Sustainable growth

This spring, the Quad’s vibrant cherry blossom trees will be given a run for their money. By then, a green wall — a diverse wall of vegetation — will cover the side of Gould Hall.

The green wall is a part of a Biodiversity Green Wall, Edible Green Screen + Water Harvesting Demonstration project. The green screen will be for plants that are planted in the ground and climb like vines, which will allow students to explore the concept of vertical surfaces as a way to grow local plants when space in an urban environment is limited. The water-harvesting demonstration portion will capture water from the roof of Gould Hall and store it in a cistern to be used for irrigation.

“[The three parts of the project] all feed off of each other,” said Leann Andrews, lab manager at the UW College of Built Environments’ Green Futures Lab. “We want to make it holistic.”

This project, which will receive $86,800 in funding, is one of the five projects approved by the Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) for its first round of projects this year. The CSF arose in 2009 from a student initiative to have more involvement with the UW’s sustainability efforts. Funding is provided for projects that will lower the UW’s environmental impact, and UW students, staff, and faculty are all eligible to apply for funding. The CSF receives its funding from the Services and Activities Fee (SAF), a quarterly $118 fee imposed on students.

“Students essentially realized that we were working on all these sustainability projects, and the administration was working on [projects], but there was no connecting unit,” said Katie Stultz, the CSF student engagement coordinator. “There was no ability for students to really have a stake in what sustainability projects were happening on campus.”

The CSF was created to solve this problem, and, over the past two years, it has provided more than $300,000 to student-led projects. The expansion of the UW Farm and the implementation of five bicycle repair stations across campus are two examples of the 16 projects the fund contributed to last year.

“[The idea of the fund was] to really create a model for getting students involved with making [environmental] change on campus,” Stultz said.

The CSF will give out a total of $180,227 to the five projects, which make up the first of two rounds of projects the fund will sponsor this year.

This round, $78,637 will be given to a Yard Waste Composting Program. The project will construct a new compost site for green waste on campus.

Additionally, Husky Sustainable Storms, a student initiative, will receive $9,220 from the CSF for the planning of a parking lot bioswale that will convey water from one place to another, using native plants and soils to direct water, and will help eliminate water pollution.

“It’s a demonstration for students to see … the natural adjustments you can make to improve water,” said Patrick Green, an urban planning and public affairs graduate student who is involved with the project.

The bioswale will be built after the group acquires additional funds this spring or summer. Green said the project will be visible to everyone and he hopes it will improve awareness about water quality.

The other two projects are being financed on a smaller scale.

A grant of $3,950 will go to the Student Sustainability Service-Learning Liaison project, which will “fund a graduate or advanced undergraduate student to work as the sustainability service-learning liaison” at the Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center. The center organizes on-campus environmental volunteer opportunities and helps students engage with sustainability projects in a hands-on fashion.

The CSF will also give a grant to the Biodiesel Cooperative.

Grant Williamson, a senior studying chemical engineering, is a member of the cooperative, which received $1,620 for their efforts to convert waste cooking oil from UW Housing and Food Services into biodiesel for UW vehicles.

“It’ll give students experience and help make them leaders in the alternative energy industry,” said Williamson about the project, which will be completely undergraduate-run.

The cooperative will have its standard operating procedure ready by the end of January, a lab in which to run the testing of their conversions by February, and the testing finished by mid-March.

Currently, the CSF is accepting letters of intent for its second round of projects. Letters are due by Feb. 20, and final deliberation about accepted proposals will be completed by May 4.

Applications for smaller-scale projects are encouraged after the CSF committee saw mainly large-scale proposals during the first round of projects, Stultz said.

“The biggest thing is that we have an opportunity for students on a small scale,” Stultz said. “So if students want to host a film series or smaller events, they can apply for funding. … We don’t just exist for these major large-scale projects.”

In mid-February, the CSF committee plans on holding an open house featuring both old and new projects it has sponsored. It will also use April’s Earth Day as an opportunity to display the projects it has funded for the next two quarters.

“[CSF] helped us shape [our project] around student learning and student involvement,” Andrews said. “[They helped us] center it more around benefiting the whole campus.”

Reach reporter Katie Pine at news@dailyuw.com.

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