• Home

Commute to Work

(contributed by David Brownell, HBLL)

Here are some tips on greener ways to commute to work. These tips might even save you money!

Do you live close to campus? Maybe this is a green, healthy, very inexpensive alternative for you.
COST: You just need a reasonable pair of walking shoes.

I live a bit over 8 miles from campus and ride almost daily throughout the year. I do change into shorts and sneakers to ride home in the heat of summer, but even summer mornings are still generally cool and I can wear my work clothes.
COST: You’ll need a bike that you like to ride, and that can cost up to $1000 (or more, if you really want to spend it). But you may already have one in your garage!
REMEMBER: BYU has a wellness program for employees that can pay you up to $120 per year and walking and biking counts as exercise for that!

E-bike and E-Scooter
Both of these have an electric motor rather than a gas engine –with an e-bike, it’s like having Superman give you a push on your bike! And if the battery dies you can still pedal home. With an e-scooter, you don’t even have to pedal (well, you can’t). Just remember that if the battery dies, you’re going to have to walk it.
COST: A scooter will cost you a few hundred up to maybe $1000. An E-Bike will cost you between $750 -$2000+.

Electric Car
Electric cars are cool, especially the Teslas. But they can be expensive! An electric car starts at about $20K and go over $100K+ for a spiffy one. If you’re in the market for an around-the-town car, a small electric commuter might make sense. Be aware that an electric car might require you to wire up a charging station at your house, which can also add to the cost.
With any electric vehicle, consider where your power comes from. Here in Utah much of our power is from coal, so an electric vehicle might help with smog here in the valley, but may not really be such a green alternative overall. If your electricity comes from natural gas, that’s better, but solar, or wind, would be best!
Also, a hybrid (gas-electric) vehicle might be a good compromise since they are greener than a regular car and they have a much better range.
Cost: $20,000 to the sky’s the limit.

Do you have friends or neighbors you can ride in to work with? Share a ride!
Cost: less than what you’re paying now because you’ll save money sharing the cost, assuming you already have a car.

Mass Transit
BYU students and employees now have free UTA passes that began in beginning in August 2018! The bus takes me a bit longer than riding a bike because I need to walk a mile and a half (30 minutes) to the nearest bus stop. But, you can put your bike on the front of the bus to save time. I ride wonky bikes that don’t fit on the racks. I sometimes ride to University Place and take the UVX and can bring my bike on board.
Cost: More time to read your book. Without a UTA pass, bus and Trax fare is $2.50. Frontrunner fare is $2.50 plus $.60 per stop (Lehi to Orem would be $2.50 + $1.20 for a total of $3.70

Mix it up
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make a radical change and walk, ride, or take the busevery single day. You can do combinationsof things –Drive some of the way, park, then ride the rest of the way. Ride your bike to the bus stop. Ormaybe walk or bike when you can dress more casually on Rep-the-Y Fridays –even that is a 20% improvement over driving 5 days a week!

Here’s my last tip and it’s doubly green:you can be Environmentally Friendly and save money –Save gas!Prevent engine wear!Help save the environment! Nothing new to buy!

The EPA and the Car Talk guys, among others, recommend that you warm up your engine no longer than 30 seconds(even in very cold weather). That’s because your car has 21st century multi-grade oil in it and has a computer-controlled electronic ignition. Your car actually warms up faster when you drive it gently, saving gas, wear and tear, and pollution! What you want to do is start your car, and then immediately drive gently.And, turn off your car when you park, even if you’ll be “just a minute.” Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you put it in Park, turn off your engine! Make that one motion: Put it in Park, turn the key.
If all of the library employees here each idled our cars for one minute less a day, in a year we would save the equivalent of one car idling for more than 38 days!* That’s over 200 gallons of gasoline not being burned and polluting the air!
And a bonus tip: You can idle your engine even less in the winter time if you cover your windshield with a blanket so you don’t have to scrape. You can use your favorite web search engine and search for “winter windshield cover”.

* Here’s how I computed that: 1 minute *150 library employees* 365 days / 60 minutes in an hour/ 24 hours in a day = 38 days of a car idling. The average car burns 0.15 gallons per hourwhen idling, so it’d be 1 * 150 * 365 / 60 * .15 = That’s nearly 137 gallons of gasoline not polluting the air when 150 people turn off their engines for one minute! Imagine if every driver in Utah County turned off his engine for that minute (or, even, every time he parked his car, rather than letting it idle)!

Upcycled Christmas Ornaments

You can save money and the planet this Christmas by making upcycled Christmas ornaments.  These cute ornaments are made from materials that would otherwise be thrown away.  There are many ideas and DIYs that you can find online, or if you’re feeling especially creative you can think up your own.  Common household items that seem to make especially nice ornaments include buttons, puzzle pieces, lids, and even light bulbs.  Making homemade ornaments is a great activity that can be done with a friend and/or relative for a “crafternoon”, or on your own while singing along to your favorite carols and eating all that Christmas baking.

