SRU awards Green Grant Funds
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - They say "Seeing is Believing," and those living in Slippery Rock University's residence hall suites will soon be able to see how their choices can have a direct impact on the environment and the University's carbon footprint.
A $20,000 project to install energy monitors and dashboard displays in SRU's A-F residence halls is one of four "Green Fund Grant" proposals approved by Acting President Charles Curry based on recommendations from SRU's Green Fund Advisory Board.
If successful in meeting a 3 percent energy usage savings projection, the University could save an estimated $1.5 million over 10 years, according to the project's grant application.
SRU students called for the implementation of the Green Fund program in 2008 as a means of both improving the University's carbon footprint and making the campus community more environmentally conscious.
This year's approved grants total $39,590.
"We had a number of very interesting and innovative programs. We selected the best for funding, but urge those who did not receive funding this round to resubmit their proposal next year," said Jerry Chmielewski, SRU biology professor and Green Fund Advisory Board chair.
The residence hall energy measuring system was submitted by Scott Albert, director of facilities at the University in collaboration with Kevin Currie, director of residence life, and the University's energy conservation committee.
Touch-screen computers in each hall's lobby will allow residents and visitors to see firsthand the buildings' energy consumption rates.
The software to be installed this summer will monitor water, electricity and condensate (water residue from steam heat) and is expected to launch friendly "dorm-war" competitions as students living the halls see how their behaviors directly impact the bottom line and the carbon footprint. Applications for additional grants from outside agencies to further support the project are pending.
Plans call for both pre- and post-surveys to see if the dashboards have the desired results of helping reduce energy consumption in the halls. Workshops on energy usage are planned to support energy reduction efforts.
"We hope this project will aid in reducing overall operating costs, while simultaneously helping students develop life skills that will shape their behavior in the future," Albert said. "We think the project will provide documentation to justify how education can reduce our energy consumption on campus and will help conserve SRU's financial resources."
Plans call for monthly monitoring of utility meter data.
More than 2,200 students reside in Buildings A-F.
If the project is as successful as anticipated, plans for expanding the dashboard system to other campus buildings will be discussed.
Other Green Fund Grants awarded were:
• $4,400 for installation of an electric meter at the University Union. The meter will also aid in measuring the effectiveness of energy initiatives implemented in campus buildings – and aid in reducing electricity usage and costs. Data obtained from the meter can be used to help design plans and programs to further reduce electrical consumption. Earlier Green Grants were used to install similar meters in other campus buildings. Albert wrote the proposal.
• $13,500 for implementation of a "Harnessing Human Energy" project proposed by Traci Zillifro, assistant professor of physical education. The project will convert the 13 elliptical machines in the Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center with technology that allows for the carbon-free generation of electricity produced from the kinetic energy of those using the machines.
The project was supported by Phi Epsilon Kappa, physical education honorary; Greg Sferra, director of the Campus Recreation; Brian Mortimer, coordinator of wellness and the Russell Wright Fitness Center; Herbert Carlson, assistant vice president for construction design and management, Mary Deemer, information writer in facilities and planning, and Zachary Pittman, a graduate student in parks and recreation management.
The technology conversion will be used to contribute to and showcase SRU's current sustainability efforts on campus, including the President's Climate Commitment, STARS report and LEED certifications.
Educational materials will be developed to inform users how much carbon-free energy is being generated, including the cumulative savings and the environmental implication of their contributions.
• $1,690 in support of the "2012 Campus Conversation on Climate Change and Regional Policy: An Exercise in Deliberative Democracy" project requested by Katherine Cooklin, associate professor of philosophy.
SRU is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University's Program for Deliberative Democracy" as part of the project that will run through fall.
The project's goal is to raise awareness and understanding of climate changes within the campus community and beyond. It is intended to foster a stronger commitment to civic engagement with regard to climate change and public policy. Findings from the project will be shared with policymakers at the state and local level.
The conversation groups, similar to focus groups, will be the source of the data. Approximately 150 participants will be recruited to join the sessions.
The Green Fund program is open to help fund environmentally friendly projects and program on campus. A total of 10 projects were submitted this semester.