An Earth Month Special: UD’s Solar Power Project and the Delaware Nature Society’s Clean Water Campaign


This past April 24th, we held a special two-for-one Green Liaisons Lunch in honor of Earth Month featuring both Zach Platsis, UD’s Energy Manager, and Brenna Goggin, the Delaware Nature Society’s Advocacy Manager.

Zach led a great talk detailing the University’s rather recent solar initiative, which includes solar arrays atop Clayton Hall, 461 Wyoming Road, and the Delaware Field House.  The arrays generate approximately 1000 total Mwh each year, which is out of UD’s overall 150,000 annual Mwh usage.

We actually learned quite a bit about some lesser known aspects of solar energy itself, such as how to discern and interpret the difference between “AC” and “DC” energy output, what conditions allow arrays to function most efficiently (it should be relatively cool), and the fact that arrays cannot run on max power for very long, which means that their advertised energy output can sometimes be misleading to the public.

Zach also told us about some of the University’s new energy initiatives, such as their sub-metering project, which will, in an effort to better target energy-consuming utilities, put several individual meters where there are currently full-building meters.

Next, we heard from Brenna about the Delaware Nature Society’s 2015 campaign, Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice, an effort to secure funding for cleaner waters in DE. Delaware, as Brenna explained, has had a long history of contaminated water, beginning with industries such as National Vulcanized Fiber (NVF), which operated without safe building regulations throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and thus released toxic chemicals like zinc and mercury into DE waterways that remain to this day. Delaware water also still receives a regular dose of Dupont chemicals, agricultural runoff, and combined sewer overflow from wastewater treatment plants (which especially affects the Brandywine), in addition to residential runoff from homeowner lawn management and storm drains. 11016089_346947668835679_155683031020860636_n

The problem that needs addressing now is that none of that runoff is treated: it goes straight to local waterways. The only way to remedy this on a truly effective scale would be to fund solutions (like rain barrels, best management practices, and pervious outdoor surfaces), and of course, finding that funding is the difficult part. The job of the Delaware Nature Society then, in addition to raising awareness about the state of Delaware’s water, is to secure that funding by way of an increase on property taxes. Residents would have a certain annual rate, and, although perhaps unconventional, larger, otherwise-exempt locations like the University of Delaware (which contributes a great portion of pollution to DE water) would be required to pay an appropriate fee, all in the name of making the water we interact with every single day that much safer.

Thank you to Zach and Brenna for these great talks! If you’d like to learn more about UD’s solar energy, check out the live-stream solar generation tracker, and if you’d like to learn more about the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, check out their Facebook page!

This was actually our last talk of the Spring semester, so check back with us in the fall to see what talks we have planned for next semester!

The Elephant in the Eco-Room: Why Textiles Are One of the World’s Biggest Waste Problems and How Planet Aid is Helping the Cause


This past month, Terry Kaplan, a Territory Manager for the nonprofit Planet Aid, joined the Green Liaisons for our March Lunch. Terry gave us not only the breakdown of what Planet Aid does, but also an in-depth look at the cause behind the organization: textiles, the ever-growing industry that is often ignored as one of the world’s largest contributors to waste production.

As we learned from Terry, 14 million tons of textile waste is generated each year, and 12 million tons of that waste ends up in landfills. The reasons behind this excessive wastefulness lie in the transitioning nature of the textile industry itself as it conforms to an increasingly consumptive society of purchasers. With the U.S. being one of the primary contributors to this skyrocketing global consumption, fashion knows it has customers and is thus free to expand and change as often as it likes–even within the span of only days or weeks. Retail turnaround is then just as fast, which means that all over the world there is a constant cycle of production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of textiles, each with its own set of environmental and social consequences. Production of textiles alone not only requires immense amounts of the fabric material itself, but also electricity and water. The textile industry is now the third largest consumer of water in the world, and they’re likely one of the largest polluters of it as well considering the discharge from textile dyes  which must be disposed of in nearby rivers. This initial portion of the process takes place before the textile even reaches the consumer, and all in developing countries where working conditions are hazardous and workers cannot even afford to buy the clothes they’re making.

That’s where Planet Aid comes in. A nonprofit and accredited charity through the Better Business Bureau, Planet Aid has been working since 1997 to mitigate textile waste and the problems caused by it. With their signature yellow bins (some of which we have on campus!), Planet Aid collects 100 million pounds of textile waste from 22 states per year. All of these clothes are then sold to markets in either the U.S. or developing countries, the latter of which have an incredible demand for used clothing. The money from those sales is then used to support and initiate programs such as Farmers’ Clubs, which helps farmers in the developing world start cooperatives in order to be more economically-successful and more environmentally-conscious.

Planet Aid is doing awesome things for the environment and its people–if you’d like to learn more about it check out their website, and if you’d like to see Terry’s talk, you can see it on Youtube here!

