University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

Effective Impervious Area in Urban Stormwater Management by Ali Ebrahimian
Impervious surfaces are an indicator of the impacts of urbanization on water resources. Some of the affected characteristics of a watershed due to the increase of impervious surfaces include hydrological impacts (higher amounts of runoff volume and peak discharge rate), physical impacts (changes in stream morphology and temperature), water quality impacts (increase in nutrients and pollutant loads), and biological impacts (decrease in the streams biodiversity). Practitioners responsible for the design and implementation of stormwater management practices rely heavily on estimates of impervious area in a watershed. However, the most important parameter in determining actual urban runoff is the portion of total impervious area (TIA) that is directly (hydraulically) connected to the storm sewer system, called effective impervious area (EIA). EIA which is less than TIA, is not determined with sufficient accuracy, and therefore needs further investigation.

The study of EIA in urban areas has an interdisciplinary nature that requires knowledge and expertise in urban hydrology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and statistical parameter estimation. We investigated the existing method of rainfall-runoff analysis (Boyd et al. 1993) and improved it in terms of decreasing the uncertainty associated with the EIA estimates. We also developed a new method in which the EIA fraction is estimated based on the curve number (CN) at the watershed-scale. While providing the EIA fraction, the latter method investigates different CN behaviors in urban watersheds and determines the response of each watershed. This is attractive for practitioners involved in computing and modeling runoff from urban watersheds and design of associated stormwater control measures. An accurate determination of EIA has a wide range of implications in sustainable development, including more effective planning, locating and design of stormwater control measures, identifying stormwater runoff pollution sources and cost savings, environmental pollution control, and public consent due to decrease in project costs.”

Living Public Space: Urban Stormwater Management and Human Networks by Katrina Nygaard
Cities across the United States are working to create vibrant public spaces while promoting environmental health. Some of these projects, such as the Ann Arbor Municipal Center or Boston’s Central Warf Plaza, feature community spaces that encourage interaction while promoting stormwater retention and mitigating heat island effects.
The multifunctional character of urban parks makes them efficient and enjoyable for residents. However, in the Regina Neighborhood of South Minneapolis, a pair of wet basins is serving as solely utilitarian infrastructure. They are not used as recreational or social space despite their stimulating aesthetic character and proximity to numerous homes and schools. Why is it that these are, as Richard Sennett would say, “dead public space”? What is lacking in these systems to attract neighbors to the space? I will begin by examining the sites and their developmental history in an attempt to understand why they are spaces to pass by, rather than stay and enjoy. Using lessons from case studies and social theory, I have developed a policy and design framework to better connect the urban water system with the human network of the Regina neighborhood. While strengths, weaknesses, costs and benefits are associated with the proposal, the addition of new design features in the space will aim to enhance the local social network by creating green space residents want to use.
Farming in the Suburbs by Dylan VanBoxtel
Television and film have long been utilized as mediums for which consumers can become informed about certain issues and formulate political attitudes based on that information. Since most citizens are now at least three generations removed from the farm, visual media sources such as broadcast news, documentary film, and even fictional TV shows and films, are the only contact many have with the agricultural industry. For my multimedia project, I chose to present a video montage, that serves as a collage of the modern visual media that is currently used to bridge the disconnect between consumers and the industry. Instead of a bridge however, visual media is actually continuing to increase that disconnect, and further alienate consumers from the farm.
The visual media portrait of the industry is painted with a palette of farmers in outdated overhauls, corrupt government and agribusiness, and a denial of scientific advancements and institutions. While many broadcast news and documentary films claim to be revealing the hidden truths about the industry, they provide only one extremist view of the argument. This, along with the constant negative frameworking of the industry, is creating a false sense of risk perception and transparency of these issues.
As we continue to generate sustainable solutions in the fields of science and other relevant fields, let us not forget the social pillar of sustainability in terms of communicating and educating consumers. My multimedia piece is aimed at getting people to stop and think about how they can achieve this task.

