April 30, 2013

Six sustainability projects receive funding

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Solar trash compactors, rechargeable batteries and paperless medical records systems are among the projects that will receive funding at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the coming months.

The Sustainability Council recently announced approximately $150,000 in awards for six projects to enhance campus sustainability.  The funds come from a $10-per-semester student Green Fee enacted by the SIU Board of Trustees in fall 2009 as the result of a student-led initiative.

“I am pleased at the variety of proposals awarded funding this round and vey excited to see the positive changes they will bring to our campus.  From reduced waste and increased bicycle safety to improved student training and increased emphasis on the importance of creativity in sustainable living, I think there’s something everyone can relate to and support,” Kris Schachel, sustainability coordinator, said. 

There were 14 applications for funding this round.  A total of 74 projects have received more than $1.1 million in funding since the program’s inception.  Some projects are multi-year initiatives with allocated funds shown in the total.  The Sustainability Council Green Fund cycle is biannual, and will consider another round of applications this fall.  Organizers will welcome new and resubmitted applications at that time.

The projects funded this spring, along with the amount of each grant award, a brief project description, and the lead grant applicant, are:

  • Rechargeable batteries -- $2,232 to Tom Reichert, recycling graduate assistant and a master’s student in civil and environmental engineering,  and Kathy Anderson, building services superintendent for Physical Plant Service, to start a campus-wide move toward using rechargeable batteries.  The project calls for phasing in rechargeable batteries within one campus unit and monitoring the results for reduction in waste and expenditures.  Plant and Service Operations used 3,791 batteries, predominately C and D varieties, costing approximately $2,106 in 2012.
  •  SIU Bike Day(s) -- $3,000 to Audrey Wagner, geography and environmental resources lecturer, to fund one-day events promoting bicycling and bicycle safety on campus and in the region.  The interactive event will include installation of up to 200 bicycle mirrors to promote safety along with the environmental and health benefits of cycling.
  • Big Belly Solar Trash/Recycling Compactors -- $10,909 to Dave Tippy, grounds superintendent, Physical Plant Service, to purchase four double-unit trash/recycling containers featuring a solar-powered compacting mechanism and a “Smart Belly” function. A computer management dashboard will indicate when a container is nearly full to allow proper servicing.  The containers will be located in high-visibility areas of campus. 
  • Dental Hygiene Electronic Medical/Dental Records -- $116,000 to Joan M. Davis, professor and associate dean in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts to fund the Dental Hygiene Program’s move to a completely paperless and chemical-free patient record system.  The program currently serves about 1,600 patients each semester, resulting in extensive paperwork, along with thousands of X-rays using packets that contain lead and plastic and developed using strong chemicals.  This project will eliminate that.
  • Sustain II:  National Collegiate Juried Exhibit of Art and Design for Eco Living -- $15,728 to Nate Steinbrink, University Museum curator of exhibits.  The three-phase project will focus on changing the museum infrastructure and methods to lessen the environmental impact of its exhibits.  The work includes installing LED bulbs so galleries are 100 percent lighted by energy-saving LED lighting and funding a Sustainable Art Fair in the Faner Breezeway featuring creations by local and statewide artists.  The final facet will be a fall presentation by guest artist David Edgar, who turns discarded plastic into art.  He will give a lecture and lead a workshop with a juried exhibit in early 2014 at the Museum.
  • Facilitating Environmental Education for Visitors and Volunteers at LOGIC (Local Organic Garden Initiative of Carbondale)  -- $2,757 to Dania Laubach, master’s student in geography and environmental resources and vice president of LOGIC, a registered student organization.  The funds will be utilized for reusable garden plans and plant labels for LOGIC garden plots and permaculture site to help volunteers and visitors better understand the process of garden planning and crop rotation, along with various features of the site.  Also included in the project are a picnic table and planters that the Student Center Craft Shop will make from recycled materials to give visitors coming to the facility on Pleasant Hill Road a place to relax, meet and enjoy the gardens.

“The students really got creative with this proposal and utilized campus resources nicely,” said Makayla J. Bonney, chair of the Sustainability Council and a master’s student in geography and environmental resource management.

Involving the Craft Shop and using recycled materials is “a nice detail that really made their proposal stand out.  We love it when students make an effort to connect to existing campus resource and groups,” Bonney said.

She said the dental hygiene project is likewise noteworthy for several reasons, including its scope and big impact it will have.

For more information about the Sustainability Council, the Green Fund or any of the projects, contact Kris Schachel, sustainability coordinator, at sustainability@siu.edu, calling 618/453-2846, or visiting the website at www.sustainability.siu.edu