Sustainable UofL

University of Louisville Sustainability Council blog.

Interview: UofL Sustainability Masters grad Derek Fannin

Don’t miss this conversation with UofL’s latest Sustainability Masters graduate!

On this week’s edition of Sustainability Now!, your host, Justin Mog, sits down with Derek Fannin, a recent graduate of UofL Sustainability Masters program for a conversation about how his interest in sustainability was born and evolved during his time at UofL, his Masters thesis work, and his professional plans & dreams going forward.

On November 22nd, Derek presented his research at the Sustainability Roundtable on “Thermal Comfort and Energy Assessment of Campus Academic Buildings.” Derek has been using UofL’s campus as a living lab to investigate the potential for efficiency and comfort improvements to campus buildings, specifically our Urban & Public Affairs building, first constructed in 1912 as the headquarters for Standard Oil Company.

Derek mentions his father’s pay-what-you-can restaurant in Versailles, KY and you can learn more about it at

As always, our feature is followed by your community action calendar for the week, so get your calendars out and get ready to take action for sustainability NOW!

Sustainability Now! airs on FORward Radio, 106.5fm, WFMP-LP Louisville, every Monday at 6pm and repeats Tuesdays at 12am and 10am. Find us at

Film Production Student Video on UofL Sustainability

Congratulations to Molly Gilkison and her team of UofL film production students who created this awesome video about sustainability and how it relates to the UofL experience!

UofL Sustainability Roundtable: Allison Smith on Metro Louisville Sustainability & Brownfields

On this week’s edition of Sustainability Now!, your host, Justin Mog, brings you highlights from the October 11th Sustainability Roundtable at the University of Louisville, featuring Allison Smith, providing an update on Metro Louisville’s sustainability efforts and her work seeking solutions for our city’s brownfields. Allison Smith, PhD. is the Brownfields and Community Engagement Strategist for Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability.

More info:…ld-redevelopment

UofL’s Sustainability Roundtable is free and open to the public on alternate Fridays at 11am in Urban Studies Room 200 (426 W Bloom St).

Find the schedule and details at:…research/scholars

As always, our interview is followed by your community action calendar for the week, so get your calendars out and get ready to take action for sustainability NOW!

Sustainability Now! airs on FORward Radio, 106.5fm, WFMP-LP Louisville, every Monday at 6pm and repeats Tuesdays at 12am and 10am. Find us at

Listen here: UofL Sustainability Roundtable: Allison Smith on Metro Louisville Sustainability & Brownfields (Sustainability Now!, Forward Radio, Oct. 28, 2019)

Inaugural Cards Commuter Challenge saves $1,999 and 4,772 lbs. of carbon pollution!

Cardinal Directions is UofL's free trip-planning and carpool-matching service!UofL held it’s inaugural Cards Commuter Challenge from August 26th through September 30th to encourage students, faculty, and staff to save money, burn calories, put an end to pollution, and win prizes…all by simply choosing to get to campus in a new way!

Participants were asked to log their daily trips and each week the front runners were rewarded with $50 gift cards. A $250 Grand Prize was offered for the person who takes the most trips by means other than driving alone!

The Results Are In!

During the five week Challenge, 39 students, faculty, and staff logged:

  • 1,422 alternative commute trips,
  • Reducing 6,889 miles of car travel,
  • Saving $1,999 in gas, parking, and car maintenance, and
  • Preventing 4,772 pounds of carbon pollution!

Our overall student winner, Rusty Crofts, saved $199, burned 28,840 calories, and kept 392 lbs CO2 out of the air through 150 bus & walking trips of 596 miles in total!

Our overall employee winner, Dental Clinic Associate, Lynette Mercado-McQuiston logged a total of 52 vanpool trips from Elizabethtown, racking up 2,350 miles of driving avoided!

