PHILADELPHIA â€“- As the University of Pennsylvania awards eight new Green Fund grants for sustainable campus projects, it is beginning to see the impact of several others funded in the past.
This new round of awardees includes funding for:
â€˘ Ozone washing machines at Pottruck Gymnasium.
â€˘ A water density system at the Penn Ice Rink.
â€˘ A campus chemical inventory and waste management system.
â€˘ The start up of a sustainability journal in the Earth and Environmental Science Department.
â€˘ An energy audit at New Bolton Center.
â€˘ A bike-sharing pilot program.
â€˘ A Penn Shuttle efficiency system.
â€˘ Franklin Farmers, a network of local gardeners who will aim to raise awareness of health issues in the community.
Pennâ€™s Green Fund was launched in 2009 to seed new project ideas from faculty, students and staff that support the goals and objectives of Penn's Climate Action Plan, a long-range strategy to reduce the Universityâ€™s carbon footprint and enhance its overall sustainability.
Since that time, 36 one-time grants of $300-50,000 were awarded competitively for ideas designed to improve Pennâ€™s environmental performance. Thirteen have been completed, while several others are expected to wrap up this spring.
The design of Pennâ€™s Green Fund is unique.
â€śOther schools provide money for sustainability, but typically they can be accessed only for large energy or retrofit projects,â€ť David Hollenberg, the university architect, said. â€śThe schools then make other smaller grants available for students to implement local greening projects, such as campus gardens and community recycling initiatives. Pennâ€™s Green Fund is unusual in that the grants are available to students, faculty and staff and range from building improvements to smaller scale ones that engage the campus community in behavior change and education.â€ť
When considering Green Fund applications, the Review Board, comprised of students, faculty and staff, looks for, among other criteria, collaboration across the University.
â€śCross-collaboration of students, faculty and staff shows that concern about sustainability exists at all levels of the university,â€ť Dan Garofalo, the sustainability coordinator said. â€śWhen we see evidence that these groups are working together, it shows us that our community is meeting President Gutmannâ€™s goal of integrating sustainability as a core university value.
â€śFinancially, when proposals include an anticipated return on investment, weâ€™re looking for a payback in three years or less,â€ť he said. â€śSo just now, we should be beginning to recoup funds from prior awards. Those funds can help contribute to the ongoing sustainability of the Fund.â€ť
The most effective and applicable past projects were those that had numerous stakeholders, as well as those developed by students.
â€śThe student ideas tend to be very successfulâ€ť Garofalo said. â€śThe Review Board is very supportive when students see an opportunity to improve campus sustainability and then take advantage of Green Fund financing.â€ť
The application deadline for the spring round of the Green Fund is March 15. Additional information on the Green Fund and how to apply is available at www.upenn.edu/sustainability/greenfund.html.