Regional Transmission Organizations Getting Smart(er): Grid modernization and Socio-technical transformation by Julia Eagles
With the transformation to a smarter, more responsive and reliable electric grid, major questions remain as to how new technologies will be implemented. Despite the high level of interest and investment in smart grid development in the United States, the term remains ambiguous and deployment of technologies are being driven by stakeholders with multiple and overlapping interests. Policies to promote a smarter grid are shaped by actors at the regional, state, and utility levels and highlight the multiple divergent opportunities and challenges of developing smart grids. Regional transmission organizations (RTOs) play a crucial role in this energy transformation, but they are poorly understood and research on their motivations and the policy context in which they operate has been limited.

This study examines and compares the socio-technical contexts for smart grid development by conducting thematic analysis of policy documents and focus group transcripts within five Regional Transmission Organizations (Mid-west ISO, New England ISO, California ISO, New York ISO and ERCOT). These policy documents are analyzed for how motivations for supporting smart grid are articulated, what technological components are highlighted, and what socio-technical frames are used to discuss the challenges and opportunities of smart grid. The results demonstrate similarities in focus and differences in context shaping implementation for smart grid development among these five RTOs. Given the role of RTOs in the operations and long-term planning of the electric grid, understanding their position and motivation for grid modernization is essential in developing targets for state and regional policy development.

Citizen science: A tool for conservation education and engagement by Eva Lewandowski
Citizen science is an increasingly common and important tool in conservation biology, with public volunteers serving a key role in collecting biological monitoring data worldwide. However, by supplying their volunteers with conservation knowledge, action strategies, and a social support structure, citizen science projects also have the potential to invoke conservation actions and sustainable behaviors in their volunteers outside of their participation in the project. In the United States, the public’s participation in butterfly-related citizen science and conservation is widespread. I examined the current state of butterfly-related citizen science projects to determine what information and tools projects were providing to their volunteers to promote butterfly conservation. Most projects actively encourage conservation, provide their participants with information on important conservation threats and action strategies, and foster a social support structure for their volunteers to facilitate conservation and sustainability. Volunteers, in turn, engage in a variety of butterfly-related conservation activities outside of their citizen science participation, such as sustainable gardening, advocating for sustainable land management, and giving educational talks about butterfly conservation. By exploring the link between citizen science projects and the resulting conservation actions of their volunteers, I am working to identify specific project attributes that influence a volunteer’s engagement in conservation.
Do People Consistently Engage in Different Environmentally Sustainable Behaviors across Distinct Settings? by Alexander Maki
Initiatives to address many environmental problems (e.g., climate change, water degradation) rely on people consistently engaging in a wide range of environmentally sustainable behaviors (“proenvironmental behaviors”). In order to determine if people are consistent in the proenvironmnetal behaviors they engage in, we conducted a survey that addressed three questions. First, do people consistently perform different types of proenvironmental behaviors (e.g., both conserve water and conserve electricity)? Second, do people consistently perform proenvironmental behaviors across distinct settings (e.g., recycle paper both as home and at school)? Finally, do different psychological variables (e.g., attitude toward the behavior, belief about the importance of the behavior) predict intentions to engage in the different types of behavior across distinct settings? Guided by an expanded theory of planned behavior, we examined proenvironmental intentions and behavior across four distinct proenvironmental behaviors (i.e., recycling paper, recycling plastic, glass, and aluminum, conserving water, and conserving electricity) performed across three distinct settings (i.e., at home, at school, and at friends’ homes). Results indicate that when ignoring setting, people do not consistently engage in rates of the different proenvironmental behaviors. When considering each individual behavior across the settings, people do tend to consistently conserve water across settings, but do not tend to consistently recycle paper, recycling plastic, glass, and aluminum, and conserve electricity across settings. We also found that both common and unique psychological variables predict intentions to engage in different types of proenvironmental behaviors across the settings. Implications for future research and behavior change interventions will be considered.
Regime shift trends in shallow lakes as indicated by diatoms by Natalie Hoidal
Lakes in the Prairie Pothole region of Minnesota have seen dramatic ecosystem scale shifts over the past fifty years. Macrophyte dominated systems are shifting in stable states to turbid algal dominated systems. Biomanipulations have generally proven unsuccessful at reverting them. This project examines sediment records of four Prairie Pothole lakes including two turbid lakes, one macrophyte dominated lake, and one chara dominated lake. Diatoms were characterized by species abundance from pre-European settlement to the present to determine long term ecosystem trends. Paleolimnological records show clear one-time regime shifts in both turbid systems not indicative of long term cycling trends. The macrophyte and chara dominated lakes show stable ecosystems on centennial scales. This study highlights regime shifts as a strictly human-induced phenomena and provides implications for land use in agricultural areas.


