Springtime Updates from Our Clients
(above) Students from Kearney Public Schools participate in a tree planting event to celebrate Arbor Day. (April 2015)
Spring is probably my favorite time of the year. The weather improves, nature becomes prettier, people seem more energetic and happy, and two of my favorite sports (track and field, baseball) are in full swing. Spring is also a time when we seem to pay more attention to the environment and environmental issues. Thank you, flowering plants and Earth/Arbor Day.
As people check back in with the environment, I would like to take a few moments to allow you to check back in with our work. Here’s what’s new and exciting at some of our clients:
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Due to successful investments in sustainability projects during the past four years, the zoo’s revolving Green Loan Fund currently sits at an all-time high amount, and the zoo is avoiding energy and water costs of over $385 thousand annually. The zoo is also busy constructing its new African Grasslands exhibit, which will incorporate sustainable features that conserve energy and water. For example, the elephant barn floor will be made of sand and natural materials instead of concrete, thus requiring little or no water for cleaning.
Omaha Public Schools
The U.S. Department of Education recently named Wilson and Gomez schools winners of the 2015 Green Ribbon Schools award. Meanwhile, the district has established new goals related to energy, water, recycling, and emissions. New estimates indicate the district has achieved $4.9 million in energy savings over the past four and a half years.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Since rolling out its Sustainability Master Plan several months ago, UNO has earned Omaha by Design’s inaugural Access & Mobility Award. UNO has also launched its online dashboard widget that showcases the university’s progress towards its sustainability goals.
University of Nebraska Medical Center & Nebraska Medicine
UNMC and Nebraska Medicine recently celebrated their 5th annual Earth Week to engage students and staff in environmental stewardship. In June, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine will launch the TravelSmart program. This transportation/parking demand management program will encourage/incentivize staff and students to bike, carpool, use transit, and walk to the 42nd & Dewey campus. The program will include subsidized bus passes and free rides home in emergency situations.
University of Nebraska at Kearney
UNK is currently finalizing goals for its Sustainability Master Plan and will soon begin prioritizing strategies for achieving said goals. While that planning is underway, UNK has started a Recycling Task Force to improve its campus recycling program. Recently, several campus groups partnered to conduct the annual waste audit, in which volunteers sampled UNK’s waste and recycling streams. Also, led by the student group Enactus, UNK is researching a bicycle sharing program.
Kearney Public Schools
Thanks, in part, to this school year’s Green Schools Challenge, the district has accomplished exceptional decreases in electricity consumption in most buildings and increases in measured levels of sustainability engagement.
We are so proud of our clients’ sustainability achievements. As spring warms into summer, I look forward to ice cream, and our Verdis Group team looks forward to continued success with the organizations we serve. -BR