Green Power: The UD Wind Turbine


This past February 25th brought the Green Liaisons our first lunch and first guest speaker of the Spring 2015 semester: Professor Jeremy Firestone, a faculty member in Marine Science and Policy and the Director of UD’s Interdisciplinary Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, joined us to share his experiences leading and contributing to the development, permitting, and construction of the Lewes Campus Wind Turbine.

Professor Firestone gave us an excellent look into the work that is involved when a university plans and produces a piece of green machinery such as a wind turbine. UD’s wind turbine began generating electricity in 2010, but, as Professor Firestone told us, this was the result of years working through the development stage of the process. (One really interesting aspect of this process was the extensive number of studies that were required in order to gage public interest and opinion before and after the wind turbine was built, of which Professor Firestone gives a great overview in his talk!).

Today, five years after it first began turning, the wind turbine is still owned and operated by a partnership between UD and the turbine manufacturer, Gamesa Technology Coporation. It generates enough electricity to power the Lewes Campus, and any excess is sold to the residents of the Town of Lewes, whose continued support plays a large part in the success of the turbine. The turbine also serves as a research and educational platform for the university, and there are even opportunities for students to become certified to go to the top!

Check out this Professor Firestone’s awesome talk to learn more about this green project UD is working on!

New Weekly DENIN Lunchtime Lecture Series


Every Monday from 12:30-2:00 PM during this Spring semester 2015, the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) will host a lecture concerning a relevant environmental issue in the ISE Lab. Known as the “Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratory Spring 2015 Lecture Series,” this event is a great way to get exposure to the environmental side of UD while interacting with like-minded UD faculty, staff, and students. The first lecture will be held this coming Monday, February 16th.

This upcoming lecture will feature two speakers: Doug Tallamy, a Professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, discussing “Why Novel Ecosystems Won’t Work,” and Annette Giesecke, Interim Chairperson of the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Professor, on “the role of the garden in defining humanity’s relationship with nature.”

The schedule and more info on this awesome opportunity can be found here!

There will be refreshments served, but only to the first 30 people–register early by emailing!

Why You Should Check Out the SCA for Your Summer Internship


This past Wednesday, November 19th, the Green Liaisons had the pleasure of hosting Takeya Meggett, a recruiter for the Student Conservation Association (SCA), for our final GL Luncheon of the Fall Semester.

The SCA is a national non-profit that offers people (students or not) over 15 years old the opportunity to unite with the environmental agency of their dreams for an internship or job anywhere in the country. That could mean literally anything from National Parks (Yosemite, anyone?) to wildlife sanctuaries to historic sites to laboratories– and all in the name of environmental conservation.

Takeya herself not only recruits for the SCA, but was also an active member of the organization for a number of years. After college, she took advantage of the many employment positions available and has by now served as a crew leader in Nevada, an intern at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, a coordinator with the National Park Service Academy in Alaska, and a ton more. She is simply brimming with experience, and her passion for it was evident during her talk.

Takeya gave us a detailed tour of the SCA website, including how to search for positions, how to interpret those visible positions, and how to apply for them. The options are broken down by age range and you can find those descriptions here. (Most students end up looking at the Individual Internships in the Young Adult (18+) category).

The site is relatively easy to navigate: you simply narrow the search options here, depending on your particular location and timing preferences. Press Search, and then voilà! An old-growth forest of beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences intended to give you the skills to become the next environmental activist, EPA scientist, or parks & rec director (hello, Leslie Knope) awaits your discovery.

Once you fill out the general application, you can apply it to any 20 of these aforementioned opportunities, at which point the SCA will work to match you with the option that best fits your experience level, relevant academic coursework, and other factors. Takeya’s tips: 1) Note when an opportunity says “Hot”– this means employers want to fill spots quickly, so you have a better chance of getting one of these, and 2) Note when an opportunity says “Local Applicants Only”– this means there will be no stipend provided because interns are expected to commute from their houses (AKA, if you don’t live nearby, probably don’t apply).

So, go, follow your dreams! Apply for the Grand Canyon or Alaska or maybe somewhere right in your backyard! The SCA awaits!

You can also watch Takeya’s talk here.

Implementing an Office of Sustainability


Why does UD need an Office of Sustainability and how do we get one?

Last Wednesday, October 29th, we learned just that when we held our first Green Liaisons Luncheon of the semester. Our guest speakers were Becky Bronstein, a senior and member of the Blue Hen Leadership Program, Student Government Association, and the Sustainability Task Force, and Cesar Caro, a grad student and member of the Grad Student Government. Both Becky and Cesar have been involved with numerous other environmental activities on campus, but one of their biggest passion projects together, as we learned at the Luncheon, is that of the creation of an Office of Sustainability on campus.

A Bit of History

In the summer of 2013, shocked by the fact that UD did not yet have an Office of Sustainability, a small team of students that included Becky and Cesar set out to change that. A student named Grace Relf drafted a 27-page proposal for the Office, which led to a series of meetings held between this group of concerned students and UD’s Provost and Executive VP.

