Powerdown for summer Make your own rain barrel

Hanqin Tian receives the 2008 Global Change Science Prize

Alabama's first LEED homes completed Get wet, get involved in AL water festivals Save the date, Greening of the Campus Conference
Bike Bash this weekend Students needed for university bike committee Roving Locavore: Auburn's new local food blog
Auburn farmers' market starts May 21 FEATURE: Auburn's Gorrie building shows significant savings To receive this newsletter regularly, send an email to sustain@auburn.edu

Welcome to the Office of Sustainability website

Powerdown for summer

Finally, the semester is over, the warm weather has arrived and many of us are thinking about powerdowning our brains for the summer, or at least switching into a lower gear. If you are leaving your office or apartment for an extended period, unplug what electronics you can. Many electronic items draw power even when off or in standby mode. So, don't power an empty office or apartment, just unplug.

According to the US Department of Energy, "An individual product draws relatively little standby power but a typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use."

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy Standby Power website.

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Make your own rain barrel

When: Saturday, May 9th, 2009 1:00 pm–3:30 pm
Where: Forest Ecology Preserve, 3100 Al Hwy 147, Auburn
Cost of workshop, barrel and parts: $25.00

Due to the overwhelming response to the first rain barrel workshop, the Raincatchers and Alabama Cooperative Extension are holding a second workshop on May 9. Pre-registration is required. To register, send an email to Tia Gonzales at gonzats@auburn.edu.

Everything you need to build your rain barrel is included in the cost of the workshop, $25. There will be two designs available, one for houses with gutters and one for those without.

The agenda for the workshop is as follows:

  • Why rainwater harvesting is important, useful and practical

  • Local watershed issues

  • Anatomy of a rainbarrel

  • Build your own rainbarrel

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Hanqin Tian receives the 2008 Global Change Science Prize

Auburn alumni professor, Dr. Hanqin Tian, has been announced as the joint winner of the 2008 Chinese Academy of Sciences' Global Change Science Prize along with Dr. Zhengtang Guo, a professor in the Institute of Geology and Geophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The announcement was made on April 10, 2009. Tian's work on global climate change has appeared in the journals Nature, Science and in the Journal of Geophysical Research. His work has also been used in the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the UN's IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

To read more, click here.

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Alabama's first LEED homes completed

The state of Alabama has recently seen the completion of its first LEED homes, in Enterprise. The Turtleback Subdivision, which is being developed by Bo and Del Lee, will comprise all LEED certified homes. Two of the homes are already complete. Last weekend, as part of Enterprise's Parade of Homes, the two completed houses were open for viewing.

For more information on the homes in the Turtleback development, download this PDF.

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Get wet, get involved in AL water festivals

Montgomery and Lee Counties are preparing for their annual water festivals and looking for volunteers to help. The purpose of the festivals is to teach elementary school children about water and its importance in nature and in our lives. They learn about surface and groundwater, wetlands, forestry, and wildlife. And they learn about their own impact and responsibilities.

Each year, thousands of children participate in these interactive festivals and each year a couple of hundred volunteers are need. Please take a day or two from your schedule and help to pass the mantle of good stewardship to the next generation.

For details on how to volunteer, download the relevant form below:

Lee County
Tuesday, May 12th and Wednesday, May 13th —volunteers needed both days.
Haley Center, Auburn University, Auburn. Click here to download form.

Montgomery County
Thursday, May 14th and Friday, May 15th —volunteers REALLY needed on Friday, May 15th.
Auburn University, Montgomery. Click here to download form.

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Click image to read about last year's Lee County Festival
Save the date, Greening of the Campus Conference

What: Greening of the Campus VIII: Embracing Change
Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
When: September 20–23, 2009

In recognition of the special roles and responsibilities of colleges and universities in the effort to make human society sustainable, Ball State University and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) are hosting the eighth Greening of the Campus conference. This year the theme of the conference is "Embracing Change".

The deadline for abstracts is closed, but if you are interested in sustainability there are many reasons for still attending, including the opportunity to learn about what other institutions are doing, how they integrate sustainability into their operations and their curricula and to meet other like-minded people.

Staff and interns from Auburn's Office of Sustainability will be attending and presenting.

