Archive for Good Stuff

NEW Zero Waste Event Kits!

Do you host events at LSC?  Do you want to reduce your event’s footprint, and maybe even save some money?  LSC’s Sustainability Council is excited to offer a Zero Waste Event Kit!  You can request compost bins and bags through the EMS event request portal when you secure your room reservation.  We can provide additional informational signs, and can help you find the right compostable paper products and utensils to make it a successful zero/low impact event.

We’re working with the LSC Store to make the purchasing process even easier.  Stay tuned!

For more information, contact


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35,000 watts of energy saved every hour!

Winter in the Northland is here, so now is the time to think about our very best energy saving opportunities.  The LSC maintenance department works hard to assure the comfort of all building occupants.  If your work space is feeling chilly, consider a few tips:

  • contact our maintenance department to find out if adjustments can be made,
  • consider dressing in layers, and/or
  • use a heated footrest.

Per campus and Minnesota State policies, space heaters are NOT allowed in any campus area.  They are a fire hazard when located under desks or near paper, and should never be plugged into extension cords.  Additionally, space heaters use about 1,500 watts of electricity per hour!  That’s the equivalent of running a dishwasher or toaster oven in your office, all day long!

Alternatively, the Sustainability Council rolled out an energy saving pilot in November 2014, and to date, they’ve distributed 26 heated footrests to employees, each running on only 100-250 watts of electricity.  This means that if everyone who received a heated footrests had previously used a rogue space heater, we’re now saving about 35,000 watts of energy per hour; that’s about $500 per month!  But most important, our employees are more comfortable.

Did you miss the first round of energy savings?  You have another chance, but now there’s a catch…to receive a footrest, you’ll have to help us with a Workspace Thermal Study.  You’ll agree to provide us with 1 week of temperature information in exchange for one of these dandy heaters.  If you’re not into science or numbers, contact us and we’ll give you vendor suggestions and you can buy your own footrest.

Also, don’t forget to turn off and unplug ALL of you unused equipment, including mini fridges, coffee pots, printers, and microwaves, when not in use (especially over long breaks and weekends)!

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A Win for Waste and Health

By now you’ve probably noticed the new soap and paper towel dispensers on campus. What’s the deal?!  Weren’t most of those pretty new?  Yes, but LSC’s super-savvy maintenance supervisor saw an opportunity to save money, so he took it…

How could he possibly save money on all new dispensers, you ask?  Simple, Mark did a life cycle assessment on a suite of new products (check out the LSC Sustainability policies).  Here are the new product high points:
hand-dryersThe Sustainability Council doesn’t like battery operated paper towels, and the Biology labs have better things to do than wave at those paper towel dispensers when there are really messy jobs to clean up.  The earlier compromise was bi- or tri-fold paper towels for some users, but rolls for most public areas.  Mark took a look at the invoices and noticed we were paying A LOT more for those fancy bi-folds (ahem, Biology?!).  He struck a deal with the users, and found a vendor that would replace ALL of our paper towel dispensers (for free) and give us a lower contract price for battery-free pull-down paper towel rolls.  Consistency across campus saves ordering and inventory time, manual dispensers are easier to fill so our “picky customers” can do it themselves, and dead batteries no longer require a maintenance request.  Also, did you know those things required 4 size D batteries to operate, EACH?  In heavy use areas, those batteries were replaced monthly!  We were literally throwing money in the trash!  So, we threw all of the old dispensers away, right?  Wrong!  The old vendor took them back, a REUSE win!

So what’s up with the soap and sanitizer?  You may not have even known there were sanitizer dispensers in the restrooms, because they looked exactly like the soap dispensers.  What?!  You needed a secret decoder ring  to figure out what came from where…another maintenance headache!  The new dispensers look completely different, and are consistent across campus.  Heavy users can manage their own product, so maintenance can focus on more important things.  What’s more, if you’ve ever had the privilege of changing one of those old soap containers, you would have noticed the little bit of product left at the bottom of the rigid plastic container.  You couldn’t get it out, no matter how hard you shook it!  Again, throwing money in the trash.  The plastic packaging was bulky, and who knows what was in that soap.  The new product is biodegradable, dye free, and certified GreenSeal™.  The soft packaging is a BPA free collapsible (less overall waste volume) SmartSac™ which contain 60% less plastic than the old rigid containers, and the packing is recyclable and biodegradable.

