Auburn Sustainability Rollover Buttons
October, 2009
1. Evaluating and Appreciating Auburn Campus Trees
2. Green Lunch
3. New Energy Economy Lecture Series
4. Rainbarrel Workshops
5. Local and Organic Food Cookout
7. Green Lunches Go Online
8. "Conservation Photography," Award Winning Short Film, Now Available
9. Join the Campus Ecology Network

Evaluating and Appreciating Auburn Campus Trees
By Dr. Art Chappelka

Many people are unaware of the contributions trees make to our daily lives. Trees are highly visible elements in most landscapes, where they add structure, soften architecture, and provide a welcome reprieve from summer's sun. But apart from the visible effects, trees are working behind the scene, taking up CO2 and storing the carbon, thus reducing greenhouse gases; providing shade and thus reducing energy consumption; and providing beneficial ecosystem services such as supplying wildlife habitat and aiding erosion control. However, if not managed properly trees can become a liability. They can begin to look less attractive, and, worse, they may encroach onto powerlines, lights and street signs. For trees in an urban environment to be properly managed, they must be managed as a forest.

As part of a cooperative effort by researchers from Auburn University and the US Forest Service, a project was initiated this summer to inventory all trees within the managed areas of Auburn University campus. Using a model developed by US Forest Service personnel, we have begun to evaluate potential ecosystem services on the Auburn campus. These data will be used by the USFS to evaluate their model and to provide more efficient techniques in data collection and by Auburn personnel for the proper management of campus trees. In addition, data collected from the project will be included in the development of the Climate Action Plan, which the university and the Office of Sustainability have initiated.

The researchers in Auburn consisted of graduate student, Nick Martin, and several undergraduate students under direction of a faculty and staff team. The team comprised Drs. Art Chappelka and Ed Loewenstein in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Dr. Gary Keever, Department of Horticulture, and Charlie Crawford, Superintendent of University Landscape Services. Data collected included location of the tree, height, caliper, crown width, and health. Approximately 6,000 trees have been inventoried so far. Collection will be completed by mid-October and sent to the USFS in Athens, GA, who will enter the data in their model.

During 2010, a training session will be conducted on campus, which will train professionals from the region on methods to inventory trees in urban settings and systems to analyze and utilize the data.

It is our intention to provide information and techniques to be used as tools in the management of the urban forest and planning of future projects on the Auburn University campus.

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Green Lunch

What: Local Food Panel Discussion
When: December 2, 2009, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Student Center, room 2223

The final Green Lunch of this semester will take the form of a panel discussion on local food. The panelists will include advocates for local food including producers, chefs and an academic. Each panelist will give a short talk about his or her work and then the discussion will be opened to the floor.

This event is free and open to the public. So, bring your lunch and come join us!

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New Energy Economy Lecture Series

This fall, if you are looking for something different to do with your Sundays, if you have a particular interest in energy issues or would like to know more, come along from 3:00pm-4:30pm to Auburn City Hall and learn about renewable and alternative energy and energy efficiency in the home.

This lecture series is running between October 4 and November 15 and is organized and presented by volunteers from the community and the University. The remaining talks are as follows:

Nov. 1: "Energy Innovations by the City of Auburn" - James Buston, Assistant City Manager/CIO, City of Auburn.

Nov. 15: "Sun Power: Thermal and Photovoltaic" - Sushil Bhavnani, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Auburn University.

Auburn City Meeting Room is located west of the Auburn City Hall, just off of Tichenor Ave, behind Cheeburger Cheeburger. For additional information, contact David Newton at

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Rainbarrel Workshops

Alabama Raincatchers are hosting a number of upcoming rainbarrel workshops in Auburn and Montgomery in the coming months. Workshops fill up fast, so to be sure you get a place, make your reservation now.

Auburn workshops:
Preregistration is required. Contact: Tia Gonzales

  • November 14, 2009 - Donald E. Davis Arboretum, Auburn University, AL - 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Montgomery workshops:
Preregistration is required. Contact: Ashley Henderson or call 334-300-3392.