GreenStep Cities by Tashi Gurung
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. This free continuous improvement program, managed by a public-private partnership, is based upon 28 best practices.
During my internship I had opportunity to work on promoting greenstep cities in NorthWest Minnesota. I would like to talk about MN GreenStep cities and my experience.
Integration of Electrochromic Glazing With Traditional Shading Techniques – Multivariate Analysis For Optimal Configuration by Sravanti Musunuru
With the advancements in modern energy-efficient building envelopes, glazing systems have become more prominent as considerable heat transfer elements especially in curtain-wall systems making it extremely difficult for even high-performance static glazing systems to achieve very low energy consumption levels. This is when electrochromic glazing proves to be effective by adapting to both internal and external climatic conditions, hence reducing energy consumption and increasing occupant comfort. But a curtain-wall glazing system entirely of electrochromic glazing might not be the most economical solution for effective daylighting and energy efficiency. The portion of glazing below 2.5ft from floor level (non-vision glazing) does not provide views or useful daylight at workspace height and that above 7.5ft from floor level (daylight glazing) is most effective for daylight penetration when coupled with internal light-shelves to distribute daylight deep into the interior space. This provides an opportunity to tailor the vertical design of the envelope to better respond to different performance and design issues.

This multivariate study analyzes the energy efficiency, daylight availability and glare potential of various combinations of electrochromic glazing (SageGlass) and traditional shading techniques namely external shading devices and internal light-shelves. The ultimate goal is to study the interaction between electrochromic glazing and traditional shading techniques and identify the optimum configuration(s) that reaps the maximum quantitative and qualitative performance benefits, hence discovering a more sustainable solution while also making a business/ economic case (w.r.t. associated energy savings) of replacing static property glazing with dynamic property electrochromic glazing.

Environmental Justice and the HERC Campaign by Mandy Dahlheimer
There is a disproportionate burden of environmental disparities on particular communities. This type of injustice occurs every day in Minneapolis with the HERC (Hennepin Energy Recovery Center) garbage incinerator. Our project aims to limit regional polluters, using HERC incinerator as a reference. We can better safeguard the health of our most vulnerable communities, conserve valuable resources with recycling and composting programs, and create green sustainable jobs by promoting zero-waste and moving away from using incinerators altogether, burning trash is not an alternative to landfills. Incineration produces toxic ash so dangerous that it must be dumped into “special” landfills off-site.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 70% of what is being incinerated at garbage burners in Minnesota is recyclable or compostable, but the recycling rate in the county is only 20%. Our campaign aims to increase this percentage and push towards a zero-waste county.

