Thanks to a $5 fee, East Tennessee State University students, faculty and staff will benefit from nine projects that will be an even bigger step toward sustainability on campus.
According to Kathleen Moore, director of ETSU’s Department of Sustainability, in 2008 students voted to assess themselves the $5 fee each semester and each year the Green Fee Committee has around $130,000 to use from that fund to help pay for environmentally, socially and economically sustainable projects, programs and initiatives at the university.
“We have a Green Fee Committee ... that is made up of seven voting members and four of them are students, so students have majority rule on the committee and they do vote on which projects should go ahead, and then our senior administrators have the final approvals,” Moore said. “This year they have come up with quite a few different thing. We had over 30 projects that were submitted ... and they chose projects, quite a few of them, at our (Wayne G. Basler Center for Physical Activity), because our students use that very heavily.”
One of the “green” projects includes light sensors that will shut off when motion activity is inactive and will help conserve electricity in the bathrooms, locker rooms and shower areas in the CPA.
Moore said another funded project from the fee includes an Ecomill treadmill that she said “is a treadmill that is basically self-powered. There’s no energy to (power) it. We already have two of them and the CPA wants to order some more.”
The Buc Bikes program, a bicycle project that supplies students with a bike rental option for traveling on and around the campus community, will also benefit from the sustainability fee.
“We have yellow bikes, which are bikes that have been donated to the campus or abandoned on the campus and we fix them up and they’re available for people to use. Last year we actually upgraded our bikes and we purchased quite a few beautiful Schwinn bikes ... with baskets and helmets and the whole deal and you can actually rent these bikes,” Moore said. “The Green Fee Committee decided to help supplement that program again, so they are going to hire ... some student labor to help maintain those bikes. We also are going to purchase some signs to ... advertise about the program, so it gets more use.”
Installing a photovoltaic, or solar, system on the roof of the CPA is also in the works for later this spring.
“What we’re looking at right now is a passive solar system that will help us defray the energy use ... in that building,” Moore said. “There’s a great grant that’s available right now, if you give so much money –– provide matching money for energy efficiency projects –– they will match it. It’s through (the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation). We’re hoping ... we’ll be able to both do that $100,000 system, but also use it as leverage toward other projects.”
Other projects include a sustainable bus shelter, a hydration station for filtered drinking water for James H. Quillen College of Medicine students, as well as a preparing the initial design work for a campus sustainability center.
“Basically we want to set aside a small building on the campus that is built with green building techniques,” Moore said. “We really want to build a building that’s off the grid so we can show students the possible things that you can do and have it as a highlight for students that come for tours, but basically as an educational space and as a gathering space for our students to have programs to ... talk about environmental or sustainability related projects.”
Moore said most of the new projects will be done by the end of the spring semester, with many plans for the projects already being executed.
Cheyenne Peavler, sustainability outreach coordinator, said having these projects accessible to the student body does help engage students and inform them about sustainability.
“It’s really important I think that we have these projects just because so many people don’t even know what sustainability is and as far as ... educating about that in the classroom, we can talk about it with actually having these projects as a tangible resource for them,” Peavler said.