UW-Green Bay

Master of Science in Environmental Science & Policy

Capstone Course Projects


The Capstone Seminar is the culmination of the course work in the Environmental Science and Policy Program.  The course is designed to provide students with opportunities to research significant issues of local or regional scale from multiple perspectives.  Each fall, one or more research teams are formed to address the topic or topics selected, often at the request and with the cooperation and support of a government agency or an NGO.  Teams have assisted a township with Smart Growth planning, evaluated the effects of new on-site waste disposal regulations, and established environmental indicators for the Fox-Wolf  Drainage Basin.  The projects are not theoretical or broad in scope, but rather focused on the kinds of problems that graduates might expect to face.

2011 Capstone Seminar Projects:

Graduate students in the Fall 2011 ES&P Capstone class chose to work on three different projects focused on sustainability issues on campus and in the community. The following links will contain reports and documents that can be downloaded for review.

  1. Allouez: A Path Towards Sustainability
    The Village of Allouez came to UWGB requesting help in developing a sustainability plan for their community. A research team of 8 graduate students began to tackle this project, by developing specific projects that would fit within a sustainability plan. First, the team addressed transportation issues and increasing walkability of the community. They then addressed urban vegetation and community garden opportunities and concerns, and finally provided recommendations regarding financing, business participation, and energy efficiency improvements.
  2. Getting Greener: Spreading the Word about Sustainability at UW-Green Bay
    A research team of 5 graduate students catalogued all the sustainability initiatives occurring within various departments within the university. With this data, the group produced a set of recommendations for the development and implementation of an educational campaign for students, faculty, and staff to encourage and promote enhanced participation in the initiatives they catalogued. The team also conducted a survey to gauge the understanding of the campus community regarding sustainability, and especially environmental sustainability initiatives on campus to determine what the campus community knew about sustainability and what areas they could improve upon.
  3. Sustainable Living & Learning Communities at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
    A research team of 5 graduate students produced a development and implementation plan for a sustainable living and learning center for campus housing. The report included short, medium, and long term implementation objectives based on practicality and economic feasibility for the development of one sustainable residence hall, within the argument that these objectives were applicable to all residence halls. Within the report, the team provides a solar site assessment of the residence hall R.E. Small, and illustrates energy efficiency initiatives to complement that PV array. The team also discusses alternative transit options for housing and waste reduction methods, including most notably composting of organic food wastes. Finally, the team developed a more specific educational and awareness program for campus housing residents to encourage more environmentally sustainable practices within the building and residence life.

2010 Capstone Seminar Project - Drips, Drains, U-Passes and Bike Lanes: Sustainability Initiatives at UWGB

Water conservation is a topic that is steadily rising to the forefront of national and global concern. Whether due to geography and climate or irresponsible water use practices, water scarcity is a reality that some people and ecosystems have already been experiencing for many years. For others, however, water remains a seemingly inexhaustible resource that can be recklessly squandered. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the quantity of fresh water available for the needs of humans and other organisms is finite and comprises only a mere three percent of all the water on Earth. It is imperative that water be conserved whenever and wherever possible because it is the vital resource upon which the survival of our planet depends.

2009 Capstone Seminar Project - Climate Change Wisconsin: What it Means for Us

"There's a lot of public misunderstanding and we think it's important to look at real impacts by examining what might be termed the consensus among scientists," says Michael Kraft, political science chair and professor of Public and Environmental Affairs. "The students will cover the most current science projections related to climate change for the state and especially Northeastern Wisconsin, and potential environmental, social and economic impacts."

Portions of the presentation cover the University's development of a Climate Change Action Plan.

Visit the Climate Change Wisconsin Facebook group, designed to present credible information related to climate change forecasts, facilitate public education, and encourage public involvement.

2008 Capstone Seminar Project - Sustainability Initiatives at Eco U

In 2006, four campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, including Green Bay, were chosen by Governor Doyle as part of the Wisconsin Declaration of Energy Independence, to become energy independent by 2012. In 2007, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), committing the University to becoming a zero emission or climate neutral campus. The ACUPCC requires signatories to complete a Climate Action Plan, which this document outlines.

The 2008 Capstone Class investigated possible scenarios for becoming a sustainable university starting with conservation and efficiency, and moving into renewable energy technology implementation. Another focus was to help the university exceed the requirements of its Municipal Storm Water permit of 40% Total Suspended Sediment by 2013. We realize that some of the recommendations are relatively easy to implement, and others will take more time and financing. Since we have been challenged by Governor Doyle to become a sustainable campus and UWGB has signed the ACUPCC agreement, we have created a plan that will eventually help this campus become energy efficient and become a model for renewable energy implementation. With the highest of hopes, if all recommendations become actions, we have the ability to become a net-zero emission facility that can claim carbon neutrality.

2007 Capstone Seminar Project - Sustainability: The Next Step Estimating the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay's Carbon Footprint

The Fall 2007 Capstone Seminar in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P 763) chose this project as a result of Chancellor Bruce Shepard signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in September 2007.  The commitment requires all signatory colleges and universities to complete and file a carbon footprint analysis within 1 year of signing.  We, the capstone class, felt that this project would not only be helpful to the campus, but would also build on the work of past capstone classes.  Please keep in mind that this is only a first draft of UWGB’s carbon footprint.  The class had only two months to gather the data and analyze it, therefore, some data is missing and other data inputs could be improved. 