Minnesota Community Solar Gardens by Sanjay Dhir
If substantial outreach is conducted, there is great potential for community solar in Minnesota. The community at large needs to be aware of the Community Solar concept and pending legislation that may affect the project as a whole. Our ultimate goal is to create a visual presentation about the importance of community solar, which can be showcased to the general campus community and local neighborhood groups. Therefore, a major strategy we are anticipating is education through face-to-face interaction. As a renewable resource, community solar projects will help divert energy usage from fossil fuels, and help transition our society towards a more sustainable world where we rely on environmentally friendly sources of energy.
The effects of economic incentives on pro-environmental behavior by Long Ha
Environmental problems (e.g., pollution, depletion of natural resources) are among the most important and difficult challenges that need to be addressed. Given the role of human behavior in aggravating these problems (e.g., consuming scarce resources, accelerating CO2 emissions), there is a critical need for interventions that are able to change people’s pro-environmental behavior. One widely-used intervention strategy in this domain is to provide people material incentives to act, which has been suggested to be very successful at promoting such positive behaviors. However, little is known about the overall effectiveness of this approach and how differences in the types of incentives offered in behavior change interventions might lead to differing rates of behavior. To answer these questions, we conducted a meta-analysis of 22 published articles (k = 30) that examined the effects of economic incentives on rates of pro-environmental behaviors. The primary aims of the meta-analysis are not only to generate a quantitative assessment of this impact, but also to examine how variables such as the type of pro-environmental behavior and the type of incentive might change the size of the impact that incentives have on behavior. Initial results indicate that not only do economic incentives have a medium effect (Cohen’s d = 0.34) on pro-environmental behaviors, but also that other variables can strengthen or weaken this relationship (e.g., d = 0.16 for cash incentives and d = 0.59 for tickets). Finally, we will explain how these results should guide future intervention efforts in change rates of pro-environmental behavior.
Aquatic Invasive Specices by Olivia Cashman
Our sustainability project involves the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Species training program. The program consists of multiple training days throughout the Twin Cities in which water-related business leaders learn about the issues surrounding aquatic invasive species. My sustainability group will help program coordinator, April Rust, with the training program and we will each attend one training event. Understanding aquatic invasive species is an important part of sustainability because it preserves the integrity of the ecosystem. We will present at the symposium about our findings from the trainings.
Just One by Nicole Nissen-Hooper
My talk will be about my successes and tribulations with my work in sustianability. I have been studying sustainability for two years now and became addicted to its cause a mere hour after my first class began. Since then I have worked with three cities and am now the Sustainability Coordinator and Intern for the City of Saint Anthony Villiage. I have held a sustainability festival, discussed sustainability with the head of Green Steps Minnesota, wrote an Action Plan, have worked on an invasive species removal act and held many workshops for the public. This was all done by a busy college student, just one college student who decided to try. Now the one thing that I believe more than ever is that just one person can make a difference. This message is what I would like to convey on Aprili 11th.
Climate Conversations by Rebekah Trad
The Climate Conversation campaign is a movement organized by Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light. The goal of this campaign is to break the silence and spread the word about climate change through personal conversations, which are lead from the heart. This campaign will utilize community networks, where trust and communication are already strong. Simply having directed conversations within already strong communities has proven to be a successful vehicle for promoting an idea, as was visible in the Marriage Conversations campaign in Minnesota. Our project is research based, in which we will determine the “dos and the don’ts” of climate conversations. We are completing this supplemental field research in order to assist Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light in having a successful campaign. To complete this research, we will host a number of climate conversations, set up online conversation forums, and interview individuals and organizations that have a stake in climate change. Our poster will reflect the larger goals of the Climate Conversation campaign as well as our group’s research for the cause. This is a joint project effort by Lindsey Countryman, Joey Cronick, Sam Berkland, Jackie Klimek, Erica Hokkanen, and Rebekah Trad for the sustainability capstone course, Sustainable Communities (SUST 4004).
Looks Do Matter by Hannah Farmer
I will be discussing the influence of design in the sustainability community.

To start, I will talk about outreach efforts in the community and on campus without design involvement. I will then talk about my role as a student designer, and why I think design is a crucial element to any outreach/marketing movement in sustainability. I will also be providing some examples of the development of the UMD Sustainability Office’s poster culture, and show many “before & after” posters to illustrate the change in attraction to a particular project or event.

Lastly, I will address the topic, “What is more important: Eye-catching design or informative design?” By including many illustrations and design elements, posters will lack the space to include a lot of information. However, the battle with scientists and designers is that the scientist may argue information is more important then “making it look pretty;” however a designers main focus is to broaden the audience, and make the event seem more attractive.

