'Green fee' grant gets students brainstorming
By Eriver Eugenio
WWU University Communications Intern
With a $300,000 grant available for projects to help Western become more environmentally friendly, students, faculty and staff are developing innovative ideas on how to spend the money.
Proposals, which were due April 18, include placing solar panels on the Environmental Studies building, using bikes in the Wade King Recreation Center to create energy, and installing wind turbines.
The money comes from the quarterly, student-funded Green Energy Fee aimed at reducing the school's environmental impact. Hilary McGowan, president of AS club Students for Renewable Energy, said the fee was raised from $4 to $7 after more than 80 percent of student voters approved renewing and expanding the fee in the 2010 campus election.
In addition to the sustainability projects, the student fee provides funds to purchase renewable energy certificates allowing Western to receive 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.
"The green fee addresses two primary issues," McGowan said, "using green energy and lowering overall consumption."
Proposals, which were due April 18, include placing solar panels on top of the Environmental Studies building, using bikes in the Wade King Recreation Center to create energy, and installing wind turbines on campus.
Projects will be evaluated on their potential to reduce Western's environmental impact, increase student education, and create campus awareness.
The Green Energy Fee Program is a great way to get students involved and allow students to make a difference on campus, McGowan said.
Kathryn Freeman, the Green Energy Fee advisor, said there is no limit on how many projects may be funded by the Green Energy Fee, but the committee is looking to spend all of the funding this year.
McGowan said thanks in large part to the Green Energy Fee, Western has placed 15th on the EPA Green Energy List for College and Universities and is a recipient of the EPA Green Power Leadership Award in 2005.