Blue Carbon: How River Estuaries Help Combat Climate Change

A new video released by Earth Corps details how river estuaries help combat climate change by sequestering huge amounts of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide that becomes a part of this cycle is known as blue carbon (blue coming from the water involved in this cycle). Because of the incredibly fast cycle of growth, decay and soil buildup in river estuaries, carbon is absorbed and stored underground. In fact, if the Snohomish River Estuary, about a mile north of EvCC’s campus, were restored completely, it could sequester enough carbon to be equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road by 2100. This means that estuaries are far better carbon sinks (the term for a biome that stores more carbon than it emits) than forests.

This new information proves how imperative it is that we continue the efforts to restore our river estuaries and improve our land management practices as we work toward averting the worst implications of climate change.

Watch Blue Carbon by clicking here!

Earth Corps has given us permission to circulate this video around campus, so if you’d like to use it in a presentation to students or staff, feel free and we encourage you to do so!

Cedar Hall Game Night and Energy Challenge Kick-Off

Thursday, January 11, the Cedar Hall Programming Intern worked hard to host the Cedar Hall Game Night, an event that was intended to build and foster a sense of community between residents living in Student Housing. The interns main goal was to build a positive relationship between Cedar Hall and Mountain View, new and returning residents, and domestic and international students. This event was the best attended held in Cedar Hall so far.

Also at this event was our Sustainability Team, hosting the kickoff for the Cedar Hall Energy Challenge! The challenge officially begins in February, and signups are going on now. The challenge is simple: EvCC Sustainability will determine the baseline energy usage for each unit in Cedar Hall using January’s data from the PUD. During the month of February, residents who have signed up their unit to participate in this challenge simply need to find ways to cut their electricity consumption. Since they are competing against their own baseline, the goal is to use less energy in February than they did in January.

At the end of the challenge dates, EvCC Sustainability will review the electricity usage data and compare each units consumption with their baseline. The ten residents whose units made the biggest reductions in electricity usage will receive a prize valued at $50 each.

Thanks to Residence Life Staff and others who helped make this event so popular, and also for supporting EvCC Sustainability!

If you live in Cedar Hall and want to sign up for the challenge, follow this link!

A few photos from the Cedar Hall Game Night, courtesy of EvCC Marketing

2018 EvCC Sustainability Pledge

We all know that its important to start your New Year off right. So, for January’s monthly Sustainability Outreach event, we decided to help students and staff with their New Years Resolution and encouraged them to pledge to reduce their consumption of disposable water bottles and plastic grocery bags. We even provided a reusable water bottle or reusable bag as an incentive. Thanks to all 47 students and staff who signed the pledge!

Now you may be wondering why this is important. Here are a few facts about the problems associated with the consumption of bottled drinks:

  • In the US, we use enough plastic bottles to circle the globe…twice…each week.
  • More water is wasted during the production process than ends up in the final product. The Pacific Institute estimates that for every liter sold, it represents 3 liters of water.
  • The plastic used for bottling in the US uses about 17 million barrels of crude oil. That’s enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a full year.
  • The energy used to produce plastic bottles in the US is enough to power almost 200,000 homes.
  • The entire process of bottling and transporting the product produces about 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming)  annually, as estimated by the Pacific Institute.

We encourage you to do some research of your own and learn more about the dangers of using so much plastic, and maybe even find some great alternatives to purchasing bottled water.

If you are interested in signing this pledge but were not able to attend the event, click on the image below. We appreciate your support for sustainability!

 

Annual Earth Week Celebration: Earth Art Competition

This year during Earth Week, EvCC Sustainability is partnering with the Art Department to host an Earth Art Competition. This competition is open to any currently enrolled EvCC student, staff or faculty. Prizes are as follows:

1st place: $300.00
2nd place: $200.00
Peoples Choice: $150.00

Competition rules:
1. 
Entries must be at least 75% reclaimed, recycled, upcycled or otherwise reused.
2. Entries must be ready to put on display in the Whitehorse Hall Critique Space by Tuesday, April 17. They will remain on display through Thursday April 19, the day in which the entries will be judged. Judging will take place between 1 pm and 3 pm on April 19.
3. All entries must be removed from the Whitehorse Hall Critique Space by 3:00 pm on Friday, April 20. Any entries left in the Critique Space beyond this time will become EvCC property and disposed of accordingly.

To sign up for this competition, follow this link and submit your entry form today!

Having trouble with the link?  Contact sustainability@everettcc.edu for other entry form options.

 

Utilities Trends Over the Years

This chart shows the year-to-year comparison of EvCC’s utilities consumption between 2015 and 2017. This chart tracks water, natural gas and electricity usage, as well as trash and recycling output. Lets do a break-down of each type of utility, and what this chart tells us about our usage.

Water

EvCC uses a lot of water. Water is used to irrigate flowerbeds and lawns, heating buildings, and of course, consumed by students and employees. Though there was a slight uptick in water usage between 2015 and 2016, the data for 2017 shows an approximately 30% reduction in water consumption. This is mostly due to a project taken on by Brent Sall from the Ground Crew, in which the valves on our irrigation system were updated in order to install a controller on each valve. This allows us to water our gardens and lawns more efficiently, reducing the amount of water needed.

