Sustainable UofL

Commitment to a Sustainable Future. It's Happening Here.

UofL’s very first Master of Sustainability!

Congratulations to UofL’s very first Master in Sustainability degree recipient, Betsy Ruhe!

Betsy Ruhe 2016 (UofL's 1st Masters in Sustainability student).pngEarlier today, Betsy successfully defended her Masters Thesis: “An Assessment of Sustainability in Jefferson County Public Schools (Kentucky).”

Learn more about Betsy and her research here:
Sustainability graduate student hopes to instill curriculum at elementary school level (University of Louisville Magazine, Winter-Spring 2017, p. 43)

Could you be next?!?! Learn more about UofL’s degree programs in Sustainability, including our brand new Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability starting this fall at


GE Appliances & UofL partner on ‘cool’ project

GE enlisted UofL to help develop controls systems for a new compressor that will make its refrigerators more energy efficient.
GE enlisted UofL to help develop controls systems for a new compressor that will make its refrigerators more energy efficient.

The innovation team at GE Appliances, a Haier company, and the University of Louisville recently partnered on a ‘cool’ refrigerator project.

The Kentucky-based home appliances manufacturer enlisted UofL to help develop controls systems for a new compressor that will make its refrigerators more energy efficient. The controls system would allow the compressor to take measurements and optimize automatically.

“They’ve (UofL) been instrumental into the controls side of that project,” said Senior Compressor Engineer, Greg Hahn. “It helps us get an edge on intellectual property, so we’ve got more access to deeper knowledge of controls and cutting-edge techniques.”

UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering associate professor, Dr. Micheal McIntyre, and his graduate student, Joe Latham, have worked with GE Appliances on the project since its inception in 2012.

“It’ll help their refrigerator products to use less energy,” McIntyre said. That forward-thinking will help the company “stay in the marketplace when energy standards become more challenging and difficult to meet.”

This new technology is expected to help the refrigerators use 10 to 15 percent less energy, saving customers money.

This isn’t the first time GE Appliances and UofL have worked together. The former hosts UofL students for hands-on learning co-ops, and the latter has helped GE Appliances solve problems and create new products.

One notable example is FirstBuild, a maker space and microfactory on UofL’s Belknap campus, where GE Appliances has used open innovation to create new products such as the Opal Nugget Ice Maker and Paragon Induction Cooktop.

“They (UofL) have quite a few ideas to help us out as a company,” said Power Electronics Engineer, Srujan Kusumba. “Not just that, but the way of thinking helps us to explore more ideas and also learn new things.”

McIntyre said UofL also learns new things when it partners with industry — and it gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom on real-world problems.

“The value of this is really incalculable,” Latham said. “It’s been great getting to bridge between the academic and industrial world.”

Source: GE Appliances & UofL partner on ‘cool’ project (UofL News, July 26, 2017)

UofL’s Conn Center promises renewable energy future for coal country

The Conn Center’s renewable energy camp was held in partnership with the federal Promise Zone, an area comprised of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox and part of Whitley counties.

They arrived at the University of Louisville with a truth they had known all their lives: Coal is not only a source of energy, it puts food in their mouths and clothes on their backs. And it is going away.

A week later, on their last day of a summer camp where they learned the basics of renewable energy, these same students left with a spark of something new for the future.

High school students from Kentucky’s “Promise Zone” talk about building rechargeable lithium ion batteries during a UofL summer camp on renewable energy. LtoR: Christopher Hobbs, of Bell Co.; Devyn Shoemaker, of Harlan Co.; Grecia Lasley, of Bell Co.; and Peyton Mills, of Knox Co.

About 30 high school students from eastern Kentucky’s “Promise Zone” on July 21 concluded the research camp at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. Their presentations on subjects like solar energy and lithium ion batteries seemed to surprise even themselves.

“I came here knowing I wanted to be an engineer,” said Hayley Fulton, 14, who will be sophomore at Letcher County Central High school this fall. “I was clueless and now I know all this stuff and I’m just like, ‘Wow.’”

The camp at the center, which is part of UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, was in partnership with the federal Promise Zone, an area comprised of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox and part of Whitley counties. Its goal is to improve the overall quality of life in the 3,071-square-mile region. The white lab coats some students wore bore the saying “It’s a Promise” on the back.

“Solar energy is very important because nowadays we rely on a lot of non-renewable energy sources,” said Kaden Gray, 16, a junior at Lynn Camp High School in Knox County. “By utilizing solar energy, we can not only fix the problem, but bring back a lot of lost jobs to our areas. All these labs, the amount of stuff we learned that had to do with what I thought to be a simple concept, really blew my mind.”

The camp was designed to broaden interest in STEM careers, and many students said they are looking at careers in engineering, medicine, nursing and marine biology.

Asher Terry, 14, a Letcher County Central sophomore, said he wanted to learn more about STEM careers even though he’s an aspiring lawyer.

“I learned about solar cells and how they work,” he said. “I learned that coal isn’t all that because it’ll run out one day and we need some kind of renewable energy.”

The students said the importance of teamwork and respect were added lessons. They also made some good friends along the way.

“Today is going to be very hard for me because half these kids I probably will never have the chance to meet or see again,” said Gracie Moles, 14, a sophomore at Middlesboro High School.

The students spent the week on Belknap Campus in a dormitory, and in between labs they saw the sights of Louisville, such as the Slugger Museum and the Speed Art Museum. Interim UofL President Greg Postel and Interim Speed School Dean Gail DePuy met with them Friday and answered questions about scholarships, honors classes, tuition and housing.

Kentucky’s Promise Zone was designated in 2014 as the first rural Promise Zone in the nation. There are 21 other Promise Zone communities nationwide.

