specifically, the study proposes to measure the existing lighting quality both objectively by deploying sensors and subjectively by surveying occupants of the UW Tower before and after the retrofit. The current conditions include recently upgraded florescent light fixtures but do not include any personal controls or dimming capabilities. The research team have received support and permission from Facilities Manager Troy Swanson, Director of Operations Steve Kennard, and Associate Vice President of Office of Planning and Management Gary Quarfoth, to deploy sensors and surveys to the occupants on the 12th floor and to install the lighting control system on the 12th floor. The outcome of this study will generate a process for evaluating the success of a lighting retrofit in terms of both energy savings and the lighting quality in a building space.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

This research question has direct bearing on the UW sustainability goals in many ways. First, according to the updated Climate Action Plan of 2010 (University of Washington, 2010), regarding the renovation of existing buildings, the long-term goal is to connect capital investment strategies focused on both capital and operating budgets. A prime case that exemplifies the difficulty in connecting capital investment to a long-term operational solution is the UW Tower. Although the UW Tower has undergone incremental upgrades on the fixtures over the years, the investments only modestly improved the energy use in the building, and the overall ambient lighting quality of the space still leaves more opportunities to be explored.

Secondly, another goal of the Climate Action Plan is to function as a research center and test bed for greenhouse gas goal setting, reduction technologies, and administrative processes. Since the UW Tower is being used as a test bed, the proposed research is fulfilling this aspect of the Climate Action Plan. The results of this project will be helpful in understanding how lighting control strategies impact both energy and occupant performance. This point also resonates with the recent discussion that the PI had at a College of Engineering workshop to discuss the research thrust areas of “Infrastructure and Smart Cities” on November 17, 2014. Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Affairs Dr. Santosh Devasia was the workshop facilitator, and the objective of the workshop was to discuss in small groups the opportunities and challenges for the college to become a major player in the proposed area. The group consensus was that the university campus—with sustainable features such as smart meters equipped on over 256 buildings, access to a variety of green public transportation services, a pilot organic and locally based food-producing system, and a major thermal plant servicing the campus—should be the testing ground for many of the research questions. When successfully completed, the study findings will aid in reaching out to local, state, and national organizations to continue the research.

Finally, one of the goals of the smart grid project is to enhance UW education and promote academic research opportunities (University of Washington, 2014). As part of the smart grid projects, more than 250 energy meters have already been installed on campus buildings to measure energy usage in real time. This study will actively use and critically analyze the smart meter data for the proposed UW Tower study. Furthermore, during the process, the research team will be able to identify and demonstrate how the smart data are useful in further reducing the energy consumption in buildings around campus. In the fall 2014 quarter, the principal investigator also used the energy dashboard and information from the smart meter to teach the course CEE 498, Sustainability in Building Infrastructure. Through this project, the PI plans to incorporate more of the findings into the coursework to further enhance the educational experience for seniors.

Timeline:

The research team consists of Professor Amy Kim, staff member Scott Bybee, post-doctoral student Hessam Sadatsafavi, and graduate research assistant Benjamin Lukes. Dr. Kim will serve as the PI on this project. Integral to this team will be the advisory roles that Troy Swanson, Steve Kennard, and Ben Newton (Tenant Service Manager) will take on to ensure that the project is in line with university policies and administrative guidelines. Table 1, Timeline for the Proposed Investigation, provides the breakdown of the tasks the team will complete during calendar year 2015.  Please see the supporting documentation for detail information.

Primary Faculty:
Amy 
Kim
Primary Staff:
Scott 
Bybee
Primary Student:
Benjamin 
Lukes

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Measured Benefits of the UW Green Wall and Water Harvesting System, Additional Funds

Total Amount Awarded: $6,000

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

Designed and spearheaded by the UW Green Futures Lab (GFL), the UW Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen, and Water Harvesting System was completed in July 2013. It is located in the SE corner of Gould Hall on 15th Ave and NE 40th St. The project has been a great success, and has the potential to provide numerous benefits such as reducing building energy needs, conserving potable water, increasing urban biodiversity, and improving the experiential qualities of the urban environment. However, in order to both maximize these benefits and replicate them in future projects, they must be monitored, measured, and analyzed. This proposal aims to build off of the intellectual and financial capital already invested in this pioneering project in order to fully maximize its impact. 

Description of Constructed System

A green wall is any system in which plant material is suspended vertically along the side of a building or freestanding wall. The UW Green Wall was built specifically for demonstration and research purposes, thus it was built as a sliding panel that can be moved to abut a balcony for up close observation and inspection. The wide variety of plants attract diverse insect and bird species. In addition to supporting biodiversity, the green wall captures heat during the day and releases it at night. This helps regulate the temperature of the adjacent building and reduce the urban heat island effect.

Rather than rely solely on potable water, a water harvesting system was installed so that the green wall can be irrigated primarily with rainwater captured from the roof of Gould Hall. This has the multiple benefits of diverting rainwater that would otherwise become a source of polluted stormwater and conserving potable water resources.

The final component, the Edible Green Screen, consists of a lattice structure adjacent to the building wall supporting vining edible plants. The green screen provides similar thermal benefits to the green wall, and explores the viability of using this type of technology for urban agricultural production. Maximizing the research potential of the Green Wall System was at the core of all design decisions. Funding through Green Seed is necessary to fulfill the research opportunities it was intended to serve.

Current Green Seed Funding and this Application

We were awarded a $40,478 Green Seed Grant for 2014 and have currently completed 75% of the research. Our research team encountered some start delays and obstacles to collecting solid data that were out of our control (crows stealing our temperature sensors, a flow sensor breaking, bird camera installation delays, construction on Gould Hall) and we have been granted an extension on our research until Oct 2015 (from the original June 2015).  This application is for a small amount of funding to fulfill the extension needs.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The objectives of this project are to:

1) determine potential benefits of the green wall in climate impact mitigation and energy use reduction;

2) determine potential benefits of the green wall in enhancing urban biodiversity, including plants, insects and birds;

3) measure the extent of savings the water harvesting system can provide in reducing potable water use for green walls, and for reducing stormwater flows;

4) discover best practices for designing, planting and maintaining green walls using the hybrid hydroponic/soil pocket system;

5) educate UW students, faculty and staff about the potentials, pitfalls, and possible benefits of green walls and water harvesting systems;

6) disseminate the results of our research internationally and contribute to the advancement of green wall and water harvesting technology;

7) contribute to UW’s reputation for innovating and espousing sustainable practices.