We also honor our other Weekly Winners:

  • Mercedes Pastor, a junior field hockey player from Buenos Aires, logged an amazing 47 bike commute trips in week 1!
  • Public Health Graduate Research Assistant, Madeline Tomlinson, logged 58 bike short trips to win $50 in week 2!
  • Physical Plant cabinetmaker, Charles Ames, logged 59 miles over 26 bike commute trips, preventing 46.7lbs of pollution in week 3!
  • Archivist Kyna Herzinger logged 9 bus commutes and one carpool to win week 4!
  • Urban Planning Masters student & Program Coordinator at TreesLouisville, Rob Monsma, logged 10 transit trips (40mi) & 4 bike trips (12mi) in week 4, with 92 trips total logged in the Challenge!

Here’s how the Challenged worked:

Step 1: Join the Challenge online! Image result for every commute counts

Step 2: Challenge yourself (and your friends!) to get to campus differently!

Try these life-affirming alternatives to the expense, road-rage, pollution, and parking hassles of driving alone:

  • BUS: Ride any TARC Airport RouteTARC route free with UofL ID (just swipe your card as you board – any time, anywhere).
  • CARDpool: Organize your own carpool with friends, family, colleagues, or classmates; or find rides & offer rides online through Cardinal Directions or Every Commute Counts.
  • WALK, SKATE, or BIKE: Get your workout just by getting where you need to go under your own power! If you don’t have your own bike, borrow one free from UofL Bikeshare or join LouVelo citywide bikeshare for half-price with your address ($7.50/month gets you unlimited trips of up to one hour without any additional charges).LouVelo ClockTower
  • VANPOOL: Employees can get in on a vanpool, get your ride home guaranteed, or enter to win additional monthly prizes with Every Commute Counts.

* NOTE: Though fun and certainly better than driving, getting around via lazy, coal-powered electric scooters does not qualify for this Challenge. Skip the dirty electricity and use your muscles to qualify!

Explore all of UofL’s Sustainable Transportation Options.

Step 3: Log your trips to win!

The only way to be in the running for prizes is to log all of your commute trips online with Cardinal Directions or Every Commute Counts.

Connect with us, trash-talk, and post about your commute on Facebook

Interview: UofL Sustainability student Elliott Grantz & Wallace McMullen: Louisville Solar Tour

Listen Now! On this week’s edition of Sustainability Now!, your host, Justin Mog, steps in from the blazing sunshine for a chat with Wallace McMullen & Elliott Grantz who are co-organizing the Louisville Solar Tour this Saturday, Oct. 5th, 10am-4pm. This year’s Tour will kick-off on UofL’s campus at the Speed School of Engineering in room 103 Ernst Hall (216 Eastern Pkwy). It begins with informative speakers, after which you’ll get to tour solar-powered homes, businesses, and other facilities and catch a glimpse of our renewable energy future! This annual event provides real-life examples of how families and businesses are harnessing free energy from the sun in the River City to generate electricity, heat water & indoor spaces, and slash monthly utility bills! We will start with an opening presentation for context, and then climb in a bus to see various solar installations on site. Owners will explain unique and outstanding features of their solar systems on location. The bus will return to an ending party at Apocalypse Brewing. The schedule for the day is as follows:
– Pre-tour: 10am, Ernst Hall 103, kickoff and educational presentation (with Adam Edelen)
– Tour: 11:00am – 3:00pm
– Post-tour: 3:00pm, meet the installers and celebrate, Apocalypse Brew Works (1612 Mellwood Ave.)

Each tour site will offer information and perspectives from homeowners, businesses, and solar installers about the costs, processes, and economic and environmental benefits of going solar.

Wallace McMullen has been active for years with Solar Over Louisville and the Kentucky Solar Energy Society. Elliot Grantz is a Sustainability Masters student at the University of Louisville.

More information and tickets are available at…ets-71011024887

Check out the Facebook Event at:

And the Kentucky Solar Energy Society is at

As always, our interview is followed by your community action calendar for the week, so get your calendars out and get ready to take action for sustainability NOW!

Sustainability Now! airs on FORward Radio, 106.5fm, WFMP-LP Louisville, every Monday at 6pm and repeats Tuesdays at 12am and 10am. Find us at

Green living keeps the green in student wallets

Check out this coverage in this week’s student paper: UofL resources keep the green in student’s wallet (The Louisville Cardinal, Sept. 10, 2019)

Given space limitations, a lot of other ideas and resources had to be left out. Well, here’s an expanded version:

We always tell people that the two most personally and planetarily impactful things you can do for sustainability are: 1. Change the way you get around; and 2. Change what you put in your body. What does that mean?

