January 14, 2011

12 sustainability projects funded for spring

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A dozen Southern Illinois University Carbondale sustainability projects will be funded this spring with $209,811 from the campus Green Fund.

The projects range from continuing work on the SIUC wind turbine project to installing water bottle refilling stations and improving lighting efficiency. The fund itself is the result of a student-led initiative that each semester assesses students a $10 fee. The goal of the fee is funding projects to promote energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and sustainability at SIUC.

“This is our most diverse assemblage of projects we’ve funded so far in terms of who the ideas are coming from and what impact on campus life they will have,” said Ryan Klopf, chairman of the Sustainability Council. He noted that the council’s latest funding authorizations cover projects for sustainability-oriented graduate research, waste reduction, food production, infrastructure improvement, energy upgrades and much more.

The projects allocated monies during the current funding cycle, along with the amount of each grant award and a brief project description are:

• SIUC wind power project -- $87,302 to continue efforts toward construction of a wind turbine that would provide approximately 5 percent of the campus’ energy. This is the second of 10 pledged payments toward the project that is also moving forward courtesy of state and federal funds.

• Grease conversion to fuel and feedstuff -- $51,000 to convert used canola oil from dining halls to biodiesel and cattle feed. Dining facilities produce about 200 gallons of waste oil weekly. This project explores the recycling of waste oil to produce fuel for the campus fleet and farm equipment and also to study the glycerol by-product from biodiesel production as a substitute for corn in livestock rations.

• Vegetable production -- $23,871 to grow vegetables on a one-acre sustainable production area at the SIUC farms for use in University Housing dining halls.

• Converting campus utility vehicle to plug-in -- $9,930 to convert an existing, inoperable campus utility vehicle to a plug-in electric vehicle.

• Hydration stations and reusable water bottles -- $9,014 to install three Elkay water hydration stations on campus and promote the use of reusable water bottles.

• Blinding the Light: Recapturing Energy Efficiency in Faner Hall -- $8,918 to install energy-efficient LED exhibit lighting in the University Museum at Faner Hall.

• Climate Assessment -- $8,000 to assess SIUC’s net emission of greenhouse gases in order to be more energy efficient.

• Campus Sustainability Literacy Assessment -- $6,076 to continue work to survey and assess the literacy on campus of students, faculty and staff regarding sustainability so the data can be used to evaluate current sustainability efforts and expand the role of sustainability in the curriculum.

• SIUC Synergetics 2011 -- $3,000 to help fund the “Synergetics 2011: Where Innovation and Sustainable Development Meet” symposium April 7-8, in order to develop best practices and business models for sustainable design in the built environment.

• Student Center Earth Day Celebration -- $1,550 to help cover expenses for the Student Center’s Earth Day celebration April 22 featuring a variety of programs and efforts promoting recycling, energy, consumption, eliminating food waste and more

• SIUC Environmental Ambassadors Program -- $648 to recognize the University’s volunteer environmental ambassadors for their work to improve the region through planting flowers and trees, working on trails, picking up litter and much more.

• Ecology Distinguished Speaker Series -- $500 to help support the Center for Ecology’s Distinguished Speaker Series, bringing speakers to campus who will focus on the theme “Challenges in Designing Conservation Reserves.”

Klopf said the fund has a fairly small balance so the monies for the next funding cycle will come primarily from the $10 per student, per semester fee this spring. The fee income is contingent upon enrollment but last spring about $126,000 came in while the total for the summer/fall semesters was about $155,000.

Proposals for the summer/fall 2011 funding cycle will be due in late February. The application deadline and other details will be available soon.

Including the most recent grant awards, 37 projects have claimed a total of $486,800 in funding.

For more information about the Green Fund, e-mail greenfund@siu.edu, or contact Klopf, a doctoral plant biology student who chairs the Green Fund Committee/Sustainability Council at 618/453-3209 or by e-mail at rklopf@gmail.com.