 

The UW Biodiversity Green Wall, Green Screen and Water Harvesting System was constructed as a demonstration project primarily for research and education purposes.  This monitoring project will allow us determine the best practices for creating such systems, and thus open up opportunities to create similar projects across the university and beyond.  The initial monitoring study found the green wall to be successful as a thermal regulator, the water harvesting system was likewise found to successfully reduce polluted stormwater runoff and reliance on potable water.  In addition to measuring and recording these benefits, this research and monitoring project will allow us to discover ways to enhance them even further.  Therefore, this project has great potential to contribute to the University of Washington’s sustainability goals by:

1)    Reducing heating and cooling needs for buildings.  By acting as a heat sink during the day and a heat source at night, green walls reduce building energy demands. The EPA estimates the buildings account for 36% of total energy use and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

2)    Reducing polluted stormwater runoff. Water harvesting systems divert rainwater from building roofs that would otherwise either go to a water treatment facility or carry pollutants directly into water bodies.

3)    Conserving potable water.  By relying on rainwater inputs, the water harvesting system significantly reduces the need to irrigate the green wall with potable water.  Irrigation currently accounts for the majority of potable water usage in the United States.

4)    Enhancing urban biodiversity.  The green wall provides important habitat and foraging opportunities for birds and insects.

Timeline:

Our timeline is an extension of the current Green Seed Grant, outlined below:

 

Begin Extended Fauna Monitoring: April 1, 2015

End Extended Fauna Monitoring: June 30, 2015

Conduct Additional Flora Documentation:  June 30, 2015

Begin Extended Temperature Monitoring: December 1, 2014

End Extended Temperature Monitoring: September 30, 2015

Begin Extended Water Monitoring: December 1, 2014

End Extended Water Monitoring: September 30, 2015

Conduct Overall Analysis + Graphic/Written Communication of Outcomes: July-October 2015

Primary Faculty:
Nancy 
Rottle
Primary Staff:
Meegan 
Amen
Primary Student:
Leann 
Andrews

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

UWT Husky Lines

Total Amount Awarded: $35,915

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

For the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions since almost all of campus electricity is provided by hydropower.  The campus is growing fast, with 4300 students currently and plans to grow to 7000 students by 2017.  Moreover, as a non-residential campus serving South Puget Sound, almost all of these students must commute some distance to campus for class.  The aim of the Husky Lines Project will be to increase usage of public transportation by University of Washington Tacoma students through provision of bus lines, which run directly from high-density clusters of students to University campus with no transfers. In this initial phase of the project, a feasibility study for optimization of the program will be carried out using a mixed methods approach. First, the current distribution of the University’s students will be mapped, a network analysis will be conducted to determine the most accessible transit routes that will best serve students. In addition to this quantitative approach, a student surveys will be administered to collect qualitative data revealing barriers to student use of public transit. The qualitative data will also be mapped to see if there are any common barriers associated with certain geographic regions. These data will be compiled and used as the basis for recommendations for implementation of this program in the near future (separate request for funds from internal and external sources). The data would need to be regularly updated in future years to accurately represent new classes of students. At this point, the research would provide a template for easy re-creation of the same analysis, thereby leaving a legacy for the future of the university in terms of an existing program, and an easily worked-with system for updating the necessary data.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The proposed project specifically addresses UW’s sustainability goal of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”  UW Tacoma is a non-residential campus of 4300 students.  Due to a relatively green electricity source for this campus, transportation is the primary greenhouse gas emission source for the campus.  The research project outlined has as its specific aim to increase public transit usage by students and decrease drive-alone days.

Project Goal: Determine the existence of high-density clusters of students.

Objective: Obtain home addresses for students of the University of Washington Tacoma.

Objective: Compile data into GIS form.

Objective: Use GIS tools to locate paths which connect potential clusters of students and relate to existing bus routes for accessibility and travel time.

Objective: Identify routes for creation or alteration of bus routes that run directly to University campus with no transfers.

 

Project Goal: Identify logistical and perceptual barriers to student usage of public transit.

Objective: Improve ease of use for students using public transit

Objective: Encourage increased student usage of public transportation as a main means of transit to and from the University.

Objective: Set plan for implementing a new system of “Husky Lines”.

 

Project Goal:  Set the basis for a new transportation program through partnership between the University of Washington and Pierce Transit, or another third party, pending research.

Objective: Carry out cost/benefit analysis as justification for Husky Lines and for informing best method for creating new bus routes.

Objective: Identify best avenue for partnership or independent implementation.

Objective: Gauge which form of partnership will have the most benefit to the University.

Timeline:

The project will take place over the course of one year, beginning in Summer quarter 2015.

Summer quarter: Workflow creation, survey creation, survey research at New Student Orientation and online. Research will be conducted into survey app design and development processes, and will highlight any applications with similar purposes, functions, or designs.

Autumn Quarter: Continued surveying on campus and online, collection of existing data files (streets, bus routes) and formatting of the data to be ready for analysis, collection of student address data with post-processing to anonymize and secure personal data, collection and geocoding of speed limit data for travel time analysis.

Winter Quarter: Winter survey will wrap up the surveying phase of research. Student address data will be fully obtained and in GIS format by mid-quarter. Analysis of clusters and routes will begin.

Spring Quarter: Routes will be selected by mid-quarter. A cost/benefit analysis will be carried out using proposed routes and student numbers served. Present proposed routes and application plans to the University and Pierce Transit and discuss possible partnerships. Complete feasibility study and implementation plan.

Primary Faculty:
Britta 
Ricker
Primary Staff:
Surtida 
Shelton
Primary Student:
Alexa 
Brockamp

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Carbon Challenge: Footprint Reduction through Curricular Development and Community Building

Total Amount Awarded: $48,959

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

This interdisciplinary, multi-layered, and research-based project will create a campus-wide sustainability challenge involving a friendly and supportive competition between students, faculty and staff on the UW Tacoma campus to lose carbon weight. The competition, based on a successful pilot study (“UWT’s Biggest Loser”) conducted in autumn 2014, leverages social networks between students and their teachers that begin in the classroom and spread through the employment of “challenges” that students give to other members of the UW Tacoma community. The project as a whole begins with a workshop where ten participating faculty representing many divisions of the school of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences learn how to incorporate key concepts of sustainability into their course syllabi. Faculty will use their revised syllabi to participate in the campus challenge in autumn 2015: while they teach students core environmental concepts in the classroom, the students apply their knowledge in their everyday lives to lose carbon weight using standardized measurement tools.

