From “Help the world: Earth Day activities scheduled in Racine, Kenosha counties” — Racine and Kenosha counties offer plenty of opportunities to actively observe Earth Day again this year today and through next weekend.

And while most of these events are specific to Earth Day and the surrounding weeks, eco-friendly volunteer and learning opportunities abound at other times of the year — such as the May and June projects at Wheatland’s Woodland Education Center noted below.

Earth Day has a special place in Wisconsin history, as it was Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson who came up with the idea for a day — April 22 — for a “national teach-in on the environment” in 1970, according to

Want to do some good for the local environment or learn more about how to care for the Earth? Here are some options for you:

Today — Medicine Collection Day for Households, 6200 21st St. (west of Highway 31), Racine, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Prescription medication and over the counter medication, ointments, sprays, inhalers, creams, vials and pet medications are acceptable. Keep all medications in original bottles (cross out name but leave medication name visible). Put all medications in a sealed bag. Do not bring needles, sharps, biohazardous materials or personal care products.

Today — Cleanup and Ladybug Unveiling, 1-3 p.m. Volunteers are needed to fan out over streets surrounding the Wadewitz COP House, 1750 Mead St., Racine, to pick up litter and waste during a spring cleanup effort. A new art project will be unveiled at Hamilton Park. Youth-painted ladybug rocks will be scattered about the park for those to find. Ladybugs can be brought home and kept as a token of appreciation for the volunteer’s work. All ladybugs will be number and presented additional awards.

Today — The Racine Wastewater Utility household hazardous waste collection program will hold its collection from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the waste collection site, 6200 21st St., Racine. The program is open to residents of Racine, Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, Sturtevant, Wind Point, North Bay and Elmwood Park. Residents are encouraged to bring harmful chemicals from around their home to the permanent collection site. Collections occur every third Saturday through October from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, go to

April 22 — Party for the Planet, Racine Zoo, 2131 N. Main St., Racine, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Informational tables in the Vanishing Kingdom building letting people know what things they can do to help the planet and craft stations where children can create special crafts related to the theme.

April 24 — Drive up-drop off medication collection at Raymond Town Hall, 2255 S. 76th St., Raymond, 6-8 p.m. Racine County residents should bring medication in original bottles with patient names crossed out. The name of the medication should still be visible. Do not bring needles, syringes or any biohazardous materials. For more information, call 262-930-6380, or 262-763-4930.

April 26 — Reuse-A-Shoe, Cesar Chavez Community Center, 2221 Douglas Ave., and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 1134 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Racine, 9 a.m.-noon. People can donate used athletic shoes. All brands of used, dry, mud-free athletic shoes are acceptable. The following items will not be accepted: Shoes containing metal parts; cleats, spikes, thongs, sandals, pumps, dress shoes and boots; shoes in plastic bags or tied together. The shoes will then be donated to the Nike recycling center.

April 26 — Raking leaves and spreading mulch at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 1015 4 Mile Road, Caledonia, 10 a.m. Bring gloves and rakes. Children welcome if accompanied by an adult. Register by calling Mark Trinklein at 414-217-3043.

April 26 — Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thon, 9 a.m.-noon, Colonial Park. Meet at West High Street parking lot, Racine. Contact Drew Ballantyne at; or Melissa Warner at

April 26 — People can celebrate Earth Day while helping out and enjoying Wisconsin state park, forest, trail and wildlife properties during the sixth annual Work Play Earth Day from 9 a.m. to noon at Richard Bong State Recreation Area, 26313 Burlington Road, Bristol. Volunteers can help repair and enhance park, forest and trail properties. Activities include planting trees and shrubs, installing benches, removing invasive plants, painting picnic tables and other structures, raking and cleaning up leaves and picking up litter. Volunteers should wear work boots or athletic shoes, long pants and bring their own work gloves.

Refreshments will be provided and Friends of Wisconsin State Parks will also provide appreciation gifts for volunteers. When the work is done, volunteers can stay to enjoy hiking or biking park trails, visiting the nature center or enjoying any of the recreational opportunities available at the different properties.

To sign up, call Bong State Recreation Area at 262-878-5600. People should check in at the Visitor Center where they will be split into work crews for the morning. No state park vehicle stickers are required while volunteering.

April 26 — Gateway Technical College has expanded its Celebrate Earth Day activities and demonstrations for 2014 to include even more hands-on demonstrations, family-friendly activities and ways community members can be gentle on the environment at work and home.

The event will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 at its Kenosha and Elkhorn campuses, featuring a number of Earth-friendly activities, informational booths and children’s crafts. For the entire event listing — including campus-specific activities — go to

Visitors at each campus will receive a reusable grocery bag, courtesy of event sponsor, Snap-on Inc., as well as a variety of other “green” focused items. The event is free and open to the public.

April 26-27 — To celebrate Earth Week and Arbor Day, Apple Holler, 5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Yorkville, is inviting the public to visit the orchard and farm park, including the baby animals, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at no charge. Visitors will learn more about Apple Holler and their farm. Apple Holler will be planting 2,000 new fruit trees this year. Call 262-886-8500 for more information.

May and June — Seno Woodland Education Center, 3606 Dyer Lake Road, Wheatland, needs volunteers with many projects including pulling garlic mustard, cutting young box elder trees, cutting thistles in the prairie, tree planting, trim pea bushes and white pine branches, clear around trail signs, buckthorn and honey suckle cutting and spraying, rendezvous projects, public events, replacing barn entry doors, and repairing pavilion overhang and adding vents. Call 262-539-3222, or go to

From “Online voting begins for Gateway in video contest” — RACINE — Gateway Technical College is one of 30 colleges from across the United States named as a finalist for an award recognizing leadership and innovation in the area of environmentalism and sustainability in higher education.

In addition to the Climate Leadership Award, Gateway Technical College is also competing against 29 college finalists in a national video voting competition. Individuals can vote for a video once a day, every day, now through April 15 at

The 2014 Climate Leadership Award is issued by Second Nature, a national nonprofit that works to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education. The awards, now in the fifth year, are an annual, national competition for colleges and universities that are signatories of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Gateway Technical College is one of five technical colleges nationwide to be a finalist for this award, and the only college in Wisconsin.

From “Masters of Green” – by Robin Bruecker – Being a good corporate citizen and natural-resources steward is something any responsible business should strive for, and that in itself is its own reward.

A yardstick by which to compare one’s progress among other companies can be useful, however, and a little kudos for a job well done is always welcome.

Enter the Green Masters, a program of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, an entity established through the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business.

The no-cost program allows businesses an opportunity to earn credentials for its sustainability practices in regard to energy and water conservation, waste management and outreach efforts.

