Meet our New Aquaponics Assistant!

October 21st, 2016

Hey everyone, my name’s Aidan Ripley. I’m a student here interested Environmental Science and sustainability and I’ll be helping out with our awesome aquaponics greenhouse that is on the side of N apartment. Want a tour of the aquaponic greenhouse in housing?  Want to learn more about what aquaponics is and how the media-based system in housing works? Email me at and I’d gladly show you around.

RAD Sustainability is getting tilapia!!!

October 20th, 2016

Written by Cecelia Verde with research done by Sarah Scott


Next week we are headed over to Cedar Creek Corrections Center to pick up tilapia that they have been growing in their aquaponics system. The prison has a large and successful system that is fully maintained by inmates. We will be fortunate enough to tour the facility, get some tips and see how an efficient aquaponics system operates.

We are particularly excited to be getting tilapia and thoroughly believe they are the right fish for our greenhouse. Tilapias are naturally rugged fish; resistant to disease and parasites, temperature changes, high levels of ammonia and low levels of oxygen.

In an aquaponics system all of these needs should generally be met with little effort. Although fish naturally produce ammonia through their waste, bacteria and the growing plants convert and absorb it respectively. Oxygen is provided during the water’s circulation between the tank and bed. On the off chance that something does come up, tilapia’s strength will give us ample time to address the situation without putting their lives in danger.

We are planning on eating the tilapia! These fish are also super cool because their meat is naturally bland. This gives the caretaker the freedom to adjust the flavor via the fish’s diet and water quality. Giving tilapia a variety of food and potable water adds to their flavor complexity and makes for a tastier fish. We plan on giving the tilapia a high quality food designed especially for them and duck weed. We are adjusting the water quality by making sure what we are adding to the tank is dechlorinated (which involves letting the water sit out for about 12 hours) and something we would all be willing to drink.

In order to eat the tilapia we have to make sure we have enough to keep the system running. This will be done through strategic breeding in separate tanks. Tilapia can spawn every 4-6 weeks and fry, like adults, are relatively easy to care for. The fry will mature quickly and will be ready to eat in only 7 months! Once we have replacement fish we will be able to eat the present adults.

Please feel free to come into the Mod Shop, ask for a tour and meet our new fish!


For more info on tilapia farming check this out:


For more info on Cedar Creek Corrections Center:

Interested in RAD sustainability Internships?

October 3rd, 2016

By Joe Clevenger and Rhianna Hruska, RAD Sustainability.

If you’re a student at The Evergreen State College and have an interest in sustainability, you could possibly start an internship with the sustainability crew at RAD Services. You can gain some college credit and these internships are a great way to get out into the field and do independent work on hands on projects. Some of the fields that we’re exploring are mycology, aquaponics, community gardening, renewable heat and electricity sources e.g. solar and compost heating, data collection, and general sustainability studies.

In the past we’ve had students help us establish and maintain the many gardens on campus, a student focused on solar panels to helped us to analyze data and assess how well our solar panels were producing electricity and heat, and other students helped us to cultivate mushrooms in the sustainability lab in C building. If you would like to do any of these things or you have an idea for a different sort of internship please send us an email at In this email let us know who you are, what your sustainability based interests are, and possibly your vision for your internship. We’ll email you back with more information about how to set up an internship and how we think your internship will work. If you email us in fall, you’ll have until the end of week 10 fall quarter to set up an internship for winter quarter and if you email us in winter, you’ll have till week 10 of winter quarter to set up a spring internship. We’re dedicated to working with you to not only further your own sustainability studies, but also to spread the word about sustainability at Evergreen. A key part of sustainability is sharing knowledge, spreading the word about successes and failures, and trying to include many people in the projects that we are working on.

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 11.47.30 AM

Here is a list of potential projects that students can either volunteer or intern for:

Solar Evergreen:  Photovoltaics and Solar Thermal

  • Evaluate existing projects at RAD
    • What is operating, where?
    • How well is it working?
    • Does it need repair or maintenance?
    • Is it saving or producing energy?  How can we tell?  How much?
    • Can it do better?  What would it need?
  • Help plan future projects
    • Costantino Recreation Center:  solar thermal to heat pool and/or showers?
    • Recreation Pavilion needs a new roof – can it be solar PV?
    • expand the Library Photovoltaic installation

Forest Garden Specialist

  • Reinvigorate the forest garden
    • assess current situation:
      • What is planted?
      • How is it doing?
      • Do we need more light and where?
    • make recommendations:
      • new plantings: what sorts of communities can exist?
      • how do we create potentials for grazing?
      • new irrigation system/method
      • maintenance system

Mushroom Maintenance

  • Assist w developing mushroom path project
  • Develop mushroom production on campus
    • find indoor space
      • must be well ventilated
    • choose multiple varieties/methods of growing

Garden Maintenance

  • Weeding
  • Soil/Plant health
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Harvest/Plant
  • Water/irrigation
  • Research opportunities
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Nutrient cycling
    • Plant Botany
    • Different methods of tilling/planting

