hybrid electric energy

Students work on the first phase of the “Clean Electric Energy from Hybrid Renewable Energy System” project funded by the Green Fee last year. The project received funds to work on experimental implementation of hybrid renewable energy system in the Power Systems Design Lab. The second phase is one of 10 projects being funded this year.  (Photo provided)

April 22, 2020

SIU awards grants to 10 sustainability projects

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is celebrating Earth Day 2020 in a virtual way today (April 22) by announcing the newest round of Green Fund grant award winners. The usual Earth Day celebration and awards presentation couldn’t be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the work to make SIU a greener place is continuing.

The Sustainability Council, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff, received 17 grant proposals and chose to award a total of $37,318 to 10 projects.

“The grant program is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to identify challenges, envision solutions and gain practice implementing a sustainability project,” Karen Schauwecker, sustainability program coordinator, said. “The Green Fund is a great resource that campus community members can leverage to drive sustainability forward in their corner of campus.”

The winners

The new Green Fee grant awardees, along with the amount of funding each was allocated and a brief description of the projects, include:

  • Efficient Lighting for a Computer Lab – $7,200 to replace 11 fluorescent light fixtures in an engineering building computer lab with highly efficient LED lighting.
  • ASA Water Bottle Filling Stations – $6,750 to install water bottle filling stations in the ASA Building. The project will allow a number of programs and offices to promote the use of refillable bottles and reduce use of plastic water bottles, while also educating people about the adverse environmental effects of using disposable water bottles.
  • Clean Electric Energy from Hybrid Renewable Energy System/ Phase II Smart Grid and Cybersecurity – $5,500 to facilitate further movement toward use of clean electric energy in the region. This phase of the project will create a systematic mechanism to remotely control the hybrid renewable-energy system in the Power Systems Design Lab and protect it against cyber-attacks.
  • Recycle Your Bicycle – $4,740 to fund a collaborative project that involves University Housing and Saluki Spokes. Automotive technology students will repair donated bicycles often abandoned on campus at the end of the spring semester for future use by SIU students who have the economic need, giving them an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
  • Recycling Bins in the Towers – $4,043 to provide recycling bins in each student room in the East Campus residence hall buildings to make it easier for students to recycle.
  • Woody Hall Water Bottle Filling Stations – $3,300 to install water bottle filling stations in Woody Hall, which houses 14 departments and welcomes many visitors and students. The goals is to encourage use of refillable bottles and decrease plastic disposable water bottles on campus.
  • Green Roof Revitalization and Modernization Project – $2,155 to update, enhance and modernize the green roof of the Agriculture Building by adding an autonomous irrigation system, wind turbine and data acquisition device.
  • Eco-Art Conference and Eco-Symposium – $1,900 to create a program with creative and scientific elements to advance knowledge about sustainability and advocate action.
  • Competing for Energy Efficiencies – $1,430 to create an electricity-saving competition between the buildings on East Campus in order to increase awareness and reduce electricity consumption.
  • Biochar Project – $300 to design and build a pyrolysis kiln to break down biomass waste from across campus into biochar, a usable soil amendment and method of carbon sequestration.

“The Green Fund Committee looks for projects that will have the strongest environmental and social benefits possible. This year we are excited to fund 10 projects that will have such definitive impacts, including reducing waste going to landfills and cutting campus carbon emissions,” said Dylan Gibson, a student member of the Sustainability Council. “The Green Fund Grant program is also an important mechanism for allowing students the opportunity to lead the way in creating a more sustainable campus, and we are proud to once again fund several projects that were either designed by students or will give students valuable leadership opportunities.”  

Milestone reached

With this week’s awards, SIU’s sustainability efforts reached a milestone. The program has now supported 203 projects to the tune of more than $2.3 million since the inception of the Green Fund in 2009.

The SIU Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Green Fee, now part of the general student fee, as the result of a student-led initiative. The students contribute about $10 per semester with the funding going toward a wide variety of projects designed to make campus more sustainable.

Environmental Ambassadors

Each year SIU gives special recognition to its Environmental Ambassadors, the students who donate at least 30 hours of their time and energy to environmental causes during the academic year. Due to the changes enacted to address the pandemic this spring, a few modifications have been made regarding this year’s awards:

  • The deadline for submitting volunteer hour logs has been extended to May 1.
  • Graduating seniors can still receive recognition if they submit completed logs to sustainability@siu.edu by May 1.
  • Returning students may roll over service hours accumulated this year toward qualifying for the award in spring 2021.

“Each year, dedicated students set their sights on this award,” Schauwecker said. “Thirty hours is ambitious, but doable. In logging the hours, they have new experiences and contribute valuable and needed efforts to community gardens, local cleanups, landscape improvements, outreach and much more. They volunteer with a variety of organizations that support an environmentally healthy Southern Illinois. Receiving this award from the Sustainability Council and chancellor is truly something to be proud of.”

paper straws

To reduce use and disposal of plastic straws, one of the projects funded last year replaced plastic straws with paper straws at the Student Center Marketplace and Delyte’s in Morris Library.  (Photo provided)