Office of Sustainability welcomes new summer interns

The Office of Sustainability hired nine undergraduate interns with diverse backgrounds to work toward improving campus sustainability.

This summer, the interns will work on two different teams to integrate sustainable practices on campus.

The Waste & Recycling Team will help campus groups improve their recycling and composting by analyzing the items thrown away and the consumer behavior that led to those decisions.

The Green Office Team will work in departments and offices across campus to give UW–Madison employees the information and tools they need to learn about sustainability, better understand the impacts of their practices and create more sustainable work environments.

In the Office of Sustainability, Anne Lamppa, the student programs director, and Amy Brockdorf, the assistant director, work closely with students. They design activities for the group as a whole and connect individual students with others on campus who can provide the needed expertise.

Anne Lamppa developed the intern program to provide experiential learning. “It’s important for students of any major to consider how sustainability will be integrated into their future work place,” says Lamppa.

Amy Brockdorf focuses on mentoring students and helping them learn professional skills in the work place. She points out, “These skills are transferable no matter what the profession.” Brockdorf sets a high standard for the students, helping them understand the importance of how they present themselves on campus.

When the summer internship launched the week of June 5, students began building their knowledge of sustainability with a visit from Professor Cathy Middlecamp about energy and carbon footprints.

“It’s not enough to simply state something is a sustainable choice,” Middlecamp points out.  “You need the knowledge both about how our campus works and how our planet works.  This way, you can defend your statements about what will make a difference.”

Tim Lindstrom, a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute, and Samuel Grindel, a student in the Welton Honors summer program, presented information on life cycle assessments. Using an egg and cheese sandwich as an example, Lindstrom and Grindel estimated the environmental impacts associated with the four stages of a food product’s life from material extraction to its disposal.

To help students better understand the energy required to heat and cool buildings on our campus, Dan Dudley, an engineer at the physical plant, gave the students a tour of the Charter Street Heating and Cooling Plant. Rob Lamppa, executive director of the physical plant, explained alternative energy sources and how these relate to the UW-Madison campus.  The interns also learned about the multi-stream recycling system and composting operations on campus.

The student interns will continue to ask and answer questions about our campus and reach out to campus experts for their upcoming Green Office and Waste presentations in July.

By Trina La Susa