“Green” projects put to vote

The Sustainable Campus Fee committee voted Tuesday on 11 projects to be disclosed to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval. The projects totaling $230,000 are aimed at making the campus more green–and more economical.”It allows us to make smart business decisions that will positively affect the future of the University,” SCF Chair Larry Wheaton said. “We’re trying to select projects that multiply the benefits to the students and campus-not just one-time benefits but reoccurring benefits.”

One of the largest sustainable projects aimed directly at students is the improvement of the intramural field lights.

The $48,000 project would replace the outdated incandescent light fixtures on the portion of the southwest field with lights that should yield 72 percent in energy savings every year. The new fixtures are said to last three times as long, cutting cost on maintenance.

“I think intramurals is one of the premier projects, especially when there is no funding anticipated for doing it any other way,” Wheaton said. “It’s a much needed project. It impacts students greatly from a safety standpoint. Good lighting when you’re playing contact sports is really important, and we’ve already seen the impact [with the new lights] of the southeast field.”

Following suit in directly impacting students, a seed fund of $500 for a bike share program was voted on. Being looked into by the honors department and backed by Student Affairs, the bike sharing program would make bicycles available on campus for students to use as transportation.

One of the more visible projects, “Going Green” light switch covers, was also passed. A group headed up by Water Resources Center engineer Yvette Clark provided the “green” graphics for the $4,000 project that will added to campus in the next few weeks.

Wheaton said he thinks this very simple addition to campus will be a great impact.

“I think (the light cover program) will reach beyond the campus in what we’re doing there,” Wheaton said. “In my opinion, I think that message will be carried over into their homes and to their churches, their other organizations-wherever they go, and it will be a constant reminder to be energy conscious and green.”

Also passed through to TBR were two duel green projects. The first will add two electric cars to the campus fleet and a second will fund a future solar re-energizing station.

The two new vehicles totaling $40,000 would be used by Postal Services and Telecommunications and would provide transportation with the equivalency of 180 miles per gallon.

Eventually becoming the charging station for the electric cars, the $10,000 solar panel project is a carry-over initiative from last year. The project is fronted by Tennessee Valley Authority in conjunction with the Power Center at Tech and is part of student research.

“The cars will already have benefitted the students with the shuttle service,” Wheaton said. “Once we actually get our solar panels going, we will actually be taking load off TVA’s generators for powering the cars to operate. That’s a double win, and that’s what we want to do.”

The fiscally largest project comes in at $55,000 and is a potential addition of a biodiesel lawnmower for the grounds crew. The 11-foot mower would replace three of the current mowers in efficiency, along with cutting Tech’s carbon foot print with the use of biodiesel.

Other projects include steam line monitors to the Campus Building Automations System, a more efficient water cooling units for the campus computer system, funding for a sustainable campus storm water student study, additions to the recycling program and the introduction of green cleaning supplies to selected buildings.

“It’s my goal to continue utilizing our committee meetings for better defining our entire sustainability program here on campus,” Wheaton said. “This is not a one person effort. We will continue with initiatives and developing opportunities to consider for the next round of funding.”

Wheaton said that students or faculty with ideas or who want to submit a grant should contact him or Hayden Mattingly. Grant submissions should comply with TBR program guidelines that can be found on the SCF website at www.tntech.edu/gogreen.