Biodiversity Education Initiative (BEI) Current Projects
Formed in early 2006, the UNH Ecology, Climate, and Health Working Group includes faculty from a wide variety of departments, including Microbiology, Zoology, Natural Resources, and Public Health, along with the UNH Office of Sustainability, the UNH Climate Change Research Center, the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, to integrate our research on ecological health, public health, disease, and climate change. For example, in September 2006, UNH hosted a workshop on ecology, climate, and disease for people in the state and region working on monitoring, data collection, prevention efforts, and the like for diseases like avian flu, West Nile, Lyme, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Examples of research of ECH Working Group members include:
- UNH microbiologists Cheryl Whistler and Vaughn Cooper, both assistant professors, are studying the microbial interactions that influence the emergence of pathogenic Vibrio bacteria species in oysters. The research is funded by NH Sea Grant. Learn more...
- In 2007, UNH was selected as a recipient of an Experimental Program to Stimulate Experimental Research (EPSCoR) award for a new effort titled “Enhancing Research and Education Capacity for Integration of Earth Observations, Infectious Diseases Ecology and Public Health in New Hampshire.” UNH researchers from the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, the Department of Health Management and Policy, and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics are involved in the research.
The UNH Ecological Task Force (EcoTF) examines sustainability issues related to land use, development, and ecosystem management. The overarching goal of the EcoTF is to serve in an advisory capacity to the UNH President and be responsible for making recommendations on the full range of issues that relate to land use, landscaping, ecosystem health, biodiversity and development. Learn more...
Cleaning products can have very negative impacts on human health and the environment. They frequently contain chemicals associated with cancer, reproductive disorders, respiratory ailments, eye or skin irritation, and other health conditions. They can also include toxins that adversely affect drinking water quality, lakes and streams, as well as plant and animal life. Furthermore, many cleaning products in concentrated form are considered hazardous waste, which presents handling, storage, and disposal concerns. According to Green Seal®, a green cleaner is one that lessens its environmental impact at every stage of its life cycle, including packaging, and the ways in which it can be disposed after use (Green Seal, 1998). UNH Facilities Housekeeping is responsible for the internal cleaning of 75 out of the approximately 112 buildings on and off the UNH Durham campus, including academic and administrative buildings, residence halls, Health Services, the Field House and the Whittemore Center. They have continued to move toward less toxic cleaning solutions, where applicable, in order to ensure a healthy learning and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and building service workers. New greener products and practices are constantly being tested to see whether they meet expected standards, and new product and green cleaning training happens at various times of the year. Judy Koski, Gene Gargano and Jean Mitchell, Managers of UNH Facilities Housekeeping, estimate that “through the use of greener products, more effective cleaners, and precise dispenser systems, UNH Housekeeping has decreased the amount of cleaning product used by approximately 50% in the past 15 years" - a significant reduction in chemical use, and a cleaner, safer environment for anyone who enters and uses the buildings. The remaining 37 buildings of UNH are serviced by UNICCO. UNICCO has a similar green cleaning program that uses similar and different green products than used by UNH Housekeeping. Learn more about green cleaning at UNH!
As part of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, UNH Facilities does not use pesticides to maintain the campus with the exception of target spraying with a species-specific insecticide to quell an outbreak of a new turf pest in 1999. Instead, UNH utilizes an IPM system to control pests in an environmentally responsible, sustainable manner. Learn more...
As part of its American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment obligations, UNH participates each spring semester in RecycleMania, a 10-week waste minimization, recycling and composting competition between hundreds of schools nationwide. In 2009, UNH came in 68th out of 206 schools in the Grand Champion Competition Division, beating Harvard (75th), Yale (14th5), and UMaine (206th). UNH recycled 243,000 lbs in 10 weeks. Learn more...
UNH has developed a Storm Water Management Plan, Storm Water Management Pamphlet and a Storm Water Sewer System Map to help prevent potential contamination of stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is defined as rain, snow melt, or other sources of precipitation that does not infiltrate into the soil and runs off the land. Stormwater management practices are used to delay, capture, store, treat, or infiltrate stormwater runoff. The current EPA MS4 stormwater permit for NH (issued 2003) is scheduled to be replaced with a new 5 year permit. The UNH Storm Water Management Program comprises six elements (called Minimum Control Measures or MCMs) that, when implemented in concert over the next five years, are expected to result in significant reductions of non-point pollutants discharged into Great Bay:
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Participation / Involvement
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Runoff Control
- Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
UNH and the New Hampshire Seacoast Storm Water Coalition have written Guidelines and Standard Operation Procedures for Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping.
The UNH Stormwater Research Center designed, constructed, and runs a facility that provides the controlled testing of stormwater management designs and devices. The primary mission of the Center is the protection of water resources through effective stormwater management. Currently the Center is acting as a unique technical resource for stormwater practitioners by studying a range of issues for specific stormwater management strategies including design, water quality and quantity, cost, maintenance, and operations. The field research facility serves as a site for testing stormwater treatment processes, for technology demonstrations and workshops. The testing results and technology demonstrations are meant to assist in the planning, design, and implementation of effective stormwater management strategies for resource managers. Learn more...