  1. Minimize driving and flying to maximize your fun, health, safety, and savings! No personal choice is more expensive for a student than bringing a car to campus. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that the average car-owner in the U.S. spends about $9000/year on their car (after the expense of buying/leasing it). All those costs for gas, parking, insurance, cleaning, tires and maintenance really add up. Not to mention the extreme costs to our common future of all that pollution spewing out of your tailpipe; or the costs to your physical health of a sedentary lifestyle; or the costs to your mental health from all the road rage and frustration of driving, traffic, parking, and car maintenance hassles; or the costs to society of having to build and maintain all the infrastructure and real estate for cars and the fact that 1 in 70 deaths in America is caused by an automobile. The great news is that none of it is truly necessary. Many people save lots of money each year living car-free in Louisville. The vast majority of people on the planet do not own cars. We do not have to buy-in to any of the insanity of car-dependency. It is 100% a lifestyle choice. There may never be an easier time and place for you to live car-free and carefree than while you are at UofL. How?
    1. Walk / Skate: Our campus is totally walkable. Choose to live within a mile or two of campus and you could walk or skate to just about everywhere you’ll need to go on a regular basis. Don’t bring a car to campus just because of the occasional need to travel farther.
    2. IMG_4683Bicycle: We have been recognized as a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University and we have worked with the city to make biking to campus safer and more convenient. Bikes are a relatively cheap, low-maintenance way to get around. Use that money you would have otherwise spent on a UofL parking permit for one or two years and you could own a reliable bike that could be your transportation for your entire college career and well beyond. Just make sure you spend a few extra bucks to avoid a crappy Walmart bike that won’t last and to get a solid u-lock rather than cheap cable locks which are frequently cut by thieves on campus. If you don’t have your own bike, you can access one free through UofL Bikeshare or for half-priced (just $7.50/month for unlimited hour-long rides) through LouVelo bikeshare.
    3. Bus: For longer trips, you can always hop on the TARC bus, which is entirely free on all routes and schedules for anyone with valid UofL ID – just swipe your ID card as you board. You can also use the racks on the front of each bus to take your bike along with you.
    4. sustainabilityCarpool: For those instances when you really need four wheels, share a ride with someone else and save! You can set up carpools for your daily needs or one-time trips for free on UofL’s trip-finder and carpool-matching platform, Cardinal Directions. In fact, through September 30th, you can participate in the Cards Commuter Challenge and be in the running for $500 in prizes, just by logging your trips on Cardinal Directions.
    5. Skip the electric scooter: Save a bunch of money by using your legs to get where you need to go, rather than renting coal-powered electric scooters. Walk, bike, or skate and keep the cash in your account and pollution out of the atmosphere.
    6. Avoid the airport: Flying to neighboring cities is ridiculously expensive and the most polluting, carbon-intensive option. It’s also the least comfortable with the most security hassles. On a per-passenger-mile basis, flying causes five to ten times more pollution compared to ground-based means of travel. Consider these lower-impact, less sardine-like options:
      • Carpool! It’s free and easy to find or offer rides to events through Cardinal Directions – UofL’s trip-finding and carpool-matching system!
      • MegabusTake the Bus!
