Although Earth Day is two-and-a-half months away, an annual environmentally- friendly initiative is already under way.
The Sustainability Council has begun the campus Green projects application process, and winners will be announced on Earth Day. The Green Fund, a $10 fee included in tuition and reserved for campus green initiatives, covers the project, said Matthew Therrell, a geography and environmental resources professor and Green Fund committee chair.
“That’s what the Green Fee has always been for, to support sustainability on campus, particularly projects,” he said.
Therrell said the initiative began in 2010, and projects could include infrastructure changes or research projects. Previous winners include a green roof, which is similar to a rooftop garden, on the Agriculture Building, light-emitting diode lighting in the university museum and a method to develop biodiesel from waste, he said.
Makayla Bonney, Sustainability Council head and graduate student in Geography from Macomb, said green projects are meant to better university staff and students as much as the campus.
“We fund projects (submitted by) faculty, students and staff, but we favor projects that are led by students,” she said. “We really want projects that create student leaders on campus.”
Bonney said anyone can apply for these projects, but students need a faculty or staff adviser because the council can’t allocate money to students. The council considers projects that educate the campus on what
sustainability and efficiency, fundraising, environmental impact and university department cooperation, among other factors. Projects are ranked by these qualifications, and council members decide how much money each project will receive, she said.
However, Bonney said the decision to choose which projects to fund can be tough.
“Last semester, we spent almost $250,000 on projects, and we didn’t fund everything and we didn’t fund every project at 100 percent,” she said. “We would like to do more, but we can’t just because of the amount
of money we have.” Bonney said most universities have a $3 or
$4 Green Fee, so the higher fee allows SIU to fund more projects. She said some projects should receive state or university funding along with the council’s grants, but that’s wishful thinking.
“Would it be good to have more money? Yes, but honestly some of the things we fund, it’d be great if SIU or the state funded them instead of the students,” Bonney said.
Several students say they are pleased with the council’s eco-friendly campus efforts, but one
student said he would like to be more aware of the council’s work around campus.
Davorian Ware, a junior from St. Louis studying sociology, said the university’s friendly environmental initiatives are appropriate.
“I do think it is important for a university to go green, specifically because universities are progressive in nature,” Ware said. “It kind of lays foundations for other universities.”
Ware said while the Sustainability Council has its heart in the right place, he doesn’t know what the group has accomplished. He said the university should provide more information about the campus’ completed green projects.
“They’re trying to do the right thing, but as a consumer of the university I should have a choice whether or not my money goes to green stuff if I don’t like green stuff,” he said.
Sean Dundas, a senior from Marengo studying geology, said he supports the campus initiative to help the environment.
“Clean energy is an important issue, especially in my field, because there’s fossil fuels and there’s an issue with carbon emissions so it’s important to regulate,” he said.
Jack Weatherford, a freshman from Plainview studying aviation flight, said he thinks going green is an important step the university should take. Green projects are under way in his job field, so he doesn’t mind that his tuition helps fund campus green projects, he said.
“I feel like that’s kinda where companies are trying to go,” he said. “With that being what society as a whole is trying to go for, I think that’s a good idea for the campus to have.”