December- Creating Green

HAPPY DECEMBER CYCLONES! It’s Molly and Maddie here wishing you a merry and green holiday season!! Before our well-deserved holiday break at ISU, we are excited to celebrate our 5th month of our year-long celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Live Green! Initiative at Iowa State University and our December theme of “Creating Green”!  

As you know, every month during this academic year is dedicated to a different theme and celebrates all the impressive initiatives and accomplishments over the past decade connected to our monthly theme.  As well, each month offers a unique event in which to take part. As with the past four months, there are opportunities for education, engagement, and empowerment experiences in sustainability throughout December.  

From creating the Live Green! Initiative, a decade ago, to all of the MANY sustainability projects, initiatives, events, commitments and accomplishments that have followed, Iowa State University students, faculty and staff have definitely dedicated creativity, enthusiasm and vision to creating green in a diversity of ways.

In the Beginning

Creating Green, though having been a part of ISU since 1858, was formally established with the founding of the Live Green! Initiative in 2008. Along with the Live Green! Initiative, other green components were created as well to support the campus wide effort, the Live Green Revolving Loan Fund, the University’s commitment to a goal of LEED gold for all new construction and major renovation projects and the position of Director of Sustainability. To create even more green, in 2010 Iowa State University partnered with the City of Ames toward a shared sustainability director position. Merry Rankin was ISU’s first Director of Sustainability and still holds this (now shared role) position.  As well as celebrating Live Green! Initiative’s ten-year anniversary, Merry also celebrates her ten-year anniversary this year.  


Channel Your Inner Green Creator at Our Sustainable Wrapping Event

December is a month of holidays, celebrations and gift giving.  Some of the most unique gifts are ones that are equally unique in their wrapping. And some of the most unique wrappings are ones that aren’t purchased, but instead are found within common items around your home. Items such as calendars, magazines, newspapers, posters and maps offer one of a kind wrapping options that cannot be found on a roll and are available at no cost.  Not only can these items “wrap up” a gift, they can put a bow on it and serve as a name tag.

To help you channel your creative wrapping eye and skills, we are offering an upcycled (taking an item that has no additional value in its current form and use it for a purpose that gives it new value) wrapping event on Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30 – in conjunction with ISU’s annual Art Mart and Winterfest events. Here are more specifics:

  • What: FREE sustainable gift wrapping in recycled/upcycled materials including: ISU Athletic posters, ISU Dailys, various road maps, calendars, etc. For items purchased at Art Mart or at the ISU Bookstore, crafts made during WinterFest or ANY gifts you have that need wrapping (no purchase or craft making on Thursday or Friday necessary).
  • When: Thursday, November 29th 10-5pm and Friday, November 30th 10-8pm
  • Where: Outside the Campanile Room, Memorial Union ( Art Mart location)
  • Who: Iowa State University students, faculty and staff and Ames community members
  • How: Just show up with your gifts that need wrapping.  Wrapping can be done for you or you can use supplies provided to wrap your own gifts. Registration suggested (to ensure adequate supplies) by RSVPing to the Facebook event page.

Not only can you green your gift wrapping on Thursday and Friday… you can green your gifts too! We have specifically timed our event to be held in conjunction with Art Mart and Winterfest, offering opportunities to create one-of-a-kind gifts through crafting opportunities as well as purchasing one-of-a-kind art pieces (and supporting local artists). Definitely a one-stop holiday green gifting event, not to miss!! We look forward to seeing you there!!

Cyclones Creating Green

Iowa State University celebrates a rich and bountiful commitment of creating green over the past decade. From operational policies and initiatives to dedicated research and including academic connections and co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities, we have embarked upon and accomplished an impressive and vibrantly green journey.