Natural Gas

Natural gas powers the boilers on campus that provide the heat for all of our buildings. The unit of measurement for natural gas is therms, which is simply just a measurement of heat. It is equivalent to 1.055 × 108 joules. The data shows a steady decline in natural gas usage since 2016, a reduction of approximately 30%. Woo!

Electricity

Our electricity consumption, measured in kilowatt-hours (KWH) experienced a slight decline between 2015 and 2016, but after the opening of two new student housing buildings, our electricity consumption increased by approximately 50%. To address this, EvCC Sustainability plans to coordinate with Student Housing to implement energy savings practices, such as energy challenges for residents to participate in.

Trash and Recycle

Since co-mingled recycling came to campus in 2006, EvCC has managed to recycle the same, if not more, than it sends off to the landfill. During 2015 and 2016, most of EvCC’s solid waste output was recyclable material. But, once again, with the opening of Student Housing, the scales have tipped toward more landfill destined waste than recyclables. This may be due to a lack of education and outreach efforts to ensure our residents understand proper recycling practices. Just as EvCC Sustainability plans to address electricity consumption by working with Student Housing, we intend to work with them on reducing the amount of improperly disposed material as well.

The Takeaway

Sustainability is not a one-and-done project that can be left alone. It’s a continuous process of learning and collaborating to find innovative solutions that will further reduce our impact on the environment. And, we can’t do it alone! If you or your department is interested in finding ways to advance our sustainability mission, contact us at sustainability@everettcc.edu.

 

EvCC Wildlife Garden: 11/6/17 Update

Now that Phase 1 of this project is complete, it’s time to show off the hard work of our Grounds Crew. Take a look:

View of entire project site.
Close-up of the “Columbia Bowls,” basalt dishes that create ideal bird baths.
Flowering Dogwood
Vine Maple and Mountain Hemlocks

Three loads of compost and four loads of topsoil later, the results are better than we imagined! Currently the beds contain a mix of vine maples, one flowering dogwood, one rocky mountain fir tree, and a handful of mountain hemlocks. Phase two will consist of filling in the empty spaces between the trees with smaller shrubs, annuals and perennials.

And, just for fun, here’s John Syson celebrating by fishing out of the newly installed birdbaths.

John Syson, Grounds Crew Lead, fishing in the new bird baths

EvCC Wildlife Habitat Project: 10/18/17 Update

With the first frost upon us, the ground has been broken on the EvCC Wildlife Habitat project. Over the last few weeks, the turf has been killed but the grass and root material have been left in place in order to compost in the newly laid soil. This will provide additional organic matter and nutrients to the trees and shrubs that will soon be planted.

The next step taken was turning over the soil to break up the layer of roots near the surface, and fresh soil was incorporated to make the planting process easier. The next steps will be adding the plants and installing the bird baths, which will be constructed using Columbia Basalt dishes.

Columbia basalt dishes creates an ideal bird bath

Once the rest of the ground has been turned up and new soil laid on top, the rest of the project should be quickly coming to completion. Check back soon for more updates!

EvCC Grounds Crew laying new topsoil. (notice the steam rising in front of the tractor bucket)

UPCOMING EVENT: Energy Efficiency Fair by Snohomish County PUD

Purchase low cost energy efficiency appliances here on campus, on Wednesday October 18 from 11:30 am till 2:00 pm in the second floor hallway of Parks Student Union. The PUD team hosting this event will be selling a Home & Bath Savings Kit which includes 8 LEDs, 2 filament LEDs, a showerhead with smart adapter, and two faucet aerators for just $10.00 plus tax. This normally would cost $75.00 so don’t miss your chance to save up to $250.00 annually on energy costs for a fraction of the retail price. Also offered at this event is an LED flood light pack, that has the savings potential of up to $45.00 per year. Please read this flyer for more details.

 

The totals are in!

As the 2016-2017 school year officially comes to a close, many of us are reminiscing on the phenomenal year here at EvCC. For us in the sustainability business, it is no different. Except, rather than looking back at great memories, we are reviewing data collected on energy consumption and other utility usage, such as water and natural gas. In doing so, we’ve calculated the total amount of renewable energy generated by the Liberty Hall Rooftop Solar Array. Any guesses?

23,607 KWH of clean, green electricity, which is fed back into the grid rather than consumed directly by the campus. Considering an average US household consumes about 10,000 KWH of electricity each year, EvCC can proudly say that it provided a years worth of energy for at least 2 four-bedroom houses! A big thanks to the PUD and Washington State Legislature for the grant funding that put these panels on the roof of Liberty Hall! Hopefully, as the campus grows, the solar project will too, increasing our contribution to building a sustainable community!

DID YOU KNOW… That you can sign up for a tour of the Liberty Hall Rooftop Solar Array and see the green energy production in action? Just email us at sustainability@everettcc.edu with the subject “solar tours.”