Archive | 2012

Solar Power at American Public University System

In November 2010, American Public University System (APUS) completed its first green building, a 45,000-square-foot structure which recently received its LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  Sitting atop that building are 99 solar panels which provide approximately 5 to 7% of the total energy for the structure. Just over a year later, the school completed another solar project, the largest in the state of West Virginia.

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The Importance of Sustainable Building Education

by Sarah Myers (McNair)

Construction activities have a significant impact on the health of the environment.  Building new structures requires the production of new goods and the transportation of these materials to building sites.  Throughout the supply chain, the harmful emissions add up.  Both the construction and demolition processes create large amounts of pollution and waste that fill up landfills quickly and/or are oftentimes not disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.  These impacts (and many more) are precisely the reason that higher education must prepare its students to improve upon modern building construction practices.  Second Nature and the U.S.

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Degrees of Sustainability

by Kelly Wenner

We have been reading a lot about how sustainability should factor into the college experience.  The Princeton Review now has a yearly guide of green colleges, and the Review also reports that students care considerably about a college’s sustainability elements when considering colleges to attend.  Interestingly, it is not always the first-time college student that is concerned with how a college curriculum addresses sustainability.  A Q&A session at the Net Impact conference shed light on another type of student: those who have already graduated and are professionals with non-sustainability related degrees whose companies or industries are invested in sustainable business practices.  To go further with this concept, Green Biz conducted an additional survey in partnership with Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, part of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.  This survey aimed at identifying general career-related needs as well as sustainability-specific needs of a potential field of Executive Master’s candidates.

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On Zombies and Our Climate Future

by Ryan Harding

Zombies. You know, the lumbering dead. A groaning, empty-eyed, rigor mortis army with an evincible, yet inexplicable preoccupation with human flesh and the consumption of brraaaaiiiinnnss. (More serious zombie-enthusiasts will tell you that this preoccupation is actually a function of the virus with which the seeming undead are infected, of whose propagative aspirations a zombie’s curious cravings are but a mere manifestation.)

However fantastic the image, it is one with considerable purchase, which has driven its roots deep down into the imaginative landscape of contemporary culture.

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Backpack Solar Power for your Laptop

by Sarah McNair

One of the many perks of attending APUS is that we can study just about anywhere we can power our laptops.  Coffee shops are a great alternative to being stuck at home, but what if you’d like to take your studies outside?  After putting together a simple solar generator for the tiny house I built, I started thinking about ways to use this type of system on a smaller scale for mobile education.  The concept of backpack solar power is not new.  In fact, you can purchase ready-to-go systems for a few hundred dollars.  These systems are pricey, usually lack battery storage, and aren’t nearly as satisfying as making your own solar power system!  For the do-it-yourselfers out there, here’s a good place to start:

  • Solar panel
  • Charge controller
  • Battery
  • Inverter
  • Cables
  • Backpack

Solar Panel

I suggest getting a 5 or 10 watt solar panel, but it depends on how much power your laptop needs and how much storage your battery has.  A panel in this range of watts will cost between $25 and $40.  Search online stores for new panels, or (if you have testing equipment you can bring with you) try the local classifieds for used panels.

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Campus Sustainability: It’s About People

by Kelly Wenner

In the April 2012 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education there was an essay entitled “Campus Sustainability: It’s About People” that caught my eye.  In the article, the writer, Dave Newport, Director of the Environmental Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, comments on the state of environmentalism, and how campus sustainability is the newest vision the movement has encountered.

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APUS Receives Historic Preservation Award from PAWV

by Beth Gray

The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) held its 2012 Annual Conference in Jefferson County September 27-29 and more than 120 people attended.  Participants visited several of the most historic sites in the county including several of the Washington family homes and historic Harpers Ferry.  A variety of valuable and engaging presentations were also offered to attendees during the three-day conference.  The conference also featured several hands-on workshops including a historic masonry workshop with experts from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center. 

 

Vice President of Community College Relations and Outreach, Dr.

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APUS Sustainability Committee Retreat Offers Fun, Education, and Inspiration

by Beth Gray

Last Friday the American Public University System (APUS) Sustainability Committee had a retreat at CraftWorks at Cool Spring.  The event provided a great opportunity for fun, education, and team building.  The Committee was hopeful that their team building event could be one to use as an example of how even an event like this can be sustainable, educational, and fun.  Friday’s event at CraftWorks did not disappoint. 

Cool Spring Marsh at CraftWorks

CraftWorks is a non-profit organization located in Charles Town, West Virginia.  The enthusiastic employees at CraftWorks work diligently to bring together art, nature, and sustainability in such a way that each inspires the others.  Inspiration is easily found on the 12-acre nature preserve on which they are situated, with studios situated in a very energy-efficient building overlooking rolling hills which abound with butterflies, deer, and other wildlife.  On the property is Cool Spring Marsh and the CraftWorks community works diligently to ensure that the marsh is healthy.  CraftWorks provides community workshops ranging from “Mommy and Me” art programs to summer camps for school-aged children and a master artists series.  The picturesque setting coupled with the unique mission of the organization provided a great venue for the Committee’s retreat. 

The afternoon started with lunch from Fresh Feast on the Farm, another wonderfully sustainable local organization.  Fresh Feast on the Farm provides meal options that are seasonable and made from all locally grown and raised ingredients.  The Committee had quite a treat with the lunch menu including swiss steak from beef raised on the Lyle C.

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APUS Opens New Green Finance Center

In the latest addition to its headquarters in Charles Town, West Virginia, American Public University System (a fully online university serving more than 100,000 students) is celebrating the opening of its 105,000 square foot environmentally-friendly Finance Center.  The building sits adjacent to the school’s Academic Center which opened in November 2010.  Both buildings were built to US Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED Gold standards, a level above the Silver standard required of APUS as a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

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The Environmental Sustainability Herd

by Ryan Harding

Coined by Thomas Friedman, the phrase “electronic herd,” perhaps, may elicit in your mind an image of cattle, furiously stampeding through the vast web of crisscrossing fiber optic cables which comprise the mortar upon which we have built our Information Society. A miniature herd of cattle which could, if not for the thin sheet of liquid crystal and glass before you, come pouring out of your computer monitor surrounded by a great plume of dust and dirt.

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