The proposed project builds on the success of the pilot study and broadens the scope to include a research component. The initial study found that when students completed weekly writing assignments about their sustainable behavior they began to engage in deeper contemplation about environmental issues, including a perception of their own role in the continuance or resolution of these issues. As a result, during the “challenge” phase of the project, faculty will collect weekly reflections from the students about the environmental changes they are making in their lives on and off campus. Student coders will analyze the student reflections for key themes –including the “intellectual development scheme” developed by Perry (1970) for college students– as they relate to sustainable behavior and beliefs. Once the coding is complete, participating faculty will create collaborative research projects with other faculty and students that include presentations at national conferences and publications. The resulting data can be used in myriad ways: to identify barriers to specific environmental behaviors; to understand the role that reflection plays in making sustained environmental changes; and to build on existing research assessing the utility of social networks for sustainable change in academic settings.

This project meets the central goals of the University of Washington Climate Action Plan by: 1) significantly reducing the UW Tacoma community's carbon footprint by three million pounds; 2) potentially creating a successful model for the incorporation of sustainability principles into course curricula that can be applied by all three campuses; and 3) engaging faculty and students in collaborative research focused on sustainability.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The primary intent of this project is for members of the UW Tacoma community to gain awareness of environmental issues and take individual action to lose carbon weight in a supportive and diverse academic environment that involves community connection and activism as its key strategies. As noted in the CAP 2010 update, the overarching goal of the plan is substantive carbon reduction as a consistent move “toward climate neutrality” (p. 3). This research- and teaching-based campus project supports this goal as well as many of CAP’s supporting strategies, including engaging UW students and faculty in conservation and sustainable behavior change and integrating formal and informal learning on sustainability. These goals will be accomplished in several different ways.

Reduction in Carbon Emissions. One of the core components of the project is to have students not only learn about pressing environmental problems but also to develop an individual sense of agency by taking steps to adopt more sustainable behavior. With ten faculty members participating –and with an average of 30 students per class– the potential carbon “weight loss” is significant (see “Background and Rationale” for information about carbon loss in the pilot study). Applying the trends from the pilot study, it is estimated that the project could result in over three million pounds of carbon emission reduction among the UW Tacoma community –depending on several factors like class size, the number of challengers, and faculty involvement. This type of emission would fall under “Scope Three” (p. 21) as outlined in the 2009 CAP describing “other” emissions not related to campus infrastructure/operations but for which the University wishes to take responsibility.

Academic Engagement in Climate Change. One of the stated goals of CAP is to foster sustainable change through cross-disciplinary academic engagement by students and faculty. Because this project is supported by faculty from many different academic disciplines –including Communication, Philosophy, Writing Studies, Environmental Science, Literature, and Environmental Studies– it directly encourages engagement from a diverse student cohort, and not simply those taking an environmental course or with environmental science or studies as their major. 

The CAP also calls for “exciting opportunities for involvement and commitment inside and outside the classroom” (p. 5). This project fulfills the CAP goal of innovative learning connected to action through a sense of personal responsibility, where students learn about environmental problems while taking individual action to adopt sustainable behavior. This is especially true since much of the learning process takes place as a form of friendly competition with other members of UW Tacoma – a strategy that encourages communication about sustainability across the campus. The sense of agency to solve complex environmental problems has been identified as a crucial component in individual adoption of sustainable behavior (Norgaard, 2011; Zwickle and Koontz 2014). 

A key element of this project is engagement with the larger community, which the CAP identified as a crucial component of sustainable behavior. UW Tacoma serves a diverse, largely non-traditional student body that comes from many backgrounds and different areas of our local community. The smaller campaign on which this project is built revealed that students who engaged in the “carbon campaign” actively attempted to expand their sphere of influence to create a community of sustainability –including their parents, teachers, fellow students, and partners/spouses. In addition, part of the current project involves community events – including nationally recognized speakers – to raise awareness of UW Tacoma’s activities.  As a result of the myriad potential community connections, this project has the clear potential to fulfill the intention of the CAP to build “bridges of activism that connect our academic and administrative communities in common interests” (2010, p. 5). 

Engaging Faculty and Students in Research. The CAP identifies three ways to involve students on an academic level in climate change awareness and action, including “formal learning, extracurricular/informal learning, and research” (p. 5). A central component of this project is based in research endeavors among faculty members, staff, and students in several areas, including the assessment of the success of incorporating sustainability principles in a diverse set of classrooms, student reflections on making sustainable changes in their lives inside and outside the classroom, and the role of reflection and contemplation in short- and long-term environmental behavioral change. A portion of the funds for this project are designated specifically for research and travel funds for students who work with faculty on this project. Thus, this campaign addresses CAP’s call to “develop a mechanism for connecting faculty and students in research projects of mutual interest” (p. 7).

Summary. This project is designed to directly promote sustainable behavior through shared learning and community connection in an academic environment. Students on the UW Tacoma campus will learn about environmental issues and will be active in developing a sense of personal agency about sustainable change. The emissions reduction falls under the category of “other” (eg, Scope 3) within the CAP; however, it is clear that the campus forming a community around the common goal of sustainability can and will lead to more plans and projects for direct emission reduction.

Timeline:

The project is designed to start in late spring 2015 with the faculty workshop and conclude in autumn 2016 with the final conference presentation. 

First milestone: In June 2015 faculty will attend the three-day workshop that teaches them how to incorporate key concepts of sustainability into their syllabi.  Bringing their syllabi to this workshop, faculty will hear from experts in sustainability practices as well as participate in work groups and brainstorming exercises to understand how their individual courses can incorporate not only the campus carbon challenge campaign but broad principles of sustainability. Another goal of this workshop is to have faculty co-create the important “reflection prompts” they will use on a weekly basis. Although each class is different, the prompts used for all students (across classes) will be standardized.  Thus, once the workshop concludes in June, the first key milestone of the project is that faculty will have their syllabi and reflection prompts ready well in advance for the campaign starting in autumn quarter. 