Compost Maintenance

  • Manage compost heat pile
  • Enter and analyse compost heat pile data

Sustainability Photojournalist

  • Photographing RAD at work in sustainability
  • Photographing other sustainability efforts on campus
  • Blog and writing about sustainability
  • Submit to the Cooper Point Journal, Green Pages, and other local media
  • Could post photographs to the RAD Sustainability Instagram or Twitter


  • Temp/light intensity data
  • Insulative winter nighttime blanket
  • Vertical/Horizontal growing
  • integrating clams/shrimp
  • comparing growth rates in greenhouse to growth rates in adjacent garden
  • nutrient cycling
  • plant & fish pathology
  • botany
  • microbial activity

RAD Sustainability Event Coordinator

  • Coordinating volunteer days
  • Coordinating workshops
  • Speakers

10 hours of work/research per week = 4 credits

You can potentially budget 1-2 more shifts than they need each quarter to allow for 1-2 absences throughout the quarter without requiring additional shifts or research.

Credit earning will require faculty coordination

Some folks can do the internships through class just by setting aside hours

Plant in RAD’s Community Garden Beds!

October 3rd, 2016

14191495_10153920101441687_686262324_oLooking for a place on campus to garden?  Look no further than the raised garden beds behind the Housing Community Center!

These 8 x 4 garden beds are available for residents looking to grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Residents interested in planting in these gardens can email:  RAD Sustainability can also help to provide seeds or starts for residents interested in gardening.

To meet with the RAD Sustainability crew, stop by the Facilities Shop (Mod 310) at these times Fall Quarter 2016:

Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 9am-5pm or Tuesday & Friday 1:30-5pm


Compost Heat Recovery System

September 26th, 2016

By Joe Clevenger and Rhianna Hruska, RAD Sustainability Team.

If you haven’t been there already, go and check out the back side of mod 311 on the lower part of campus. It’s a beautiful area with wood and metal recycling containers, but more importantly, it’s home to a large pile of straw, wood chips, and horse manure. This pile is called a compost heating pile and is actually used for space heating in mod 311! This mod uses propane as a back up heating method and we’ve been collecting propane consumption data on the mods to get a feel for how much carbon dioxide our compost heating pile could potentially offset.



Our compost heat pile consists of 60% wood chips, 30% saw dust, and 10% horse manure. As you can see in the picture above, these resources are piled into a shell of straw bales. The interior resources break down over the course of a year and produce temperatures up to 250˚. The average recorded temperature for the Mod system is between 120˚ and 130˚ F. This heat is harnessed and transferred into water that’s flowing through the pile in PEX tubing. We then take this water and pump it into an in floor radiant heating system that handles space heating in the mod. As hinted at earlier, this heat production slowly decreases over the course of a year and after a full year the entire pile needs to be replaced.

A compost pile is a great way to generate heat without contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. By using compost or other “cleaner” heating sources you can help to offset carbon dioxide. This offset is basically the difference in carbon dioxide emissions between clean energy sources and dirty energy sources. To subvert some of the environmental damages that we’re causing and to maintain a habitable environment on earth, we need to offset as much carbon dioxide as we can.


As stated earlier, Mod 311 uses propane as a backup heating system. For the past two years, we’ve been closely tracking the propane consumption of all the Mods. This has allowed us to compare Mod 311 to Mod 306, which also has an in floor radiant system, but depends solely on propane for heating. After running the numbers, the data showed us that since January of 2015 Mod 306 used about 600 gallons of extra propane as compared to Mod 311. According to, every gallon of propane burned emits 12.7 pounds of carbon dioxide ( With that math, that 600 gallons of propane equates to 7,200 pounds of carbon dioxide! Below are some pivot tables generated from our raw data to give you a better understanding of this statistic. The first column represents the date the propane tanks were filled, the second columns show how much propane was added to 306 and 311 respectively in gallons, and the last column is the total of both. The propane tanks we have are filled as needed to a standard limit, so when ferrell gas, the company that supplies the propane, comes out the amount they add to the tank is the amount burned from the last fill date to now.

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.12.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.00.03 PM

If you want access to our full data set feel free to send an email to


The obvious significance of this project is the ability to use compost heating to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Our climate is becoming more and more unstable as we emit greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. If we can move away from fossil fuels and use more alternative energy sources we can potentially avoid massive storm caused catastrophes, stop different cultures and resources from being eradicated by a rising sea level, as well as avoid conflicts that may arise from depleting global resources.

Another significance of this project is the fact that Gaelan Brown, the VP of marketing at Agrilabs, helped student employees at The Evergreen State College learn about and implement the compost heating pile we now have on campus. Just as we are sharing this information with you now, Agrilabs shared their information with RAD Services and has helped to offset at least a small amount of carbon dioxide. The bigger picture here is that our project and knowledge could be a precursor for other projects like it and we’re planning to collect more data on the compost heating pile to assess the scalability of it.

Our next steps are to install temperature monitors for ingoing and outgoing water for the compost in floor radiant heating system as well as a flow meter for the system. This will allow us to accurately calculate the amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) the compost pile is producing and to hopefully share that data with students wirelessly.


Cardboard Mushroom Spawning

September 14th, 2016

By Joe Anderson, RAD Sustainability Lead Predecessor.