        Megabus offers low-cost express service from downtown Louisville (in front of the Greyhound station at 701 W Muhammad Ali Blvd at the Northwest Corner of S. 7th Street) to over 120 cities across North America for as low as $1/trip with free wi-fi, at-seat plug ins, and panoramic windows. Daily northbound departures from Louisville for Indianapolis/Chicago and southbound departures for Nashville/Chattanooga/Atlanta. Book here.
        Greyhound offers connections from Louisville (720 W Muhammad Ali Blvd.) to over 3,000 cities throughout North America with free wi-fi and at-seat plug ins. Book here.
        Miller Transportation offers direct daily bus service to Frankfort and Lexington on coaches equipped with wi-fi and at-seat plug ins from downtown at 720 W Muhammad Ali Blvd. You can also catch a Miller bus to cities and towns throughout Kentucky (including Fulton, Marion, Mayfield, Morganfield, Owensboro, Paducah, and Sturgis), Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio, as well as Campus Connector service with stops at Indiana University, IUPUI, Ball State, Indiana State University, Vincennes University, Valparaiso University and Ohio State University. Book here.
      • Take the Train!
        Efficient, comfortable Amtrak trains depart from Indianapolis (north/west-bound) and Cincinnati (east-bound), and you can book bus connector service to/from Louisville directly through Amtrak.
      • Offset: If you must fly or travel, consider offsetting your carbon emissions through a service such as Carbon Footprint Ltd, Native Energy, CarbonFund, TerraPass, or for free (through commissions) with UCapture.
  2. Smart consumption:
    1. IMG_8661Bottled water is for suckers. Don’t ever pay for water again. Bring your reusable bottle and refill for free with Louisville’s award-winning tap water. At just one water filling station on the first floor of the SRC, students recently pushed us past one million bottles saved! (see photo attached) And even if you want something other than water, bottled beverages are a waste of money and resources. Try mixing powdered beverages like Gatorade with tap water in a reusable bottle.
    2. Avoid food waste. Don’t pay for food you don’t eat. Order/take only what you can actually eat and come prepared with a container to take home any leftovers.
    3. Don’t waste your meal swipes. Many students find themselves with lots of extra meal swipes at the end of the semester because they frequently chose to eat off-campus or to use flex points for fast food. All that unhealthy fast food comes with piles of trash. Use your meal swipes at The Ville Grill, and you’ll dine zero waste (all dining ware is washed and reused instead of thrown out and all food waste and napkins are composted), with 30-40% locally-sourced food, a dedicated vegan/vegetarian station, and if you need to take your food on the go, you can participate in the reusable to-go container program. You can also use your meal swipes at our annual Farm-To-Table Dinner on Oct. 17th, 5-8pm, Red Barn.
    4. Eat less meat. It is not healthy to eat meat three times a day and it is a huge burden on the planet. Save money and global resources by eating lower on the food chain – beans and rice are about the most economical meal available.
    5. Eat what would otherwise go to waste. Save money by: 1. joining the clean-pCardinal Cupboardlate club; 2. taking advantage of campus events with free food; 3. harvesting the food growing on campus in our edible landscaping (e.g. serviceberry trees) and our two campus gardens; 4. Helping out with the Food Recovery Network to rescue leftover food on campus from the landfill; or 5. checking out our free on-campus food pantry – the Cardinal Cupboard in SAC W314 run by ELSB.
    6. Learn to cook. You can save a lot of money, have fun, eat healthier, and take advantage of fresh local food from UofL’s farmers markets and gardens by cooking rather than eating out. The Office of Health Promotion offers cooking workshops and you can learn from your friends by hosting a gathering to cook together.