Second milestone: Implementation and completion of the campus-wide carbon-challenge campaign in autumn 2015.  During autumn quarter faculty will actively participate in the campaign phase.  Faculty will teach the principles of sustainability that they have incorporated into their syllabi while students will use that information to decrease their carbon footprint in their everyday lives. Faculty will collect the weekly reflection prompts while providing key feedback, encouragement, and support to students about the reflections. Midway through the quarter, a guest speaker will come to campus who will talk to the campus about principles of sustainability while providing encouragement and feedback to participating students, faculty, and staff. Thus, the second milestone is to complete the autumn campaign: a) having lost three million pounds of carbon weight as a campus while 2) collecting valuable data from students about barriers, challenges, and successes associated with positive environmental change in their individual lives.

Third milestone:  Assessment of the student reflection data. Student coders will analyze reflections for key themes collected in autumn 2015.  These data will be compiled and summarized in broad themes for faculty (please see Research Phase I under “Scope and Methodology” for more information).

Fourth milestone: Faculty gathering at the Whitely Institute in May of 2016 will have the opportunity to understand the broad themes in the student reflections and form research collaborations with other faculty and students.  It is anticipated that there will be many possible ways to approach the data, and so faculty will have access to the “raw data,” as all student reflections will be submitted digitally (and will be organized by class and week for participating faculty and student researchers).  

Fifth milestone: In this final phase, faculty and students will present the findings of their collaborative research at various national conferences, concluding the final phase of this project (please see “Research Phase III under “Scope and Methodology.” 

Timeline of the project in summary: The majority of the project – including the autumn 2015 campus campaign, data collection, and data analysis – will be complete by June 2016.  However, the substantive research focus of this project includes faculty-student presentation at several conferences, extending the completion date to late autumn 2016.  

Primary Faculty:
Ellen 
Moore
Primary Staff:
John 
Burkhardt
Primary Student:
Tucker  
Baespflug

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Enhancing the Sustainability of Electronic Waste Handling on the UW Seattle Campus

Total Amount Awarded: $50,433

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

Electronic waste accounts for over 40 million metric tons of waste around the world annually and is responsible for 70% of heavy metals, 40% of lead, and up to 30% of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) that ends up in landfills.  This situation is not acceptable, much less sustainable.  What makes electronic waste so complicated is the many different sizes, shapes, forms, and compositions of that waste and the fact that recycling does not often proceed in the responsible and safe manner to which we associate the word ‘recycling’. A great deal of electronic waste ends up in informal economies, recycled by workers who have improper training in the handling of that waste and inadequate resources to protect themselves and the environment during processing of e-waste.  This project seeks to understand the types of electronic waste uniquely generated by academic research and education activity and create and use pathways to better collect, recycle, repurpose, and redirect this waste to a more sustainable “grave.”

Through the green seed grant program, we endeavor to redirect more volume and more types of electronic waste generated by research and teaching activity at the University of Washington to venues in which the ultimate fate of that waste minimizes harm to both ecosystem and public health.  To accomplish this goal, we first seek to estimate the total volume of electronic waste generated by our institution and to understand the ultimate fate of that waste. By gaining a detailed understanding of what and how much goes where, we can devise pathways by which the University of Washington, as a source of this waste and as a leader in sustainable practices, can redirect and repurpose electronic waste to support a truly greener solution to electronic waste handling.

In our effort, we will investigate both existing pathways for disposing of and recycling electronic waste and new pathways that are best suited to the educational and sustainability goals of our institution.  These pathways include but are not limited to building arts education kits using electronic components for K-16 audiences, repurposing electronic waste into robotics kits, and reusing working components and assemblies by initiating and maintaining a university-wide database of working but gently used electronics.

Our goal is to improve the roads down which electronic waste travels for greater sustainability.  The volume and heterogeneous nature of electronic waste that stems from electrical engineering (and other departments who host electronics laboratories) makes no easy solution to this challenge, but as electrical engineers who understand both the function and the composition of our waste, we are well positioned to make meaningful contributions to improving existing electronic waste handling practices at our home university.  

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

This effort is focused on contributing to the UW sustainability goal of reducing non-recoverable waste.  We seek to evolve our effort into an icon on the UW Sustainability Dashboard, titled  “Electronic Waste” as part of a combined effort among existing efforts to recover and process electronic waste responsibly and adding the portion of the waste stream that is generated by research and teaching activity but not recovered or handled appropriately.   We are not only seeking to reduce non-recoverable waste, but in the complex area of electronic waste handling, to identify best pathways for recycling, reusing, and repurposing this waste to minimize ultimate impact on public and ecosystem health.  

Timeline:

Goal #1

Identify the volume, nature, and range of the electronic waste stream that remains inappropriately captured or not captured at all on the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses as a result of research and teaching activity.   Surveys to be completed by end of Winter Quarter 2015; discussions with (a) targeted laboratory technicians and support staff who are directly involved with the use of electronics in research and teaching and (b) representatives from UW Surplus and Total Reclaim, to be completed by end of Spring Quarter 2015. 

Goal #2

Design, implement, and pilot recycle and reuse stations for electronic waste to be placed in electronics-heavy environments on campus.  Prototype stations to be implemented by Spring Quarter 2015, evaluated during Spring 2015, revised during Summer 2015, and re-implemented (second generation design) in Fall 2015. 

Goal #3

Design seminars, recorded lectures, multimedia, and web pages that convey the importance of proper handling of electronic waste in the research and education context.   Seminar and web pages to be designed during Winter 2015.   Up to five seminars to be given in engineering at UW Seattle campus in Spring 2015.   Multimedia materials and web pages to be completed during Summer 2015.   Additional seminars to be given outside of engineering during Fall 2015.

Goal #4

Devise, build, pilot, and evaluate potential repurposing strategies for waste electronics that are not effectively captured by other means or that could be more effectively recovered using repurposing for education.   Design first educational activity (The Story of Electronic Waste, Engineering Style) and associated art kit during Winter 2015; pilot activity and kit during Engineering Discovery days in April 2015 to a broad K-16 audience.   Design additional educational activities and kits using repurposed electronic waste (including compelling, accurate, and accessible instructions for disposing of these kits as needed) during Summer 2015.  Pilot kits during Summer Youth program 2015 and for public school and home school families in Fall 2015.  