Hydroponics: Growing Food, Science Knowledge, and Interest In Plants by Reba Juetten
In order to properly analyze and apply the results of scientific research, understanding the way in which science knowledge is formed and used by those creating it is essential; this is referred to as the nature of science. Unfortunately, despite science standards and required curricula in the area of science, neither students nor teachers develop an understanding of the nature of science (NOS) (Lederman 1992; Abd-El-Khalic & Lederman 2010). Even at the undergraduate level, a sophisticated understanding of NOS eludes more than half of all students, regardless of major (Liu 2008). Teaching the history of science and providing research internship opportunities with explicit explanations of NOS principles are used to rectify this lack of understanding (Rudge et al. 2012, Sadler 2009). In our study, we developed a lab module for undergraduate students that attempts to allow them to develop a more sophisticated understanding of NOS and in interest in plants through a hands-on, realistic research experience. We measured their gains using an online survey administered before and after the class and a written survey following the completion of the lab course. Students in the lab experienced gains in understanding how scientists use the scientific method, increased their confidence in their own abilities related to science, and increased their interest in plants. Though gains are limited in some functional areas, participation in this biology laboratory course seems to have opened the door to future positive experience with science that may lead to increased growth and understanding.
Feminine Imagery in China’s One-Child Poster Campaign by Madeline Giefer
The implementation of China’s infamous One-Child Policy in 1980 was an unparalleled effort for sustainability; the central government aimed to enhance the economic, environmental, and social well-being of the nation by reducing the number of people it had to sustain. However, despite a recent plunge in fertility rates, China’s attempt to overhaul the traditional family structure remained impeded by an ancient misogynistic mindset, including a strong preference for sons and the subordination of wives. In order to optimize economic growth and prevent the population from outgrowing the environment, the government knew it would need to respond to this social challenge. This lightning talk will analyze how a poster campaign during the 1980s bridged traditional and modern imagery in order to equalize daughters and sons, empower women, and thus promote compliance with the One-Child Policy.
HSWTP by Jason Van Donsel
The main issues with conventional wind turbines is the reliability and expensive maintenance price tag that is attached. The Innovative Engineers student group and the Center for Compact Efficient Fluid Power at the University of Minnesota joined a pack to take up the challenge to research and develop a relatively new wind turbine technology in the field of a hydrostatic transmission for wind turbines. A hydrostatic transmission includes a pump and motor fluidly coupled using hydraulic lines. This serve several advantages including increasing in reliability of wind power generation, reducing the cost of maintenance and improving efficiency of mid-sized wind turbines by allowing the turbine to set the rotor rpm independently of the generator rpm. Testing this idea, a small (~1kW) wind turbine is constructed with a sensors including hall sensors, a pressure transducer, and a wind speed anemometer. An Arduino micro-controller are used to record all data collected form the sensors and control the wind turbine from a controlling unit with current flowing through the generator and the displacement of the hydraulic motor. The rotor RPM and pressure measurements for the pump were compared to the RPM and current outputs of the generator to determine the efficiency of the hydrostatic wind turbine. While the efficiency results are not conclusive yet a work in progress, the turbine shows promise to be an efficient and reliable solution. Leakage, high efficiency loss at low wind speeds and weather all pose challenges for the design of this sort of a turbine, but these issues can be overcome.

With the project still in progress to meet these challenges and hopes to reach the projects ultimate goals.

