By Lisa Romero, BIO5 Institute
Fund Gives Green Light to Sustainability
$400,000 from the UA Green Fund will be issued for projects to improve sustainability on and off the UA campus.
The University of Arizona Green Fund Committee has selected 16 projects to receive nearly $400,000 in the coming year that will make the University a more environmentally sustainable institution.
The Green Fund Committee is comprised of nine UA students responsible for soliciting, accepting, reviewing and funding sustainable project proposals on the UA campus and beyond. The committee received 34 proposals this year from a variety of projects looking for funding for the 2012-13 academic year.
The $400,000 Green Fund was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents as part of tuition and fees in March 2010, specifically by a $24 charge per student, per year.
Last year, the Green Fund funded 20 projects, which ranged from creating a new sustainable consumerism course to harvesting mesquite flour from the UA campus.
The committee allocates funds to projects that include but are not limited to:
- Increasing the percentage of renewable energy used at the UA
- Improving energy efficiency
- Increasing outdoor and indoor water efficiency
- Reducing the amount of waste generated by the UA
- Education, research and outreach initiatives directly related to environmental sustainability of the UA
UA students and employees may submit proposals, but students must collaborate with employees to submit a complete proposal.
Alexander Harris, UA Green Fund chair, honors student and a chemical engineering senior, has led student efforts toward sustainability since he became involved with Students for Sustainability and working with the UA Compost Cats his sophomore year.
During his junior year, he became a Green Fund Committee member. Now that he has a role in oversight of the funding, Harris said the pressure is well worth the effort.
"The Green Fund has resulted in exciting projects like teaching communities about harnessing rain water or in helping in the development of a community garden. I am amazed at what people can do with a little bit of financial investment and a little bit of time," said Harris.
He said many of the funded projects are ones that students have developed and will manage themselves such as Compost Cats but also projects that build upon student sustainability training that will benefit the greater community.
The UA Cooperative Extension Office, a part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has obtained its second grant from the Green Fund, which will fund student externs to work developing sustainability programs over the summer throughout the state.
This year, the extension program received $51,000, double the amount from last year, to build upon a pilot program that created opportunities for University students to bring their experience, skills and enthusiasm to their communities through innovative sustainability projects.
Mark B. Apel, an area associate agent with Cooperative Extension-Cochise County and chair of the faculty team that submitted the externship proposal, said this year's Green Fund grant will fund students to help with rainwater harvesting outreach in Maricopa County, assist in the start-up of a farmer's market in Pinal County, and aid in training teachers in a new school garden-based curriculum, among other projects around the state. Student externs will work alongside extension faculty members on each sustainability project.
"The funds will pay to implement eight sustainability projects in six counties, funding 10 student externs. The externs will have the opportunity to work on community service projects and not only learn on the job but have the opportunity to share their knowledge with the community," Apel added.
University oversight of the Green Fund is provided through the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. The funding decisions became official on March 21, with the approval of Melissa Vito, vice president of student affairs.
The funds will be distributed to the awarded projects after July 1.