  • November 12, 2009 - Young Meadows Presbyterian Church - 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM

  • November 14, 2009 - Young Meadows Presbyterian Church - 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Cost: $25. Fees may be paid on the day of the workshop. Correct cash or check, made to ACES (Alabama Cooperative Extension System). For more details, visit the Raincatchers website.

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Local and Organic Food Cookout

On October 7, Auburn University student residents were treated to a cookout that emphasized organic and local, in-season food. The cookout was held outside Lupton Deli and was organized by residence assistants and coordinators from Owen, Keller and Lupton Halls.

Christi Talbert, one of the organizing RAs had this to say: “As a Nutrition major, a Resident Assistant, and intern in the Office of Sustainability, I wanted to host an event that would give residents an interactive way to understand the impact their food choices have on the campus environment and their health."

"The purpose," she continued, "was to encourage students to eat more locally grown, organic produce and sustainably raised meats, and to educate them on the benefits of these choices. We served grilled organic lemon pepper chicken breasts and Auburn grown vegetables alongside slices of beautiful Alabama grown watermelon. Amidst the food and fun, students were also encouraged to express their ideas about the meaning of Sustainability on a message board entitled "What Does It Mean To Be Green?" Aubie joined us to help engage the attendees while Matt Williams gave an introduction to Sustainability and invited students to participate in the upcoming Sustain-A-Bowl competition between the residence halls. Also present were several Resident Assistants from other campus housing areas, and we were joined by the Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life, Becky Bell.”

All the food was devoured, and the Housing residents learned to think a little more about their food.

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Over the last few years Auburn University Housing and Residence Life has embraced sustainability and has begun to weave it into many of its practices. Housing enthusiastically supports Sustain-A-Bowl, the annual resources competition that is run in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability, the Campus Energy Manager, and the Recycling program. By handing out recycling bags, Housing encourages its residents to recycle all possible materials brought into the halls, and this year, to help take the conversation even further afield, Housing wove sustainability into the statewide Alabama residence assistants conference.

On October 10, Housing hosted the 2009 Residence Assistant Drive-In Conference of Alabama (RADICAL) in Auburn University Student Center. This year the theme of the conference was Revolutionizing the Residence Life Experience. The Office of Sustainability was invited by Housing to present one of two keynote addresses. Matt Williams, program manager in the office, spoke to the 280 residence assistants on the subject of “Sustainability: Beyond Recycling.”

Guests at the conference had gathered together from campuses across Alabama, from Tuskegee, the University of Alabama, Troy, UAB, AUM, University of South Alabama, Samford and Jacksonville State.

The theme of revolutionizing residence life continued throughout the day with workshops offered on resource competitions, going paperless, local food, poverty, and transgender, lesbian and gay issues. Interns and staff from the Office of Sustainability conducted two workshops on Sustain-A-Bowl, Auburn's resource competition.

The conference closed with a round-up of events and a call-out to the other Universities in Alabama to rise to the challenge of a state-wide resource competition. Come next February and Sustain-A-Bowl 2010, it is hoped the other universities will be ready for a resource face-off.

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Green Lunches Go Online

The Office of Sustainability has begun recording the monthly Green Lunch talks and will post them on Auburn University's YouTube Channel. The first talk available online, "Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment: A Non-Technical Overview," by James Lowery, was recorded at the Green Lunch, Auburn University, on August 26, 2009. James Lowery is a board member of Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Water Watch Association.

Click here to view the talk, "Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment: A Non-Technical Overview."

More to follow!

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"Conservation Photography," Award Winning Short Film, Now Available

The short film, "Conservation Photography," by Auburn Student Hunter Nichols, which won the Local Filmmaker Contest in this year's Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Birmingham, is now available for viewing. Nichols' film brings us on a journey through the wild places of Alabama and gives us an insight into his motivations as a wildlife photographer.

View the five-minute short movie here.

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Join the Campus Ecology Network

If you have not already done so, now is a good time to join the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Network. The network provides lots of free resources to help you stay informed and to organize events. When you sign-up you will receive a bi-monthly newsletter, have access to webinars and get the latest news about campus sustainability efforts across the country.

To join, visit the Campus Ecology Network website.

If you are already active on campus, make a five-minute movie about your work, and enter it into the Chill Out movie contest.

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