Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Environmental Council funds projects

The University of Alabama Environmental Council is looking for input from the University and Tuscaloosa communities for its new $350,000 Sustainability Investment Project.

If implemented, the SIP plans to use student investment in its first year, through a fee of 50 cents per credit hour, to generate more than $350,000 for sustainable campus projects. Half of that investment will go to a Student Sustainability Fund, which will fund the aforementioned proposals after being selected by a committee and passing a student-majority vote.

The other half will go to a Green Revolving Loan Fund, through which UA administrators can invest in green infrastructure projects with a two-year guaranteed return on investment.

While students may initially reject an extra fee, UA ECo feels this project is worthy of student support.

“When we invest in sustainability on campus, we invest in ourselves as a student body – our quality of life as well as opportunities for leadership and innovation,” said Caitlin McClusky, a senior in New College and Statewide Sustainable Investment Project coordinator. “SIP not only creates a dedicated pool of funding for energy-saving projects that can save the University money, but gives students the power to decide which projects are best suited for the campus and the opportunity for a practical educational experience at the same time.”

(See also “Environmental Council’s community garden to fights for real food”)

Jackson Wilke, a sophomore majoring in geography and a member of UA ECo, said similar initiatives have been passed at other SEC schools.

“None of them place the success and learning of students first like this one,” Wilke said. “This is a chance to see what great ideas students and faculty can develop together, if they are given the chance.”

Wilke said UA students are already responding to the initiative.

“ECo put out a call for proposals only a week ago, and already we are hearing students talk about projects they are interested in developing. As more students and faculty hear about this initiative, we expect to receive more formal proposals,” Wilke said.

Aaron Traywick, a student at the University of Montevallo and Public Relations Director for the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment, said there is a definite need for a project like this at The University of Alabama.

Traywick was among the students at the University of Montevallo who set up the first green fund for any school in Alabama. With just $30,000 per year, students there have started about 30 projects in two years, including creating the first city-wide bike sharing system in the state of Alabama.

Additionally, the fund provided for changes to Montevallo’s observatory, including the connection of solar energy to the building and creation of an 800 gallon rainwater collection tank that uses reverse osmosis. Energy efficient solar shades installed in the library reduced the library’s energy costs by about 30 percent, Traywick said.

“We’re talking about a quarter of a million dollars for student projects,” Traywick said. “At UA, the possibilities are endless. UA has the potential to lead the way for other universities and really for the state. I’m really excited.”

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