A piece that I find especially charming and have made myself years ago is this button ornament.  At first glance it may seem like a very complicated project.  However, I can assure you that it is quite simple – there is not even any gluing or cutting involved!


button-ornamentYou will need:

-1 styrofoam ball

-various sized buttons

-colored pins


  1. Stack 2 or 3 buttons on top of each other with the smallest one on top.
  2. Thread a colored pin through the button holes.
  3. Stick the pin with the buttons on it into the styrofoam ball.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 alternating colors and size until the whole ball is covered.
  5. Tie a ribbon into a loop with a bow on top and secure at the top of your ornament

This is just one example of the many ornament possibilities.  Many ornaments do not require more than 3 or 4 simple materials to make.  Take a look at the photos below for more inspiration.


Author: Mary-Margaret McLeod puzzle-ornament bottle-cap-ornaments mason-jar-ornaments



What to do with autumn leaves waste

Fall is a beautiful time of year. The cool air, the cheers from Lavell Edwards Stadium,autumn-leaves-1353129245trg and the changing leaves all remind us that the end of the year is near. However, those beautiful fall leaves have a habit of falling onto our lawns and gardens. This can mean hours of raking, bagging, and tossing out those leaves. Have you ever wondered if there was a greener way to dispose of fall leaves?

There are several things that you can do with leaves in the fall that will not only save space in our landfills but that will improve your lawn and garden.

An easy solution to fall leaves is to mow over them a few times (without the mower bag) and let them sit on your lawn. The small pieces will break down quickly, providing a valuable nutrient boost to your lawn as it emerges come spring.

Leaves can also be used as mulch in flower beds. Not only will a heavy cover of leaves provide insulation for perennial plants and bulbs but it will help suppress weed seed germination.

Leaves can be a great addition to your compost pile. For best results layer leavesautumn-leaves-on-compost with nitrogen rich grass clippings. These pair well with carbon-heavy leaves and create a fertile, organic soil that can be used to amend the soil in your flower and vegetable beds.

Leaf mold is another option, though this one is more long-term. Collect leaves (shredded or whole) in plastic bags. Keep the leaves moist and store them in a cool, dark place. In two to three years (shredded leaves will be faster) the leaves will have disintegrated into a dark, rich, soil conditioner that smells like a garden.

Finally, bring those striking colors indoors by turning fall leaves into home decoration. A quick google search on fall leaf crafts brings up hundreds of results. Dry those leaves and turn them into a collage or a decoupage centerpiece.

Author: Doug Jacobson

Live learning with the green wall

Have you seen our newest addition?! HBLL Green Wall is currently located at the south entrance of the library, across from the security desk.

green-wallThe HBLL Green Wall is the first of its kind on BYU campus; and, as a result, has become a learning tool for the campus greenhouse staff. Plants are watered via a watering tray. The greenhouse staff currently waters the plants twice a week by filling the trays with more water. They also monitor the plants’ health and note where problem spots have occurred. Feel free to ask them questions about the green wall when you see them. They are very good resources!

In addition to figuring out which plants grow well in the green wall structure, our plant experts are assessing which lighting options work best for the green wall inside our building. You will likely see the green wall moved to different locations in the library in future as they test different locations.

We welcome you all to stop by to take a look at this unique plant structure. HBLL Green Wall also enjoys being featured in selfies! #hbll

Utah and our Water

Utah is one of the driest states in the nation. In spite of that, the average person in the greater Wasatch area, in the late 1990s, used 319 gallons per day. Today, the number is down about 25%. This was mostly achieved by less outdoor watering, a result of reducing the average single family lot size from 0.32 acres in 1998 to 0.25 acres in 2013. While this goes into the right direction, it does not solve the problem we will have in future.

According to statistics of the Utah Division of Water Resources, Utah will add another 2.5 million people by 2050. This number goes beyond what water supply is currently available.


Ideas are on the table, but are they real solutions to the problem? Maybe. One of these ideas is to reduce the 82% of Utah water supply that goes to farmers by installing advanced sprinkler systems. Currently, just over half of this agriculture water vaporizes or seeps into the ground before it reaches the plant. In theory, with the installation of the advanced sprinkler system, this would solve the water demand of the future. Professor Daniel McCool from the University of Utah, a long-time critic of water policy in the western states, rightly stated: “We do not have a water crisis. We have a water management crisis.”

The first projects to change the watering system on farms are under way. Fortunately. Let’s hope the politicians in Utah will follow suit.

Wind Power: become a fan

http://www.my-best-kite.com/images/how-to-build-kites-top.jpgAs the weather warms and the plants begin to bloom we are all drawn from our winter hibernation by the appeal of the great outdoors. One springtime activity cherished throughout the years is kite flying. The fresh breezes and clear days are perfect for high-altitude aerial acrobatics. As we prepare for April, National Kite Month, let’s take a look at how wind, the power behind our soaring kites, is also a fundamental power for mankind.