Towards Sustainable Nanomaterial Design by Ian Gunsolus
Nanomaterials are an emerging class of materials distinguished by their extremely small size and unique physical and chemical properties. They have potential to benefit society by improving the efficiency of solar energy conversion, providing new cancer treatments, and reducing antibiotic use, among other applications. However, nanomaterials have been under scrutiny for their potential toxicity to living organisms and negative environmental impact. Nanomaterial hazard is currently evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but this approach provides no ability to anticipate potential risks. In contrast, this project studies more generally the interactions of nanomaterials with model organisms of varying biological complexity. This approach is used to identify fundamental rules that can predict risks and inform the design of more environmentally friendly nanomaterials.
Creating Communication Frameworks for the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project by Ellen Folman
Citizen science projects serve as powerful educational tools by giving volunteers hands-on experiences with science and nature, providing a scientifically-literate and more sustainable future. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Program (MLMP) focuses on the conservation of the monarch butterfly and educates about sustainable gardening and land-choice decisions. To MLMP citizen science volunteers to share their work with a broader audience, guidelines were developed which provide these volunteers the ability to work with the media. These guidelines include specific for different media types, as well as important aspects and helpful tips volunteers should strive to include and share in their message. In addition to the construction of a media guide, information was composed for MLMP staff to use when posting on the project’s Facebook or Twitter pages. Social media information will be geared toward increasing involvement on the project’s pages, as well as spreading awareness of MLMP to prospective citizen science volunteers.
Assessing river basin resilience to natural and human disturbances by Jonathan Czuba
River networks are the “arteries” of a river basin. They are connected pathways that transport water, sediment, and nutrients, around which the social-ecological system functioning of the whole basin has organized. A greater understanding of the connectivity and transport dynamics of river networks can lead to more informed management of river basins, in terms of pinpointing parts of the basin most vulnerable to change. The focus of this presentation is to propose a framework within which resilience of a river basin can be studied, where resilience is defined as the capacity of a river system to absorb disturbance and maintain functioning within a desired operational space. For any system, multiple dimensions of resilience can be assessed by projecting the system into a resilience diagram, where the axes are level of disturbance versus level of system functioning. We present results for sand (which is the sediment composing the material along the river bottom) transported on the Minnesota River network and show that the spatial organization of sand in river channels, quantified by the largest contiguously covered stream length (related to system functioning) is largely maintained even after drastically reducing the percentage of sand supplied to the network (disturbance). We apply the framework to several sub-basins and study the degree of resilience as a function of network branching structure and sediment transport dynamics. Other dimensions of river basin resilience can be explored by quantifying how different aspects of system functioning change in response to various disturbances such as precipitation or land-use change.
Real Food Challenge by John Stingle
There are many food issues facing the world today, one of which is the quality of foods served at college and university dining halls.The Real Food Challenge is an effort to collect and analyze data at the University of Minnesota.This data will include nutritional facts, costs, and source of the food served to the students. Using the Real Food Calculator as a tool, this group’s efforts are aimed at changing the current system. Some barriers to change include the reluctance of the University and Aramark to change or share information as well as ignorance and apathy of the student body. With the potential change of shifting university and college dining food from corporate providers to local healthy food we can pave the way for a more sustainable food system. Not only would a shift like this result in healthier food but it would also support local farms as well as family farms in and around our area.
Turning Acid Whey into a Value-Added Product: Lactose Polymerization by Extrusion by Liz Reid
With the recent surge in popularity of Greek yogurt, the long standing problem of acid whey disposal has been intensified. Acid whey is created when Greek yogurt is concentrated to produce its unique texture. It is high in lactose, but difficult to process due to its composition. Current methods of acid whey disposal include land farming, animal feed, and anaerobic digestion, but none of these methods produce a value added product. Lactose, combined with glucose and citric acid, polymerizes in a twin-screw extrusion process. The heat and mechanical shear provide conditions which produce oligomers which are indigestible and analyze as dietary fiber. Different levels of citric acid (2%, 4%, and 6%) and two feed rates (15 and 30 kg/hr) were tested to determine optimal conditions for polymerization. Preliminary results indicate that increasing acid does not increase the yield of indigestible oligomers. In addition, a higher feed rate produces similar yield of indigestible oligomers, and reduces the amount of caramelization byproducts. This study shows that lower acidity and higher feed rates may be better for producing indigestible oligomers from lactose using extrusion. The acidity and high lactose content mimics the composition of acid whey, and shows promise for utilizing acid whey to produce a value-added product out of a previously wasted stream which required resources to dispose of. The next steps of this product will involve testing acid whey preparation methods, and extruding it to identify if indigestible oligomers can be produced.
Finding Solutions to the Monoculture Problem through Interdisciplinary Partnership by Shannon Kegley
The world today faces an agricultural dilemma in which few crops dominate much of the farming model, contributing to a world food crisis, a lack of biodiversity, loss of native species, and environmental damage caused by excessive clearing of native habitat for this monocultural landscape. In an interdisciplinary effort to approach this problem, our team in the Hegeman laboratory at the University of Minnesota has been working in partnership with Aveda corporation [a cosmetic company focused on sustainable practices and natural products] to solve these agricultural issues. Our team is achieving this goal through applying the techniques of mass spectrometry and natural product chemistry. We isolate valuable natural compounds from Minnesota native prairie forbs in an effort to offer an economically viable and more environmentally friendly avenue for farmers to take, opposed to more traditional monoculture approaches.