“Businesses from every corner of the state, of every size and from almost every sector” have taken part in Green Masters, noted Thomas Eggert, executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. The program doesn’t provide training or guidance and instead gives rewards and recognition, although, Eggert said, “we have heard from many companies that our application is frequently downloaded as a template for what companies could be doing in the sustainability area.”

That application is about to be re-opened with a few tweaks for the 2014 year. Eggert noted that Green Masters has grown by 50 percent annually, with the current number of participants at 167.

Why should businesses be interested in adopting sustainability practices and enrolling in Green Masters?

“First, I’d tell them that interest in the program should come from within the business,” said Eggert. “My bet is that they have customers, investors, employees, future employees or their supply chain that is interested in what they are doing from a sustainability perspective.

“Second, I’d tell them that virtually every business gets into sustainability because of the cost savings opportunities,” he went on. “Cutting energy use certainly reduces the environmental footprint of an organization, but it also reduces their energy bill. Reducing the percent of raw materials that becomes waste and is sent to a landfill saves on the cost of landfilling material, but also ensures a greater percentage of raw materials are turned into finished product.”

Among those businesses who apply to participate in the Green Masters program each year, the top 20 percent are awarded the designation of Green Masters. Participating companies are assessed on an objective point system which evaluates sustainability efforts.

Why sustainability matters

A handful of northeast Wisconsin employers are among those designated Green Masters by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Appleton-based ThedaCare acknowledges sustainability as one of its core values, said Paul Linzmeyer, sustainability leader for the health care provider.

“Businesses and organizations must begin to understand the compelling business case for triple bottom line sustainable practices, and the Green Masters program helps make that case more visible by recognizing successful work and outcomes,” said Linzmeyer.

Another Green Master, contract furniture manufacturer KI in Green Bay, recognizes the value of incorporating sustainability practices into manufacturing and doing business.

“Sustainability principles are an integral part of our core business strategy, products and services, and brand propositions, and, as such, all of our employees are engaged in sustainability,” explained Lisa Evenson, sustainability manager for KI.

Sustainability practices also make a favorable impression with customers, as such practices demonstrate innovation – such as material choice and product redesign – social responsibility, and environmental stewardship, Evenson noted.

Appvion Inc. – formerly known to many as Appleton Papers – was among the businesses that expressed interest in developing sustainability criteria back in 2008. The company’s chief environmental and regulatory counsel, Pam Barker, serves on the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Advisory Board.

“Appvion takes seriously its responsibility to use water, energy, fiber and chemicals wisely, which includes continuously seeking ways to reduce consumption and recycle,” said Bill Van Den Brandt, senior manager of corporate communications. “Although our company has a long tradition of environmental stewardship, our efforts became more focused and strategic since we developed a detailed sustainability plan in mid-2008.”

Schneider National of Green Bay regularly submits its sustainability efforts to Green Masters. In the heavy fuel consumption industry of transportation and logistics, Schneider has been committed to energy efficiency for three decades.

“We are very proud to call Wisconsin home. We are equally proud to be one of the most energy-efficient fleets in the transportation industry. The chance to earn a sustainability distinction honoring Wisconsin companies was extremely appealing to our company,” said Steve Matheys, Schneider’s chief administrative officer, who oversees the sustainability team.

Green practices & the bottom line

ThedaCare has numerous sustainability projects taking place at its facilities. Linzmeyer gave a few examples.

“We have been re-purposing single-use medical devices, which saved us almost $800,000 in 2013. We have been diverting almost 100 tons of operating-room waste from the landfill through our recycling efforts. The last several construction projects have diverted almost 70 percent of waste from landfills to recycling.”

The recycling means lower tipping fees for ThedaCare, while the energy-conservation projects have a one- to three-year return on investment, Linzmeyer noted.

Another sustainability project involves increasing the use of locally grown food at ThedaCare facilities. ThedaCare donated funds to Riverview Gardens in Appleton for the construction of five hoop houses, with the intent for the gardens to be one of the food suppliers for ThedaCare hospitals.

“We feel that if we can build a local food hub with an innovative, high-technology information and distribution system, that we can bring down the cost of the local food options and make them competitive with more traditional options,” explained Linzmeyer. “Our mission is to build healthy communities and if we are going to succeed, we must include building healthy, accessible, nutritious and affordable food systems.”

In 2012 alone, KI had 35 material-reduction and recycled-content improvement projects.

Examples included re-designing a table-folding mechanism to reduce the amount of material used; switching from paper-based MSDS, drawings, price lists and work instructions to digital versions; recycling scrap wood for boiler fuel instead of landfilling it; and reclaiming black powder used in powder coating.

The company also incorporates recycled, recyclable and renewable materials into its products, such as bio-based foam or recycled aluminum and steel, Evenson noted. Additionally, KI also has set reduction goals for greenhouse-gas emissions, water use and energy use at all of its North American facilities.

“In 2012, KI Wisconsin facilities saw a 6.2 percent reduction in materials, diverted 500,179 pounds from landfills, and achieved a cost savings equating to $507,201,” Evenson said.

In the paper industry, Appvion was among the first to measure and work to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We have introduced new or redesigned products and design platforms that help make product development ‘greener’ by streamlining product designs to use fewer chemicals, increasing design efficiency to use smaller quantities of chemicals, and substituting ingredients that reduce the impact on the environment,” said Van Den Brandt. For its efforts, Appvion was among the first Wisconsin firms in 2010 to receive the Green Masters designation. It’s earned the Green Masters credential each year since.

Making a case for sustainability

In 2013, marine engine manufacturer Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac also earned a Green Master designation. Since 2011, the company’s Fond du Lac operations have conserved energy in the form of 14 billion British thermal units (BTUs) of building heat. Water conservation equaled 250,000 gallons.

Its products are greener, too. Emissions from Mercury’s outboard engines have been reduced and fuel economy has been improved over the years. A new paint system installed in the Fond du Lac plant in 2011 resulted in a 50 percent reduction in volatile organic compound air emissions and a 50 percent reduction in paint-related hazardous wastes. Almost all of the aluminum used to make engines comes from recycled material.

“We have historically made sustainable activities an integral part of our core business practices, and we began formulizing them under company-wide policies in 2011 to ensure measurement and achievement,” said Mark Schwabero, Mercury president.

Schneider National’s ongoing efforts in fuel efficiency conserve more than 26 million gallons of fuel and reduce more than 300,000 tons of carbon byproducts annually, Matheys noted. For example, Schneider spent $19.8 million in 2012 on incentives that reward drivers for practicing fuel management techniques. The company has been testing natural gas-fueled tractors within its fleet and plans to expand the number of trucks this year.

The insurance industry can go through a lot of office products like paper, electronics and furniture. Appleton-based Secura Insurance, which is new to Green Masters, set up a green committee in 2010 to manage resources and reduce environmental impact.

