Students Fund Green Projects on Vermont Campus

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Before Green Mountain College students left for winter break, they voted to fund fifteen student proposals that will improve environmental sustainability on the campus. Each initiative is funded by the college's Student Campus Greening Fund, financed through a $30 allocation from each student's annual activity fee. Proposals are evaluated by a student committee and awards are based on a student vote.

Bicyles in Green Mountain College free on-campus bike program.

We review the proposals and help the students get feedback and advice from local community partners

Before Green Mountain College students left for winter break, they voted to fund fifteen student proposals that will improve environmental sustainability on the Poultney, Vt., campus for years to come. Each initiative is funded by the Student Campus Greening Fund, financed through a $30 allocation from each student's annual activity fee. Proposals are evaluated by a student committee and awards are based on a student vote.

"There is a strong tradition here of students putting into action sustainability practices they learn about in the classroom," said Amber Garrard, Green Mountain College's sustainability coordinator. "Students are very enthusiastic about having part of their activity fee go towards making environmental improvements in their 'back yard.'"

This year, a record 15 projects were funded at a total cost of $49,654 set aside. Student Campus Greening Fund Projects include a campus-wide compost collecting program, building a permanent bicycle shelter for the campus free bike program, constructing a mobile solar-powered workshop, and repair of a campus wind turbine.

"We review the proposals and help the students get feedback and advice from local community partners," said Steve Carpenter '11, a co-director of the fund and one of six students on the committee. "We also coordinate with the administration, including the facilities department and the land use committee, to be sure the proposals can be put into action. We want to be sure the final product is something that can be maintained by students in the future."

Amanda Elder '10 wrote a successful $10,000 proposal to install software in the College's new biomass heating plant which is due to go online in April 2010. Elder and her collaborators will be working with a software company to provide the campus with live energy monitoring devices which will broadcast in real time over the College's website. The project also includes a touch screen display in the Withey Student Center.

Students John Warfel '11 and Cody Currier '11 put together a $9,610 proposal to build a mobile solar workshop for the College's REED (Renewable Energy and EcoDesign) program. Four solar panels will be used to power the trailer. The 120-watt panels will provide power for a variety of student construction projects that often take place in remote areas away from standard electrical outlets. The trailer increases mobility while using the sun's energy instead of electricity largely generated from non-renewable fossil fuels.

Clifford Dornbusch '10 thought about ways to reduce the ecological impact of livestock raised on the College's Cerridwen Farm. He proposed a 2-foot wide, 100-foot long mycelium buffer between a pig fence and the nearby Poultney River. Mycelial mats (plantings of mushroom spores) can serve as a biological filter, removing chemicals and microorganisms from the soil and water.

The Green Mountain College Campus Greening Fund was one of three programs on North American campuses to receive a 2009 Sustainability Innovator Award from the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The institute publishes an online national report card designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability.

See the complete list of 2009 greening fund initiatives at http://www.greenmtn.edu/about/environment/greening_fund.aspx

Green Mountain College is a four year liberal arts college that takes the environment as a unifying theme for its 750 undergraduates in 21 major programs of study.

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Kevin Coburn
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