Our research is focused on finding active compounds within a library of collected native plant samples that will be viable in cosmetics to replace parabens and harsh chemicals undesired by the consumer and environmental community. While there are still many species to test, we have a number of promising species that would provide preservative properties to products. We hope to find a diverse range of plant species that will provide compounds that work well in cosmetics and possibly in the pharmaceutical industry. This will give reason to Minnesota farmers to add more diversity to the existing farming landscape and to aid in the healing of the damage that monoculture has caused.

Solar Capacity of Minneapolis by Caroline Miller
As a part of their Capstone Workshop, Energy and the Environment, students assessed solar photovoltaic (pv) capacity on rooftops of commercial and industrial buildings in the City of Minneapolis. Students used the Solar Radiation Tool in ArcGIS, and compared the GIS prediction to data from rooftop system energy production at two solar pv installations in the Twin Cities. This process calibrated the model of potential energy production, and the students were able to map solar potential for commercial and industrial rooftops within the city. In addition, the students reviewed Minneapolis planning documents to assess future solar capacity based on future land use changes. Understanding the rooftop solar pv potential in Minneapolis for commercial and industrial energy users will help the City of Minneapolis develop land use policies that will encourage solar generation and meet the renewable energy goal of generating 10% local, renewable energy by 2025. This assessment of Minneapolis was designed as a model that can be applied to other cities around the state of Minnesota. Solar irradiance data will soon to be available for the entire state through the work of U-Spatial, and this methodology may be applied elsewhere.
Notable Plants (That May Be Helpful in Surviving the Post-Apocalyptic Midwest) by Erin Gamaas-Holmes
Notable Plants (That May Be Helpful in Surviving the Post-Apocalyptic Midwest) provides a helpful tool for Midwesterners struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic future. The book identifies several edible, medicinal or otherwise useful native plant species that could aid a survivor wandering through a landscape devoid of human life and the luxuries of a bygone era. By bringing attention to oft-ignored “weeds” and illuminating the potentially life-saving value of common plant species, Notable Plants aims to give some hope to lone wanderers of the wasteland (particularly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and nearby). We may soon pass a point of no return and destroy our own civilization through selfish consumption, environmental exploitation, worldwide warfare or scientific meddling-gone-awry, but the stalwart individual can still sustain herself with the resources that the world seems to have overlooked but are still all around us.

A humorous project based in real science, Notable Plants is a physical booklet compiled as a project for LA5574 Identifying Native Minnesota Flora and was briefly continued as a blog at

Disturbance Space #1 by Sam Krahn
Disturbance Space #1 is a pre-recorded audio composition designed for a 4-channel loudspeaker installation environment. Four speakers are placed in an empty room, in a circle, at ground level. Within the circle, wooden headrests are placed on the floor for participants to lie down and experience the foot-level audio environment. Currently, the duration of the composition is 10 minutes, but is expandable to an infinite length.
The audio track uses manipulated field recordings taken from specific locations at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, which occurred during an interdisciplinary collaboration in 2013. To obtain these recordings I instructed participants to record their own footsteps as they walked through one of several pre-determined sites. As a large part of sustainability is centered on creating awareness of environmental issues, my intention was to draw focus to the natural environment in these recordings, not only featuring a natural domain, but also drawing attention to a center that is well known for sustainability research.
In addition, the theme of disturbance was extracted from the collaboration for this project, specifically as it relates to prescribed burnings and reclaiming of land for the benefit of future ecosystems. This idea is translated into the project in three ways:
1. Source recordings of disturbance of humans on natural environment.
2. Physical setup of speakers as a disturbance on everyday movement. On the floor, participants must reach foot level to interact.
3. Development of audio: each speaker becomes a zone of disturbance of manipulated sound as the piece progresses.
NRRI by Matthew Detjen