Primary Faculty:
Denise 
Wilson
Primary Staff:
Jack 
Lockhart
Primary Student:
Rachel 
Roberts

This project was funded during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Measured Benefits: Monitoring the Impacts of the UW Green Wall and Water Harvesting System

Green Seed Fund Project Measured Benefits: Monitoring the Impacts of the UW Green Wall and Water Harvesting System
Total Amount Awarded: $40,478

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

Designed and spearheaded by the UW Green Futures Lab (GFL), the UW Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen, and Water Harvesting System was completed in the fall of 2012. Located in the southeast corner of Gould Hall on 15th Avenue and NE 40th Street, the award-winning project has been widely publicized and has the potential to provide numerous benefits such as reducing building energy needs, mitigating heat island effects, conserving potable water, reducing stormwater pollution, and increasing urban biodiversity. However, in order to both maximize these benefits and replicate them in future projects, they must be monitored, measured, and analyzed. Initial monitoring of the project in 2012 piloted research protocols to assess the 10’x10’ living panels’ capacity to cool exterior and interior temperatures, support bird and insect use, and contribute plant diversity to the urban environment. This initial monitoring also estimated the potable water savings and stormwater flow reduction from the water harvesting system that captures and stores Gould Hall roof water to irrigate the green wall. This proposal aims to refine and implement these monitoring methods over a longer research period to build from the intellectual and financial capital already invested in this pioneering project and to fully maximize its impact. 

The following article provides images and a description of the project: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/the_coolest_green_infrastructu.html

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. determine potential benefits of the green wall in climate impact mitigation and energy use reduction;
  2. determine potential benefits of the green wall in enhancing urban biodiversity, including plants, insects and birds;
  3. measure the extent of savings the water harvesting system can provide in reducing potable water use for green walls, and for reducing stormwater flows;
  4. discover best practices for designing, planting and maintaining green walls using the hybrid hydroponic/soil pocket system;
  5. educate UW students, faculty and staff about the potentials, pitfalls, and possible benefits of green walls and water harvesting systems;
  6. disseminate the results of our research internationally and contribute to the advancement of green wall and water harvesting technology;
  7. contribute to UW’s reputation for innovating and espousing sustainable practices.

The UW Biodiversity Green Wall, Green Screen and Water Harvesting System was constructed as a demonstration project primarily for research and education purposes. This monitoring project will allow us determine actual benefits such a project does (or does not) confer as well as the best practices for creating such systems, thus guiding opportunities to create similar projects across the university and beyond. The initial monitoring study found the green wall to be successful as a thermal regulator; and the water harvesting system was likewise found to successfully reduce polluted stormwater runoff and reliance on potable water. In addition to measuring and recording these benefits, this research and monitoring project will allow us to discover ways to enhance these benefits even further. Therefore, this project has great potential to contribute to the University of Washington’s sustainability goals by:

  1. Reducing heating and cooling needs for buildings. By acting as a heat sink during the day and a heat source at night, green walls reduce building energy demands. The EPA estimates the buildings account for 36% of total energy use and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
  2. Reducing polluted stormwater runoff. Water harvesting systems divert rainwater from building roofs that would otherwise either go to a water treatment facility or carry pollutants directly into water bodies.
  3. Conserving potable water. By relying on rainwater inputs, the water harvesting system significantly reduces the need to irrigate the green wall with potable water. Irrigation currently accounts for the majority of potable water usage in the United States.
  4. Enhancing urban biodiversity. The green wall provides important habitat and foraging opportunities for birds and insects.

Timeline:

February 2014: 

  • Establish Research Protocols
  • Order monitoring equipment (video camera, thermal sensors)
  • Literature Review

March 2014: 

  • Use installed irrigation monitoring equipment to begin assessment of water usage after final calibration of water harvesting system
  • Set up additional monitoring equipment (thermal sensors, video camera)
  • Solicit and train volunteers for observational biodiversity monitoring
  • Continue Literature Review

April - October 2014

  •  Set up website with real-time monitoring results and video stream
  •  Continue data recording and analysis based off of:
    •  water usage
    •  thermal monitors
    •  video feeds
    •  biodiversity assessments (plants, insects, and birds)
  •  Design and install interpretive signage with QR code linking to website (CSF funding request)
  •  Encourage UW and outside media to publicize research
  •  Continue Literature Review, compile into written document
  •  Regularly collate and review results, adjust monitoring protocols as necessary

November-December 2014:

  • Collate, review and interpret data
  • Write journal paper(s) and submit to journals such as:
    • Urban Forestry and Urban Greening (Elsevier)
    • Conservation Biology (Society for Conservation Biology)
    • Solutions Journal
    • Ecological Applications
    • International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability
    • Landscape and Urban Planning
    • Urban Ecosystems
    • Urban Environment & Urban Ecology
    • International Journal of Climate Change
    • Journal of the Built Environment

 January / Winter 2014:

  •  Review program, Report to Green Seed Fund
  •  Present to Administration
Primary Faculty:
Nancy 
Rottle
Primary Staff:
Meegan 
Amen
Primary Student:
Leann 
Andrews

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Grounds Utility Vehicle Carbon Footprint Comparison

Green Seed Fund Project Grounds Utility Vehicle Carbon Footprint Comparison
Total Amount Awarded: $32,170

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

This project will compare the utility performance of two different fuel-sourced vehicles at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens’ Washington Park Arboretum (WPA): electric and biodiesel, as well as the carbon footprint of the University of Washington associated with the operation of maintenance utility vehicles. As per the University of Washington Climate Action Plan, reduction of Scope 1 or direct emissions is necessary to keep the university in compliance with Washington State law. Reduction of Scope 1 emissions by the WPA grounds crew (and other UW grounds crews informed by our research) will also help the university achieve its goal of producing zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The use of University vehicles on the Seattle campus equals 1.48% of CO2 equivalent of scope 1 emissions. These are direct emissions, or pollutants directly originating from real estate or equipment owned by the university; a category of emissions that the university has more ability to control over scopes 2 and 3 emissions. This research will help grounds departments of all three campuses, as well as the WPA, to reduce and potentially eliminate grounds vehicles’ contribution to the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, the UWBG horticulture and maintenance staff relies on a mixed fleet of electric and diesel utility vehicles to care for the grounds and plant collections. Recent purchases of electric vehicles have been driven by the desire to reduce the university’s carbon footprint, but often power and usability are compromised in these vehicles causing staff to more frequently rely on diesel power vehicles that contribute to the university’s greenhouse gas emissions. This project will gather data that would inform grounds vehicle purchasing decisions regarding a vehicle that is strong enough for the daily needs of the WPA staff without contributing to the university’s production of greenhouse gas emissions.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