RAD Sustainability worked on inoculating cardboard with oyster mushroom spawn. Cardboard is a great medium to establish a mushroom colony with because it’s flat and easy to transport. Once it’s completely covered with mycelium, you just slap it down where you want mushrooms to grow, give them some substrate to digest, and they are ready to go.

We used pearl oyster sawdust spawn from Fungi Perfecti to make our cardboard colonies. First, we soaked our cardboard overnight to make it soft and moist, just how our mushrooms like it. Then we mixed up the sawdust spawn with water and shredded it up by hand as much as possible.

We laid down a piece of cardboard and peeled off the first layer and set it aside, revealing the corrugations. Next, we threw on a few heaping handfuls of oyster spawn and worked it into the grooves. Finally, we placed the first cardboard layer back over the inoculated cardboard and repeated the process, stacking up the cardboard spawn layer by layer.

And that’s all there is to it! It takes about three weeks for oysters to colonize the cardboard. When they’re ready, we’re going to sandwich them in towers of straw which they’ll consume in a few months before fruiting. Until then, we have to keep them moist and watch out for mold or any other contamination. I’ve been checking on our cardboard spawn each morning, and I can already see them starting to take hold!


Relaunch of the RAD Sustainability Instagram!

September 7th, 2016

Have an instagram account?   Follow us at RADsustainability!  We’ll be posting photos every Tuesday of all the unique and incredible projects that are integrated into Evergreen’s lower campus.


Want to help us run the RAD Sustainability instagram?  Feel free to send us your photos at or if you are looking to volunteer and help with our social media feel free to contact us about that as well.

Courtyard Garden Work Party

August 30th, 2016

By Rhianna Hruska, RAD Sustainability Outreach and Chair of the Clean Energy Committee.

20160812_130913Did you know that students can take any of the fruits, vegetables, and flowers in the Evergreen housing community gardens?  These gardens are a convenient way for students to have access to fresh ingredients right outside their apartments/dorms.  RAD Sustainability builds and maintains these gardens for students to enjoy.


Summer Resident Planting Vegetable Seeds

On Friday August 12th at Noon, RAD Sustainability and three summer residents had a garden work party in the courtyard and in the Mod Gardens.  During the work party, residents had the opportunity to plant vegetable and fruit seeds for the new raised garden beds in the courtyard.  The residents also watered the row of lavenders next to the garden beds.  Gardening was a fun and productive way for everyone to get to know each other and take a break from academic studies.  The residents also learned a lot about gardening in the Pacific Northwest as well as the ways that these gardens will be helpful for their fellow students.

If you are interested in helping RAD Sustainability with the gardens in housing, email  If you are interested in interning for RAD Sustainability and working in our gardens and food forest for academic credit, feel free to email us and inquire about potential opportunities!

RAD Sustainability Circus!

May 27th, 2016

By Alana Mousseau, Sustainability House Resident.

The Sustainability circus for the Sustainability house was a huge success!  The event was collaborated between RAD Facilities, RAs and the community, and held on the soccer fields just outside of the HCC. On April 20th from 1pm to 5:30, there were games, events guest speakers, and even a raffle drawing for participants. 
For the sustainability house specifically, between the five of us, we worked with two different booths. Jenna ran the mushroom log inoculation booth, alongside the Olympia Mycelia Network while Cassandra, Ashley and Alana taught people about pollinator flowers and helped people make seed bombs. There was a variety of people set up with stands and booths teaching about Shellfish Club, Clean Energy Committee, Yoga, WASHPIRG Solar Campaign, DIY cleaning supplies and soaps, and more. People were encouraged to learn about products and supplies all while having the experience to do hands on work, and keep the projects they made.

Mushroom Path Work Party

March 4th, 2016

By Rhianna Hruska, 2nd Year Master of Environmental Studies candidate, Secretary/Treasurer of the Clean Energy Committee, and Sustainability Resident Assistant for the Mods.

work party

Sustainability House after a Successful Work Party

Have you walked through the edible mushroom path between A building and the apartments?  It’s one of the many amazing housing projects created by RAD Sustainability!  For four hours on the morning of Sunday February 28th, the Sustainability house participated in a work party led by Joe Anderson, who is RAD’s Sustainability Crew Lead.  Sustainability residents learned how to inoculate logs with three different types of mushrooms: Lion’s Mane, Oyster, and Chicken of the Woods.  The logs would be drilled with holes in a diamond pattern a few inches apart and the holes would be filled with mushroom plugs.  Once the plugs were hammered into the drilled holes, they were sealed in with wax and set aside to dry.  Once they were finished, the logs were placed in the edible mushroom path.


Edible Mushroom Path

As a part of the sustainability housing theme, residents are expected to complete ten sustainability volunteer hours.  Work parties are a great way to complete those hours while building community with others and learning from each other.  The sustainability house has beginning and end of quarter meetings to discuss potential projects that the residents could work on either together or individually.  This allows everyone to pursue their own sustainability interests.  If you could see yourself participating in these kinds of events, apply for Sustainability housing next year! Applications are currently open.  The application can be found at: