Author: Alan Turnquist

Join us on January 27 to help craft a strategic plan for sustainability at Michigan Tech

The Office of Sustainability and Resilience invites you to participate in a public forum as part of a strategic planning process to develop campus sustainability goals that will lead us into the future.

The forum will take place in the MUB Alumni Lounge on January 27th. To maximize participation, there will be two back-to-back “identical” 75 minute sessions, one from 4:00 – 5:15 p.m., and another from 5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Director of Sustainability Alan Turnquist will begin each session with a brief overview of the motivations, process, and the draft framework before facilitating a discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to broader visioning, as well as provide specific comments on targets and timelines.

There are other opportunities for public input, including a second public forum planned for April 15 from 4-7 p.m. in the alumni lounge. There is also Google Form on the MTU sustainability website where anyone with an @mtu address can comment throughout the semester.

Please send any questions or comments to

MTU recognized in the 2021 Sustainable Campus Index

Michigan Tech was highlighted in the Sustainable Campus Index for contributions to the L’Anse Community Solar Project. This work brought together a team of engineering researchers and students from the Alternative Energy Enterprise, advised by Jay Meldrum, to work with local and state partners to bring solar to the Community of L’Anse, while meeting the needs of lower income residents. The project successfully installed 340 panels and had a 100% subscription rate after six months. Read more about the project (see page 55) and other important sustainability milestones from around the country in the 2021 Sustainable Campus Index.

The Sustainable Campus Index highlights innovative and high-impact sustainability initiatives from institutions that participate in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Reporting (STARS) program. Michigan Tech earned a Silver rating in their first STARS submission in October of 2020.

Public Viewing – Achieving Drawdown: A Hopeful, Science-Based Approach to Stop Climate Change. Monday, 11/08 @ 8pm, Fisher Room 126

What: Watch party for the webinar, Achieving Drawdown: A Hopeful, Science-Based Approach to Stop Climate Change

Where: Join Campus Climate Corps and other sustainability advocates in Fisher, Room 126, for a viewing party or see details below for information on how to tune in virtually

When: Monday, 11/08 @ 8pm

Details: After a summer marked by wildfires, air quality alerts, droughts, and heatwaves, we could all use a little climate hope. Join Dr. Jonathan Foley and the Central Minnesota chapter at 8 PM EST on November 8, for an inspiring presentation: Achieving Drawdown: A Hopeful, Science-Based Approach to Stop Climate Change. Dr. Foley is a leading climate scientist, sustainability expert, educator, and public speaker. His work focuses on finding solutions to sustain the climate, ecosystems, and natural resources we all depend on.

Feel free to join us in person or you can register for the event here. Please note the confirmation will come from “Plymouth Church Meetings,” the event’s co-host. Make sure to register early – space is limited! If the webinar is full by the time you register, don’t worry – it will be co-broadcast live via YouTube. You can find the livestream here on the day. If you have any questions, feel free to email

Live From COP26 in Glasgow!

Michigan Tech students and alumni, in collaboration with Colorado State University, will be participating in two virtual “Live From the COP” events at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP). For an insider’s take on the event and conference proceedings, click on the links below to register for a short report by participants. This multi-institutional, transnational project is led on the Tech campus by PI Sarah Green (CHEM), who is currently in Glasgow for COP26.

November 3rd: 1:00-2:00 EDT

November 10th: 12:00-1:00 EST

Open House at the Sustainability Demonstration House – Friday, November 12 from 5-7 p.m.

The Sustainability Demonstration house will host an Open House on Friday, November 12th from 5-7 pm!  Members of the house will have interactive demos of their sustainable systems, fun games, and all guests will receive free sustainable swag. Please see the attached flyer for more information. We hope to see you there!

Michigan Tech Featured in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges 2022 Edition

Michigan Tech is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review®

The education services company features Michigan Tech in its website resource, The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition, released on October 26, 2021. The guide is accessible for free at

The Princeton Review chose the 420 schools in the guide based on its survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020-21 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools. 

