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Students going for green

10/24/2013

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October 24, 2013

Now in its third year, the Blue Goes Green grant is attracting applicants

By Amanda Grover

staff writer

Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 00:10

Nick Carpenter photo

USU Student Taylor Haslem checks her bicycle at a bike rack installed with funds from a Blue Goes Green grant.

This year’s Blue Goes Green grants will dedicate $20,000 to improving USU’s sustainability, according to Henry Easterling, a Student Sustainability Office intern.

Projects are expected to relate to energy management, waste reduction, recycling, alternative transportation or environmental education. The goal is to improve campus with innovative ideas, Easterling said.

“I think it’s a great way for people to get involved to make a measurable difference in sustainability and energy use on campus, but also to get grant-writing, involvement and awareness experience,” Easterling said.

The grants offer students the opportunity to implement sustainability projects on campus.

Liz Kirkham, an SSO intern, said it allows students real-world experience while still in school. They can do something tangible, with visible effects, and prepare for and learn how to enter a career field.

“We really hope students do get involved, because ultimately the goal is to see the environmental impact of students reduced,” said Sean Damitz, director of the Utah Conservation Corps.

He said the application is straightforward and reviewed by a grant review committee, mostly consisting of USU students nominated from each of the colleges. Each student has exercised interest in sustainability and earned their position.

Accepted proposals will be teamed up with a USU facilities advisor to help them through the learning process and in implementing their projects, Damitz said.

The Blue Goes Green fee was passed in 2011 as a 25 cent-per-credit-hour fee to SSO. The money is handed back to the students through projects pursued from the grants.

“It benefits the students and the campus,” said Kate Stephens, assistant director of the SSO.

The fee was passed in part due to its alliance with USU President Stan Albrecht’s climate commitment, which calls for for USU to be carbon-neutral by 2050. The grant program involves students in the carbon-neutral initiative.

“Student driven change is the most important part of this program,” Kirkham said.

Previous projects can be seen in use today. These grant awards have funded water bottle filling stations located throughout campus, along with bicycle maintenance racks. The Edith Bowen Laboratory School now hosts an educational organic garden from a Blue Goes Green grant, according to Easterling and Kirkham.

Blue Goes Green also funds sustainability research projects. Psychological studies of air quality and Solar Algal Dryer have been implemented, according to Alexi Lamm, sustainability coordinator.

Proposals are encouraged. The opportunity for funding is available, and the results will be rewarding, according to Easterling. The projects affect the campus and all students, and they implement change.

“It makes a difference in our community,” Easterling said.

The application for Blue Goes Green can be located at usu.edu/bgg. The deadline is Nov. 1, but projects will be considered again in the spring. The sustainability office can be contacted at sso@usu.edu.

–amanda.grover12@gmail.com