Facilities Services receives $1 million for energy conservation

March 7, 2012

Facilities Services is continuing a long-standing energy conservation partnership with Seattle City Light in an agreement for the utility to fund energy conservation initiatives on campus. The agreement provides retroactive funds for capital and staff resources to implement and maintain several energy conservation measures.

“It’s a big deal for us,” said Charles Kennedy, associate vice president for Facilities Services.

Genetically Engineered Stomach Microbe Converts Seaweed into Ethanol

January 19, 2012

Seaweed may well be an ideal plant to turn into biofuel. It grows in much of the two thirds of the planet that is underwater, so it wouldn't crowd out food crops the way corn for ethanol does. Because it draws its own nutrients and water from the sea, it requires no fertilizer or irrigation. Most importantly for would-be biofuel-makers, it contains no lignin—a strong strand of complex sugars that stiffens plant stalks and poses a big obstacle to turning land-based plants such as switchgrass into biofuel.

UW students to design ultra-efficient hybrid powered by biodiesel

January 24, 2012

The engineering students of today will soon be designing the cars of tomorrow. In an effort to draw the best and brightest minds to the automotive field, the U.S. DOE has a long history of sponsoring advanced vehicle design competitions to foster innovation and skill development in the fields of vehicle design and engineering. In fact, the department has sponsored this type of competition for 23 years, during which time approximately 16,500 students have participated, with the vast majority of them finding work in the automotive sector.

Commentary in Nature: Can economy bear what oil prices have in store?

January 26, 2012

Stop wrangling over global warming and instead reduce fossil-fuel use for the sake of the global economy.

That’s the message from two scientists, one from the University of Washington and one from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who say in the current issue of the journal Nature (Jan. 26) that the economic pain of a flattening oil supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels.

Sustainable Growth

January 9, 2012

This spring, the Quad’s vibrant cherry blossom trees will be given a run for their money. By then, a green wall — a diverse wall of vegetation — will cover the side of Gould Hall. The green wall is a part of a Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen + Water Harvesting Demonstration project. The green screen will be for plants that are planted in the ground and climb like vines, which will allow students to explore the concept of vertical surfaces as a way to grow local plants when space in an urban environment is limited. The water-harvesting demonstration portion will capture water from the roof of Gould Hall and store it in a cistern to be used for irrigation.

UW staffer zeros out daily commute costs, carbon footprint

January 6, 2012


University of Washington staffer Bob Edmiston was unhappy with his commute.

It took him a half hour each way driving between his Madison Park home and the university, using $2 worth of gas and paying $7 for parking. He didn’t like using that much time and paying that much money, and he was concerned about his carbon footprint.

So Edmiston used his job skills to figure out what to do. He calls himself a user-experience researcher; he finds out what people need to do to get their jobs done and helps build the software tools they need to do that.

Biofuels: A Poplar Idea

December 13, 2011

Poplar trees grow big and fast. They make great privacy screens, and poplar wood is used to make chopsticks and even the backs of stringed instruments like the viola. Now imagine this: within the next few years, the jet you take from Seattle to New York may be running on poplar-based jet fuel.