Lastly, not only are YOU using a better product, our maintenance team is using a similar suite of GreenSeal™ products for all of their routine cleaning.  Their new dilution and dispensing system means there’s less single-use packing and no more aerosol cans, we aren’t paying to have watered-down products shipped to us, a less caustic product with safe handling systems means healthier working conditions for our maintenance team (and all of us), less overall product means a simpler safety tracking system, and we’re saving money!  Whew!  Are you keeping tracking track of all these wins?!

Thanks Mark, thanks maintenance team (change is hard), and as cold and flu season sets in, use those soap and sanitizer stations often!


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Annual Stormwater Public Meeting

Curious about LSC’s stormwater management plan?  Wondering what the cities of Duluth and Hermantown do to manage their vast municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s)?  Maybe you just want free snacks and refreshments?  Whatever your motivation, join us on June 8th at the MN D.O.T. offices.


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LSC Earth Day | April 20th, 2016

Wednesday, April 20th is LSC’s Earth Day Celebration.  This year, we’re focusing on the amazing natural resource right outside our front door: Miller Creek and surrounding trails.  Find more information about our campus trails on the LSC Sustainability webpage.  This year’s exciting focus events will include a well-traveled hiker and educator with the Superior Hiking Trail, Jo Swanson, and a campus scavenger hunt with prizes and community information tables.

Earth Day_16


What’s so NEAT about trails?  Well, Jee Dangit, just ask Lenny:

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Third Annual World Water Day – 2016

Each year, UMD and LSC collaborate to offer events that Celebrate World Water Day.  This year, our discussion will focus on the importance of access to local water resources, and the role that access plays in fostering appreciation and respect for those places.  Watch Rock the Boat, learn what “navigable water” means, eat some popcorn, and help us build our annual bottle chain and plastics display.  First 15 people to bring us an empty plastic bottle for our chain gets a FREE “Superior” aluminum bottle!  Check out the press release for more info on ours, and UMD’s events.  Most events are free and open to the public!


Rock the Boat When satirical writer and avid kayaker George Wolfe organizes a boating expedition down the entire 52 miles of the notorious Los Angeles River, he and his motley crew become entangled in a legal controversy of national proportions. With startling images of the LA River, insightful interviews and a quirky sense of humor, Rock the Boat looks at the challenges society faces in providing clean water to urban populations, and delivers a bright alternative to the current spate of doomsday docs.


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LSC Explores Solar PV

Lake Superior College, along with the University of Minnesota Duluth and seven other US colleges, were recently awarded a technical assistance grant to learn more about the technical feasibility and economic assessment of installing solar photovoltaics on their campuses.

 In support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) offered no-cost technical assistance to universities seeking to “go solar”. The program was designed to increase deployment of mid-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at universities, engage stakeholders to develop deployment solutions, and empower decision makers.

UMD and LSC will receive initial assessment of solar PV feasibility at their campuses using NREL’s REopt energy planning platform, including cost-effectiveness of solar PV installations, recommended system sizes, estimated capital costs to implement solar, and estimated life cycle cost savings. The results will help the campuses plan for future ways to be cost-effective and reduce carbon emissions.

“We saw this as an opportunity to not only gain answers around the technical feasibility and economic considerations of solar investment opportunities, but as a way to engage students and provide learning opportunities,” said Mindy Granley, Sustainability Director at UMD.  “This semester, students in engineering courses are working on technical solar questions, students are involved in mapping solar potential, and six students formed a Solar University Network (SUN) Delegation team at UMD, to promote the use of solar on campus.”

“The NREL solar assistance opportunity came along at exactly the right time,” said Kristi Heintz, Sustainability Coordinator at LSC.  “As LSC discusses its overall strategic plan for the coming years, we can concurrently develop our strategic energy future.”

In the first round of assistance to universities, NREL chose to provide solar screenings to the following institutions:

  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Lake Superior College
  • Luther College
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Washington and Lee University
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Lake Superior College began compiling preliminary information in February and the assessment project will be complete by September 30th, 2016.  The full press release can be found here.


