Student Green Energy Fee sees second round of proposals

New lighting fixtures and improved air conditioning units are just a few of the new projects being considered to make USF a greener campus.

The Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF), sponsored by a $1 per-credit-hour student fee, collected $300,000 in the fall semester and $400,000 in the spring to allocate to these sustainability projects on campus. Students, faculty and staff members submitted 12 new project proposals in the Fall proposal cycle, and the projects that were approved last semester are expected to be completed by May.

Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability, said about $23,000 of the SGEF money collected last semester was not used and will be added to the money collected this semester to fund more of the new proposals. The SGEF council, made up of six students and six USF employees, will vote on which projects to fund within the next two weeks, he said.

“Because we have some leftover funds from last cycle, there will be a lot more to distribute,” he said. “We had four projects (last semester). I’m hoping we’ll have more than that this cycle so there will be a lot more going on on campus.”

Of the new proposals, the largest amount requested was $1 million to replace halide lighting fixtures in campus parking garages with new LED fixtures. Switching to the more efficient lighting could save USF $4 million over the next 10 years, Wells said.

Though the SGEF has not collected $1 million, Wells said a project could be continuously funded for up to three years according to procedures for the fund.

The smallest amount requested was $12,500 to install lighting controls, such as photo sensors, in residence halls, which would ensure that lights are turned off when not in use, he said.

Other proposals include $50,000 to calculate the carbon footprint left by USF’s irrigation system, $25,000 to create a power management system for campus computers to conserve energy and a project to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning system in the Juniper-Poplar residence hall.

While the council decides on the next batch of projects, the four proposals accepted last semester are in progress, said Zaida Darley, program coordinator for the Office of Sustainability.

Solar charging stations for USF golf carts have already been created, but are awaiting approval from TECO before they can be used. Darley said they should be operational “within a couple of weeks.”

Solar panels for the Marshall Student Center (MSC) roof and amphitheater canopy are also awaiting TECO approval. The solar panels on the MSC roof are completed, but the amphitheater panels are not, Darley said.

That project would also create an educational kiosk for the north entrance of the MSC to show students how much energy is being produced and saved through SGEF projects, as well as how much money they have saved USF.

Another project to install solar umbrellas outside the Champion’s Choice dining hall could be completed by April, Darley said. The umbrellas would allow students to charge electronics using solar energy without exhausting excess electricity.

Light bulbs in the Central Utility Plant could be replaced with more efficient ones by May, but there is a chance they won’t because the project’s personal investigator has not had the time to begin it, Darley said.

Wells said that if Physical Plant, which proposed the project, does not claim the $60,000 in funds by the end of this semester, it would be recycled and used for future projects.

The next deadline for SGEF project proposals is Oct. 1.