The UNH Office of Sustainability strives to collaborate and work with academic classes, faculty, UNH Facilities Design & Construction, UNH Facilities Services, and the UNH Office of Campus Planning to promote and maintain sustainable landscaping thoughout campus for the education and enjoyment of the community, the enhancement of natural systems, and the protection of biodiversity. All groups worked closely with sustainable landscaping experts to develop a UNH Sustainable Landscaping Master Plan that has become part of the umbrella UNH Campus Master Plan.
- UNH Durham Campus Sustainable Landscape Master Plan (PDF)
- Characteristics of a sustainable landscape
There are numerous determinants of health, and it is important to understand how these can interact in order to protect ecological and public health. Using Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus as examples, we have witnessed how ecological conditions and changes in climate and land use can affect the presence of disease agents, the range and distribution of disease carriers, and the timing and intensity of disease outbreaks. Climate, ecology, and health are inextricably linked in influencing the public's health via the emergence, re-emergence, and redistribution of infectious disease.
Through the UNH Master's of Public Health Program offered through the UNH School of Health Management & Policy, students can focus on public health ecology - an interdisciplinanary field that draws from the unique resources of UNH in the areas of climate, biocomplexity, and sustainability to address emerging public health threats. In particular, students can take the courses “Climate Change and Health” (PHP 930) and “Disease Ecology" (PHP 932):
- PHP 930 "Climate Change and Health" helps students develop an understanding of the climate system and the impact of climate change on public health. The class provides an overview of the climate system including its physical and chemical components, the greenhouse effect, forcing agents and dynamics at global, regional and local scales. Human dimensions of climate change are considered in light of data and models. An environmental epidemiology framework for analyzing the direct and indirect impacts of climate variability to public health as well as appropriate public policies, such as monitoring and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, is also developed.
- PHP 932 "Disease Ecology" helps students explore the epidemiological significance of the processes linking the climate system with ecological and social systems that influence the interaction between humans and disease agents. The course explores the epidemiological significance of co-evolutionary processes linking the climate system with ecological and social systems that influence the interaction between humans and disease agents. Student also develop an understanding of the relational significance of assessment frameworks.
Begun in 2002, UNH-RENU (Recycle Everything New/Used) is a volunteered based initiative that collects unwanted items when students move out at the end of the year. Indira "Dee" Henley, a student in the Community Service program at the Thompson School, began UNH-RENU. Since Indira graduated, the program has been maintained by staff and student volunteers. Learn more - and get involved!
While walking through campus to a class, meeting, or lunch, have you ever looked up at one of the large trees along the way and wondered what kind it was? Have you ever wondered what the campus landscape looked like 50 or 500 years ago? Now you can get those answers by listening to the UNH Treewalk Podcast released on iTunes University by the UNH University Office of Sustainability! Learn more...
As a sustainble learning community, UNH is commited to minimizing waste and to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Waste management at UNH is overseen by a number of different UNH offices all working together to create an integrated approach. Learn more...
Get involved in RecycleMania and UNH-RENU!
UNH takes several proactive approaches to conserve water, including following EPA WaterSense guidelines. Some of the following approaches have been utilized for several years, and others are being implemented now. UNH has made several adjustments to its water systems to maximize conservation.
- Athletic Fields Conservation: UNH uses an installed well to cover approximately 30% of these water needs.
- Cogeneration Plant Conservation: The UNH combined heat and power facility - or cogeneration plant - has its water needs met (for cooling) by an on-campus well.
- Construction and Renovation Mandates: UNH mandates new construction or renovation in buildings to use low flow toilets, urinals, faucets, and showers. This also extends to dishwaters and cooling systems. The newest aspect has been the introduction of waterless urinals, such as those in Holloway Commons as part of UNH Dining's Local Harvest Initiative and commitment to sustainability. In addition, UNH is incorporating dual flush toilets in the DeMerritt Hall and James Hall renovation projects.
- Education of the Campus Community: UNH educates everyone on campus to not waste water by turning off faucets, reporting leaks and drips in sinks, showers, and toilets to Residence Hall Directors or to UNH Facilities Maintenance at 862-1437, and to not dump anything down sewer drains or kitchen and bathroom sinks. Students are encouraged to only wash full loads of clothes - and to wash with lukewarm or cold water, not hot, to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, to take shorter showers, etc.
- Meter calibrations: The master meters at the Durham water treatment plant (WTP) are calibrated bi-annualy whereas the the American Water Works Association (AWWA) regulates only once per year. The building meters are checked via monthly readings. Should a meter be 15% above or below a running average, it is investigated. If there are no apparent reasons (construction, occupancy, etc.) for this change, the meter is calibrated (up to 2 inches). A meter must have no more than a 5% error to be reutilized. Meters over 2 inches are scheduled on a rotating basis to be calibrated by a qualified service technician; usually 5-8 meters are calibrated annually. The latest innovation is automatic meter reading (AMR). AMR is being phased in to all meters on campus, not just water meters, in order to be more efficient in the reading process and to allow for instantaneous readings, thus giving a quicker indication of meter discrepancies.
- Water Treatment Plant Conservation: At the Durham water treament plant (WTP), clean water is used to backwash (clean) the filters; much of this water is reclaimed by injecting the spent water back into the treatment train to be processed again.
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