Numerous recycling efforts at Secura include paper and cardboard, batteries, office electronics, and even employees’ electronics from home, as well as food composting. Printer and copier use is monitored and minimized, with printers on the duplex setting.

Green Bay-based Northeast Wisconsin Technical College created a sustainability team this past year involving faculty and students. Onsite changes to its campus include water filling stations, low-energy restroom remodels, and a building addition that uses advanced energy monitoring software, light tubes and a green roof, according to Amy Kox, associate dean for the energy and sustainability programs.

“The instructor and students in the Energy Management program have completed numerous energy audits for the college and local businesses as part of service learning,” said Kox. “The Solar Energy (program) students submitted grant applications to Focus on Energy for three solar installations on the Green Bay campus and were awarded these grants.”

Sustainable Food & Agriculture Systems program students have a campus organic garden and raised money for a student scholarship by selling community-supported agriculture shares and produce.

“We believe that these programs will provide the educated graduates ready to work, manage and operate green businesses of the future,” said Kox. “We believe we, as an organization, need to live what we teach.”

The right thing to do

For some businesses, sustainability efforts may be made even when they create costs instead of savings.

“Our sustainability plan has a triple bottom line to balance our environmental, economic and social impacts,” said Appvion’s Van Den Brandt. “We consider sustainability in everything we do. In many cases being a good environmental steward provides economic benefits; in some instances sustainability may create additional costs for our company.”

NWTC’s Energy Management team measures the amount of time required to pay back the initial investment in an energy savings project, Kox said, but “payback is not all that is considered.”

“There are some projects that we have done that have a longer payback. We do these projects because they are important to us in terms of how we live our sustainability values and how the project may be useful for our students in terms of exposure to new technologies.”

As KI CEO Dick Resch put it, “Sustainability is about striving for continual improvement every step of the way. To us, sustainability isn’t just about ‘going green.’ It’s a fundamental way of doing business – one that conserves natural resources and reduces waste, consumption and operating costs.”

From “College Facilities As Living Laboratories for Sustainability” – College campuses across the country have been expanding their focus on sustainable practices with facilities, operations, and curriculum. These efforts have been bolstered by the efforts of several high-profile national associations such as the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and Sustainability, Education and Economic Development (SEED).

One of the most prominent elements of this trend is that sustainable facilities not only reduce operating costs, but also serve as learning spaces for students … a concept referred to as living laboratories. Sustainable practices can be incorporated into a wide range of programs, from technician training to managing sustainable systems.

In Wisconsin, Western Technical College is extending the concept of facilities as living laboratories with two new initiatives: Passive House Construction and Applied Hydro Technology.

Passive House Construction
Western Technical College has existing associate degree and diploma programs in Building Systems Technology, Wood Technics, Architecture Technician, Landscape and Horticulture Technology and Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technician. These programs provide a stream of graduates with excellent job placement rates in their respective areas. Though there has been some coordination in curriculum and projects, these programs for the most part are stand alone. That is changing with the faculty-led initiative to develop Passive Houses.

Passive House technology has an established presence in Europe and emerging presence in the United States. Passive houses use ultra insulation and air circulation techniques to reduce energy consumption by at least 80 percent. By adding alternative energy elements such as solar panels, a passive house can exceed 90 percent reduced energy consumption.

In order to provide instruction in passive house technology, the five programs involved in the initiative must integrate their curriculum. And, the ability to construct real homes would be ideal.

The college entered into a community partnership with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center (HUAC) … an organization that promotes locally grown food and healthy eating. HUAC was located in a century old greenhouse located in a residential neighborhood in La Crosse, Wis. The building inefficiency placed a real burden on the operational viability of the organization. Western Technical College partnered with HUAC to relocate the greenhouse to the college campus. In turn, HUAC donated the land (three city lots) from the old greenhouse site to be developed into passive houses. Once the homes are constructed, they will be sold to private owners.

By developing these houses, the five programs will be adding a new dimension … an integrated curriculum in passive house technology. Over the years, the college built more than two dozen traditional homes as part of a neighborhood revitalization program for the City of La Crosse. Now the college looks forward to building energy-efficient, passive-rated homes.

Hydro Technology and the Angelo Dam
Prior to 2013, Western Technical College did not offer a hydro technology program. But as a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college was seeking opportunities for alternative energy sources. One presented itself when Monroe County decided to sell a dam on the La Crosse River, approximately one-third mile from Western’s public safety facility. The County no longer wished to maintain the dam and in 2011, offered to sell it to the college for $1. An engineering analysis determined that the structure was in excellent shape and could easily accommodate new hydro technology equipment. In September 2013, the college received Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approval and the hydro equipment is currently being installed. The dam will be powered and generating electricity in December 2013.

The newly powered dam will allow the college to offer a five-course certificate in hydro technology in 2014 … a certificate that is unique in the upper Midwest. The college will also offer a technical seminar on How to Power a Dam. And, since there are more than 600 non-energy producing dams in the state of Wisconsin, there is great potential for influencing increased use of hydro technology as a viable alternative energy source in the upper Midwest.

Back to the Concept of Living Laboratories
So, these are interesting program initiatives in sustainability, but how do they serve as unique examples for living laboratories? First of all, both initiatives literally pay for themselves. The passive houses will be sold one at a time, with the proceeds of the sale being used to build the next house. The Angelo Dam will generate 1.2 million kwh per year with the energy sold to a regional utility. The annual revenue will cover the annual borrowing payments for the hydro equipment. Ultimately, once the equipment is paid for, the energy generated will be equivalent to removing the college’s six satellite locations from the grid. Even a LEED Platinum building has to assume the cost of construction as part of the overall cost.

Western is pleased to see these two new initiatives launched. But beyond their program impact, we also realize that a new door is being opened. On the other side, lies community-based facilities as living laboratories and new educational opportunities for colleges and universities.


From “Partnership allows Western students to build “green” – La Crosse – Imagine saving up to 90% off your utility bill. Students at Western Technical College will build a home that efficient thanks to a new partnership.

Western, Mayo Clinic Health System, The Hillview Urban Ag Center, and the La Crosse Community Foundation are working together to deconstruct the old Hillview green houses and build in their place 3 energy efficient homes.

Organizers broke ground on the first home Thursday morning. The homes feature “passive” technology; a construction model that focuses on sustainability.

Western students from multiple programs will help build the homes. The first of which is expected to be finished early next year.

Video from


From “Gateway offers sustainability camp” – KENOSHA — Gateway Technical College is offering hands-on sustainability camp for students who have this year completed sixth through eighth grades. Camp will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22-25 at the Center for Sustainable Living on the Gateway Technical College Kenosha Campus, 3520 30th Ave.

