The View from T-Hall

Here's to the Blue, White and Green

Even though the university is blanketed in winter white, there are glimpses of green everywhere I look. With each passing day, I am learning that the UNH community is remarkable in many ways. When it comes to its commitment to a sustainable future, UNH is a leader among its peers.

Despite recent record snowfall, UNH researchers and students are discovering troubling new information about climate change in New Hampshire that has relevance for our region and the world beyond. Among recent examples is the work of Elizabeth Burakowski '07G, who conducted the most comprehensive analysis to date on changes in winter climate across the Northeast, working in collaboration with research associate professor Cameron Wake '93G of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. Their findings confirm that winters in our region have been warming over the past four decades and that the number of snow-covered days has been decreasing each decade.

From the slopes to the seas, UNH scientists and their students play a critical role. Scientists from the UNH Large Pelagics Research Center joined colleagues from 25 countries at the first Climate Impacts on Oceanic Top Predators Symposium in La Paz, Mexico. Together, they launched a 10-year project designed to offer new insights on the impact of climate on the top predators in the world's oceans. These predators include tuna, billfish, sharks, marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds.

And students like Aaron Kornbluth, who is a Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, excel by taking what they've discovered to seats at important tables everywhere. Kornbluth, a natural resources graduate student, is combining scholarship with his interest in environmental policy by serving on NOAA's Ecosystem Research Program Management Team, helping to coordinate ecosystem research in Washington, D.C.

The fruits of UNH scholarship and research are varied and pertinent. As the world confronts the threat of climate change, all eyes are focused on solutions large and small. On our campus and throughout our region, we are making strides toward the development of a truly sustainable community, one that makes both environmental and financial sense.

Progress continues on the EcoLine(tm) methane pipeline that will bring landfill gas from the Waste Management Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise facility in Rochester, N.H., to the UNH co-generation plant. When completed, it will make UNH the first university in the United States to use landfill gas as a primary energy source. This extraordinary achievement is highlighted in the Campus Currents section of this issue, and I encourage you to read more about this breakthrough collaboration.

As you may have heard, UNH was awarded the first EPA Energy Star ratings for residence halls in the country; we now have eight designated buildings. This accomplishment is due in no small part to the work of UNH engineering students who participated in the analysis and evaluation along with EPA officials.

Our efforts toward meeting sustainable design standards continues with the reconstruction of DeMeritt Hall, currently underway, and the upcoming renovation of James Hall. UNH's design guidelines call for environmentally friendly, energy-efficient systems and components. For instance, more than 98 percent of the rubble generated from the demolition of the old DeMeritt Hall—amounting to 2,325 tons—has been recycled.

The entire community is united in its desire to reduce, re-use and recycle. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, faculty and staff members and students saved approximately 279,400 kilowatt-hours of energy, $52,000 in energy and water costs, and 140 metric ton equivalents of carbon dioxide emissions through our "powerdown" initiative. Our Wildcat Transit system has reduced emissions significantly; we estimate that in one year, there have been 1 million fewer private vehicle trips to campus, equivalent to an estimated 4.5 million fewer vehicle miles driven. With one million-plus riders this past year alone, our transit service—with the majority of our vehicles running on alternative fuels—is the largest in the state. And, beginning in April, the UNH transit fleet will be fare-free one day per month for all Durham residents through its "Free on the First" program. The recently completed renovation of Main Street is the product of a successful partnership with our town to lessen the impact of automobile traffic while encouraging people to walk, bike or take the train.

The knowledge and enthusiasm we all share in our goal of a sustainable living-and-learning community play out in many ways. Our partnerships—whether on campus or across the region and country—are effective and exciting and are setting national and international standards. No matter the scope of the undertaking, from using our expertise to advise on national policy to the grassroots campuswide efforts that help us become more sensitive to the environment, it is increasingly clear that UNH blue contains a noteworthy shade of green.

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