WATgreen Committee Meeting

Minutes of meeting held on Wednesday, December 6, 1995, NH 3001.

PRESENT: James Kay, Paul Eagles, Sally Lerner, Patti Cook, Winston Cherry, Roydon Fraser, Keith Warriner, Bob Elliott, Hamish Duthie, Saeed Parto, Ian Fraser, Horacio Oliveira, Donna Schell

1. Minutes of October 30 meeting approved.

2. Update of conversations with TRACE

Paul Eagles reported that TRACE is very interested in coordinating a WATgreen workshop. The workshop would consist of two-half day sessions. The first session would be on WATgreen-what it is and the Greening the Campus Course (ERS285). The second session is still under negotiation but the topics suggested were Websites and Databases for learning. The timing of the workshop was debated: September or December. James will not be able to make the September time slot. It was suggested that he either tape a presentation or we wait until December. Paul will follow up with Gary Griffin on whether the December time slot is available.

3. Update from Keith Warriner re incorparating environmental learning across the campus.

Keith has been compiling information for faculty (books, WWW sites, contacts with outside organizations). Keith suggested the short term goal is to provide each faculty with information about environmental issues and WATgreen. . The long term goal is for environmental literacy to be a component of teaching in all faculties. The mandate is to green the campus. It was felt that courses should be available on campus-but that mandating such courses on campus, as is done at some ohter universities, is inappropraite at UW.

To facilitate this it was suggested that an environmental literacy co-ordinator (faculty member) be established at UW. (Perhaps an interested retiree could take on this role.)

It was suggested to send a rep to the Tufts workshop and come back with lists and alternatives related to encouraging faculty to incorporate WATgreen and environmental literacy in their courses.

(Tufts University in Boston holds an annual conference (June 10-19/96) called "Tufts Environmental Literary Institute". It teaches hands on training for faculty to incorporate environmental learning on campus. The conference fees are $1200 U.S.)

Patti was suggested as UW's representative. Patti suggested that although she would gladly attend, perhaps a faculty member should go to begin the process of having an environmental literacy expert on campus. It was felt that Patti could collect information and report back. Patti will obtain last year's TELI conference proceedings, if available.

4.

Patti Cook has been invited back to England to speak at a one-day workshop March 28/95 re: vision. They have offered to pay her way.

5. Presentations to Faculty Councils and elsewhere

Paul Eagles made a presentation to the Federal Ministry of Municipal Parks and Recreation. His presentation consisted of two parts:
  1. How to design Parks & Recreation programs
  2. WATgreen
The presentation was directed to middle and senior managers. There were many questions and a positive response to the WEBsite. They were fascinitated in incorporating "greening" into an entire facility. Paul used the WATgreen series of overheads, which he observed worked very well. They could be used for faculty council presentations, but some adaptations are required. (The "lessons learned" evoked the most interest).

When each WATgreen member is presenting to their Faculty Councils, they should have the Dean introduce them and suggest that the faculty council officialy appoint them as faculty rep to the WATgreen committee. For next meeting, please find out date of next faculty council meeting.

6. ERS 285

This course is not well advertised and should be brought up at faculty council meetings. Sally Lerner suggested course could be made into an alternative to 241 (Environment Assessment Course). Paul stated this course could be for advanced students-instead of second year, why not third or fourth. The course could be changed to 285A/B (B section optional). 285A could be a credit course (short audit) and section B could be a more extensive audit. The course could have how-to lectures and a project activity. It would attract more people across campus if made into a more senior course. We should also designate other project courses in other faculties as WATgreen affiliated courses

Followup? Contacts: Gerry Schneider (Roydon to talk to him re: getting 285 on the STV list to help publicize it).

7. Appointment of a new chair

All agreed to a co-chair appointment. Hamish Duthie nominated Keith Warriner; Paul Eagles second the motion. Paul Eagles nominated Patti Cook; Hamish Duthie second the motion. All voted in favor. James Kay will be present for next meeting in January.

8. Bob Elliott chaired this part of meeting. There were two issues:

How do we deal with posting of student reports on Watgreen WWW home page?

What should be done with respect to the report "Chemical Disposal in Science Labs"?