For more details, keep an eye on their website: http://www.bsu.edu/greening/

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AASHE conference 2008, guest speaker, Lester Brown
Bike Bash this weekend

What: Auburn 10th annual Bike Bash
Where: Auburn High School, 855 E Samford Avenue
When: Saturday May 2, 2009. 7:30 am–11:00am

Whether it has pride of place by the kitchen door, or you have to dig it out of the garage and dust it off, this weekend get your bike out and head to Auburn High School for Auburn's 10th annual Bike Bash!

This is a family event with lots of fun and informative things going on for adults and kids of every age. There'll be a unicycle demonstration and obstacle course, bicycle inspections, helmet fittings, informative booths, refreshments and music.

Oh, and you can do a bike ride too. You can choose between several routes, from 5-40 miles. You can pay and register on the day or download the registration form here.

This event is hosted by the City of Auburn and the Auburn Bicycle Committee. For more information, visit the website.

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Students needed for Auburn University Bike Committee

The bike committee is a group of Auburn University faculty, staff, and students who are dedicated to increasing bike usage and facilities on campus through education, planning, and event coordinating. The committee is currently looking for students to come on board. If you are a student and you love to bike, or would like to get experience working on a professional committee, contact campus engineer and committee chair Cathy Love. Send an email to lovecat@auburn.edu.

For more information on the work the committee does, visit our website at


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The Roving Locavore: Auburn's new local food blog

Some of us putter about the garden growing our own vegetables, some of us hunt deer or duck for meat, some of us spend hot steamy days at the end of summer canning our glut of tomatoes, and many of us dabble in dietary challenges for the sake of our health and the environment. But all of us love food. Read about one Auburn woman's adventures in eating local and seasonal food in the new food blog, The Roving Locavore. And follow Amy, Jack and Peter as they meander up through the northeast US and then spend a year in Rome.

Visit The Roving Locavore blog.

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Auburn farmers' market starts May 21

What: Auburn farmers' market
Where: Ag Heritage Park, Samford Avenue
When: Thursdays, 3:00 pm–6:00 pm, May 21–Aug. 27.

If you too are interested in eating local food, check out Auburn farmers' market at Ag Heritage Park, a seasonal market which gives local farmers and producers an opportunity to sell directly to their customers, and which gives us all a chance to buy fresh, tasty, locally produced food.

Entrance is free, so if you haven't been before, come and have a look!

For more information and directions, visit the website here.

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Building green saves money and natural resources

Auburn University's new Building Science building, the Miller Gorrie Center, which was completed in October 2006, was the first building in the state of Alabama to receive LEED Gold certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a building rating system awarded by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that recognizes buildings designed and built to the highest environmental standards both during construction and throughout the building's lifetime.

The Gorrie Center used 59.8% of the average amount of electricity when compared to nine other similar-use buildings on campus.

Though the cost of building in a resource conscious way is coming down all the time, at the time Gorrie was constructed it cost slightly more to build it to LEED standard. It also takes effort to get LEED certification, to meet the criteria, to document compliance and to submit the paperwork. So, many people want to know, was it worth it? Was it worth the extra money and effort?

The answer is yes. Compared to nine other similar-use buildings on campus, as of January 2009, the Gorrie Center used 59.8% of the average amount of electricity used by those buildings. The nine other similar-use buildings used on average 15.93 kWh per gross sq ft per year. Over the same period, Gorrie used 9.5309 kWh per gross sq ft per year.

The building itself is not just functional, it is educational too. Many of the features that make it a resource efficient building are visible and, since the beginning of its occupancy, data has been collected on its electricity, water and HVAC use. Now we can begin to see how much less of these resources the building uses. Results on HVAC and water are not available yet, but results are in on the amount of electricity that has been saved.

If all of the nine other similar-use buildings used energy as efficiently as the Gorrie Center, the university could potentially save $405,772 in electricity costs per year. Clearly, it makes financial as well as environmental sense to build green.

Special thanks to Greg Parsons, Auburn U campus architect, for his help with this article.

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Photo contributed by Rafael G. EgŁes.

© 2009 Auburn Office of Sustainability 1-334-844-7777 sustain@auburn.edu