The specific goal of this research is to lower the carbon footprint of the WPA ground utility vehicles without compromising the associated strength, durability and user satisfaction of the vehicles. As per the University of Washington Climate Action Plan, reduction of Scope 1, or direct emissions, is necessary to keep the university in compliance with the gradual reductions of greenhouse gasses required under Washington State law. Reduction or elimination of Scope 1 emissions by the WPA grounds crew (and other UW grounds crews informed by our research) will also help the university achieve its goal of producing zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We will share the results of our work with the UW grounds crew to determine if they also should make a shift to new fuel sources for their grounds maintenance vehicles.

Currently, the use of university vehicles on the Seattle campus equals 1.48% of CO2 equivalent of scope 1 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions, or pollutants directly originating from real estate or equipment owned by the university; a category of emissions that the university has more ability to control over than scopes 2 and 3 emissions. This research will help grounds departments of all three campuses, as well as the WPA, reduce and potentially eliminate grounds vehicles’ contribution to the university’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Timeline:

A one-year timeline, beginning February 2014 and ending January 31st, 2015 is required for this proposal. This timeframe would allow us to test each vehicle in all four seasons and all types of weather and would allow time for potential problems with the biodiesel conversion to manifest and be resolved.

Major milestones in this proposal would be seasonal and would include evaluating each vehicle in the coldest months as well as the warmest months of the year. A quarterly report will be created to compare the fuel usage over the four quarters as well as the practicality of using both vehicles in all weather conditions.

*NOTE: Per team timeline extended by six weeks to mid-March. 

 

Primary Faculty:
Rick  
Gustafson
Primary Staff:
Kathleen  
DeMaria
Primary Student:
Christopher 
Watson

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Indoor Environment Quality Assessment

Total Amount Awarded: $75,410

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

In 2009, UW President Mark A. Emmert stated his intent to establish a climate-neutral campus [Climate Action Plan (2009)]. As part of a plan to accomplish this goal, over 216 smart meters have been placed on buildings at the Seattle campus to monitor energy consumption through the related Pacific Northwest Smart Grid demonstration project. Although reductions in power consumption in University buildings are an established performance target, and measurements of usage are available to administrators and researchers, the related indoor environmental quality for these buildings is not presently evaluated. 

Our primary objective is to investigate the indoor environmental quality of the LEED-certified Gold Husky Union Building on the Seattle campus through measurements of temperature, air speed, acoustics, lighting, and water consumption, and through an analysis of surveys of building occupants regarding indoor comfort. We seek to answer the questions:

1. Does the LEED-certified Gold Building perform according to established protocols by such agencies as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)?  
2. If not, what deficiencies exist? What strategies can be implemented to alleviate any problems?
3. How can we correlate measured indoor quality values to occupant satisfaction levels?
4. How can we monitor the performance of all buildings on campus in a non-invasive manner? 

Specifically, we propose to measure environmental quality metrics through instruments inside the HUB as previously undertaken by Kim (2012) in a different setting. Engineering Technician Yiming Liu of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will work with a graduate research assistant to order, calibrate, and test the necessary equipment for these measurements. The equipment will be mounted onto a moveable cart so that the research assistant will be able to take the cart to specific locations in the HUB to collect data on a regular schedule. The investigators (Profs. Reed and Kim) will provide guidance to the research assistant in the data collection and analysis. Our team, which has permission from HUB Associate Director Paul Zuchowski, will also undertake standard surveys for individuals who have offices in the building. The results will be compared with established protocols. 

The primary outcome will be a process for the evaluation of the indoor environment quality of any University building. We anticipate that this investigation will lead to the writing of a research proposal to national funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Department of Energy (USDOE) or the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

Our primary objective is to investigate the indoor environmental quality of the LEED-certified Gold Husky Union Building on the Seattle campus through measurements of temperature, air speed, acoustics, lighting, and water consumption, and through an analysis of surveys of building occupants regarding indoor comfort. We seek to answer the questions:

1. Does the LEED-certified Gold Building perform according to established protocols by such agencies as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)?
2. If not, what deficiencies exist? What strategies can be implemented to alleviate any problems?
3. How can we correlate measured comfort values to occupant satisfaction levels?
4. How can we monitor the performance of all buildings on campus in a non-invasive manner? 

We seek to understand the relationship between the occupant comfort and the related energy usage, as well as to quantify the uncertainties associated with the metrics for each. We note that the metrics used in this project are nondeterministic, and statistics of the derived time series data will be undertaken as part of the project. 

In the UW Climate Action Plan (2009), broad strategies are provided to achieve a climate-neutral university having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Table 3 (uploaded as a supplemental document) identifies how our proposed activities are related to the University’s sustainability goals.

Our project is also supportive of the University strategies outlined in Climate Action Plan (2009) for a climate-neutral campus in the following ways:

1. The team members and participants of this project will be directly “engaged in addressing sustainability issues” through the surveys and the data collected on the indoor environment. [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 11].
2. Because the administrators of the buildings on campus have a vested interest in creating and maintaining the indoor environmental quality, the results of this project will assist in the University Research Strategy to “link the academic and administrative communities in joint projects…”. [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 12].
3. According to the Climate Action Plan (2009) (p. 30), “[m]easuring and monitoring building performance is a technological strategy that enables behavioral strategies.” Our research project is one step towards accomplishing the proposed strategy to monitor and display building performance metrics in real time.
4. Tracking progress of the Climate Action Plan includes the use of “operational metrics that will broadly cover areas of energy conservation and savings…”.  [Climate Action Plan (2009), p. 65]. We will identify and develop metrics to monitor and assess indoor environmental quality as part of broader building performance metrics.

