June 28, 2011

Sustainability projects receive funding

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Ten projects that focus on campus sustainability at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are getting a total of $59,201 from the Green Fund this summer.

The projects include installing rechargeable door openers and recycling bins, helping restore Thompson Woods, enhancing sustainability research and outreach efforts, encouraging use of locally grown foods, and more. The fund that pays for the projects originated with a student-led initiative that assesses students a $10 green fee each semester. The fee funds projects that promote energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and campus sustainability.

Projects allocated financial support during the current funding cycle, along with the amount of each grant award and a brief project description, are:

• SIU sustainability intern program -- $21,598 to continue the successful sustainability education and outreach program developed by the Campus Sustainability Project. The focus of the project is higher education sustainability research to develop a database of environmental management information for the campus and provide the campus community with resources to improve sustainability.

• L.O.G.I.C. graduate assistantship -- $12,275 to fund the position for the Local Organic Gardening Initiative of Carbondale, an SIUC Registered Student Organization that supports garden sustainability efforts including production of organic foods for Lentz Dining Hall.

• Using coal to reap solar energy -- $9,942 to explore the use of coal as a solar cell sensitizer thus decreasing the cost-to-energy output ratio to be competitive with burning coal to produce energy.

• Recycling bins in University Housing -- $7,915 to install several three-compartment recycling bins in various high-traffic areas within University Housing facilities including the lobbies of Mae Smith, Schneider and Neely halls to encourage recycling.

• Electro spun titanium dioxide solar cells -- $2,340 to design inexpensive dye-sensitized solar cells featuring mechanisms to capture solar energy during the day to power lights to brighten the night sky and enhance safety on campus.

• Accessibility-enhancing, wire-free door openers -- $1,900 contribution toward installation of handicapped accessible, easy door openers for two restrooms at the Student Center. The onboard battery packs recharge as people who are able to open the doors do so, thus eliminating the need for electrical power.

• Growing SIUC’s local food network -- $1,500 to develop a way for the campus community to access locally grown food, particularly for use in the dining halls to build the strength of the local food system and reduce the carbon footprint of SIUC by reducing travel for food.

• Thompson Woods herbaceous restoration -- $841 will allow the Thompson Woods Restoration Club to follow up a prescribed fire by the SIUC Fire Dawgs by sowing assorted plant life in the woods to improve the quality of the habitat and enhance the appearance of the area. The focus will be on native species while managing invasive types of plants.

• Greening public schools -- $500 to conduct research with local public high school classrooms in search of opportunities to enhance the environmental studies curriculum and to help students develop educational projects to present to peers.

• Permaculture demonstration site -- $390 to build a small-scale food forest providing a site for research and education regarding energy, water, waste, food, grounds and more. In addition, it will serve as a model of an ecological landscape and a location for the L.O.G.I.C. RSO to produce organic food, herbs and flowers to raise funds for their organization.

According to Susannah Bunny Lebaron, chair of the Green Fund Committee, the Green Fund balance now stands at about $146,500. With the latest round of grant awards, a total of 47 projects have received about $546,000 in funding.

For more information about the Green Fund, contact LeBaron at bodhidog@siu.edu or by calling 618/453-1897 or 661/839-4893.