1) There was a lengthy discussion on these two topics. Regarding the WATgreen home page, the description is changing so a sub-committee was formed (James Kay, Patti Cook and Hamish Duthie) to update the home page to "uncouple" WATgreen and 285 projects. A disclaimer will be added in the projects link, so that it is clearly understood that these are student projects-not official UW documents-which the UW logo etc. may indicate. Perhaps adding links to official UW policy as well. For WATgreen Student Projects, set up separate heading:

Project record:

2) Hamish Duthie led the discussion on the report "Chemical Disposal in Science Labs". He stated the the standards were low and he presented the committee with outside reviewers' comments on the project. These suggested some serious problems with the students knowledge about what is actually going down the drain. He was vey concerned that this report would bring disrepute to WATgreen. James stated that it was unfortunate that at the student presentation, the feedback received, did not suggest that there was a problem with the report, and that Health and Safety and Science had been invited to the presentation.

Keith observed that the report administered a questionnaire with an excellent response rate of 85%. The report had sound questionnaire methodology; the students tried to understand the disposal of chemicals.

James reminded everyone about the report he sent the commitee based on his subsequent investigation of the situation. (See end of minutes) The bottom line is that it is university policy that NO chemicals used in labs or other research/teaching facalities may be disposed of through the sewer system. All chemicals must be disposed of through the Hazardous Materials Handling Facality. This was confirmed by Ian Fraser (Health and Safety).

The issue of "dumping" chemicals was discussed. There is an infrastructure for disposing of chemicals. Students must give chemical to TA; TA takes chemical down to HAZ MAT facility for disposal. Although this is the procedure, some students still dump chemicals improperly. It was agreed more energy needed towards this issue (lab safety-how to approach it). What the project did do, was indicate there are problems with chemical disposal, and efforts should be made to eliminate these problems for the entire campus. What opportunities are there to improve the situation? Perhaps an audit of disposal procedures and the educational tools used.

James Kay decided to remove all reports until a new homepage is completed. He will have a home page ready by third week of January.

NEXT MEETING: third week of January.

Hamish asked that quality control of reports be discussed.

For Next Meeting: Keith Warriner to chair

1. Motion for faculty council consideration.

2. ERS course for campus-wide education.

3. Patti-conference proceedings from last year's TELI conference.

4. James-home page.

5. Paul-information from TRACE re: December availability for workshop.

6. Roydon-information from Gerry Schneider re:STV listing-add ERS 285.

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MEMO from J. Kay to the committe, 5 December, 1995

Since Thursday 30 November, I have met with the J. Thompson (Dean of Science) K. Stewart, I. Fraser (Safety Office) and Bob Elliott (Assoc. Provost) and Patti Cook (Waste Management co-ordinator)

Following is a synopsis of what I have learnt from these meetings. (Some of this is just confirmation of what I have stated previously.)

About CHEMICAL DISPOSAL:

1) The regional sewer by-law (1-90) is a very strict document. If literally interpreted, to some extent, it is not possible to comply with. For example, no liquids with a pH less than 5.5 may go down the drain. Similarly no radioactive materials or reactive substances may be disposed of down the drain. No dilution is allowed to comply with the standards. The Hazardous Materials Handling Facility makes a concerted effort to comply with the by-law or other appropriate legislation.

2) Plant operations has ongoing concerns about chemicals in the plumbing system at UW both because of safety and maintenance problems which the chemicals have and continue to pose.

3) ALL chemicals are supposed to go the Hazardous Materials Handling Facility. None are to be disposed of in labs or other locations by disposing of them into the sewer system (i.e. pouring them down the drain). This is a relatively new procedure for the university and is not yet well know or followed.

4) Science is probably, overall, the best at complying with this procedure. However there are definitely some labs which do not follow this procedure, as was suggested in the WATgreen student report "Chemical Disposal in Science Labs".

5) In undergraduate teaching labs it is the TAs responsibility to make sure that all chemicals are disposed of via the Hazardous Materials Handling Facility and that none are put down the drain. TAs receive a two day training course from Health and Safety.

About WHMIS:

6) The health and safety WHMIS course is meant as a general introduction. It is supposed to be followed up in each lab by a WHMIS "course" specific to each lab, presented by the TAs. Generally this does not seem to be occurring.

About a DISCLAIMER:

7) There was agreement by all for the need to clearly identify student reports as student reports and NOT UW documents.

8) A number of other quite useful suggestions were made and I have incorporated these in the draft material I am sending you separately for your consideration.

CONCLUSIONS:

The infrastructure is now in place to provide an alternative to sewage disposal of chemicals. This is a quite recent development at UW. While many have adopted the new procedures concerning chemical disposal, many have not and chemicals are going down the drain which are not supposed to. The university community needs more education about these issues so as to complete the change in our corporate culture about chemical disposal. WATgreen could help with this change.