Timeline:

Our team consists of Profs. Amy Kim and Dorothy Reed, staff member Mr. Yiming Liu and graduate research assistant Mr. Shuoqi Wang.  Reed and Kim will serve as co-investigators on this project.  Table 4 (uploaded as a supplemental document) provides the breakdown of the following tasks we will complete during calendar year 2014.

Primary Faculty:
Dorothy 
Reed
Primary Staff:
Yiming 
Liu
Primary Student:
Shuoqi 
Wang

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Engaging laboratories in the University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences to establish a model for environmental sustainability

Total Amount Awarded: $58,221

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) is part of University of Washington’s (UW) School of Public Health. Practices within DEOHS have not been formally assessed with regard to environmental sustainability. With expertise in environmental health, occupational safety, and climate change, DEOHS has the capability and responsibility to provide leadership in this area and serve as an exemplary model for sustainability, paving the way for other laboratories, academic programs, and environmental health and safety groups. Departmental laboratories are one area in which substantial positive impacts could be acheived. DEOHS has 20 laboratories used for research, education, and analytical services. 

Although there are many existing programs that promote sustainability and green laboratory practices, there is little quantitative data to validate that green practices are actually improving environmental sustainability metrics.  Laboratory chemicals used in protocols and standard operating procedures are often selected without considering factors such as chemical toxicity, biodegradability, and energy use. Quantification of the cumulative environmental and human health impacts of chemicals by using life-cycle assessments and other means is necessary for researchers to make informed decisions. Laboratories are especially resource-intensive, using about four times as much energy as an office space of the same size. There are also large quantities of plastics used, which are often thrown out instead of recycled. Efforts to conserve energy and reduce waste need to be promoted and evaluated to provide quantitative support they are effective.    

The UW Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability office launched a Green Labs Certification program in the spring of 2013. However, there are certain sections of the application on which laboratories generally do not score high. There is a need to better understand barriers to scoring high on the UW Green Labs Certification application, and more granular data is needed on current practices to evaluate the impact of green strategies.   

The goals of this study are to facilitate adoption of the tools and sustainability metrics of the UW Green Labs Certification program by DEOHS laboratories, use an iterative process to expand use of the UW Green Labs Certification program, and develop better acceptance guidelines for low-scoring parts of the application. This project will allow us to identify where implementing green strategies will have the greatest impact and provide a process to quantify effects. We will highlight best practices for the UW campus, provide recommendations on how to implement green strategies, and serve as an example for other academic departments.             

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

As experts in the field of environmental health and occupational safety, DEOHS researchers can and should lead by example when conducting professional activities in a manner consistent with the principle of sustainability. We will identify areas for improvement and pilot-test green strategies to meet project goals. While the specific green strategies that we will evaluate depend on findings from baseline assessments and focus group meetings, a priori we aim to identify and pilot-test strategies that reduce hazardous chemical use, energy use, and non-chemical waste. Preliminary conversations with UW Campus Engineering & Operations, EH&S, and DEOHS faculty and laboratory staff indicate the following as potential strategies:

  • Lower nighttime temperatures in areas where department laboratories and offices are housed to reduce greenhouse gasses generated by heating
  • Make recommendations for energy efficient laboratory equipment that can be purchased to replace old equipment and demonstrate that costs can be recovered over the lifetime of equipment
  • Compare programs with centralized facilities for chemical storage and procurement to decentralized systems where individual laboratories purchase their own chemicals from vendors, evaluating chemical waste and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation of chemicals
  • Assess the components of kits (e.g. DNA extraction kits, reagent kits) that are promoted as “green” by vendors 
  • Investigate the use of recycled plastics and biodegradable polymers in laboratories where there are concerns over chemicals and biologically active material binding to certain types of materials

In addition, we will compare the cumulative environmental impacts of a chemical used in DEOHS laboratories and a potential “green” substitute, which will provide us with a complete picture from which we can make informed recommendations.

Timeline:

Aim 1: Baseline assessment, February-May 2014

  • Green labs certification applications, February-March 2014
  • Interviews, February-May 2014
  • Analyze purchasing records, March-May 2014
  • Chemical and equipment inventories, March-May 2014
  • Waste stream audits, March-May 2014
  • Monitor energy and water use, March-May 2014

Aim 2: Compile green strategies, February-May 2014

Aim 3: Focus group meetings, May-June 2014

Aim 4: Pilot-testing, June-November 2014

            Evaluations, September 2014-January 2015

Aim 5: Chemical life-cycle assessments, May-December 2014

Aim 6: Refine assessment and evaluation tools, November 2014-January 2015

Aim 7: Webinar development, June 2014-January 2015

Aim 8: DEOHS sustainability framework development, May 2014-January 2015

Primary Faculty:
Christopher 
Simpson
Primary Staff:
Jennifer 
Krenz
Primary Student:
TBD 
TBD

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Building User Audit: Capturing Behavior, Energy, and Culture

Total Amount Awarded: $73,156

Final report poster or presentation: View the PDF

The UW Climate Action Plan (CAP) states that the most important driver of GHG reductions is energy use, and while the UW has made great strides in reducing energy consumption on campus, a greater understanding of demand-side energy use in campus buildings is necessary to meet emissions reduction targets. The Sustainability Dashboard, Smart Grid, and other audit programs have raised awareness of campus building energy consumption and have helped identify locations for conservation efforts; however lack of a framework to accurately account for the effects of user influence on building energy consumption will limit the ability of UW to meet its CAP goals. This is the issue this proposal seeks to address: now that the UW understands how much energy is being used in campus buildlings, we need to understand how people impact that energy use. The project will use the UW campus as a living, learning laboratory and the project team will draw on existing relationships with the Capital Projects Office, Engineering and Operations, and Maintenance and Construction in the development of a building use audit tool.

This proposal will develop and pilot a building use audit tool that observes and analyzes the effects of occupant behavior on building energy consumption. The tool will include two components:
1. development of a baseline of the physical characteristics of user behavior
2. a baseline for the cultural context of the building’s users

Physical characteristics include the patterns of use for lighting; the density and use of equipment plug loads; when, and how often, windows are being opened and closed; and the number of occupants using the buildings and on what schedules. Consideration of cultural context is relevant since the buildings at UW house different departments and functions and thus these different users will interact with buildings in different ways.

