The University of Maryland’s Office of Sustainability recently announced University Sustainability Fund grants approved for 2019. The Fund provides grants to students, faculty, and staff for the implementation of projects that will improve sustainability on campus or in the local community.
This funding cycle marked a landmark year for the Sustainability Fund, with more grant money distributed than ever before: a grand total of $450,633. It also included the largest grant ever allocated from the Fund for a single project: $150,000 for the Ocean Friendly Campus: UMD Plastic Waste Reduction, Phase 2 project from Dining Services with support from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and Student Sustainability Committee. It also included the first time students voted to use Fund money to invest in carbon offset projects to neutralize emissions from undergraduate student commuting.
“This year’s funding cycle resulted in campus support for many excellent initiatives and exciting sustainability projects,” said Scott Lupin, director, Office of Sustainability. “The undergraduate student initiative, with support from the SGA, to offset undergraduate student commuting emissions and the Ocean Friendly Campus project to reduce single-use plastics particularly stand out. The grants also support many other quality projects including research efforts that may have valuable long-term benefits to the campus. The university should be proud of what this Fund has accomplished.”
2019 Grants approved by the Sustainability Fund Review Committee and the University Sustainability Council include:
Eliminating the Climate Impact of Undergraduate Student Commuting Emissions: $50,000
A Smart, Connected, and Sustainable Campus Community: $42,710
Net Zero Energy Retrofit Initiative: $29,000
Weather Technology HVAC Strategy for Stamp: $25,000
Pro Moss Treatment of ERC Cooling Tower, Cold Water & Hot Water Loops: $24,000
Terps vs. Pros Sustainable Food Challenge: $20,000
Lewisdale Elementary School Flooding Prevention and Courtyard Restoration: $13,500
Maryland Food Collective Dishwasher: $6,206
Creating A UMD Sustainability Video: $5,000
South Hill Exterior Water Bottle Fill Station: $5,000
GEMstone Team NO SALT: $3,722
Bicycle Recycle Program: $3,500
Banners to Bags: $3,000
Using Macro Algae to Remove Heavy Metals from Water: $855
The Plastic Waste Reduction project represents significant action the university is taking to address the worldwide issue of plastic pollution. Through the grant, Dining Services will replace approximately 1.3 million plastic items including bags, utensils, and straws in campus cafes and shops with recyclable or compostable alternatives. Dining Services also aims to reduce the number of paper bags used on campus by encouraging customers to use reusable bags and providing one complimentary reusable bag for every student who lives on campus, paid for by the Sustainability Fund.
“By making changes to our resident dining model, we have already been able to remove over six million pieces of disposable products from the resident dining waste stream every year,” said Colleen Wright-Riva, director, Dining Services. “Students are eager for the next step and this grant will enable us to extend our plastic reduction efforts to include retail outlets: the cafes and convenience shops. Using this generous grant, and partnering closely with the SGA and RHA, we will bring about an impactful decrease in the amount of disposable plastic used on this campus. This is an exciting opportunity and we are grateful to the Sustainability Fund for facilitating this important work.”
Another landmark project includes Eliminating the Climate Impact of Undergraduate Student Commuting Emissions. This project is the first time the Student Government Association (SGA) has voted to use Fund money to purchase carbon offsets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting. Undergraduate commuting emissions represented 7 percent of UMD’s carbon footprint in 2017 and 100% of those emissions will be offset for 2018 and beyond.
"The Sustainability Fund has always inspired a commitment to climate action, since the first student-driven Renewable Energy Credits purchase in 2010,” said Amelia Avis, director, student sustainability committee. “Today, in light of an increasingly urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions, the student body is continuing our commitment to address climate change with the tools available to us. Our hope is the entire university community will join us in our efforts."
Other grants approved this cycle include the Algal “Terp” Scrubber from the UMD chapter of the American Ecological Engineering Society, which could introduce an innovative stormwater treatment technology to campus; the Stamp Student Union’s Weather Technology HVAC Strategy to make the building’s heating and cooling system responsive to outside temperature and humidity; a digital video series Terps vs. Pros Sustainable Food Challenge created by students in the School of Public Health; and a grant for the Department of Transportation Services to create a more robust campus bicycle recycle program.
Since 2011, the University Sustainability Fund has granted $2.6 million to 137 sustainability projects. For more information: sustainabilityfund.umd.edu
The University of Maryland, Office of Sustainability supports and advances environmental performance, economic prosperity and social equality through sustainable policies, practices and curricula for the campus community. Contact: Andrew Muir, Communications Manager, Office of Sustainability, 301-405-7068.