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UMD Announces University Sustainability Fund 2017 Projects

April 20, 2017

Andrew Muir, 301-405-7068 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- On the eve of the nation’s 47th Earth Day, the University of Maryland’s Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce its Sustainability Fund projects approved for 2017. The Sustainability Fund provides grants to students, faculty and staff for the implementation of projects that will improve sustainability on campus or in the local community.

Projects approved for funding by the Student Sustainability Fund Review Committee and the University Sustainability Council include:

“This year, we received a number of outstanding proposals,” said Scott Lupin, director, Office of Sustainability. “The University Sustainability Fund is an ongoing commitment by the undergraduate students to support real projects that further campus sustainability efforts. Each of the approved projects lend themselves to furthering the campus standing as a model of a green university.” 

Starting fall 2018, the Master’s Degree in Sustainability will offer two capstone project courses focused on recent developments in analytics, technology, and implementation strategies. In the capstone courses, students will work on projects driven by compelling issues for actual case studies, such as the university’s sustainability goals.

“The Master’s Degree in Sustainability grant is an exciting new educational development, setting forth steps to create an interdisciplinary sustainability master’s degree program at UMD,” said Jelena Srebric, professor, Mechanical Engineering. “The main project idea is to have a program that integrates interested university departments, institutes and colleges to create a campus-wide offering.”   

The Solar Decathlon grant marks an important multi-discipline collaboration for the university. UMD won first place in the 2011 Solar Decathlon for its WaterShed house, which can be viewed at the Pepco Facility in Rockville, Md. The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the A. James Clark School of Engineering are leading this year’s entry, entitled (re) ACT.    

"The Sustainability Fund grant is crucial to supporting Team Maryland's efforts in the Solar Decathlon 2017,” said Raymond Adomaitis, professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “The grant comes at a time when we are completing the house design. The funds will be used to support student-led prototyping and system integration teams to assess and fine-tune our design innovations."

Another noteworthy project includes “Student Leadership in Community Sustainability and Resiliency.” This grant aims to accelerate undergraduate and graduate student involvement in the development and implementation of sustainability and resiliency projects on campus and in the surrounding communities. 

"The university is expanding our collaborative engagement off campus, and students will play a critical role in making these initiatives a success,” said Andrew Fellows, director of the Campus Community Connection (C3) project, which is housed under the National Center for Smart Growth and the iSchool. “Enhanced experiential learning opportunities, expansion of applied research and better communications with campus neighbors are just a few of the benefits of student leadership.”

The Fund continues to support maintaining and improving existing campus infrastructure and buildings. Grants will be issued for projects to enhance and increase recycling on campus and in Old Town, as well as providing project support for energy efficient lighting upgrades in Ritchie Coliseum and evaluating the efficiency of several campus buildings.

Research and education will also continue to be a focus for the Fund, with grants issued to support the creation of a Carbon Management Course in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Gemstone research projects, and the Voices of Social Change lecture by Jean-Michel Costeau on UMD Social Justice Day.

The Sustainability Fund was created in April 2007 after 91 percent of undergraduate students voted in favor of increasing student fees to create a University Sustainability Fund. Since 2011, the fund has granted $1.8 million to 108 sustainability projects.  For more information about the University Sustainability Fund, please visit sustainabilityfund.umd.edu; to watch a short video on how UMD makes a big impact through small steps click here.

Students, faculty, and staff will come together to celebrate campus sustainability at the UMD Earth Day Festival on Friday, April 21 from Noon-4pm at the Stamp Grand Ballroom. Featured speakers include Dr. Sacoby Wilson, School of Public Health and Dean Gregory Ball, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. For a full listing of Earth Day and Earth Month events, visit go.umd.edu/earthmonth