“It’s great for Michigan Tech to receive recognition for all of the sustainability accomplishments that our students, staff, and faculty have achieved over the years” notes Alan Turnquist, the new Director of Sustainability and Resilience. “Our biggest challenges lie in front of us, though, and the question is how we can turn these early successes into a long arc toward a more sustainable and resilient future.”

“We strongly recommend Michigan Tech to students who care about the environment and want to study and live at a green college,” said Rob Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief. “Michigan Tech offers excellent academics and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability that is exemplary on many counts.”   

Franek noted that The Princeton Review has seen an increasing level of interest among students in attending colleges with green practices, programs, and offerings. Seventy-eight percent of the more than 11,000 college applicants that participated in The Princeton Review’s 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey said that having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school. This was a 12% increase over the 66% so indicating on the company’s 2020 survey. A report on the findings of the survey which also polled parents of college applicants is downloadable at

The profiles of schools in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges include “Green Facts” sections detailing such matters as the availability of transportation alternatives on campus and the percentage of the college food budget spent on local/organic food. The profiles also provide information about the schools’ admission requirements, cost, financial aid, and student body demographics. 

In its profile, The Princeton Review notes that “Michigan Tech is home to a dynamic range of sustainability research centers, including the Center for Water and Society, the Ecosystem Science Center, the Wood-to-Wheels research project for wood-based biofuel, and the Center for Environmentally Benign Functional Materials.”

The Princeton Review has published its Guide to Green Colleges annually since 2010. The company is also known for its dozens of categories of college rankings in its book, The Best 387 Colleges, and its website resources including The Best Value Colleges.

How Schools Were Chosen for the Guide

The Princeton Review chose the 420 colleges based on its 2020–21 survey of administrators at 835 colleges concerning their institutions’ sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 data points from the survey to tally Green Rating scores for the schools on a scale of 60 to 99. The Green Rating scores appear in the school profiles on The Princeton Review website and in The Princeton Review book, The Best 387 Colleges: 2022 Edition (published August 2021). 

Colleges that earned a Green Rating score of 80 or higher were chosen for the Guide to Green Colleges. Of the 420 schools selected for the guide, 391 are in the U.S., 26 in Canada, one in Ecuador, one in Egypt, and one in Greece. The schools are listed alphabetically in the guide and not ranked overall from 1 to 420. Twenty-seven of the 420 schools earned a Green Rating score of 99 (the highest possible score). They are also listed in The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll (reported August 2021). 

Off-grid, tiny home on wheels visits campus

Come check out a school bus converted into a mobile tiny home by MTU Alum, Ryan Thompson between 4 and 7 pm in Lot 14 between Walker Lawn and the Hamar House/CDI.

Ryan received his degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in technical theatre and is now a full-time entrepreneur. His bus is 40 ft long with just over 225 square feet of living space. He designed it to be fully off-grid with solar power, 100 gallons of freshwater, a composting toilet and propane appliances. He started this project after he was laid off due to the pandemic. He wanted to cut down on living expenses and be able to travel the country. He ended up purchasing his bus back in December of 2020 and is now documenting his entire bus conversion process on social media. He can be found at, @seekingdiscovery on TikTok, Facebook and Youtube and @seeking_discovery on instagram.

November 1 discussion: how can we advance Michigan Tech as a Living Laboratory on Sustainability and Resilience?

Repost from Tech Today

The Sustainable and Resilient Communities Social Network and Research Collaborative (SRC-Squared) invites you to join the next SRC-Squared event, on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. Students, faculty, and staff are all welcome!

During this one-hour hybrid session (join in person or via Zoom), participants will have an opportunity to contribute ideas to a brainstorming session in response to the question: What would Michigan Tech look like as a living laboratory of sustainability and resilience?

This conversation is inspired by the current master planning process taking place on campus. Chelsea Schelly, lead of the Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience, and Alan Turnquist, director of sustainability and resilience, will facilitate the discussion. Turnquist is participating in the master planning process, and ideas generated during this session will be integrated into conversations about the planning process and outcomes.

Michigan Tech has enormous potential to transform itself by integrating sustainability and resilience into every facet of the University. Developing a vision for Michigan Tech as a living laboratory of sustainability and resilience can allow students, staff and faculty to contribute mightily to a sustainable and resilient campus, local community, Great Lakes region and world. What would Michigan Tech look like as a living laboratory? How would we use space, resources and time differently? What could such a living laboratory do, and how can you contribute? Come join the discussion!

