By Shayna Han
The Green Fee Governance Committee has made their selections from 10 proposed green projects for the upcoming academic year.
This past Monday during common lunch, Samantha Muratori ‘14 presented her idea: Installing thermostats in Seward, Park and Roger Hull housing that allows students to control their temperature settings via any device with Internet access (such as a smartphone). This initiative would provide not only easily-understood temperature data, but additional information on how much energy has been saved.
“I didn’t think realistically that I was going to win,” Muratori said. “I was shocked and so excited.”
The winning idea took a while to conceptualize: “The project changed three times before it was finalized. First, we thought of a key card energy system. Next, a kind of heating system, and finally the eco-based thermostat. That ended up being the best type of way to do this kind of project,” she said.
Among many green initiatives on campus, two stand out- Presidential Green Grants (PGGs) and the Green Fee programs.
PGGs, commonly referred to as Green Grants, are funded by President Stephen Ainlay and Mellon Foundation Grants. Submissions are not limited to only students, like the Green Fee Grants, but include faculty and staff as well.
Each PGG consists of $2,000 and can be used toward two project types: one tries to reduce Union’s own carbon footprint. Union examples are the founding and maintenance of Octopus’ Garden, replacing paper towel dispensers in Reamer bathrooms with hand dryers and some seniors’ theses projects (like a potting shed at Octopus’ Gardens that follows green building rules).
The other tries to ameliorate local or global sustainability problems—but having only $2,000 can be limiting to potential ideas.
This is where the Union College Green Fee program comes in. As explained on the “Garnet Goes Green” blog and by an e-mail from Union’s Sustainability Coordinator Meghan Haley-Quigley ‘10, the Green Fee is $5 taken from all Union students’ Student Activity tuition fee.
The accumulated $25,000 is placed in a separate fund, which aims to reduce Union’s carbon footprint. Because it is student money, only students are allowed to submit ideas to the Green Fee Governance Committee, but applicants are encouraged to collaborate with faculty in order to turn a green idea into a plausible project.
The $25,000 can be allocated to one large project or a few small projects. This year is the first year that Green Fee ideas selection process and funding is available.
According to Muratori, the first test projects will occur at 207 Seward Place over spring break. When school is out for summer, full implementation will begin.