Contact for more information.

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LSC: the Newest WLSSD Food Waste Drop Site

In April 2015, Lake Superior College and Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) teamed up to offer Duluth’s newest Community Food Waste Drop Site.


Here’s the scoop:  LSC is the host site, WLSSD contracts with a hauler to pick up the organics, the surrounding community and LSC get to drop their compostables in the designated ORGANICS dumpster (located at our loading dock area, look for the sticker that says “ORGANICS” in yellow print) for FREE, and WLSSD turns those organics into Garden Green compost at their industrial composting facility in west Duluth.  Want more information?  Great!  Check out WLSSD’s Food Waste Drop Off Instructions.   LSC is THE OFFICIAL Lincoln Park drop site!

There’s a hosting perk just for the LSC community.  To get things started, WLSSD provided us with home collection bins.  Since the hosting agreement began, they have donated over 75 bins to our employees!  These small bins fit perfectly under your sink, and make a great transporter for your scraps. Need bags?  No problem!  Just stop by E2120 and grab a bundle of bags for yourself!  A bag will typically take about a month to fill…typically…  If the West end of the building is closer for you, you might want to grab your bags from the 2nd floor W-building entrance (located right next to the loading dock area, bag box just inside the door).  These bags are available to anyone in the community utilizing the drop sites for FREE from WLSSD.  If you have questions about composting or the drop site program, email


Food scrap collection bins, bags and information provided by WLSSD and available in the Sustainability Office (E2120).

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Twin Ports World Water Week 2015


For the second year, LSC is partnering with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Wisconsin-Superior, College of St. Scholastica, and the League of Women Voters to celebrate World Water Week!  Events at LSC will take place on Monday, March 23rd in the Student Lounge  from 11:00-1:00.  Bring your empty plastic water bottles, add them to our bottle chain, and first 15 exchanges get a FREE aluminum water bottle.  Learn about the effects of plastics in our ecosystem, watch “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” with us, discuss and eat popcorn!  Also, attend the week’s great events at UMD, UWS, CSS, and EPA Lab (more info below)!


Monday at Lake Superior College
• 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Showing of the film “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”. Students can bring empty plastic bottles to the Lounge to add to a plastic bottle chain; first 15 people get a FREE re-usable aluminum bottle!

Tuesday at University of Minnesota Duluth
• 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Water Fair at UMD, in UMD Kirby Bus Hub
o Can You Taste The Difference? Bottled Water vs. Tap Water challenge, hosted by UMD Office of Sustainability
o Sign up to win a “I drink SUPERIOR water” reusable aluminum bottle
o Water Fair: Learn about protecting water quality, invasive species, watershed research and more from Minnesota Sea Grant, Natural Resources Research Institute, and the UMD Stormwater Committee
• 7:00 p.m. Showing of “Tapped”- a documentary about the life of bottled water, in UMD Life Sciences 185 (Free snacks and tap water!)

Tuesday at University of Wisconsin Superior
• Starting at 11:20 a.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m., showing of “Flow”, in Swenson Hall 1004

Wednesday at the College of St. Scholastica
• 7:00 p.m. Showing of “Waterlife: The Epic Journey of our Water” in the College of St. Scholastica’s Science Auditorium.

Thursday at University of Wisconsin Superior
• 11:00 a.m. Environmental Sociology students will be presenting their semester projects on water related issues, in the Yellowjacket Union.

Thursday at the EPA Lab in Duluth
• 6:30 p.m., Showing of “DamNation” a documentary about the history and controversy surrounding dam removal projects, hosted by the League of Women Voters Duluth

Friday at University of Wisconsin Superior

• 12:00 p.m., Emerging Micro-Pollutants: Water in Plastic and Plastic in Water, Presentation by Professor of Chemistry Lorena Rios Mendoza, in Swenson 1004

This event was organized by the UMD Office of Sustainability and supported by the League of Women Voters Duluth and  UMD’s Allworth Institute and Office of Sustainability.  Collaborative posters created by  UMD Graphic Design & Marketing student.

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