Long before fossil fuels became readily available, humanity harnessed the wind. As early as 5000 BC small sailboats in Egypt traversed the Nile River. Thousands of years later eastern nations including China and Persia were using windmills to pump water and grind grain. And when the first explorers arrived in the new world, they did so by sail power.

Twentieth century America saw many homes with their own windmills, equipped with generators with which they could power homes and farms even far away from city power grids. In more recent decades the popularity of wind power has fluctuated with oil prices. As oil prices went down, the desire for wind farms waned. In the 1970’s, however, oil shortages led many factions of the U.S. government to re-evaluate the worth of green energy sources. California was particularly eager because of new legislation which allowed wind farms to flourish. http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/headline-image/headline/Fea_Wind_Figure1_0.jpg

Today, windfarms dot the map as vast swaths of land are filled with spinning turbines. In order to see one ourselves, we only have to go south where the Spanish Fork wind park has been in operation since 2008. Its 9 turbines are able to generate power for over three thousand homes.

Wind is one of the most important sources of energy in the history of mankind. From ancient times to modern day, the gifts that wind power brings have helped us achieve so much and soar higher than our ancestors could have imagined. You can think back on this as you watch your kite taken up by the spring air, just don’t fly it too close to a wind farm!


Recycling Rivalry Competition

Mason jar trashThe Harold B. Lee Library is planning to compete against the J. Willard Marriott Library (University of Utah) in a recycling competition as part of a nationwide recycling initiative. The goal of the competition is to get as close to zero waste as possible. Zero waste means all discarded waste is reused (recycled, compost, etc). Bill Rudy, BYU’s Recycling Manager, approached the library for this competition because it has an established recycling program and Green Team. This year we will keep the competition between to the libraries, but in the future we hope it will expand to a campus-wide competition. Stay tuned for updates and further details!

Live plants in the library

You might have already noticed, our help desks received color bowls filled with life plants. A green wall near the south entrance will soon be added.

You probably also know that life plants in a building like the library are not only nice to look at, but they provide a natural solution to cleaner indoor air. Plants clean the surrounding air by carbon dioxide reduction while exchanging it for fresh oxygen. Also, when plants transpire water vapor from their leaves, they pull air down around their roots. This supplies their root microbes with oxygen. The root microbes also convert other substances in the air, such as toxic chemicals, into a source of food and energy.

Research showed that plants significantly lower workplace stress and enhance worker productivity. Flowers and plants also inspire our creativity, enhance attitude of people, reduce sickness and absence, reduce dry skin by 20%, and help reduce distractions due to ambient noise as much as 5 decibels.

Do you really need more reasons to introduce a life plant into your office or work area?
As a side note: Plants provided by the BYU greenhouse are watered by them. Plants provided by the library are watered by our facilities student employees. Plants brought into our workstations are watered by our employees individually. The soil that is used by the greenhouse does not attract flies or other creeping bugs.

Depending on the plant, most plants thrive best with a set watering schedule (e.g. every Friday, or twice a week Tuesdays and Fridays). For a monthly add-on of plant food (e.g. Miracle Grow) your plant will thank you with flowers and/or a healthy look.

How much does the library recycle?

recycled paperIn the first three weeks of August, Bill Rudy, BYU’s Recycling Center Manager, and his team collected and weighed all the library’s paper, newspaper, and plastic bottle recycling waste. The results were astonishing!

Paper : 1,577.1 lbs (100 sheets=1 lb)

Newspaper : 454.6 lbs (10 Daily Universes=1 lb)

Plastic bottles : 71.4 lbs (17 bottles=1 lb)

Total recycling : 2,103.1 lbs (A little over a TON!)

Keep in mind that this is library’s lowest activity time of the year, so image how much is recycled during the school year!


Watering Knowledge

Summer in Utah brings to mind lush foliage and water-based-fun but often we forget that the state is naturally a more arid climate. On top of that, despite all of the current rain Utah Valley has experienced this spring and early summer our numbers are still behind by 40% in comparison of the year-to-date according to the National Water and Climate Center (NRCS).

Here are some simple ways to conserve while still beating the heat and your water bills:


  • Water plants early in the morning to minimize the amount that evaporates due to the heat, this way your plants get more of the benefit.
  • While waiting for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.
  • Use timers to make sure over watering doesn’t occur — a running hose’s flow can be up to 10 gallons a minute!
  • Wash vehicles at commercial car washers that recycle water instead of doing it at home.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth to save up to 4 gallons a minute.


Did You Know?

The Harold B. Lee Library switched all of its main drinking fountains to model’s with bottle filling stations to help conserve and promote water bottle usage.

For more great tips on how to conserve visit WaterUseItWisely.com


Image courtesy of ToddMorris