The Youth Leaders in Sustainability summer camp is a four-day event which provides students a way to engage in the “green” issues of the day. Experienced Gateway Technical College instructors and other local experts lead exploratory, hands-on activities in areas of water and resource conservation, forestry, bird ecology, urban farming, horticulture, environmental technologies and hands-on service learning projects.

Campers will build a solar car, learn how to plant and care for vegetables and build a freshwater filtration system, among many other activities. In addition to activities at the center, field trips are also planned.

Cost to attend is $99. Registration includes lunches, snacks and a T-shirt. To register, go to and select Professional Development, and then Youth Leaders in Sustainability. For more information, contact Stephanie Sklba at or (262) 564-2662.

From “MATC hosting sustainability summit” – Business and education leaders and sustainability experts from the Milwaukee area and around the world are gathering in downtown Milwaukee to trade ideas on systems and practices that sustain the economy and planet for future generations.

Milwaukee Area Technical College is hosting the 10th annual “Sustainability Summit and Exposition” at the Delta Center. The theme of this year’s summit is “Sustainability – An Economic & Ecological Imperative.”

It used to be called the Green Energy Summit but the name changed to reflect the broadened scope of the conference, a collaboration of people from business, education and government.

The summit runs March 6-8 at the Delta Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. The public is invited and registration is $250 for the full conference or $150 for one day. Students get in free of charge.


From “Sustainability Summit broadens its focus” – The challenge of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be front and center at the Sustainability Summit that begins Wednesday.

The summit, which has broadened its focus from green energy and jobs, will host climate scientists James Hansen of NASA and Michael Mann of Penn State University.

“We broadened our title from green energy summit to sustainability summit because sustainable business practices are catching on all over,” said George Stone, a geologist and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College who is chairman of the summit. “More and more corporations in more and more industries are realizing that the triple bottom line makes sense.”

Tom Eggert, who coordinates the Wisconsin Green Masters Program, a business certification initiative, said interest is strong. He already has 42 people signed up for a Friday workshop to help businesses join the initiative, Eggert said.

The summit, whose target audience are business people and students, will be held at the Delta Center, downtown Milwaukee’s convention center.

Hansen’s appearance at the summit comes 25 years after he gained national attention as one of the first climate scientists to warn about climate change at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C.

But Hansen has moved toward activism in his calls for action. He was among those arrested at the White House last month during a protest over the Keystone XL pipeline.

The lineup for this year’s Sustainability Summit includes speakers who have been greeted with standing ovations at past summits – Milwaukee urban food guru and Growing Power founder Will Allen and actor-and-greener-lifestyle speaker Ed Begley Jr.

This year’s conference will also have an international perspective, with speakers from Germany, Israel and China, as well as local presentations from the likes of S.C. Johnson & Son, Johnson Controls Inc. and A.O. Smith Corp.

This year’s summit comes as climate change policy is again at the forefront of initiatives being pushed by the Obama administration. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Gina McCarthy, a regulator who led the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on pollution from coal-fired power plants, to lead the EPA for the next four years.

The administration is pushing carbon regulation through cabinet agencies. It faces opposition in Congress to policies such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, as Republicans remain concerned about the effects of carbon rules on the economy and jobs.

The issue has come into more focus as Americans have witnessed the intensity – and cost – of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy.

“This is an issue that’s now on the front burner,” Stone said . “There have just been a whole string of extreme weather and climate events in real time. It’s driving up costs for everybody; insurance premiums are going up. Some food costs are going up, depending on where you live. It’s going to start costing everybody more and more.”


From “Sustainability Summit free for MATC students” — By George Stone, Co-Chair MATC District Sustainability Committee – The anticipation and excitement are rising. The 10th Annual Sustainability Summit and Exposition is fast approaching. MATC is proud to host this outstanding conference on Wednesday and Thursday, March 6 and 7 at the Delta Center (formerly the Frontier Airlines Center) in downtown Milwaukee.  The theme for 2013 is Sustainability: An Economic and Ecologic Imperative.

The Sustainability Summit is great in a lot of ways.  First, it’s the biggest and best sustainability conference in Wisconsin.  Because of its first-rate reputation, it attracts world-class speakers, and people come from all over the Midwest to learn about the latest trends and opportunities in industry and education.  But more than any other reason, the Summit is great because it’s for students.  Thanks to the generosity of Summit sponsors (including MATC’s Office of Student Life), all students may register for the Summit free of charge. It’s the best deal of the year.

More than 2,000 students attended in each of the last three years, 1,000 from MATC alone.  For most, it is their first, major professional conference and it’s a real eye-opener.  “It was great.  I had no idea how much was going on!” is a typical comment.  In addition to MATC, students come from UWM, Marquette, MSOE, MPS, Concordia, Carroll, and Alverno; and many more from other technical colleges and UW campuses.

Internationally acclaimed speakers will inspire and enlighten.  Among them will be Will Allen, Ed Begley Jr., Lynn Broaddus, James Hansen, Zelma Maine-Jackson, C.S. Kiang, Michael Mann and Mordechai Shechter.

Our program is the envy of the state; UW- Madison will be sending busloads of students and faculty to hear our speakers.  Breakout sessions on vital topics plus an astounding array of industry and education exhibits will compel, entertain and inform.

This outstanding conference has become an MATC tradition.  I urge all instructors to attend and to provide class time or extra-credit assignments so that their students will be able to share in this outstanding educational experience.  All MATC employees may also attend the Summit free of charge by completing a Prior Approval for Travel form and submitting it to their supervisor for approval.

If you plan to live and work on planet Earth in the 21st century, there’s much of great value for you at the 2013 Sustainability Summit and Exposition.

For more information, please consult the Summit website at

Thanks for your attention, and for your help in making MATC’s Summit the premier annual sustainability conference in Wisconsin. If you have questions, please phone George Stone at 414-297-7430 or email


From “MATC to mark launch of Oak Creek Campus wind turbine Nov. 9″ – Milwaukee Area Technical College will mark the launch of a new wind turbine at the Oak Creek Campus at a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9, at 11:30 a.m. The event will be held at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM), 6665 S. Howell Ave.

MATC President Dr. Michael L. Burke, Oak Creek Campus Vice President Dr. Evonne Carter, associate dean Dr. Joseph Jacobsen and representatives from businesses that partnered on the project will attend the event.

The 47-foot wind turbine generates 3.5 kW and completes the renewable energy sources portfolio at ECAM. Other elements include a geothermal heat pump, two solar thermal systems and several photovoltaic systems. MATC utilizes Johnson Controls’ METASYS Energy Management System to collect data from the wind turbine.

An on-campus weather station provides the opportunity for performance monitoring of the solar thermal and photovoltaic systems and wind turbine. The station replicates industry standards that students would encounter on the job. Two wind power courses will begin in the fall 2013 semester.

Other academic programs, including Power Engineering and Boiler Operator, Sustainable Facilities Operations, Energy Engineering Technology and Environmental Health and Water Quality Technology, will incorporate the wind turbine into curriculum.

From “Sustainability part of the curriculum at Nicolet” – Sustainability is a common theme at Nicolet Area Technical College. Tuesday’s “dumpster diving” event to promote recycling awareness is just one small example of the type of initiatives the college is taking on.

A few other examples include the culinary arts students maintaining a compost as part of their cooking practices and the college’s participation in the Lake Julia stewardship project, a nearly decade-long study of the lake that included approximately $50,000 in Department of Natural Resources grant funding. What was discovered was a fairly healthy lake, but the project produced an aquatic plant management plan that can be used to continue to monitor and maintain the health of the lake.

The college has also pursued LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for recent building renovation projects. The certification assesses how “green” a building is, looking at areas such as energy efficiency, water conservation and the use of sustainable materials. The Birchwood Center addition and remodeling received a LEED Gold certification.

The Northwoods Center addition and remodeling completed in 2011 received a LEED Silver certification. Nicolet College officials are now pursuing an official LEED certification for the University Transfer Center renovation completed this past summer.

One of the most recent sustainability initiatives at Nicolet is the college’s Green Scholar program, which is making its debut this fall. Leanne Vigue Miranda had some literature available on the new program during Tuesday’s “dumpster diving” event. Miranda coordinates the college’s sustainability professional learning community. There are several different professional learning communities (PLC), all comprised of Nicolet staffers, that direct their focus on different areas.

“Our PLC is always trying to come up with ways to raise awareness,” Miranda said of the area of sustainability.

The Green Scholar program is something that has been in the works for about a year and a half, she said.

According to Miranda, the program’s purpose is twofold. To recognize the efforts of those people who already make sustainable practices part of their everyday lives and to hopefully encourage others to become more conscious of the carbon footprint they’re leaving behind and consider some lifestyle changes.

“Our PLC really wanted to find ways to get the Nicolet community excited about sustainability as well as recognize people for their efforts,” Miranda said.

The Green Scholar program is modeled after a similar program at Gateway Technical College in Racine. It is open to anyone willing to learn about sustainability and incorporate such aspects into their personal lives, Miranda said. To become a Green Scholar, a person must complete the EarthScore Booklet (found in the Nicolet College bookstore), complete a service learning project relevant to sustainability and complete 50 points worth of “green” action items, which include Nicolet coursework as well as other various personal activities. Miranda said the courses don’t necessarily have to be for credit. Non-credit classes, such as courses in the college’s Outdoor Adventure Series, also qualify toward the requirements of the Green Scholar recognition.

For more information about the program, contact Miranda at (715) 365-4586 or

From “Dumpster diving dean at Nicolet proves a point about trash” – RHINELANDER – The “Green Dean” at Nicolet College is serious about recycling, and she’s not afraid to get a little dirty to prove a point.

Today Brigitte Parsons, the Dean of Trade and Industry at the college donned a hazmat suit, and jumped into one of the schools dumpsters. She was a little disappointed at what she found…

“This is a brand new pad of paper! I can’t believe that! That’s unfortunate.”

It should have been recycled, but instead it ended up in the trash.

“This is not a finger pointing game, really,” she said, “We’re just trying to raise awareness that’s it’s just as simple as making a decision between throwing an item in the trash can, or in the recycling bin.”

At Nicolet college, it really is that simple. They’ve gone to a single-stream recycling program that makes it easy to be green.

“You can throw everything in the same bin, doesn’t matter if it’s glass, plastic, paper, everything all goes together, and then they take it away and they can separate it out,” said Leanne Vigue Miranda, a sustainability leader on campus.

Still the “Green Dean”, is a dumpster diving machine… And she’s finding plenty of trash in the dumpster that shouldn’t be.

“I’m standing on probably 10-15%, maybe a little bit more of items that definitely can be recycled,” she said.

“If materials are recyclable, you have to recycle them. That’s the law, basically,” said Miranda.

Parsons adds, “Whether you agree with recycling scientifically or not it’s about trying to save what we have going into the landfills, because we don’t have an infinite space in landfills for all of this stuff.”

By exposing this dirty truth the “Green Dean” hopes students will wake up, smell the trash, and make a greener choice.

From “Green Genome Awards to recognize outstanding college sustainability, training efforts” – As part of an expanding national effort to support sustainability practices, programs, and training at the nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges, five exemplary community colleges will be presented the first-ever Green Genome Awards at a national community college summit hosted Oct. 2 and 3 by Gateway Technical College in Racine, Wis. Awards will be presented at 8:00 a.m. Oct. 3 in the Conference Center.

The awards are part of a larger Green Genome initiative created by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and its Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED). In the past two years, more than 460 community colleges representing over 3 million students have joined AACC’s SEED Center, pledging leadership in sustainability education and training and reaping the benefits.

Winning colleges will each receive $8,000 plus a set of state-of-the-art tools and horticulture equipment from awards sponsor Snap-on.

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges that have not only prepared a skilled clean technology workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing college senior administrators, faculty, and staff an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices, green technical workforce development, education and economic development.”

The winning colleges recognized for their achievements within the four categories include:

  • Butte College, California (Governance)
  • Central Carolina Community College, North Carolina (Program Design & Delivery)
  • Delta College, Michigan (Community Engagement)
  • Hillsborough Community College, Florida (Overall)
  • West Virginia University at Parkersburg (Strategic Partnerships)

Todd Cohen, SEED Center Director and Dr. Bryan Albrecht, chair of AACC’s Presidents’ Sustainability Task Force and president of Gateway Technical College will present the awards at this week’s community college summit, Building Sustainable Industry-College Partnerships.

Wisconsin-based Snap-on Inc. has been a strong supporter of the kinds of community college/industry collaborations the Green Genome Awards recognize. “Snap-on continues to look for innovative workforce development initiatives, including those that ultimately contribute to the sustainability of communities. We are proud to partner with AACC’s SEED Center to sponsor these Green Genome Awards and to have played a role in developing the national framework behind it,” said Scott Broman, Global Business Development Director, Snap-On, Inc.

Accompanying the awards is the release of a report entitled, The Community College Green Genome Framework: Integrating Sustainability and Clean Technology Programs into the Institution’s DNA. This free tool for colleges details the new Green Genome framework, paths for success, and offers profiles of the winning colleges. The framework was developed by a national advisory panel made up of senior leaders at the US Department of Energy, industry, national associations and over 50 community colleges plus extensive review of existing college programs.

The report also includes a self-assessment tool designed for colleges to quickly gauge, along a series of 47 green institutional competencies, how well they may be leading these initiatives today—and where to prioritize enhancements in the future.

