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Green fee council selects 5 new sustainability projects

A new wave of environmentally friendly projects was awarded student-paid Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) funding on Monday, and could impact campus as early as this semester.

The SGEF council, comprised of students, faculty and staff, awarded the five approved proposals for energy-conserving projects around campus $269,510, according to Office of Sustainability Director and council chairman Christian Wells. The SGEF is funded through a student fee of $1 per credit hour, which was first implemented for the fall 2011 semester.

A proposal from Housing and Residential Services was awarded $12,340 to install lighting controls at Cypress Hall that would dim or brighten the lights, Wells said, and could be implemented this semester.

It depends on how much ambient light there is, how much light that comes through the buildings outside, he said. So the idea is that as it gets brighter outside, the lights inside would get dimmer, and when its darker, the lights would grow brighter.

A $50,000 project to reduce electricity consumption will use state-of-the-art methods to manage desktop computers on campus, Wells said. Submitted by students and a faculty member in the Department of Computer Sciences, new software would be installed in campus computers, which would allow them to go into sleep mode when not in use.

The project is unlikely to be ready this semester, though, Wells said.

Wells said upgrades to Juniper-Poplar Halls heating, ventilation and cooling system, requested by Physical Plant, will receive $104,760 in funding and would require a 30-day installation after an energy assessment is performed to determine how much energy could be saved through the new system.

The idea is kind of like a new sensing technology so that after a person leaves a room and the room is unoccupied, the unit would activate and gently set back to more energy-efficient temperatures, he said. And when someone comes in, the system would sense the person and start up again.

The campus will also see 15 more water fountains designed for efficient refilling of water bottles, thermoses and other beverage containers for $24,320. The fountains, Wells favorite project, will be installed in the Business and Administration building and the Faculty Office Building, among others.

The final project, proposed by Parking and Transportation Services (PATS), will replace existing

fluorescent lighting in the Crescent Hill Parking Garage with energy-saving LED lights, Wells said.

They require a lot less energy, but they give you the same luminosity, he said. And its really important to have that brightness, because of the nature of the garage, they tend to be rather dim.

PATS originally sought about $1 million for their project, Wells said, but the council decided only to fund them at $78,000, which is enough to replace half of the lights.

Wells said he hopes that, with the financial savings PATS sees as a result of the light swap, they could fund LED lights for the other half of the garage.

If that works out, then they can come back to the SGEF council to fund the rest, but I think the SGEF wanted to see if this if this is going to work yet, he said.

The five accepted proposals were narrowed down from a list of 12 finalized March 6. Susana Alvarado, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy, sits on the SGEF council and said some projects were funded over others because some projects lacked more of what the council as a whole was looking for.

I feel all projects funded were well spent and all projects that were not just lacked enough information for the council to justify spending the money on them, she said. However, they were encouraged to reapply and add any missing information on the new proposal.