Moore Helps UMF Go Green
Wondering just how much students are involved with decision making at UMF? Consider Ryan Moore, who graduated with a degree in environmental science and made sure UMF’s new $8.8 million Education Center was built with the latest green-technology and energy-saving features.
In his senior year, when ground had yet to be broken on the building, Moore was investigating a range of energy- and cost-saving building practices as a member of the Green Campus Coalition, organized by his academic advisor, Associate Professor of Biology Drew Barton. He also had a seat at the table with key Education Center planners, including UMF President Theo Kalikow.
Objectively detailing both costs and benefits, Moore delivered presentations to the building committee on his research. During the architect selection presentations, President Kalikow would inevitably elbow Moore and say, “OK, Ryan. Ask them a tough question.” Once the architects were selected, Moore took a road trip with the principal architect to see how other Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings incorporated green building design, practices and technology.
With its geothermal heating and cooling system and daylight harvesting lighting system that automatically adjusts to sunlight streaming through double insulated windows, UMF’s Education Center now uses 70 percent less energy than its equal-size campus counterpart.
Moore says he had never taken—or been given—such a leadership role before coming to UMF. And the experience fueled a desire to replicate the research-based, grass-roots approach to changing environmental policy in his post-UMF life.
“The way in which the staff and faculty opened doors for me can’t be overstated,” he says. “The entire process was valid. How we worked together is a model for how I’ve worked with people on environmental issues ever since.”
Moore’s next bout of committee work would take him to the other side of the world. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Peace Corps to work in Uzbekistan, helping residents near the Aral Sea cope with what Moore calls “one of the world’s worst environmental disasters based on human health and social impact.” Once the world’s fourth largest lake, the Aral was parched by Soviet-era irrigation practices that diverted tributary water to cotton farms in surrounding Central Asian republics. As the lake dried fish disappeared, and the remaining wind-driven minerals and salts poisoned soils—adding to the malnutrition crisis.
“I realized that in all my work, the road blocks to environmental change were political,” says Moore, who recently completed a master’s degree in international studies with a focus on international environmental policy at the University of Denver. “That’s why I became interested in policy solutions.
At the Institute for Environmental Solutions, a Denver-based non-profit focused on complex environmental issues, Moore investigated the full impact of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s plan to have one million new trees planted in the metropolitan Denver area by the year 2025. (Moore investigated possible microclimate changes associated with introducing that many trees to the Colorado Front Range, an arid region that doesn’t naturally support dense tree population.)
“I thought about Theo a lot when I was working with our big group of Denver stakeholders who sometimes had competing interests,” he says. “The integrity of the building committee process at UMF made me realize that the choice of questions people ask about environmental policy change affects the quality of the outcome. That’s why my approach has been, ‘Let’s take a minute and think this through.’”