AACC’s SEED Center is funded by the Kresge Foundation. “Initiatives like SEED are working to leverage the talents at America’s community colleges to build the new, clean economy with career paths for all students,” said Bill Moses, Program Director, Education. “The Kresge Foundation is pleased to support AACC and the innovative SEED colleges that are leading these efforts.”

Download the Green Genome Report,

About SEED AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and FREE resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Bahco/Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education.

About the American Association of Community Colleges Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing more than to 1,100 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling 13.4 million credit and non-credit students each year.

About Snap-on Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $2.9 billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

From “Plan commission approves MATC wind turbine” – The Oak Creek Plan Commission on Tuesday gave Milwaukee Area Technical College the go-ahead to build a 47-foot wind turbine at its Oak Creek campus, 6665 S. Howell Ave.

The turbine will be used in the school’s Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing curriculum. It is much smaller than turbines typically seen at wind farms, where they can stretch more than 100 feet high. Officials said this turbine likely won’t be seen outside the campus.

Because of its proximity to the airport, the turbine could not be more than 50 feet high and needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Also on Tuesday, the commission delayed action on Aldi’s renovation plans, at the company’s request. It could come back to the commission as early as July 10.

From “Funds sought for building on CVTC’s West Campus” – A $7.9 million Energy Education Center planned for Chippewa Valley Technical College’s West Campus in Eau Claire is included in the school’s budget for the upcoming academic year.

Scheduled for a hearing and vote Thursday evening, CVTC’s 2012-13 budget would increase spending for the building and associated renovations but would not raise property taxes.

“There’s zero dollar change in the levy when compared to last year,” said Kirk Moist, CVTC’s director of finance and budgeting.

The upcoming budget is the second year of a state-mandated freeze on technical colleges’ operating costs, and CVTC’s debt payments are staying level.

CVTC plans to pay for the Energy Education Center — consisting of a 24,000-square-foot renovation of the Transportation Center on the West Campus and a 30,000-square-foot addition — through a mix of its own funding and donations.

“The big ‘if’ is there still is private-sector money being raised to pay for a large portion of the project,” said Doug Olson, CVTC’s executive director of facilities.

About $1 million in business donations still is needed before the project can move forward, he said.

When all the money is secured, CVTC would need the approval of its own board and the state Technical College System Board before building the new center.

The center will teach applications of alternative energy sources, including biofuels, solar power, geothermal heating and wind energy. College programs including heating, ventilation and air conditioning; civil engineering; construction; and electrical power distribution would be based at the center because those fields are seeing increasing use of green technology.

In recent years the college renovated parts of the Business Education Center, but the last major project was the creation of the $10.25 million Health Education Center in 2004.

“Anytime we do a major project, there’s an upward blip,” Moist said of CVTC’s spending.

The proposed budget shows a minor bump up for what taxpayers will be billed for CVTC.

The owner of a $100,000 home that paid $174.17 in taxes last year to CVTC would see a $2.65 tax increase under the proposed budget. But that’s only assuming the property value of that hypothetical home did not fall.

While the tax rate paid by homeowners will appear larger on their bill in December, that’s because property values have fallen in the technical college district’s 11-county area and are expected to again decline.

“Our property values have gone down three years in a row,” Moist said.

Currently valued at about $20.3 billion, properties within the district are projected to fall in value by about $305 million in the next year, according to CVTC’s proposed budget.

From “Colleges discourage single-use water bottles” – Local colleges and universities hope to make it easier and more environmentally friendly for students and staff to drink water on campus.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College, like many schools throughout the country, have installed stations to fill reusable water containers or bottles.

The idea is to encourage students and staff to drink more water without buying it in throw-away plastic bottles.

“It’s something both students and faculty really want,” said Rick Warpinski, director of the University Union and Shorewood Golf Course at UW-Green Bay.

The school installed a water refill station in the union about two years ago. Refills at the station for the 2011-12 academic year equaled 40,000 eight-ounce bottles of water, Warpinski said.

Fox Valley Technical College, Lawrence University and UW-Fox Valley all have water fountains for student and faculty use.

UW-Fox Valley has six water fountains installed in high-traffic areas of the campus, which all filter the tap water they dispense, said spokesman Dave Hager. One fountain digitally calculates the number of plastic bottles that don’t end up as trash because of the fountain’s use. That number totals more than 15,195 plastic bottles.

St. Norbert installed a similar unit in the John Minahan Science Building last fall, according to Lewis Pullen, manager of mechanical systems at the college.

“Students and staff stand in line to use it,” he said. “We encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water. It’s cheaper and it’s better for you.”

UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert College hope to add more refill stations as funding allows. Pullen estimates it costs about $400 to add a refillable station top to an existing water fountain if the unit is fairly new. It costs about $1,000 to overhaul a station, he said.

“There are some budget constraints,” Pullen said. “When you have 65 or 70 water fountains on campus, that can be pricey. Going forward, anytime we’re going to replace a water fountain, it makes sense to upgrade the older ones with a refilling station. It’s baby steps.”

UW-Green Bay’s union generates its own revenue and used those funds to buy the water station, Warpinski said. The school would have to find other ways to pay for water stations throughout campus.

Some colleges are taking even bigger steps to encourage tap water consumption.

Loyola University in Chicago encouraged incoming students to drink water from the tap by giving freshmen reusable water bottles last fall and increasing the number of filling stations on campus. It also plans to ban the sale of bottled water. Student groups have been handing out stainless steel water bottles, and the school has added about 35 water filling stations.

Lawrence University has been handing out reusable water bottles to freshman since 2009, and doesn’t sell one-use bottled water outside of sporting events, said spokesperson Rick Peterson. FVTC’s Student Life department hands out free water bottles to students at special events during the school year.

Students at Loyola passed a referendum proposal in March saying they support the removal of bottled water, and university administrators recently announced the ban.

Warpinski said UW-Green Bay works with private vendors to supply its vending machines and food services, and would have to make a ban on bottled water part of any contract agreement.

“I think Green Bay has been ahead of the curve on these things,” he said. “Green Bay has been promoting the use of reusable water bottles, coffee mugs or soda containers for many years. You see a lot of students walking around carrying water bottles, so you know it’s important to them.”

Pullen said St. Norbert could look at providing reusable water bottles to incoming students.

“I think it’s safe to say we at the college believe water refilling stations are the way to go,” he said. “That’s the direction we’re moving to.”

From “Grant will boost solar panel training at MSTC” – Mid-State Technical College has won a state grant that will help train construction electrician apprentices on the latest in solar panel technology.

The $8,000 grant is part of $638,000 being doled out through the state’s Sector Alliance for the Green Economy or SAGE project. The grants help give apprentices training in green energy skills that will make them competitive in the workforce, said SAGE outreach coordinator Owen Smith.

