- Sustainability: Walking the talk
- Teaching sustainability: Development of a curriculum in sustainable food production
- Building, energy, and campus actions: Systems thinking for sustainability science
- Development of an innovative and experiential food sustainability assessment education program
- Reducing energy footprint of buildings through distributed sensing, control, actuation, and human mediation
- Dramatic data center energy savings through two-phase device-level cooling
- Energy intensity of crop and dairy production on Wisconsin farms
- Appealing to students’ stomachs: Integrating food system sustainability into physical and biological science courses
In Spring 2013, a new course, Environmental Studies/Integrated Liberal Studies 126, “Principles of Environmental Science,” (PEC, 4 credits) will be taught by the PI. This sustainability-related course focuses on campus energy, food, and materials/recycling, including the WE CONSERVE program. In many ways, people on our campus need to walk the talk of sustainability. This proposal funds the development of one of them: an electronic interactive walking tour that leads people to see our campus with eyes more carefully tuned to the complex interplay between humans, energy, and nature.
There is an immediate local and global need for trained professionals with expertise in sustainable food production and distribution and a need for coordination of courses in this area at UW-Madison. We will hold a series of planning meetings to explore interest in and requirements for developing a robust curriculum in sustainable food production. These meetings will be hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. We will also develop and provide additional coursework focused on decision making in sustainable vegetable production that will engage students with extension faculty and other local experts.
With funds from the Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education (SIRE) program, our team will develop a set of undergraduate exercises based on the myPower energy model. MyPower was developed by Dr. Paul Meier in 2002, and it has been used in graduate courses at UW-Madison. SIRE funding will support myPower’s use at the introductory undergraduate level, including an examination of energy use and supply sources used on the UW-Madison campus. Exercises will be integrated into a new course, ES250 Introduction to Sustainability Science, taught by Prof. Tracey Holloway in Spring 2013.
From local foods to international marketing, the interest in assessing the sustainability of our food supply chain has never been greater. However, the ability to assess economic, environmental and social sustainability parameters behind the farm-gate lags greatly behind similar efforts in industrial manufacturing. As such, the University of Wisconsin is leading the development of the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture to meet this need, and the proposed work develops an educational program that will harmonize U.S. agriculture’s response to sustainability assessment requests while providing upper-class UW undergraduates with an innovative, unique and marketable experiential learning opportunity.
Reducing energy footprint of buildings through distributed sensing, control, actuation, and human mediation
The goal of this project is to reduce the energy footprint of buildings, both residential and commercial, by leveraging new advances in computing and communication technologies to induct human mediation as an integral part of this process. The project involves components to learn human activities in the buildings, to implement a distributed sensing and actuation network to report and manage actions, and to design and utilize mobile apps that facilitate human mediation. The team plans to work with UW Housing and implement the capabilities in a campus student dormitory.
This project will demonstrate that it is possible to significantly cut the power consumption of computer rooms and data centers across campus using safe, affordable technology. The dramatic energy reduction will be realized through the implementation of a new two-phase impinging jet cooling system that significantly reduces the thermal resistance between the coolant and the devices in a computer while using less energy to move the thermal energy out of the computer system. Energy use before and after the cooling system is installed will be compared with a model developed to predict energy usage in a wide range of implementations.
Energy Intensity of Crop and Dairy Production on Wisconsin Farms
Energy use supports high productivity in modern agriculture, but also creates environmental and financial risks. This project will use field observations, surveys and crop production budgets to analyze energy intensity of production for major field crops and dairy in Wisconsin. Energy intensities for crops and whole farms will be compared to economic and management factors that drive energy use (e.g. farm size, location, combinations of crops, farm income, use of credit) and to physical features (e.g. growing degree-days, precipitation, soil texture). Results will show opportunities to reduce energy intensity and make food production more sustainable in Wisconsin.
Appealing to Students’ Stomachs: Integrating food system sustainability into physical and biological science courses
Sustainability of food systems is attracting global interest because it encompasses several urgent and important challenges worldwide: health, poverty, energy security, and the protection of biological diversity and ecosystem services. Future environmental leaders must be prepared to grapple with these questions of food security at many scales and understand lessons from numerous disciplines if societies seek sustainable futures. Our proposal brings together three instructors from different disciplines to integrate food sustainability topics reaching at least 300 students per semester. Our approach in this proposal is to design new courses and redesign old ones to bring them up to date with current thinking and emergent problems in sustainability.