LEEDing in Sustainable Design

As noted above, from the very beginning of the Live Green! Initiative, Iowa State committed to a significant goal dedicated to creating green – targeting LEED gold certification for all new construction and major renovation design and construction projects. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of a building. Buildings pursuing certification can be rated as certified, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, based on sustainable commitment to and performance related to various design and construction components including: energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and waste management. We currently have 15 LEED certified projects at ISU, with a number awaiting certification. Look for LEED certification signage next time you are in one of these buildings:

Projects that have achieved LEED certification include:

  •             College of Design King Pavilion (Platinum, 2010)
  •             State Gym (Platinum, 2012)
  •             Biorenewables Research Laboratory (Gold, 2011)
  •             Hach Hall (Gold, 2011)
  •             Small Animal Hospital at the Lloyd Veterinary Medicine Center (Gold, 2013)
  •             Troxel Hall (Gold, 2014)
  •             Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center (Gold, 2015)
  •             Curtiss Student Services Mall (Gold, 2015)
  •             Curtiss Hall Commons (Gold, 2015)
  •             Sukup and Elings Hall (Gold, 2017)
  •             Geoffroy Hall (Gold, 2017)
  •             Marston Hall (Gold, 2017)
  •             Morrill Hall (Silver, 2008)
  •             Bergstrom Football Complex (Silver, 2014)
  •             Lagomarcino School of Education (Silver, 2016)

And be on the lookout for the official certification of these in-progress LEED projects:

  •             Frederiksen Court apartments (6)
  •             Bessey Hall addition
  •             Advanced Teaching and Research Building
  •             Student Innovation Center

Raising the (Green) Roof

While there are many ways a building can be sustainable, one less often thought of component is greening (literally) the roof.  Though, not as easily visible as recycled content flooring, natural light systems or rain gardens, ISU has taken advantage of this creating green opportunity and covered a number of campus roofs are covered in greenery. While the plants do add some aesthetic style to roofs, the main benefit of a green roof is stormwater management. These roofs can hold 80% of a one-inch rain storm, unlike a traditionally non-landscaped roof designed to quickly remove all stormwater. Our campus roofs at Iowa State, add over 50,000 additional square feet of green space to campus. Buildings hosting rooftop green space include:

  •             State Gym
  •             Troxel Hall
  •             Memorial Union
  •             Horticulture Hall
  •             Biorenewables Research Laboratory
  •             Sukup Hall
  •             Elings Hall
  •             Bissell Road CyRide Shelter

Campus of Trees

Not only is Iowa State University committed to creating green through our built environment, we also demonstrate green creation throughout our natural environment. A primary component, especially relevant to ISU’s natural environment is our campus forest. Not only do we have numerous trees on campus, we have a diverse representation of tree species that has a dedicated plan of care, an advisory committee overseeing its health and welfare and is an integral component of countless immersive educational experiences and interactions. In recognition of this multifaceted commitment to creating green outdoors, Iowa State has achieved Tree Campus USA designation.  

Land of the Upcycled Tree

In the event that we may lose one of our trees, through disease, storms or other means, commitment to creating green prevails within a unique opportunity to upcycle downed trees through Iowa State’s TreeCYcle Program. Initially a consideration in 2005 when a tornado downed around 70 trees, the initiative focused on keeping campus trees, no longer standing, preserved and still on campus in the form of handcrafted wood furniture. To date, more than 450 campus furniture pieces have been constructed from downed campus trees and can been seen across campus. For example, the walnut counters in Friley Windows and an accent wall in Geoffroy Hall are both products of the ISU TreeCycle Program.  In addition to furniture pieces for campus buildings, TreeCYcle wood is also made available to for academic projects and other campus initiatives. Among those initiatives is the creation of award frames for the Office of Sustainability’s annual Live Green! Excellence Awards.


Creating Green through Discovery

Creating green is not just limited to operations and physical spaces and things, it is also through research. One hundred research centers and institutes provide creating green opportunities for students, faculty and staff. Among these is ISU’s Community Design Lab (CDL), a partnership between the Iowa State University College of Design and ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED). The Community Design Lab works with community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies throughout the state of Iowa, using design knowledge and research expertise to help shape vibrant and empowered communities. More than 50% of university faculty members are engaged in sustainability research, collectively representing 80% of Iowa State’s academic departments.