The proposal involves three phases (development, testing, and dissemination) which will take place over the course of one calendar year (Feb. 2014 - Feb. 2015). These phases involve development of the building use audit tool, selection of 3 -4 campus buildings, testing of the tool through two pilot audits, and presentation of the results to CPO and FS staff. The ultimate deliverables are the results of the building audits and a comprehensive building audit tool that CPO and FS can use to establish baselines for how buildings are used and to help improve energy efficiency on new construction and renovation projects.

Finally, this project advances many of the CAP goals by fostering interdisciplinary research across UW faculty and staff, by offering students the opportunity to gain valuable research skills and enriching their understanding of green building sustainability issues, and by increasing the ability of UW to meet emissions reduction targets in its future developments.

Relevance to UW Sustainability Goals:

Academic Engagement
The CAP emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary work and also that the UW seeks to “link the academic and administrative communities in joint projects that are likely to contribute directly to UW’s climate goals” (pg. 12). Campus-based interdisciplinary activities are at the heart of this proposal. We propose to leverage existing relationships to engage students, faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines, departments and divisions to consolidate and translate knowledge about campus building operation and energy use through the development of a building use audit that includes human factors, a cultural assessment of users, operational knowledge from facilities, and data from building sensors. 

A historical timeline provided in the CAP documents the development of UW policy and environment programs. This project team, however, did not see the College of Built Environments (CBE) represented and we see this as an opportunity to connect CBE research to university wide initiatives. The proposed project will take advantage of the expertise of the CBE through a project team consisting of faculty and students with backgrounds in architecture, engineering, and green building science, in partnership with faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Communications. There is a wealth of untapped knowledge in existing and potential collaborative partnerships between this proposal team and the UW staff, specifically the Capitol Projects Office, Campus Engineering and Operations, and Facilities Maintenance and Construction.

These cross-disciplinary partnerships can provide information about the use of campus buildings that mono-disciplinary research is unable to provide. For example, maintenance staff will have a different understanding of building use that will complement engineering and operations knowledge about the same building. Interdisciplinary partnerships and research will foster a more holistic understanding of building use and will bring together a broader range of expertise in research methods, resulting in more rigorous analysis and more useful deliverables. Engaging the campus at multiple levels demonstrates the commitment of the UW in regards to the environmental impact of our community and campus.

The CAP calls for student participation in research and engagement in addressing climate-action and sustainability issues. Students will be trained to perform building use audits and will learn about the impact of the built environment and patterns of occupancy on energy use. Students will gain research skills, both in quantitative data gathering and qualitative interviews. Students will also have the opportunity to learn from faculty and facilities staff about improved design and operation of buildings. This combination of cross-disciplinary learning activities will offer architecture and engineering students a rich learning experience and the opportunity to build real-world design, practice and collaboration skills that will strengthen their ability to participate in forward-thinking practice upon graduation.

Reducing University Emissions
This proposal directly targets Scope 1 of University Greenhouse Gas Emissions: direct emissions that originate from real estate and equipment owned by the university. It also addresses strategies for reducing university emissions (Section 4.2 and 4.3). The CAP identifies recommended actions and, while user behavior is not explicitly mentioned, this proposal directly relates to several of these strategies.

The CAP expresses need for integrated design including the participation of building users. Including building use audits in design and retrofit processes will improve the ability of the UW to implement energy efficient designs. Similarly, making informed energy decisions involves a holistic understanding of building energy consumption, which includes the systems as well as occupant behavior. Energy modeling is mentioned as a tool to help make informed energy decisions. However, current modeling software packages are limited in their ability to model human behavior. Thus, a UW building use audit tool will help fill this gap and render energy modeling results more accurate and effective. Next, the CAP references the need to measure and monitor building performance. Observation of building use patterns is necessary to identify greater opportunities for conservation. Understanding occupant schedules and behavior can help the UW implement advanced energy control strategies and behaviour-change initiatives to further reduce energy consumption.

Outreach and Engagement
This project could lead to outreach aimed at furthering the achievements of the UW in fostering a more sustainability oriented community. For example, the UW Green Teams brings together faculty, staff and students to discuss environmental sustainability issues. This project team could present the results to the Green Teams and pass along the building use tool for use in their own audits.

This project is also envisioned as the first phase in a potential multi-phase project. Phase 2 could involve the development of outreach methods and tools for green building teams and FS staff to connect building use audit results with initiatives for behavior change. The Sustainability Dashboard could be used as a medium for communicating results of future building use audits to the larger community. Collaboration with the work of Julie Kriegh around culture and user behavior  could help inform campus wide campaigns encouraging changes in building use behavior. Finally, this proposal could also lead to future work with CPO by influencing how they can incorporate building use audits into new construction and renovation project designs and also how to translate results into energy modeling assumptions.

Timeline:

SCHEDULE OF WORK

Part 1 - Tool Development & Building Selection

  • Tool Development *  ..........................................................Feb 2014 - May 2014
  • Interviews with FS & CPO to select pilot buildings.......Feb 2014 - April 2014
  • First pilot audit on selected buildings ** ........................May 2014 - June 2014

Part 2 - Tool Revinement and Analysis

  • Tool Refinement ................................................June 2014 - Oct. 2014
  • Analysis of initial pilot audit .............................June 2014 - Oct. 2014
  • Analysis and refinement of methods .............June 2014 - Oct. 2014
  • Second pilot audit on selected buildings ......Nov. 2014 - Dec. 2014

Part 3 - Dissemination of Findings

  • Analysis of second audit data ...........................Dec. 2014 - Jan. 2015
  • Consolidate overall findings and analysis .....Dec. 2014 - Jan. 2015
  • Presentation of findings to CPO & FS .............Jan. 2015 - Feb. 2015

* Criteria for use in building audits will be developed from literature and interviews/focus groups with faculty, staff, and studentes
** Audits will include interviews with key faculty, staff and students as well as data logging and direct observations

Primary Faculty:
Heather 
Burpee
Primary Staff:
John 
Chapman
Primary Student:
Aran 
Osborne

This project was funded during the 2013-2014 academic year.