Green fee to fund several sustainability projects on campus

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Architecture senior Daniella Lewis lays down cardboard while volunteering at Micro Farm.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

UT will use $500,000 gathered from student fees to fund various new sustainability projects on campus this year, a move some hope will make the university’s green initiatives more widely known.

The Green Fee Initiative, funded by a $5 fee on every student’s tuition, will fund green projects including a rooftop garden, a micro farm, energy efficiency initiatives and a bat house. Collin Poirot, student vice chair of the Green Fee Committee, which coordinates the funds, said more project applications demonstrate student awareness of the initiative have grown.

“Students are finding out more and more that this resource exists for them,” he said.

Since its inception in 2010, the Green Fee has funded a tree nursery, recycling initiatives, water bottle filling stations on fountains and various composting projects.

Architecture senior Daniella Lewis received funding for the Micro Farm, a student initiative to grow
sustainable food on campus. Lewis said the farm works across several sustainability groups and hopes to make a visible difference with the funding it receives this year.

“I think part of a well-rounded education includes thinking about food and where it comes from,” she said.

Lewis said while her project is still in its beginning stages, she hopes it will eventually provide food for UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service like spices, herbs and organic tomatoes.

While the Green Fee has had more applications each cycle than it can fund, it is set to expire after summer 2016, according to the committee. In 2009, the state legislature authorized the fee and put a five-year limit on the collection. To be enacted after fall 2015, the fee must be voted on by a student referendum.

“There are going to have to be students who will gather themselves up for a campaign to reenact it,” UT Director of Sustainability Jim Walker said. “I think we’re implementing it really well, but stories about how well campus did on the green fee are going to be what enable students to feel confident about reenacting it again.”

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center also received funds this year to establish a green roof on what once was a patio cafe. Director of Gardens and Growing Andrea DeLong-Amaya said the roof should make some of the center’s research into green roofs more accessible to people.

DeLong-Amaya said while plans haven’t been finalized for the green roof’s layout, they have tentative plans for what it would look like.

“We want to have seasonal planting,” she said. “The idea is to have moveable walking surfaces, like grates that would be movable, and that they would cover plants that were dormant, and feature plants that are actively growing and blooming and looking nice.”

Printed on Monday, September 24, 2012 as: Fees fund sustainability