Half of the grant money went to Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, which identified Mid-State as one of the schools it works with.

The grant money will also help train apprentices how to weld new sustainable materials. Skilled welders, in particular, have been in demand throughout the manufacturing sector, including manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbine structures.

From “Stations to power green vehicles” – An electric car isn’t going anywhere when it runs out of juice, and a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas obviously needs to be refilled from time to time.

So as gasoline prices continue hovering near $4 a gallon, the question arises: Can you buy an alternative-fuel vehicle and count on finding a place to fill it up when needed?

Efforts to provide that are picking up steam.

The City of Milwaukee, for instance, has tapped $35,000 in federal stimulus funds to open five charging stations, including one at 735 N. Water St. and another outside the main entrance of Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin that are already open. Others are planned for Brady St., the Clarion Hotel near Mitchell International Airport and a west side site not yet chosen.

“We’re trying to address the chicken and the egg issue – which should go first: charging stations or people buying more of these vehicles?” said Erick Shambarger, manager at Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, during the Green Vehicles Workshop Friday at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Once the city’s stations are completed, there will be eight public charging stations in Milwaukee County, including two at Milwaukee Area Technical College campuses and one at Schlitz Park in Milwaukee.

The charging stations are part of a broader deployment of clean vehicles and fleets financed both by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and by major corporations.

AT&T Inc. has expanded its alternative fuel vehicle fleet to 200 vehicles, including plug-in electric delivery vans and compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles. That’s an increase from 50 alternative fuel vehicles two years ago, said AT&T, which aims to reduce operating costs by saving on fuel.

Lorrie Lisek, executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities, a nonprofit that educates consumers and fleet owners about alternative fuel vehicles, said interest in shifting away from gasoline and diesel is growing as fuel prices remain high.

Forecasters at the Energy Information Administration last month projected that the price of crude oil will average more than $100 a barrel through the end of next year, and the price of regular unleaded will remain near $4 a gallon, 6% above last year, during the summer driving season.

The number of organizations that are members of Wisconsin Clean Cities has swelled to more than 60, she said, from 14 a year ago.

Working with the state government, Clean Cities aims to deploy more than 280 alternative fuel vehicles for fleets across the state by the end of next year, as part of a $15 million stimulus-funded initiative that is paying for hybrid-electric utility trucks for Milwaukee County, CNG vehicles in Bayfield, hybrid-electric school buses in Oconomowoc and alternative fueling stations across the state.

Altogether, the program aims to displace 1.6 million gallons of petroleum per year, she said.

The city is putting charging stations in high-profile spots in part to attract tourists with electric vehicles, since Milwaukee has been slower than other markets like Chicago to have electric vehicles for sale.

“We haven’t gone crazy with our investment,” Shambarger said. “Other cities have a lot more charging stations than we do. Our decision to start with five reflects Milwaukee’s demographics but is still providing that initial signal that we have the infrastructure here.”

Private investment is taking place too, whether at Schlitz Park for a charging station in Milwaukee or at Kwik Trip stations from Sturtevant to La Crosse that are adding compressed natural gas fueling capabilities.

La Crosse-based Kwik Trip will host a natural gas trade show and summit this week and unveil an alternative-fuels station that sells a wide range of fuels.

The Milwaukee workshop for the first time featured an all-electric Nissan Leaf, which just became available for test drives and ordering in recent months, said Kip Malmstadt of Boucher Nissan in Greenfield.

Malmstadt gets a lot of questions about the vehicle’s range – which is 100 to 110 miles.

“It’s really a daily driver – most people drive back and forth to work 30 miles a day,” he said. “Because of that, it’s the perfect car for that use. It’s not a car you want to go on vacation with, unless you’re going on vacation to Sheboygan.”

Compared with current prices at the pump, a typical Leaf driver may save $1,100 a year on fueling, Malmstadt said. The Leaf costs $35,000 to $38,000; tax credits can reduce the cost by $7,500.

The local network of natural gas fueling stations may also expand. The city of Milwaukee, which has eight CNG garbage trucks in service and another 13 on order, has installed several fueling stations that are used to fill the trucks.

From “Wisconsin Green Vehicles Workshop Features Propane Autogas Technology from Alliance AutoGas Partner Charter Fuels” – Alliance AutoGas fueling partner Charter Fuels shared the benefits of clean, affordable propane autogas for fleets at the ninth annual “Driving Toward 2020: Green Vehicles Workshop.” Hosted at the Milwaukee Area Technical College by Wisconsin Clean Cities May 4, the all-day event explored the latest trends in the alternative fuel industry and gave students and community members a chance to experience green vehicles firsthand.

The event featured alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles of all types from major vehicle manufacturers, including Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Josh Budworth of Charter Fuels showcased a propane autogas-powered 2011 Ford F-150.

“This workshop was a unique opportunity to get younger generations excited about alternative fuel technology and educate them about the most viable options on the market today, like propane autogas,” said Budworth, who participated in a panel covering propane autogas, natural gas, ethanol and electricity. “Autogas is an American-made clean fuel that saves fleets thousands annually on fuel costs, even with as little as one autogas vehicle.”

Charter Fuels recently helped the City of Marinette, Wis., convert a police cruiser to autogas, and they expect fuel cost savings of around $5,000 annually. A partner in the national Alliance AutoGas network, Charter helps fleets switch to autogas through vehicle conversions, installation of a fuel station at the fleet base, data integration for fuel management systems, operational and safety training, and ongoing technical support. Alliance provides funding options so fleets can switch to autogas at no upfront cost.

Autogas fleets currently save around $1.50 per gallon compared to gasoline, and many report reduced maintenance needs and increased engine life. Propane autogas is 30 percent cleaner than gasoline, and 98 percent of the U.S. autogas supply is made in America. The most widely used alternative fuel in the world, autogas powers 18 million vehicles globally.

From “NTC goes green” – Northcentral Technical College is going green. Or, at least its farm is.

“Sometimes we want to be free of WPS power,” Director of Facilities Rob Elliot said.

That’s why NTC partnered with Warner Electric to install three wind turbines at their agricultural center. Combined with the already placed solar panels, during a sunny, windy day they are expected to carry the farm’s full electrical load.

“At peak demand we use about 38 kilowatts here at the farm, the wind turbines will produce about 27 kilowatts,” Elliot said.

The energy produced from the turbines will power lights, classrooms, and technology.

“There will be times we are pulling off the grid from WPS, buying power. But, there will be times we will be selling power back,” Elliot said.

But, it’s not just about saving energy. It is also a teaching tool.

“It gives students practical equipment to work with so they can tip them down, see the motor, the brakes and can learn the technology,” Elliot said.

Scott Story is a first year student. Even before the turbines were up and running, story and his class were on site, learning.

