Water Bottle Refill Station

You might have seen - or used! - a water bottle filling station tucked into the far wall in the Pav sometime last year when you went in to eat. Those so-called hydration stations are an easy, motion-sensored way of refilling your reusable water bottle and cutting down on the number of plastic water bottles you would otherwise need to purchase.

A few weeks ago a second refilling station was installed over here in O'Hill, on the ground floor right next to the Crossroads entrance. I fill my own water bottle up there several times a day. It fills really quickly, at a fill rate of 3 times faster than a conventional drinking fountain, is hands-free, and offers refreshing and thirst-quenching cold water.

One cool feature of this particular station is that it tracks landfill diversion, or the equivalent number of plastic bottles that haven't been used as a result of going this reusable route. At the time of hitting 'publish post', the O'Hill refill station has diverted 1047 plastic water bottles! Be sure to bring your reusable bottle and fill on up next time you're in O'Hill (just like all the thirsty campers in these photos).

Where else would you like to see a water bottle refill station on Grounds?


UVa Power Hour

...One of the energy saving variety, that is!

Tomorrow, between 2 and 3pm, employees across Grounds are being encouraged to reduce their energy consumption by powering down appliances where possible. The University is aiming to reduce electricity usage from the grid by six megawatts, or 11% of UVa's peak electrical demand.

When UVa had a similar event last summer, it reduced its draw by just under three megawatts, both by reducing demand and using generators in some cases. Both methods will be utilized tomorrow, and with more members of the University community aware of this conservation effort, it is UVa Sustainability's hope that individuals will make an even greater difference by choosing to switch off lamps and appliances that aren't in use.

For more information, check out the UVa Today article on tomorrow's power hour.

Try to switch off just one item in your work space -- maybe saving energy will become a habit. As an additional incentive, UVa Sustainability is giving away LED desk lamps to people that share their plan to reduce power on the Sustainability Facebook page or by emailing sustainability@virginia.edu. I know I'll be checking the page to see what good ideas people have in mind for tomorrow!

Update: Virginia Tech is hosting their own demand response program this Thursday from 3 to 4pm, and they have the same reduction goal as UVa. Perhaps this will spark a bit of friendly (and productive) competition...?!


EPA Building Contest Open House Recap

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the O'Hill open house and reception this past Wednesday to celebrate our involvement in the EPA National Building Competition!
Libba Williams, Energy Engineer with UVa Facilities Management and project leader for the O'Hill Delta Force effort, and Armando de Leon, Facilities Management Sustainability Programs Manager, each said a few words about the building competition and the retrocommissioning that has already been done to decrease O'Hill's energy footprint.

Nina Morris, Hannah Mangum, and I set up a "Green Work Station" display area, complete with the following sustainable features:

  • Power strip to plug in one's laptop, printer, and lamp (so all can be turned off and disconnected from the power source with ease at the end of the work day)
  • Reusable mug + reusable mug punch card for all of your coffee or tea needs
  • Reusable water bottle so you can stay hydrated on these hot days
  • LED desk lamp that uses less energy than incandescent or even flourescent bulbs
  • Post-it notes made with 30% recycled paper
  • Clips, rubber bands, stamps, folders, desk organizers and more, all from the R.O.S.E. (Reusable Office Supply Exchange) Program

Dining provided tasty refreshments like local beef sliders and veggies and hummus, and people snacked and mingled for a good portion of the afternoon.


USDA's MyPlate Unveiled

The longstanding government's healthy eating guide, the USDA Food Pyramid, has gotten a complete makeover as of this week. Unveiled today, the guide is no longer a pyramid, but rather a plate displaying a proportional meal with generalized food groups. Interestingly, recommendations about sugars and oils don't appear directly on the pyramid/plate configuration -- as they used to on the pyramid -- anymore. Instead those food types have been relegated to the categories of "Oils" and "Empty Calories", and can be found towards the bottom of a "Related Topics" side bar after you click on one of the foods on the MyPlate (and away from the homepage) for more information.

Perhaps most tellingly, prominent words of advice underneath the newly revealed plate include "Enjoy your food, but eat less" and "Drink water instead of sugary drinks."

What do you think about the overhauled guide? Will there be pushback from the companies that produce the foods that now fall into the "Empty Calories" category? Will Americans finally have a clear sense of what to put on their real plates, or will confusion linger?

UVa Dining's Nutritionist, Paula Caravati, has long touted a plate-based method of promoting healthy eating, in particular adapting such recommendations provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research as aiming for a meal composed of less than one-third animal protein. AICR illustrates this transition to a "New American Plate" with the following images:

We hope that UVa students and community members will keep some of these guidelines in mind when making healthy food choices!