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Council to decide on Green Fee allocation

Student proposals for on-campus energy efficiency will soon become a reality.

On Oct. 18, the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) Council will meet for the first time to discuss the 15 proposals submitted by students and employees. There is a little more than $400,000 in the fund.

Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability, said students submitted about half the proposals received.

Before the council convenes for its once-per-semester meeting, the SGEF Technical Advisory Group will review the projects and provide the council with feedback related to project feasibility and return on investment, Wells said.

“They go through the proposals, but they’re really focused on the return on investment for the projects,” he said. “Is this a good investment of the funds? Will it pay itself off in a short period of time?”

Yogi D. Goswami, co-director of the Clean Energy Research Center and professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, is a member of the Technical Advisory Group.

“(We’ll look at) what benefits are we getting in terms of either energy conservation, reduction of the energy used, or production of renewable energy for our use?” Goswami said.

Of the proposals Wells glanced at, one that he said caught his attention was a proposal to build solar panels on the pergola outside the Marshall Student Center.

“It’s a great use of space,” he said.

Wells said the only requirement for the proposals was to incorporate energy conservation or renewable energy technologies.

Once a project is approved for funding, the group that submitted the proposal will be responsible for its implementation, Wells said. He added that the work will be managed by Fund Manager Zaida Darley and overseen by the School of Global Sustainability.

The smallest amount of money requested for a project was $45,000, while the largest amount was $100,000, Wells said.

“It’s possible that the council will look at all the projects and will want to fund them all, but not all at the level requested,” he said.

Wells added that each proposal was submitted with a timeline that included a completion date for the project. According to the timelines, a few of the projects may be completed before the end of the fall semester, while the majority may take until the end of the spring semester.

“We’re hoping that they all get completed this academic year, so that students who are paying for this fund can see the results,” he said.

On Friday, Wells was working on the finishing touches for a website created for members of the council and the technical advisors, so they can provide comments on the proposals.

Council members will examine the comments submitted by the technical advisors before they meet, and discuss them at the meeting, Wells said.

Vice President of the Student Environmental Association and council member Joseph Michalsky, a junior majoring in civil engineering and computer science, said he thinks students should be interested in the fund because the Green Energy Fee impacts them directly.

“By having these projects that make the University more environmentally sustainable, you are in turn reducing the cost of running the University, which in the long run could make going to USF less expensive,” he said.

Wells said he anticipates that the awards for the approved proposals will be given out no later than the first week of November.

“From the projects that I’ve seen, we really anticipate that the projects that will be approved, and you’ll see come into fruition on campus, are going to be very visible,” he said. “They seem to be very creative, very innovative, very visible kinds of projects, so I’m really excited to see them come to fruition.”