Green Remediation

May 6, 2010

UMass will be hosting an international conference that will take place on June 15-17 in the university’s Campus Center.  “Green Remediation: Environment, Energy, Economics“.  The conference will be co-hosted by The Environmental Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst, U.S. EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, US EPA New England and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The conference will address the full range of environmental, energy and economic aspects of green and sustainable remediation, taking into account the energy requirements of treatment systems, air emissions, water use requirements and impacts on water resources, land and ecosystem use and impacts, energy use and renewables, material consumption, reuse, and waste generation.

The conference will provide a forum for scientists, regulators, managers, and other stakeholders from around the globe to interact and share new knowledge in both basic and applied research in green and sustainable remediation. Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

● Sustainable Remediation Technologies ● Green Cleanups (e.g., low impact design, clean construction) ● Greening Brownfields ● Sustainable Site Redevelopment ● Life Cycle Analysis ● Renewable Energy Projects on Contaminated Sites ● Ecological Revitalization ● Green Nanotechnology for Site Remediation ● Water/Energy Use and Efficiency ● Process and Site Optimization ● Sustainable Reuse ● Measurement and Assessment Techniques ● Best Management Practices ● Decision Support Tools ● Cost and Performance Case Studies ● Global Perspectives on Sustainable Remediation ● Policy and Regulatory Issues


The University Gallery at the Fine Arts Center at UMass will finally be closing its doors on Sunday, May 9 on the Greening the Valley: Sustainable Architecture in the Pioneer Valley art exhibit.  The gallery opened on Thursday, February 11 and was designed to deepen the public’s understanding and use of “green” design, while demonstrating that the key elements of sustainability can be accessible to all.

Sustainability has become an accepted concept that applies to people from a wide range of social and economic backgrounds.  It requires broad systemic thinking around critical economic, social, as well as environmental issues.  The exhibition addressed these issues, providing a springboard for thought-provoking questions, discussions, and commentaries.  The specific focus was on the Pioneer Valley and will highlight the region and its forward-looking communities.

The Pioneer Valley is rich in sustainable buildings that mirror national green trends in architecture and design.  Through models, photographs, and virtual tours, the exhibition united diverse works from large-scale science buildings to private residences, low-income housing, and intimate gardens of natural inspiration – all of which illustrates the many ways that green design can help solve our environmental crisis.  Greening the Valley included works by nationally and internationally renowned figures such as Michael Singer, Sigrid Miller Pollin and Charles Rose, as well as prominent architects from the Pioneer Valley region such as Coldham & Hartman, Kuhn Riddle, Austin Design, Juster Pope Frazier, Dietz & Co., and landscape architects such as Frank Sleegers of UMass.  The goal of the exhibition was to bring together examples of green design, highlight their aesthetic and sustainable attributes, and impress upon its audience the visual and material accessibility of those features.

The exhibition was guest-curated by architectural historian Margaret Birney Vickery, Ph.D.

Students have many opportunities to reduce their impact on the environment and help UMass become more sustainable.  These opportunities present themselves as relatively small lifestyle changes on an individual basis whether it be recycling more, using less water, or reducing electricity consumption.  On an individual level they may seem small, but when taken collectively as a student body, the overall positive impact is quite significant. Check out the following easy ways to reduce your impact and help the campus become more sustainable:

Lighting:  Shut the lights off when they are not in use or when you leave a room.  Use compact  fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).  They use 75% less electricity than the regular incandescent light bulbs.  Whenever possible, use natural lighting whenever possible instead of using electric lighting.

Computers:  Let your computer sleep – enable energy settings.  Shut down computer on nights, weekends, and anytime you leave for longer than an hour.  Turn off monitor when not using for longer than 5-15 minutes.  Screen savers don’t save energy, they waste it!  Turn off server monitors.  Look into innovative ideas for computer lab energy savings.

Appliances:  Use a “smart” power strip to automatically turn off equipment at the end of the day.  Phantom loads are the energy that is consumed by electronics and other devices even when they are not in use.  Even when electronics are off, they are still consuming electricity.  To avoid this, try to unplug electronics when you are not using them.

Paper Reduction:  Buy duplex printers or install a duplex option for existing printers.  To cut your paper use 90% or more: Duplex print, reuse paper for office use and drafts, avoid printing emails, use and offer electronic (paperless) options when possible, decrease your default margins from 1.25 inches to 0.75 inches, buy recycled paper with high post-consumer content.  Buy recycled toner cartridges, InkSolutions in Amherst picks up and delivers recycled cartridges to UMass.  Use inkjet printers for daily use (as laser printers use 5 times more energy than inkjets).

Water Conservation:  Take shorter showers and try shutting the water off while you lather up.  Calculate how much water you use on a regular basis.  While you are at the sink brushing your teeth, shaving or just admiring yourself in the mirror, make sure the faucet is off when you are not using the water.  When you find a leaky faucet or shower head in your bathroom, don’t just ignore it, tell your RA about it so that it can be fixed.  Instead of buying bottled water, buy a water bottle that you can use for years to come.  This will allow you to take only as much water as you want and will decrease the amount of plastic needed for all those water bottles.  Some great reusable water bottles that are out there are Klean, Kanteen, Nalgene and Sigg.  To go along with a bland new reusable water bottle, you can purchase a water filtering pitcher for you dorm room.  This will allow you to take water right from the tap to fill up your water bottles with.  This also will protect against some things that might not belong in the tap water.

Transportation:  Hop on a PVTA bus.  They can take you just about anywhere in the Pioneer Valley.  Ride a bike.  By far the fastest way to get around campus and even into Amherst center is on a bike.  No traffic (except pedestrians) and you get to pick your own route.  If you are driving somewhere that the PVTA buses don’t go and might be too far for a bicycle, make sure to carpool whenever possible.  When you are using your car, combine a trip out with some short errands.  This way you only have to use your car once.  Take a walk! Amherst is beautiful in every season, so if you are heading to a place nearby, walk instead of driving.

Recycling:  Recycle!  If you are having trouble figuring out what stuff you can recycle in which of the three different colored barrels that are located throughout the dorms, check out the Office of Waste Management for a breakdown of what can be recycled in which barrel.  Doing a little can do a lot of good:  Making an aluminum can from scratch takes 25 times more energy than from recycled cans, recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt CFL burning about 14 hours.  It’s not just aluminum cans and newspapers that can be recycled.  There is a whole list of odd items that can be recycled just by calling Waste Management and having them pick up the item.  Donating is recycling.  When you purge your closet of all the clothes you do not wear anymore, don’t throw them out, but donate them.  There is a Salvation Army on Route 9 near the Hampshire Mall.

Buying Green:  Right in our very own Campus Center U-Store there are a variety of ‘green’ options to choose from.  Such items include compact fluorescent light bulbs, water filter pitchers, replacement filters, power strips, etc.  When shopping for new equipment, be sure to choose Energy Star equipment for computers, copiers, printers, and all appliances. Smart computer purchasing choices: Flat screen monitors use 1/3 the energy of conventional monitors, laptops use 1/4 the energy of desktops, inkjet printers use 1/5 the energy of laser printers, a 15” monitor uses half the energy of a 17” monitor.

Saving Wasted Energy

May 3, 2010

Interesting article published in The Massachusetts Daily Collegian today about the amount of energy college students waste on a day-to-day basis. The article talks about the number one dilemma on college campuses when it comes to energy conservation, which is that students don’t have to pay for the energy they use, therefore there is no incentive for them to reduce their carbon footprint.  

Most students don’t really think about the amount of energy they are wasting. The appliances they use, the lights and computers that are left on all day and long showers they take, can all be changed for a quick fix. The energy it takes to power light bulbs, appliances and electronics use up all three of the biggest CO2 generators: coal, natural gas and oil. All of these things account for one-third of carbon dioxide production in industrialized nations.

Many students are also unaware of what is called “vampire”, or phantom, appliances. These are electronics, adapters and appliances with remote controls, like televisions, DVD players and game consoles, which actually always remain on, and continue to suck in energy even when they are switched off. A simple solution to this is plugging all appliances into a power strip and turning it off whenever none of them are in use.

One of the biggest things a student can do is not leave things on. Shutting down and shutting off is really important. Even hibernate brings energy intake down to approximately 3% of what it would be if it was on. Changing a light bulb to a more energy-efficient one, like a compact florescent light bulb, can help reduce CO2 emissions. Other tips include driving less, recycling more, washing clothes in warm or cold water and using the short cycle on all appliances. Making only these alterations in everyday life can save up to 3,050 pounds of CO2 a year.

A new state-of-the-art research facility, called the “Health & Wellness Center,” is currently being built in Chenoweth Hall (annex) for the College of Natural Resources and the Environment at UMass. 

The project will provide new lab space for research in the fields of food processing, additives and preservatives involving chemistry, microbiology and biology.

Renovations of lab areas on the second floor of the building are underway.  Work also includes exterior utility upgrades and construction in first floor mechanical rooms.  The entire project involves architectural renovations, structural reinforcements, and plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades.

Some construction noise is unavoidable during regular working hours (7AM – 4PM, M-F), but the contractor will make every effort to minimize disturbances and accommodate class schedules.

Work is expected to be substantially complete by the end of November 2010.

The Lederle Graduate Research Center will be undergoing several major renovation, construction and hazardous material remediation projects.  Renovation ideas have been released and include:

Lederle Graduate Research Center (LGRC) Lowrise Electrical Upgrade:  This project is currently underway and involves increasing electrical capacity for the entire Lowrise section of the LGRC, including the library area, and includes some asbestos abatement.  Some localized electrical service interruptions should be expected.  The project is scheduled to be completed in February, 2011.

LGRC Elevator Replacement:  New elevators will be installed, one at a time, in both the Lowrise and Tower sections beginning the week of March 7.  The project is scheduled for completion in March, 2011.

Acid Neutralization:  This is a project to upgrade/replace the current system and method for handling laboratory waste.  Construction is to take place primarily in Tower A through mid-June of this year.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Renovations:  Using grants provided by the NIH, a renovation of  laboratories in Tower C is in order from June through November of this year, and in Towers A and B from November of this year through November of 2011.

Hazardous material (HAZMAT) Remediation:  Hazardous material will be remediated or removed throughout the Lowrise and Tower A from June through August of this year.

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumping (MEP) Upgrades:  Mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades will be made throughout the LGRC complex beginning in July and finishing in September of 2011.

Exhaust Fan Replacement:  Exhaust fans will be replaced in Tower A from July until September of 2011.

New UMass Police Station

April 26, 2010

This week, construction begins on the exterior walls and elevator superstructure of the new UMass police station.  The $12.5 million dollar structure will serve as the new home for the 75-member department.  The complex is designed to operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week, providing all patrol, investigation, specialized and emergency response, as well as crime prevention and educational services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.

The University of Massachusetts Facilities and Campus Planning Department has been working with the University Emergency Management and Business Continuity Department to locate and construct a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) within the new police station structure.  The EOC function is to provide a central point of communication and a command center during a crisis or natural disaster affecting the campus. 

As far as the green initiative behind the new design, the building will be the first LEED certified building on the campus of UMass.  The project is currently targeting LEED gold.