“Now-a-days were learning how to find ways to create energy with using gasses and stuff like that,” Story said.

But, not everyone is as excited. NTC officials say they did have one complaint. A nearby residence worried about how much noise the energy savers would make.

“These generate less noise than the ones you see on a farm on the highway. Actually, traffic going by will be louder than these turbines,” Elliot explained.

School officials say all three turbines will be producing energy by next week, making this farm a little greener.

View WAOW video

From “Gateway president serves on 50 boards” – Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht has joined his 50th board.

“I’m supposed to start saying no now,” Albrecht said, laughing.

Gateway announced last week that Albrecht had been appointed chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development Task Force. The position, to advance sustainability and environmental curriculum, brings the number of regional, state and national boards Albrecht serves on to 50.

He acknowledged it’s a lot but said they’re all related to Gateway, which means the college isn’t hurt by his attention getting pulled in so many different directions.

“Gateway Technical College does not suffer. I would hope people would see just the opposite,” Albrecht said, explaining he’s always connected to Gateway in person, by iPhone or via iPad. “My role is to be that liaison between our college and our community.”

Because of the myriad boards that boast Albrecht as a member, Gateway has state and national ties, and the college has increased opportunities for grants. Plus Albrecht can bring good ideas back to Gateway and can tailor Gateway’s offerings to meet community needs, he said.

“Everything has a correlation along the way, whether it’s working with early, elementary, middle, high school or adult learners,” he said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Board allows Albrecht to support youth who are future Gateway students or whose parents may attend the college. The National Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Board helps Albrecht connect Gateway to new industry advances. Workforce development boards let Albrecht and Gateway help dislocated workers.

And that’s just to name a few.

With all these boards, Albrecht said he doesn’t just lend his name; he actually participates.

“He’s one of my most active board members,” said Wally Graffen, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He is not afraid to think outside the box.”

For example, Graffen said, Albrecht helped bring culinary arts, GED classes and dental screenings to a newer Boys & Girls Club location at 1330 52nd St. in Kenosha.

When Albrecht can’t attend a meeting in person — which is bound to happen when you serve on 50 boards — he’ll conference call in or send a Gateway representative in his place. He’ll also read the minutes and offer some comments, he said.

Between his board and college duties, Albrecht said he works 15 to 17 hours a day. When asked how much sleep he gets, Albrecht laughed before replying, “Not enough.”

“There could be an event I would go to every night of the week,” he said, adding he usually has three to five board meetings a week.

His schedule last week showed he had 13 board-related events Monday to Saturday, from meetings to forums and recognitions.

But it’s all by choice and all of the boards are volunteer, Albrecht said.

“I don’t want the article to feel like I’m feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I choose to lead our college by community engagement.”

WITC unveils lab home

March 28, 2012

From “WITC unveils lab home” – Douglas County handed over the keys and the deed to a tax-forfeited home in Superior Tuesday, and it became official. The Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is a homeowner.

They bought the property to use as a lab home for students in the Building Performance Technician Program. Students are training for careers to improve energy efficiency in buildings and homes.

“In a lot of our education we focus on providing real world, hands-on activities for our students, and this is a real world hands on activity,” WITC Academic Dean Ted May said.

Students said they’re ready to roll up their sleeves, “I can’t wait to get working on it,” student, Matt Underdahl said.

One look inside and It’s clear they have plenty to rehab. They’ll use tools like a “blower door” to help fix things they can’t see.

“On this little monitor right here, it tells us what the leakage rate is for the home. How much heat you’re losing, or how much heat you could be saving in our business,” student Derek Leslie said.

From there It’s on to retro fitting the home to save energy and keep costs down. Students said after this house, they’ll be prepared to take on many more in their future careers.

The school said once this property is finished, they’ll sell it and put the money towards purchasing another home to keep the project going.


From “Students in FDL go back to basics” —  FOND DU LAC – Students apart of the Culinary Arts Department at Moraine Park Technical College are going back to basics.  FOX 11′s Emily Deem stopped by the college in Fond du Lac to see what students are learning.

The school’s Culinary Arts Department is doing some pretty awesome things with hydroponics, aquaponics and gardening.

According to the college one of the instructors has turned what used to be the old meat-cutting area into a place where students can grow through sustainable learning.

The idea is for students to go back to basics.  Students are being taught where their food is coming from and how to use sustainable practices in their future careers.

Students are tending to several grow boxes with a variety of lettuces, sprouts, vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers.

Thirty gold fish are keeping the aquaponics system moving, with hopes to start growing tilapia. Students started a garden this past summer, growing herbs, vegetables and edible flowers.

Students harvest most of the fresh produce to use in dishes served at the College’s Park Terrace Restaurant.

From “Solar Tree grows power for CVTC” – A few weeks ago, Chippewa Valley Technical College got a bit more green by planting a black, metallic tree.

Over the last year, the college worked with local renewable energy systems installer Next Step Energy to create their first “solar tree,” which provides up to 180w of energy on a sunny day. It helps to power the greenhouse shown above.

The coolest part of this, though — beyond the fact that it’s also a sculpture resembling a tree — is that the energy coming in is trackable via a sweet website. Here you can see the current production, charts of the last week or month or year, and even a conversion to how many lightbulbs have been powered.

The tree was designed by Next Step Energy’s Joe Mauer (an Eau Claire-based artist) who explains, “The project started with CVTC wanting to have a solar system that wasn’t just a solar array. It’s sculptural and it’s an educational array.”

The tree is actually engineered to hold up to three solar panels, meaning production could go up to 540w in the future. Mauer says Next Step “hopes for a ‘forest’ of these in some form, though we don’t have a client for that at the moment.”

It was crafted by Minneapolis metalsmith Chris Rand.

View video “Around the Solar Tree”

From “Energy project kicks off at NTC” —  Northcentral Technical College is installing a solar panel system and three wind turbines to generate electricity as part of a green initiative at its Agriculture Center of Excellence.

The project is meant to give students hands-on experience in environmentally friendly energy production, and will produce electricity that will run a wireless computer network on the working farm, which provides students hands-on experience working with cattle, nutrition and crops.

The equipment will help NTC keep pace with other schools across the country, said Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC.

“Most colleges you see are working on renewable programs,” she said. “We know that energy programs are the wave of the future.”

Officials say the entire project will cost NTC $127,000, which will pay for the solar panels and the wind turbine equipment. Werner Electric Supply of Wausau, the company that’s providing the equipment and installing the system, is donating materials and time to build the wind turbine towers.

The equipment will be installed in stages. The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system will be put in first. Those panels will produce enough energy to meet a third to half of the electricity required of a typical household daily, said Matthew Giovanelli, wind and photovoltaic sales specialist with Werner Electric.



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