Clubs Supporting Creating Green

There are a number of ways to create green at ISU, as is noted through the diverse and comprehensive commitment noted above. This diversity extends to the commitment made by ISU student organizations through their personal dedication to be intimately engaged in green creations. To illustrate this impressive and impactful dedication, two student organizations are highlighted this month.

Creating Green Infrastructure

Engineers for a Sustainable World is a organization dedicated to creating innovative solutions for a more sustainable world.

Carina Grady, the Renewable Energy Group Leader for Engineers for a Sustainable World, says, “Engineers for a Sustainable World is committed to building a better world. Here at Iowa State, our ESW chapter aims to build a sustainable campus for current and future students. Right now, we have six ongoing projects with the following topics: renewable energy, rainwater run-off, bee houses, composting, solar distiller, and plastic recycling.”


Grady is the project leader of the renewable energy project. The current project is a portable solar charging station that will power a few phones or a laptop, extracting electricity from the sun rather than a fossil fuel reliant power plant, preventing CO2, SOx, and NOx emissions.

“The nation is headed in a renewable energy direction, and we are right at the beginning of it. Right now, we want to be one of the first ongoing clubs to promote renewable energy practices and accessibility so that in ten years, it is not uncommon to hear of ISU students charging their laptops and phones from solar-powered stations.”

Preserving Green Spaces

The ISU Landscape Club, founded in 2011, dedicates effort to creating green through offering hands-on experiences and enhanced learning opportunities outside the classroom.  

In fulfilling their mission, members have taken part in multiple community events, including United Way Day of Caring, and offer creating green assistance to the public through design sessions providing garden advice, a brief elevation sketch of a potential design, and plant selections for residential gardens.  In addition, members have traveled to various locations to lend a hand in a variety of service projects, including the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association Day of Service at Kirkwood Community College.

As well as honing their creative skills through projects and service, members also challenge themselves through competitive opportunities, including the annually held National Collegiate Landscape Competition. In 2018, though not among the overall competition winners, the ISU Landscape Club has been within top rankings in recognition of their enthusiasm at multiple NCLC competitions.


Monthly Challenge – Creating Green by Gifting Green

Try making a homemade gift this holiday season. There are a variety of options for a variety of ages and skill sets.  You do not have to be an artist, good at sewing or an avid crafter to create green through a homemade gift. Creating green really is all about not just buying, but in considering how you can create instead.  For example… instead of buying a gift card, create handmade gift cards for gifting your time spent with a friend or family member. Websites like Pinterest can offer you lots of ideas. Our Live Green! Pinterest page, can kick-start some sustainability-minded creations.

If you are supplied with creative ideas and skills, there are endless opportunities and resources to create green. The Workspace, located in the Memorial Union at Iowa State University, offers classes throughout the academic year as well as walk-in crafts, each month. For the month of December,  an especially festive (and very green) walk-in craft is being offered – creating a Winter Garland, using recycled flannel fabric.


Create a Greener Portfolio

Creating Green doesn’t just have to be a challenge connected to gifts, it can extend to challenging yourself to create some green for your spring semester.  Our October blog highlighted the impressive diversity of learning green opportunities available at ISU, if creating green gifts is not the challenge for you, then challenge yourself to green gifting yourself through creating a greener portfolio and adding a sustainability class (finding one is easy with the Sustainability Live Green! Sustainability Course Directory). There are green classes to choose from in every college at Iowa State University.  Happy greening!!

What’s Next?

January celebrates Giving Green and Iowa State University’s strong and proud tradition of supporting community through giving of time, resources and dedicated commitment. In January, we will be facilitating a “Collection for the Community Initiative” – collecting gently-used clothes, non-perishable food and toiletry items to provide to campus and community organizations to assist our neighbors and peers in need. As you are celebrating holidays and home for break, take some time to look through your closets and drawers for clothing you might not need or wear – and when you come back and shop for spring semester groceries and supplies, maybe consider adding a couple more cans of food or an extra tube of toothpaste and “give in” on the greening.

To keep updated on all the latest 10 Year updates and happenings, don’t forget to join our Ten Years of Living Green Facebook group.

Good luck on finals, safe travels and happy holidays!

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