We look forward to seeing you on Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. Join us in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building (Dow), Room 875, or join via Zoom.

New Funding Available for Developing Sustainability & Resilience Coursework

From Tech Today 10/13/2021

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) invites applications for educational innovation projects that increase student exposure to sustainability and resilience in formal coursework. The ISR seeks to incentivize the creation of new sustainability curricula through new and existing coursework so more students across Michigan Tech learn about sustainability, resilience and the connection of each to their domain expertise.

Applications for Educational Innovation support will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Proposals submitted before Dec. 1 will be reviewed no later than Dec. 10. We anticipate offering another opportunity in the spring of 2022, contingent on funding availability.

Proposals may include support for hourly student work, summer salary or materials/supplies to develop new courses, revamp existing courses or host workshops for educating faculty and staff on sustainability education. Proposals may also include funds to support or incentivize participation from students, faculty and staff, and/or materials or supplies for coursework innovation.

Faculty, graduate students and staff are all eligible to apply. Applications can be submitted by individuals or teams; graduate students are encouraged to collaborate with a faculty member to submit an application.

Individual awards will be made for up to $5,000. We anticipate that most awards will be in the range of $3,000-$5,000 but encourage budgets that meet the project needs. Potential applicants are encouraged to reach out with questions about their potential budget.

Submitted proposals should be no more than two pages. Each proposal should include:

  • A narrative description of the proposed educational innovation. This description should include at least one stand-alone paragraph that clearly describes how this educational innovation aligns with the broader goal of ensuring all students at Michigan Tech are exposed to sustainability and resilience through the curricula, including how many students are likely to be impacted by this innovation and how this innovation will be maintained in the curriculum.
  • A detailed budget and a proposed project timeline. Project work should take place no later than fall 2022. The implementation timeline is flexible but should be described in the proposal.
  • Identified deliverables to be provided to ISR at the end of the project period, such as a completed syllabus, a new course proposal prepared for submission, a workshop report, etc., to be determined and described by the applicant.

The ISR Working Group will review applications and contact applicants regarding decisions.

If you have any questions about a potential project proposal, please reach out to ask! For questions and to submit your application, please email Chelsea Schelly at

Talking Trash – Best Practices for Managing Solid Waste on Campus

Reposted from Tech Today

Typically reserved for campus rivalries and fantasy sports, some friendly “trash talk” can be a motivator that provides your team with that competitive advantage. In this case, we’re going to discuss actual garbage — the cardboard, candy wrappers, takeout containers, and everything else you might drop in a trash or recycling receptacle on campus.

Bad puns aside, consider the following when managing the waste you generate on campus.

Sort things out — When disposing of items on campus, you can choose to recycle. The University offers single-stream recycling for most consumer paper, plastic, and metal products. These items can be placed in the same container, or commingled, for collection and processing. Signage on or near waste receptacles on campus describe many of the materials that can be recycled, as well as items that cannot be recycled on campus, like styrofoam and plastic grocery bags.

Handle with care — Staff and vendors handle the waste that’s generated on campus every day. We all must take personal responsibility in ensuring that the waste we place in collection containers is safe for people to handle. Do not place sharp objects such as broken glass, blades, or needles in trash receptacles. In addition, liquids, chemicals, and hazardous wastes should never be placed in solid waste collection bins. These items can not only injure campus waste handlers and sorting facility personnel, but if left undetected in the waste stream they can also have long-term negative environmental impacts.

Get out of your comfort zone — Consider changing your habits. Think about your daily routine and the small changes that you can make that may save water, conserve energy, or reduce wastes. Consider a reusable water bottle or food container the next time you’re packing your lunch. Before leaving the office, remember to close that window and turn off the lights. Changes like these not only reduce daily waste, but will also have a positive measurable impact on the University’s overall environmental footprint and operational costs.

Taking a minute each day to consider your impact will help you be part of the University’s winning team when it comes to responsibly managing solid waste on campus. In the words of one of history’s most legendary trash-talkers, Muhammad Ali, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”