Of course, there’s lots of ways to save money by living green that have nothing to do with transportation or eating. Instead of wasting money on new clothes, shoes, costumes, graduation gowns, household items, school and art supplies, you can always “shop” at the UofL Free Store or at local thrift stores. And there are many ways to cut your utility bills and your environmental impact simply by being more mindful about your energy and water use:

  • Use a clothesline or rack instead of energy hogging, expensive clothes dryers.
  • Set thermostats moderately (<70°F winter / >75°F summer) & adjust 10°F when vacating a room.
  • Turn off lights, computers and equipment off when vacating a room.
  • Unplug chargers, TVs, computers, and other equipment when not in use (many consume electricity even when the unit is turned off!). An easy solution is to put everything on one power strip and click it all off when you’re done.
  • Turn off any peripheral devices (printers, monitors, speakers, scanners, etc.) when you’re done. Just plug them all into one power strip and click it off, or use a “smart” power strip which automatically shut off power to peripherals when the computer shuts down.
  • Replace wasteful halogen or incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
  • Purchase only efficient Energy Star® rated appliances, electronics & computers.
  • Don’t run water unnecessarily while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes.

Check out our online Green Tips for more money- and planet-saving ideas!

Questions Answered About UofL’s Latest “Cool Schools” Ranking

Check out the excellent coverage in this week’s Louisville Cardinal: UofL ranked No. 84 on Sierra Club’s “Cool School” list (The Louisville Cardinal, Sept. 10, 2019)

The reporter asked some great questions which the paper did not have room to print, so for the curious, here’s our answers:

  1. What was UofL’s ranking on the list last year?
    #104 (out of 268)
  2. Is this the highest UofL has been ranked on this list?
    No. We ranked #43 on the 2016 Cool Schools list. Here’s the full history of our rankings:
    2019: UofL rocketed back into the top 100, ranking #84 (out of 282) in Sierra Club’s 2019 Cool Schools list. We are once again ranked as the “Coolest School” in Kentucky! Three other Kentucky schools made the list: Berea #112 (63.69 pts.), WKU #165 (54.08 pts.), and EKU # 259 (40.06 pts.).
    2018: UofL slipped to #104 (out of 268) in Sierra Club’s 2018 Cool Schools list with an overall score of 63.22 (out of 100). UofL ranked just below Berea College (101st with 63.69), but maintained our ranking as the “Coolest” Public School in Kentucky (WKU is 150th; EKU is 244th).
    2017: UofL ranked #51 (out of 229) in Sierra Club’s 2017 Cool Schools list. With a total score of 607.77 (out of a possible 1000), UofL continues to be ranked above any other school in Kentucky (WKU was 56th; Berea was 91st).
    2016: UofL increased our ranking to #43 in Sierra Club’s 2016 Cool Schools list. With a total score of 622.30 (out of a possible 1000), UofL was the highest ranked school in Kentucky on the list of 201 institutions nationwide!
    2015: UofL increased its ranking to #73 in Sierra Club’s 2015 Cool Schools list, and was the only school in Kentucky to make the list of 153 institutions nationwide.
    2014: UofL ranked #74 in Sierra Club’s 2014 Cool Schools list, and was the only Kentucky school to make the list of 173 institutions nationwide.
    2013: UofL continued to make significant progress in sustainability across the board, as demonstrated by the fact that our overall score jumped in the 2013 Cool Schools rankings  from 510.89 (out of a possible 1000) in 2012 to 625.74 in 2013. We improved our score by nearly 11.5%. UofL continued to hold the top position in the state, ranking 53rd out of 162 schools nationally.
    2012: UofL was the only Kentucky school included in the 2012 Sierra Club Cool Schools Rankings, and UofL was named among 50 greenest U.S. schools, ranking 48th out of 96. See UofL’s 2012 Survey Response. Read more.
    2011: In 2011, UofL increased its ranking to #41 out of 118, up from #61 in 2010 and #92 in 2009, and the top school in Kentucky for 2011 (Sierra magazine, Sept/Oct 2011).
  3. What exactly does this ranking say about sustainability at UofL?
    This ranking verifies that we have a lot to be proud of about UofL’s progress on integrating environmental, social, and economic stewardship into everything we do (from academics and research to operations and administration). It also confirms that we still have a long way to go. We may be kickin’ ass in Kentucky, but we have a lot to learn from other schools across North America which have moved faster, invested more, and made sustainability a higher priority than we have at UofL. If students make clear that sustainability is a top priority for them, it will soon become a top priority for the university.
  4. What are ways that the university is looking to improve in the sustainability area?
    We need to redouble our efforts to get students, faculty, staff, and guests to leave their cars at home when they come to campus. Transportation (including air travel) accounts for 27% of UofL’s carbon emissions. Parking is an immense financial, staffing, and real estate burden on UofL. It is time for us to get serious about addressing this issue instead of assuming that everyone is going to drive to campus and we simply have to accommodate that expensive, unhealthy, destructive choice. We need to develop a Transportation Demand Management Plan that lays out our goals for reducing the number of cars coming to campus and vehicle miles traveled by UofL students and employees. This Plan should not only include plans to fund a full suite of transportation alternatives (many of which we have lost in recent years, such as the UofL Carshare program which ended this summer) and incentives to live within a few miles of campus; but also plans to cap parking and to do away with subsidized annual parking permits for commuters and move toward unsubsidized hourly/daily parking rates so that people can choose to save money on any given day by carpooling, taking the bus, biking, or walking to campus.
  5. Do you think UofL will move up on next years list?
    With the help and advocacy of students, faculty, and staff, there is no doubt that UofL can improve our sustainability performance and become and even “cooler” school in years to come. In fact, we cannot possibly do it without you! This is a big team effort.

