In the fall of 2014, student group UNCGreen presented a unique yet simple proposition to UNCG’s Student Fees Committee: implement a $2.22 annual fee per student to raise funds for sustainability projects across campus and the surrounding community.

Fast forward to 2016, and the student-led initiative now known as the “Green Fund” is garnering wide support and promising to make a big impact by reducing the university’s energy and water usage and investing in local sustainability initiatives.

Launched just last semester, UNCG’s Green Fund now has $55,000 designated solely for making the campus and the community more sustainable. This semester, the Green Fund Committee selected six projects from 20 proposals – submitted by students, faculty and staff – to implement this spring and summer.

The fully-funded Green Fund projects are:

  • Installation of LED lighting on McIver Mall, submitted by junior Matt Krieger
    • UNCG Facilities Operations plans to upgrade a minimum of 20 light fixtures on McIver Mall (pedestrian walkway that runs from the south end of McIver Street to McIver Building), resulting in a projected 61 percent decrease in energy use. Total cost is $9,135.
  • Installation of a second cistern, submitted by junior Erin Yow
    • The installation of an additional 2,500-gallon cistern will allow the university’s grounds crew to collect more rainwater to water plants and make brine. Total cost is $6,000.
  • Conversion of Warnersville Community Garden to multi-purpose local foodscape, submitted by faculty member Dr. Marianne LeGreco
    • The conversion will provide a more agriculturally and economically sustainable approach to growing food in a neighborhood with a 65 percent poverty rate. Total cost is $5,900.
  • Installation of water bottle refill station in Mossman Building, submitted by staff member Adam Horton
    • Americans throw away an estimated 35 billion plastic bottles every year. The refill station in Mossman Building will encourage students, faculty and staff to use a reusable water bottle. Total cost is $1,250.
  • Restoration of award prizes for winners of Sustainability Shorts series, submitted by staff member Sarah Dorsey
    • Prizes for award winners of the Sustainability Shorts series have been slashed in recent years due to budget cuts. This project will provide $1,000 to restore the awards to their original amounts.
  • Expansion of elementary school Adopt-A-Stream program, submitted by faculty member Julie Loreth
    • Eight elementary schools in Guilford and Randolph counties will adopt streams near their respective schools and work with UNCG students over the next four years to clean the streams and test water quality. Total cost is $850.

“These projects all brought fiscally-responsible, high-impact solutions to the table,” said UNCG sophomore Spencer Schneier, co-chair of the Green Fund Committee. “The cistern and light conversion projects reflect our desire to fund impactful infrastructure projects on campus, while projects like Adopt-A-Stream are core to our mission of community engagement.”

Dr. Marianne LeGreco, associate professor of communication studies and academic sustainability coordinator, is excited about how these projects will incentivize the campus community to move forward on other ideas as well.

“I’ve met with faculty and students who are working on a variety of really unique projects, including the creation of a wetland on campus and the installation of solar charging stations around the Elliott University Center,” LeGreco said. “I’m thrilled about some of the ideas and proposals that are being developed for future Green Fund consideration.”

Implementation will begin at the end of March and will last through the summer. From now until April 1, the Green Fund Committee is accepting its second round of proposals for projects to implement this fall. The committee includes students, faculty and staff, but only students serve as voting members.

“Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic for our students, particularly in terms of alternative energy and food security,” LeGreco said. “UNCG has the potential to be a leader in issues of economy, environment, equity and aesthetics – especially when it comes to our sense of place in the larger Greensboro community.”

To learn more about sustainability initiatives at UNCG, visit facsustainability.uncg.edu.

 

Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations