January 19, 2012

Sustainability Council announces project funding

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s commitment to sustainability continues this week with the announcement of a new round of funding for seven “green” projects.

Nearly $29,000 in Sustainability Council awards will support a variety of proposals, including creation of a climate action plan, compilation of sustainability curriculum and research, recycled art workshops and exhibit, an Earth Day celebration and more.   The money comes from a $10 per semester student Green Fee enacted by the SIU Board of Trustees in the fall 2009 semester due to a student-led initiative. 

“Every round of proposals brings us a remarkable array of creative, interesting projects.  Sustainability here at SIU is truly rooted in the work of our students and those who mentor them.  It’s a very inspiring task to read the project proposals, and a very humbling one to choose which to fund,” said Susannah Bunny LeBaron, chair of the Green Fund Committee, a component of the Sustainability Council.

The Sustainability Council received requests for $361,859 in funding and pledged $28,763, according to LeBaron.

Projects funded in the most recent cycle, along with the amount of each grant award and a brief project description, are:

            •  SIU climate action plan -- $8,200 to continue work on a comprehensive strategy to create a plan enabling the University to achieve climate neutrality.  The project builds on a previous sustainability project that created a greenhouse gas inventory for the years 2001-2010 (see https://sites.google.com/a/siu.edu/siuclimate/ for details).    Plans call for creating a plan, with numerous opportunities for student involvement, to help the University reach its sustainability goals.

            •  Sustainability curriculum initiative -- $7,020 to continue the sustainability literacy assessment led by master’s student David Dragos.  He is creating a directory of courses that incorporate sustainability education in some form to enable students with an interest in that arena to choose accordingly and promoting an interdisciplinary approach to University sustainability.  It will also include contact information for faculty with an interest in sustainability research. 

            •  National collegiate recycled art exhibition -- $5,789 to support the creation of eco-friendly art on campus and in the community through a series of three, two-hour workshops showing people how to create artistic, functional objects from “trash,” followed by an exhibition featuring items created at the workshops and select student artwork.  Acclaimed recycled glass artists Robbie Miller and John Drury will by the jurors for the exhibition.

            •  Enhancing sustainability for the REACH program -- $3,000 to assist the Research Enriched Academic Challenge Program in providing funds for two undergraduate student projects focusing on sustainability.

            •  Video field lighting conversion -- $2,900 to provide one full LED field lighting kit to College of Mass Communication and Media Arts students.  The equipment uses less than 10 percent of the energy of two traditional bulbs and experience working with the equipment will enhance the job prospects for the students and increase the likelihood they’ll select energy-saving equipment in the future.

            •  Earth Day celebration -- $1,000 contribution toward the Student Center’s annual Earth Day celebration featuring a recycled materials art contest, herb garden planting, guest speaker and more, to educate about sustainability. 

            •  Environmental ambassador award -- $854 to finance awards for students who devote 30 or more hours to the environmental volunteerism.  The SIU Center for Environmental Health and Safety will manage the award and Saluki Volunteer Corps will record student volunteer hours on assorted projects, including cleaning trails at the Shawnee National Forest and working with non-profit organizations on environmental education projects. 

The Sustainability Council is also now accepting applications for projects seeking funding for the spring 2012 semester.  There are new guidelines this semester and they will soon be online at http://sustainability.siuc.edu/greenfund.  The timeline calls for proposal workshops Feb. 3 from noon to 1 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. in Pulliam Hall, Room 118. 

All funding proposals are due by Feb. 17 for preliminary review.  The committee will then provide feedback on the applications no later than Feb. 27 and the complete proposal applications are due March 26. 

Preference is for projects that include significant student involvement, are collaborative involving multiple campus units or departments, those that can acquire matching funds, and projects that provide the biggest benefit to the campus community for the least expenditure.  The spring awards announcement will take place during Earth Week, April 16-22.

SIU Carbondale became the first school in the state to sign the Talloires Declration, a sustainability pact, in 1999 and signed on to the Illinois Sustainable University Compact in 2007.  In recent years, students, faculty and staff have undertaken numerous efforts in support of sustainability. 

There’s a vermicomposting facility to create compost from campus dining food waste, utilizing used motor oil from campus vehicles to produce heat, the Saluki Spokes free bike rental program, a green roof on the Agriculture Building, the sustainable design of the Student Health Center, pursuit of a wind turbine for energy production and much more.  The University earned national recognition for its efforts in “Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges:  2011 Edition.”

For more information about the Sustainability Council, the Green Fund or the new project guidelines, contact LeBaron at susannahbunnylebaron@gmail.com, email greenfund@siu.edu or look online at http://sustainability.siuc.edu/greenfund.