Check out more from the camp in the video below:

Source: Conn Center promises renewable energy future for coal country (UofL News, July 24, 2017)

UofL Helps To Address Polluted Runoff From Metro Impound Lot

Thanks to our own Russ Barnett (of the UofL Sustainability Council and KY Institute for the Environment & Sustainable Development) for contributing to this important work to clean-up a real stain on our city’s record of stewardship and protecting water quality!

Louisville Metro Police Impoundment Lot at Beargrass CreekCheck out the full article:

Louisvillians Renew Push To Address Polluted Runoff From Metro Impound Lot (WFPL, July 11, 2017)

Water Conservation Saves Money, Energy & Resources

Louisville Water Company - Crescent Hill Reservoir
As we move into the summertime period of heat and drought, we are reminded of the importance of conserving water on campus and at home. Simple steps to conserve water include:

  • Not watering lawns & gardens in the middle of the day (do it early morning or in the evening);Home Rain Barrels (Mog)
  • Checking soil moisture to make sure irrigation is actually needed before opening the tap;
  • Adjusting irrigation sprinklers to ensure water is not spraying on sidewalks and pavements;
  • Not using your hose to do the work of a broom or rake;
  • Shutting the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes;
  • Taking shorter showers and avoiding water-hogging baths;
  • Installing rain barrels and using them for outdoor cleaning and watering; and
  • Immediately reporting leaky valves and pipes at UofL to Physical Plant for repair. Report Leaks to Physical Plant at 852-6241 or online.

Keep in mind, too, that your efforts to conserve water will also help reduce utility bills and the use of energy and chemicals needed to pump & treat water.

More Ways To Save.

Pesto Time! …& Pollinators, too!

It’s pesto time!! The basil is abundant in UofL’s Garden Commons! Come by and enjoy some…and when you do, take a moment to pluck off the seed heads that are starting to form as the plant begins to bolt. (Caution: This will make your fingers smell delicious!! 🙂 These are great for saving seed for next year, but at this time of year, we want the plants to put more energy into making leaves instead of flowers and seeds.

Thanks to everyone who came out to today’s UofL Garden Commons workday! Please join us again next Monday (and every Monday) at noon. The garden is looking great with many things ready to harvest (leeks, beets, basil & many herbs, and a few of the peaches, peppers, and tomatoes), and many more well on their way (next week should be peak for peaches, tomatoes & peppers will continue to ripen, and eggplant and watermelon still have a few weeks to go). Next week, we’ll plant the very last raised bed with green beans!

Things are looking very pollinator-friendly…and delicious over at UofL’s Urban & Public Affairs garden (426 W Bloom St), too! The maypop (N.American passion fruit) flowers are stunning right now and the fruits are just starting to swell up. Tomatoes are also ripening and there’s some of the most beautiful kale and flowers I’ve seen! Recent storms have also knocked down some of the first apples of the season, so check around in the undergrowth beneath the big apple tree for early pie-makings!!

Peach Party! Workday

Monday, July 10, noon-1pm
UofL Garden Commons, Cultural Center
We have never seen our mighty peach tree’s branches bent so low by the weight of so many beautiful, delicious peaches! Join us at our weekly Garden Commons workday this week (and next!) and enjoy the sweetest rewards of summer!
More on our Facebook Event page.

Megabus Moves Closer to UofL for Convenient Intercity Connections

Forget flying or driving! Getting out of town with minimal pollution, expense & hassle just got even easier!
Megabus has relocated its pick-up & drop-off point closer to UofL’s Health Science Center, on E. Broadway at Brook St. (under I-65 overpass for a protected waiting area during inclement weather).
The carrier offers express service to over 120 cities for as low as $1/trip with wi-fi, at-seat plugs & panoramic windows.
Daily northbound departures go to Indianapolis/Chicago & southbound departures to Nashville/Chattanooga/Atlanta.

Travel Smart, Fly Less!

Summer travel season is here, but there are better ways to get there without destroying our planet! Catching a flight for even relatively short distances has become a common, everyday choice for many. But flying causes 5-10 times more pollution per passenger-mile than ground-based options!

Flying also puts the greenhouse gas emissions high up in our atmosphere, where they persist longer and have a greater impact on global climate disruption – a phenomenon known as “radiative forcing.”

As more and more of our campus community choose flights for business, conferences, recruiting, study abroad, etc. the emissions are really piling up. Indeed, flying now accounts for 8% of UofL’s total carbon footprint!

UofL Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sources 2016This year, consider greener, less sardine-like options that don’t involve the incivility of suspicious TSA agents and mandatory shoe removal! Try a better way! Consider a video- or teleconference – maybe you don’t need to sustainabilitytravel at all! Share a ride with others in a carpool. You can easily setup carpools, find Louisville’s inter-city connections and explore all your options for getting around with Cardinal Directions!

Or enjoy the novelty and sanity of taking the train or bus. Megabus, Miller & Greyhound all serve downtown Louisville directly, and you can catch the Amtrak train as close by as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, or St. Louis.


  • 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.
    Megabus offers low-cost express service from Louisville (southwest corner of W Liberty St and S 5th St.) to over 120 cities across North America for as low as $1 with free wi-fi, at-seat plug ins, and panoramic windows. Daily southbound departures from downtown Louisville for Nashville and northbound departures for Indianapolis/Chicago. 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. UofL employees can easily book Amtrak trips through Anthony Travel, just click on the train tab in the Concur booking portal.

Save 20% on Travel


If you must fly, offset your emissions through a service such as Carbon Footprint Ltd, Native Energy, CarbonFund, TerraPass, or for free (through commissions) with UCapture.

More details on Alternatives to Flying here.

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