The research project I will be presenting involves my current project through Natural Resources Research Institute, The NRRI is research facility connected with the University of Minnesota Duluth, and has recently become involved with the movement towards a more sustainable campus. Here I have collected baseline data at the facility in order to determine the electricity used by lights in the building. By using this data I was able to compare it with random audits I conducted throughout the day to determine the amount of electricity used for lighting. Since the research facility was converted from a military radar tracking facility there is very little natural lighting, and unnecessary lights throughout the building. By using the data I collected, I am able to see trends of high-energy usage in rooms, offices, bathrooms, and hallways. My goal is to quantify the instillation of automated lighting, and implement other energy saving methods in order to make the research facility more sustainable.

Natural Regeneration, Structural Complexity, and Proximity to Primary Forest by Michael Anderson
Over the last century, humans have drastically altered tropical landscapes through timber extraction and forest clearing for pasture and agriculture. This has resulted in tropical landscapes that are composed of a mosaic of primary forest fragments, agriculture lands, and regenerating secondary growth forests. Secondary forest succession occurs within the surrounding landscape and is largely dependent on relative location to primary forest. Studies have not been conducted that evaluate structural complexities and forest regeneration of secondary forest which borders primary forest in Neotropical premontane/lower montane wet forest. Therefore, I evaluated forest characteristics along a gradient of bordering primary and secondary forests located on the Pacific slope of the Tilarán Mountains in Costa Rica. Diameter at breast height (DBH), leaf litter depth, and understory shrub cover were significantly different between primary and secondary forest. Percent canopy was denser in primary forest but not significantly different from secondary. In addition, the differences along the observed secondary/primary gradient were not absolute. Secondary forest plots closer to primary forest are more resembling and secondary forests can rapidly converge structurally. Secondary forest age is also an important factor for structural convergence. These results have conservation importance as secondary forest can increase amount of available habitat to flora and fauna in bordering primary forest and act as buffer further protecting primary forest biodiversity. Secondary forest can also connect primary forest fragments creating corridors which can aid in the preservation of migratory species and those requiring large home ranges.
Chemical Characterization of Intermediate Wheat Grass Varieties for Food Applications by Felize Dangcil
Interest in commercially grown perennial grains such as intermediate wheatgrass (IWG) has increased due to their environmental benefits. Their extensive root systems foster healthy soil and save water. Additionally, crop residues can be made into biofuels. A unique team of collaborators consisting of agronomists, breeders, geneticists and food scientists is working on the development of IWG with improved agronomic attributes and functional properties. The feedback on nutrient content, flavor and functionality aids the breeders in developing new lines of IWG with maximum usefulness for growers, industry, and consumers.
Thirteen varieties of IWG and one regular wheat variety (hard red winter) have been screened for their protein, fat, moisture, ash, starch and dietary fiber composition following standard analytical procedures. Another focus of our research is testing IWG flours for gluten-forming proteins (GFPs). As the primary functional components for dough development, gluten proteins influence the quality of baked products and the possible end uses of IWG. Additionally, GFP content is important for individuals with celiac disease or wheat allergies. GFPs were extracted from flour and analyzed using sodium dodecyl sulfate gel polyacrylamide electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). All IWG varieties contained some, but not all of the GFP’s present in regular wheat. We have also begun preliminary research on carotenoid content of IWG using high-performance liquid chromatography.
Future work will include a storage study to determine the quality of IWG flours over time. Our project will contribute to the development of a commercially viable perennial crop that benefits both the environment and the food industry.
The Climate Revolution Will be Organized Through… by Dominique Boczek
Many of us see Facebook as a good means of distraction and an easy way to keep in touch with family. Although most of us realize that the internet is available as a great learning tool, few of us use it for more than for keeping in contact with others, storing files, and occasionally Googling a question that has the dinner table stumped. But social media has an immense impact on the way the world works, and it is an essential piece of the climate and environmental movement. How have sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube changed the way the media functions already? How will the new world of app-based technology catalyze the future? And how can we take the reins on this monster and steer it where we want it to go?
The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.