As a national leader in both research and sustainability, University of Washington faculty and students are approaching sustainability through innovation and collaboration. The stories highlighted below provide a glimpse into the research happening on campus through our News Stories and Sustainability Snapshots. Please feel free to send research to be highlighted to oess@uw.edu.

Clean Energy Testbeds

February 2017

The Clean Energy Institute (CEI) created the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds to accelerate the development, scale-up, and adoption of new technologies in solar harvesting, energy storage, and grid integration. This open-access facility for academic researchers and businesses houses labs for manufacturing prototypes, testing devices, and integrating systems.

UW and Seattle City Light partner on solar testbed installation

Aug. 25, 2016

The University of Washington is installing solar panels on three residence halls in partnership with Seattle City Light's Green Up program to support research on clean energy and smart grid technology.

"This project will put our students in the middle of a quiet revolution, the digitization of energy," said UW Clean Energy Institute Director Daniel Schwartz. "Setting up a major new testbed facility takes vision and partners, so we truly appreciate the way local industry, the state, and federal funders came together to support the UW team."

Seattle City Light's Green Up program is contributing $225,000 toward the purchase of the solar panels. This contribution enabled the UW to compete for the Washington State Department of Commerce Solar Grant Program, which is also giving $225,000 in matching funds.

GCA Reduces Paper JVs

March 2016

As of March 1, 2016, Grant and Contract Accounting (GCA) digitizes and uploads department copies of journal vouchers to GrantTracker, its database-driven website, instead of sending them through campus mail. The change has contributed to the University’s goal of sustainability by reducing the amount of paper needed to administer its grants and contracts.

UW researcher finds causes behind Greenland's darkening ice

UW Today
March 9, 2016

A researcher from the University of Washington is co-author on a new paper which reveals the cause of Greenland's darkening ice sheet.

Sarah Doherty, a research scientist at the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, was co-author on the study, which has found that the darker ice sheet is caused by Climate Change rather than air pollutants. The researchers have found that warming leds to larger ice crystals and more impurities coming to the surface of the ice, which leads to even more melting as the darker ice absorbs more sunlight.

The findings will help scientists better model the effects of Climate Change and the contributions of Greenland's melting ice to future sea-level rise.

UW engineers help develop cleaner cookstove

UW Today
Feb. 24, 2016

A efficient, clean-burning cookstove developed by the non-profit BURN Design Lab - collaborating with UW mechanical engineers - can reduce the amount of fuel needed by 55 percent while also cutting down on particulate pollution.

Such a stove can make a big difference for much of the world. Smoke from open cooking fires and stoves causes millions of deaths and illnesses, and gathering wood and other fuel can expose vulnerable populations to dangerous risks.

The stove new stove will be produced in Nairobi, Kenya, and will be sold to famers and plantation workers for approximately $35 each.

Study finds composting is best option

UW Today
Dec. 16, 2015

A new University of Washington study has confirmed the best option for disposing of unused food and yard waste is composting rather than sending it to the landfill.

Food waste generates the greenhouse gas methane when it decomposes in landfills, but not when it's composted. Cities such as Seattle with municipal composting avoid generating a large amount of methane as a result of keeping the organic materials out of the landfill.

The study shows that food waste is universally better suited to composting than landfills. For yard waste, there are more variables involved and in some regions the waste may break down more slowly in landfills than in others, creating less methane. However, even though the variations make it hard to quantify the environmental benefit of composting yard waste, mixing yard waste and unused food provides a better mix for the composting process.

How do trees react to climate change?

UW Today
Dec. 10, 2015

UW researchers studying trees in the Rocky Mountain West have found trees use different coping strategies when faced with drought and warmer temperatures. The results may help scientists determine how forests will adapt to future climate change.

Biology graduate student Leander Anderegg and biology professor Jenneke Hille Ris Landers compared two common tree species that live in Colorado's La Plata Mountains. The study found that while ponderosa pine hunker down and implement conservation strategies in drought and hot weather, trembling aspen in the same area instead press on and try to keep growing even as water becomes scarse.

Good news for California blue whales

UW Today
Sept. 5, 2014

University of Washington researchers have found that the population of California blue whales has likely risen to pre-whaling levels, the only population of blue whales to show such a recovery.

Monitoring the Arctic summer ice melt

Photo by Eric Regehr/USFWS
July 18, 2014

Researchers from the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory are part of a large-scale effort to closely monitor the summer sea-ice melting in the Arctic.

Sensors placed around ice in the Beaufort Sea will provide a wealth of data on the melting process, which will help discover how changing ocean conditions will affect the ice. The project, funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, includes scientists from several countries and institutions.

Pollution keeps moths from meals

June 30, 2014

Researchers at the University of Washington and University of Arizona have found that background odors like pollution can keep moths from finding the scent of the flowers they need for food.

The researchers used wind tunnel tests to find that moths could be confused when the scent of their preferred Sacred Datura flowers was mixed with creosote bushes, which naturally grow alongside flowers. The test also showed the moths could be confused by man-made scents such as car exhaust. Since the moths need to feed often - one flower fuels the moth for about 15 minutes - any confusion can be a problem for the insects.

The moths are pollinators for the flowers, and the researchers say a natural next step is to see if other pollinators, such as honeybees, are also affected by pollution and other man-made scents.