UofL tops in Kentucky on Sierra Club’s ‘Cool Schools’ list!

By Janet Cappiello

Volunteers planted two new trees on campus as part of UofL's Arbor Day celebration.
Volunteers planted two new trees on campus as part of UofL’s Arbor Day celebration.

The University of Louisville has notched another high-profile achievement for sustainability among higher education institutions in Kentucky.

The Sierra Club this week released its annual “Cool Schools” rankings of North American colleges and universities, recognizing gains related to teaching, studying and acting for a more livable world. At No. 84 on the list, UofL is the highest-ranked Kentucky institution.

“We all knew UofL was a cool school is so many ways, but this year’s list from Sierra Club confirms that we are the coolest in the Commonwealth,” said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives.

Rankings are based on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) used by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to gauge progress in environmental, social and economic stewardship. This year, UofL also had the highest STARS rating of any college or university in Kentucky.

“This is the 10th year we have cracked the top 100 on the Sierra Club’s list,” Mog said. “Our accomplishments in this area are a testament to the dedication of our administration, faculty, staff and students. They also remind us that we are part of a global movement to tackle the greatest crisis facing humanity by taking action on campus against global climate disruption right here in our classrooms, labs, offices and landscapes.”

Justin Mog
Justin Mog

The Sierra Club, the oldest grassroots environmental group in the United States, awards points to schools in areas such as energy, food, transportation, waste, academics and research. UofL earned high marks for campus and public engagement as well as curriculum.

Participation in the Sierra Club’s ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, along with two-year community colleges. The club ranked a total of 282 institutions for 2019.

Want to help continue the momentum? Go online for information on all the different ways students, faculty and staff can help UofL achieve its sustainability goals. UofL’s annual Sustainability Week is Oct. 17-25, featuring events to celebrate, raise awareness and promote engagement issues of environmental, social and economic justice.


Source: UofL tops in Kentucky on Sierra Club’s ‘Cool Schools’ list (UofL News, 9/6/19)

1 MILLION Bottles Saved at SRC Pure Tap Station!

IMG_8661IMG_8662During her workout on August 21st, Blair White pushed our Louisville Pure Tap bottle filling station on the first floor of the Student Rec Center past a major milestone of eliminating waste from 1 MILLION bottles! This is just one of many filling stations in the SRC and all over campus. SRC users have been hydrating waste-free with Louisville tap for nearly six years!
…And throughout those years, UofL’s Sustainability Council has collaborated with the publicly-owned, award-winning Louisville Water Company to educate students, faculty & staff on the value of getting #backtothetap with events, guest lectures, and those informative signs you’ve seen above our water filling station around campus (like at the SRC, SAC, Strickler, College of Business, and Ekstrom Library).

Do you know where our drinking water comes from? Do you know what it takes to pump and treat that water to get it to you? Do you know why Louisville tap is safer, cheaper, and waaaaaay better for the planet than bottled water?

Just as a teaser, consider the economic value to getting back to the tap. Filling a glass 60 times with Louisville’s tap water costs just a penny. Consuming the recommended eight glasses of water a day from the tap costs around 50 cents a year, compared to $1,500 for buying bottled water.

Explore the political & global concerns around water and the local success story. Louisville Water’s story of science & public health can bring real-world examples to your classroom, lab, or club this semester. The Louisville Water Company will glady provide staff for guest lectures or offer tours.

Contact Louisville Water Co.’s Kelley Dearing Smith to arrange a tour or guest lecture: or 502.569.3695

#tastethedifference #drinklocal #puretapcards
UofL SAC signs 2019.jpg

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