NC State Sustainability Fund awards inaugural grants to improve campus

One of the projects that received a Sustainability Fund grant is a pilot program for improving campus bike share programs through the addition of mobile app-controlled bike locks. Photo courtesy of BitLock

Get ready for new bikes, solar energy and a community garden on campus courtesy of the NC State Sustainability Fund.

At the beginning of May, the student-led board of the Sustainability Fund awarded $30,000 of grant funding among five project proposals to improve campus sustainability.  The grant funding is generated by a $1.50 per semester student fee that students voted to create in 2012.

“The initial round of funded projects is everything we could have hoped for. The projects vary greatly in impact and reach all the way across the spectrum of sustainability. I am very excited to watch these projects come to life on campus next year,” said student board member Nathan Pedder, who will chair the fund’s board next year.

Numerous grant proposals totaling $200,000 were submitted by students, faculty and staff during the fund’s inaugural request for proposals earlier in the spring semester. The student-led board, which also includes staff and faculty, selected to fund the following projects:

  • Purchase of 12 bikes, bike maintenance items and 24 smart locks to support three existing campus bike sharing programs. More than half the locks feature Bluetooth technology that allows users to unlock and lock shared bikes through a mobile app. This pilot program will allow a student committee to assess the technology’s viability on campus, as well as providing usage, travel and CO2 avoidance data.
  • Start-up funds for an NC State chapter of the Food Recovery Network, a national non-profit that combats community hunger by delivering uneaten dining hall food to local nonprofits. The grant will provide for marketing, food transportation, reusable food containers and food thermometers. In addition to providing food for those in need, this project will reduce university food waste.
  • Development of a community garden, passive solar greenhouse and apiary near the College of Veterinary Medicine. Together with the greenhouse, the garden will provide local, fresh produce and medicinal plants year-round. In addition to aiding with garden pollination, the apiary will educate students and campus visitors about the importance of honey bees to the environment and agriculture. The project is coordinated by the college’s One Health interest group.
  • Installation of a sculptural solar energy system near on Centennial Campus. Coordinated by the Park Scholars Class of 2015, the solar flora design features a table, chairs and a display screen tracking energy produced by the system and consumed by campus buildings. Solar energy produced by the system will power area lighting as well as an electronic charging station for users.
  • Installation of a solar trash compactor, which has five times the capacity of a conventional waste bin. The compactor uses solar energy to compress waste and reduce the frequency at which a trash receptacle must be emptied. The project, which is coordinated by student organization Students for Solar, is a pilot project that will test whether compactors are an effective way to reduce cost and pollution related to campus waste collection.

Project implementation begins in July and concludes by summer 2015.

“As excited as I am for this year’s projects to get underway and to see the impact they have on campus, I’m more excited for the future of the Sustainability Fund. I believe that the Sustainability Fund’s impact on campus, student life and the environment will grow exponentially in the coming years,” Pedder said.

Next year the Sustainability Fund will offer up to $70,000 in grant funding for sustainability-related project proposals.