Holly Black, Jacob Ridgway, Megan Warner, Morgan Hughes, Charles Bean, Meredith King, Kian Rexroat-Potts, Emily Theroux, Zachary Schild, and Meghann Elizabeth Jarchow
This report provides a brief summary of the University of South Dakota’s STARS Report that was started by the Sustainability Capstone class and is projected to be completed during the summer of 2022. Currently the University of South Dakota has a Bronze rating, which is expected to be set throughout the completion of this report and hopefully increase in the future.
Throughout the University of South Dakota’s STARS report there were two common problems. The first was a lack of record keeping for information such as emissions and employee satisfaction. The second was that the University did not have any initiatives pertaining to some of the subcategories, this is expected considering that sustainability is a fairly new field.
Throughout completing this report, we found that the sub-categories in which the University had kept records or implemented a program, we scored well. This report will provide areas that can be improved upon. Ideally the institution will make it a priority to implement successful record keeping and new sustainability initiatives in these areas.
Key Next Steps
The University of South Dakota has many great sustainability efforts happening across campus. Hiring a sustainability coordinator would allow for all of these efforts to be organized and supported by the institution.
Bennett Anderson, Brigit Blote, Erin Doll, Bryce Pape, Caitlin Reimers, Austin Sokolowski, Jordan Turgeon, Austin Wallace, Michael Heisler, Jeffrey Smith, and Meghann Elizabeth Jarchow
Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota with a population of over 171,000 residents. Sioux Falls is one of only two cities in South Dakota to have an Office of Sustainability. South Dakota is a national leader in the amount of renewable energy produced with large amounts of hydropower and wind energy produced, and the climactic conditions on South Dakota are conducive for additional wind and solar energy production. Therefore, Sioux Falls is well position to take a leadership role in mitigating climate change in South Dakota.
One way for Sioux Falls to mitigate climate change – and model climate action for the state and region – is to transition the energy use in the city to 100% renewable energy. There are currently more than 175 cities in the United States that have completed, are in the process, or have pledged to transition to 100% renewable energy. Although Sioux Falls is not one of these cities, we believe that there is potential for Sioux Falls to transition to 100% renewable energy.
The primary uses of energy in a city include electricity, heating, and transportation. Based on reviews of the existing cities who are or have transitioned to 100% renewable energy, we determined that many cities first focus on a transition to 100% renewable electricity. The purpose of this report is to explore the opportunities and constraints – and to provide recommendations – for engaged stakeholders to develop a campaign for Sioux Falls to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035.
Post-Landfill Action Network
In Summer of 2020, the University of South Dakota worked with the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) to support Anna Moore, the Campus Recycling Coordinator and a graduate student in the Department of Sustainability & Environment, to conduct a holistic assessment of the campus’ waste management system. Anna used PLAN’s Zero Waste Atlas Program, a program designed to help campuses assess and streamline campus systems for materials management, to collect the information used to inform this report. This abridged report offers a snapshot of existing policy, programs, and infrastructure, illustrates ideal material flows throughout a campus, and proposes a few broad recommendations to fill the gaps identified during the assessment.
Climate change is a global phenomenon that is all encompassing. There are no nations, cities, or towns that are unaffected by climate change. Human industrial development is accelerating climate change and without drastic practice changes, global temperature increase and sea level rise will be inevitable. The problem does not lie only from a large perspective, but is based from the cultural unsustainable practices people have become accustomed to. American culture has become one of single use. People are normalized to the idea that it is okay to buy products that are only made to be used one time and then thrown away, like plastics. In addition, fossil fuel burning for heat, transportation, and electricity is commonplace. But these practices are not sustainable. Within the next decade, the world will reach the point of no return in regards to climate change. National and global climatologists agree, the time for action is now to mitigate temperature rise. The problem needs to be addressed from the ground up; at the local level. To begin implementing more sustainable practices at the local level, a municipality needs to have a sound understanding of sustainability.
Lilly Sencenbaugh, Erin Wetzstein, Zahra Ghodsi Zahed, and Kaitlin Roberts
This project summary discusses the Recycling Study, which includes previous recycling efforts, our current recycling efforts, and recommendations for the future.
Josie Flatgard, Kriston Lynn, Andrew Phelps, Mashaya Thompson, and Rebecca Torres
According to ChasingGreen.org, “the average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, most of which accumulates when that student prepares to move out of their dorm or house at the end of term.” Furthermore, Tufts University, which is very similar in size to the University of South Dakota, claims there is a significant rise in solid waste generated on campus at the end of the year - nearly one third of the amount of waste left for the entire year.
The goal of the Give and Go program is to reduce this waste by creating an easy way for students to donate reusable items that they had planned on throwing away. The program will collect the items and redistribute to them to the community - to outlets like the Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, the Vermillion Food Pantry, and so on.
Amanda Hegg, Brooke Wigdahl, Maggie Squyer, Aidan Beck, Jason Emmick, and Jordan DeBoer
As a relatively compact city, Vermillion has the potential to support a strong bike culture. Increased biking in Vermillion has many benefits for our campus and community, including decreased congestion of parking lots on campus and streets around campus, improved health of those who bike, and mitigation of environmental impacts such as emissions from transportation.
The implementation of a bike share program on campus is one way to increase bike culture because it would provide students with access to bikes on an as-needed basis. A need assessment survey for the potential implementation of this program conducted by Vermillion’s “Making Lighter Footprints” Committee showed a positive response from the many USD students who participated.
In order to improve the bike culture on campus and address the interest expressed by students who participated in the survey, the Sustainability Club applied for the SGA Green Initiative Fund in October of 2016, and was awarded the $4,950 grant in November of 2016. Upon receiving the grant, Sustainability Capstone students developed a plan for a bike share program that will begin the implementation process in the Spring Semester of 2017. Sustainability Capstone aspires to have the Yote Bike Share Program up and running by the Fall Semester of 2017.
Tyler Jackson, Kaitlyn Rangel, Carly Holmstrom, Ethan Pace, and Sara Packard
Students and staff at the University of South Dakota have demanded a recycling program for years, and finally the university has responded. In 2015, USD hired Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting agency based out of Omaha, to help the campus assess its waste profile and develop a recycling program. Throughout this process, six students from the sustainability capstone course were present to supplement Verdis Group’s work wherever possible and necessary.
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