Fund seeds green projects

cyclist

Penn’s efforts to save energy, save money, and educate the community about sustainability get an added boost twice a year, when the University’s Green Fund announces which projects will receive seed money to promote green living. 

The Green Fund, launched in 2009 as an initiative of Penn’s Green Campus Partnership, awards grants to groups of students, faculty, and staff for the development and implementation of inventive, environmentally friendly projects.

“Each time, there are some great examples of things that are not on our radar,” says Dan Garofalo, Penn’s environmental sustainability coordinator. Initiatives, he says, “we were not aware were opportunities.”
One of the eight projects selected by the Green Fund in December to receive up to $50,000 is PennCycle, a student-run, bike-share program. Modeled after car-share programs such as PhillyCarShare and Zipcar, PennCycle will rent bikes, along with all the necessary gear, including a helmet and a bike lock, to members when they need them. Members will be able to pick up and drop off the bikes at several locations across campus.

Students working with the Undergraduate Assembly developed the plan for PennCycle in 2009, and brought the idea to the Vice Provost for University Life’s Penn Student Agencies, which assists students in converting ideas into products and services. The Green Fund grant covers the start-up costs of the cycle service, including the purchase of the bikes and related equipment.

“Many students come [to campus] with their bikes, or they get bikes when they get here,” says Audrey Edmondson, general manager of Penn Student Agencies. “Hopefully if this is successful, in a few years we’ll be seeing people really sharing.”

PennCycle also plans to provide jobs and management experience to students who will train incoming students to sustain and expand the program in future years. If all goes as planned, PennCycle could be launched as early as March.

Other recent Green Fund recipients include:

• An initiative by the Department of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics to install energy-saving, low-water-use, ozone technology washing machines that use cold water and no bleach to wash towels and other items at the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center.

• An initiative by Transportation Services to create a more efficient Penn Shuttle routing system that will help save gas and reduce emissions. By entering passengers’ destinations into a computer tablet, bus drivers will be able to compute the shortest route to all their stops.

• A network of Penn gardeners established by the Urban Nutrition Initiative called Franklin’s Farmers. The gardeners will grow fruits and vegetables as part of a program to increase awareness about health and environmental issues throughout West Philadelphia.

For more information about the Green Fund and to learn more about other grant recipients, go to www.upenn.edu/sustainability/greenfund.html.

Originally published on January 19, 2012