2006 Capstone Seminar Project: Going Toward our Future: Biofuels and Biodiesel And Bus Unlimited Access

Having a clean physical environment, such as water, air, land, and more, is something no one will rationally argue against. In fact, we all want it and think it is a good thing. However, the means to the ends is always the point at which people start disagreeing on how to either keep our environment clean, or to improve its condition.
One concept encompassing a clean environment goal is “sustainable development.” This concept, sustainable development, or “sustainability,” came into our common vocabulary from a political context. In 1987 the UN World Commission on Environment and Development published Our Common Future, also called the Brundtland Report. Sustainability as defined from the book Sustainability and Cities is “that in a global context any economic or social development should improve, not harm, the environment.” The word ‘global’ is included in that definition because pollution many times knows no borders (Newman and Kenworthy 1999, 1-2).

This year’s capstone class’ consensus was to use “Campus Sustainability” as its focal point, following in the footsteps and building on last year’s capstone class, whose theme also was sustainable development. The “transportation subgroup” of the 2006 Environmental Science and Policy capstone class, ES&P 763, chose to work on two discrete subtopics: biodiesel/biofuels and a bus transit system serving campus with unlimited access1 to all students, faculty, and staff.

Biodiesel, one sustainable idea of the transportation subgroup, is an interesting alternative fuel that comes primarily from vegetable oils, requiring little or no retrofitting. Biodiesel is also a low capital investment because current vehicles can use this fuel. Moreover, biodiesel can be used in individual buildings for heating at a low cost.

The transportation subgroup’s other sustainable idea is an unlimited access transit bus system serving the campus population. A recent survey conducted at UW Green Bay found there was an interest in a shuttle system/transit bus system. Unlimited access transit buses can have benefits for the students, the university, and the local public transit. Once a transit bus system is funded by the University in an annual sum to the City Transit, via student fees or a combination of the university paying and student fees, then all students, faculty, and staff have free access to the buses all year. To name a few benefits, this would significantly decrease parking demand, cut emissions if enough people use the buses, and give students a reliable and safe alternative transportation choice.

2006 Capstone Seminar Project: Campus Energy Independence: Alternative Energy Options and Green Solutions

Energy production is an essential part of our current lifestyle. Fossil fuels are the number one source for energy production, globally. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource, so as supply declines, prices will raise.

Government subsidies currently exist to help stabilize the prices of various fossil fuel energy sources. This helps reduce the cost of fossil fuels to the consumer. However, these artificial market values do not reflect the scarcity of fossil fuel resources, and consumers remain oblivious to their declining levels. All the while, these subsidies increase dependence on a fuel that is not sustainable.

Renewable resources, such as wood, are an economical alternative to fossil fuels. They free people from the unpredictable, increasing costs of fossil fuels, such as gasoline and natural gas. They provide a source of energy that can be replenished, freeing us from the fears of dwindling energy supplies.

Energy independence could be integrated into the UW-Green Bay system through the adoption of biomass boiler technology. This would strengthen the University’s environmental traditions while providing a way to educate students about renewable energy technology. This would make the campus a model to the neighboring community, while helping it attain future financial security and possible financial profit.

A detailed analysis of energy independence, through the use of renewable energy production, on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus was performed. The analysis can be broken down into three sections. The first section provides background information about the University’s current energy infrastructure and the costs associated with this technology. The second section addresses “campus buildings,” a term which refers to all campus structures except for student housing buildings. It begins with a comparison of renewable energy options and isolates cogeneration wood boilers as the best choice of technology for future energy production. It then describes the process by which cogeneration wood boilers produce heat and electricity. The section ends with a detailed description of how this technology could be implemented into the campus buildings. The third section addresses renewable energy options for student housing buildings and describes how biomass boilers could be integrated into existing infrastructure. We finish the analysis with a conclusion of the Alternative Energy Options and Green Solutions portion of the 2007 Capstone Project report. It summarizes the importance of campus energy independence through the use of renewable fuel sources.

2006 Capstone Seminar Project: Campus Energy Independence: Educations and Conservation Initiative

Moving the University of Wisconsin Green Bay toward energy independence cannot be left solely on the shoulders of utility and transportation infrastructure. In order to achieve the goal of the Governor's initiative, it is imperative to garner the support and involvement of students, faculty, and staff. To this end, the Education and Conservation Initiative has collated the accomplishments of facilities management, provided educational opportunities, and developed recommendations for continuing to pursue sustainability on campus. New technologies and methods employed by Facilities Management are highlighted, lending to the eagerness of the staff to put forth an effort to save energy costs and natural resources. Educational experiences and opportunities organized within the time of one semester are detailed to illustrate the interest and ease of providing more in the future. Finally, we provide suggestions for the incorporation of energy conservation and education into the burgeoning effort and enthusiasm toward a more sustainable campus. It is our goal to provide a framework upon which the goals of sustainability can be coalesced into cooperative, practical efforts. As an institution with a vision for the future, the initiative may ultimately become highly integrated into all activities throughout campus and in each student's life for years to come.

2005 Capstone Seminar Project: "Building on the UW-Green Bay Master Plan:  Promoting Sustainability"

2004 Capstone Seminar Project: "Sustainable Development:  Design Guidelines for the Town of Scott - City of Green Bay Joint Planning Area"

2003 Capstone Seminar Project: Fox River Restoration: Review and Recommendations

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