Taking into account the University’s feedback, Becky, Cesar, and Grace began conducting a comprehensive assessment of student and faculty support for the Office: they met with Facilities, Housing, DENIN, and professors, and then held a student poll, which showed 91% of those asked in support.

Knowing then that their efforts were worthwhile in the eyes of the UD community, this student team pressed on and proceeded to develop a plan for both funding and structure for the Office.

The Basics

Funding would be done by phased implementation, which would mean having one employee (the Director of Office) for a period of time. This employee, however, would immediately have one Graduate Fellow and a few undergrad interns. Eventually, the people employed would expand to include a variety of more specialized project managers under the Director. The money would come from a combo of grants and business partnerships.

The structure of the Office would be the following: within the Office itself would be one Director who oversees the Sustainability Task Force, student-led Green Senate, and various Project Managers. Outside of the Office–but still related–would be a Sustainability Planning Committee, comprised of various important players throughout the University, such as the VP for Facilities, VP of Student Life, and Energy Manager, who would all work to advise and monitor those within the actual Office.

On the Agenda

Becky and Cesar now are looking to write a two-pager in continuation of their work on planning the Office, and then meet again with the Provost and Executive VP. Otherwise, however, they welcome any help or ideas from students and faculty who are interested. This initiative is so significant because an Office could be the kind of body that could prevent another deal like the Power Plant from even being discussed.

Questions or want to get involved? Talk to Becky at or Cesar at!

And watch them present at the Lunch here.

First Green Liaisons Luncheon of the Semester

This Wednesday, October 29th, from 12-1pm in the Perkins Ewing Room, we will hold our first Green Liaisons Luncheon of the semester.

We are very excited to be hosting senior Becky Bronstein, an environmental science major who has participated in a variety of environmental activities during her time at UD– from conducting research on sustainability as a Plastino Scholar to leading a sustainability-based service trip to Puerto Rico through the Blue Hen Leadership Program.

Becky has also spent the past few years actively pursuing the establishment of an Office of Sustainability on campus. For this month’s Green Liaisons lunch, we will hear her thoughts on why UD needs an Office and how we can support the mission to create one.

Her talk is called, “Implementing an Office of Sustainability at UD.”

All are welcome!

Photo Courtesy:

Newark Backyard Habitat Tour

Join fellow Newark residents tomorrow, September 13th, as they explore the fifteen “certified backyard habitats” of Newark that were newly recognized as such by the National Wildlife Federation.

Each of these local backyards has been specifically designed to provide food, water, shelter, and protection for a variety of birds and animals. Owners have worked for years to attain this status, and they will now open their yards for tours. The tour tomorrow will be self-guided, last from 10am to 2pm, and begin at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark on 420 Willa Road.

A $20 donation is suggested, which will go toward improving habitats in city parks around Newark.

More info can be found here:

Photo credit:

Dumpster Detour

428533_10152810917800494_1690122514_nAre you getting ready to move out of your dorm or apartment? Do you have unwanted household items that you don’t want to lug home? No need to throw those items out during move-out week. Donate them to Dumpster Detour!

Dumpster Detour will be providing moving trucks and drop-off tables stationed throughout campus to collect items that you no longer want and will donate the collection to UDon’t Need It, who provides the items to people in need. What a great way to keep reusable items out of our landfills and help others!

Look out for orange and black signs around campus. Collections are from May 21-24.

Contact Nick Kaufman if you have any questions,

ISE Lab Luncheon Tour

On Friday, May 9, Gerry Galgon, the Senior Project Manager of the ISE Lab and Jason Carroll, ISE Lab Technical Team Leader for Maintenance & Operations, gave the Green Liaisons a guided tour of the ISE Lab highlighting the building’s sustainability features.

The ISE Lab achieved the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver certification. There are four levels of certification, defined by the number of points a building or project earns. The different levels range from Certified (40-49 points) to Platinum (more than 80 points); the ISE Lab received between 50 to 59 points.


One of the green elements that contribute to this certification is “daylight harvesting” – a lighting control system that maximizes use of daylight, by raising and lowering blinds and dimming lights in response to changes in sunlight. Also, each air handler in the ISE Lab is equipped with a heat recovery system, which increases the energy efficiency on campus. There are three green roofs on the ISE Lab, the largest on the second floor of the west wing of the building that mitigates water runoff by trapping and filtering rainwater, reduce the urban heat island effect, and capture CO2. The beautifully landscaped courtyard utilizes native plants and an onsite drainage system, also eliminating stormwater runoff.


The Green Liaisons were also able to learn about the interdisciplinary, environmental research that is taking place within the building’s many labs. One cool technology the university is researching is a type of fiber that charges an electronic when you bend it- imagine having the fiber on the bottom of your shoe and the simple act of walking to class allows you to charge your cell phone! The ISE Lab is certainly a great addition to UD’s campus.