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ELF car among $90,000 of approved green fee projects

  • Green wheels
    Green wheels  W&M will use green fee funds to purchase a solar electric-assist bike car, known as an ELF, for student rental. VIMS already has one.  Photo by David Malmquist/VIMS
  • Green wheels
    Green wheels  An ELF car rolling in Durham, North Carolina, where manufacturer Organic Transit is headquartered. The cars are legally considered bicycles, making them versatile on campuses and in urban areas.  Photo courtesy Organic Transit
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The William & Mary Committee on Sustainability has awarded more than $90,000 in funding for spring and summer sustainability projects both on campus and in the local community, including money to purchase a solar-powered bike-car, known as an ELF.

Students will be able to check out the small, green ELF, outfitted with the W&M Sustainability logo and manufactured by Organic Transit. The ELF fits in a bike lane, making it an ideal cross-campus form of transportation. $1,860 was awarded to Lydia Francis ’17, W&M Student Environmental Action Coalition and advisor Calandra Waters Lake, director of sustainability, for the car, which will also be showcased at sustainability events.


The Green Fee program began as a grassroots student initiative in 2008. Since then, it has funded more than 200 sustainability projects led by students, faculty and staff around the William & Mary campuses. This semester saw a wide variety of proposals, from campus-wide initiatives to innovative sustainability research projects. Projects include:

Reducing Bird Window Strikes at Swem – It is estimated that up to 988 million birds die each year in the United States after striking buildings. Bird death data collected on campus between 2013 and 2015 have identified Swem’s southwest corner windows as a serious hazard. The W&M Bird Club recommends installing CollidEscape window film, which American Bird Conservancy estimates is up to 98 percent effective in reducing window strike deaths. $678 awarded to Megan Massa `18, Ohad Paris, MS `17 and advisor Dan Cristol, biology professor.

Shark Tagging and Signal Analysis in the Chesapeake Bay – Tagging is crucial for gathering data on aquatic wildlife, but at roughly $3,000 each, the tags are overpriced and underutilized. This project, “Sharkduino,” will make low-power, reusable tags for about $200 from existing hardware, including the Arduino Pro Mini. It will also develop signal processing techniques to find out the physical nature and occurrence rate of marine wildlife behavior, which is not well-known. $5,160 awarded to Benjamin Powell '18 and advisors Wouter Deconinck, associate professor of physics, and Kevin Weng, associate professor at VIMS.

Secure Futures Photovoltaic Feasibility Study - A professional feasibility study will be conducted by Secure Futures regarding the potential of installing solar panels on William & Mary Hall and the Recreation Center through a power purchase agreement with the solar company.  Virginia in 2013 passed legislation allowing third-party PPAs for wind and solar to be available to schools, universities, faith communities, local governments and nonprofits in Dominion Virginia Power territory. Under the program, a third-party owns and maintains the solar equipment and sells the renewable energy to the customer, allowing the company to take advantage of the solar investment tax credit and the university to generate solar power without upfront costs. $900 awarded to Marty Cooke ’16, Anne Davis ’16, Liz Jacob ’17, Jason Zhang ’18 and advisor Professor Randy Chambers, Keck Lab director.

Crim Dell Restoration – Crim Dell’s bridge is a campus icon, but the area surrounding it has fallen into disrepair. This project continues work in the area removing non-native invasive plant species and improving the accessibility, safety and aesthetics of the area. The project includes installation of educational signs, structural trail improvements, new native plant species and a rock garden planned in collaboration with the geology department. The goal is to refashion the area as an inviting place where people can enjoy nature, relax and learn about sustainability on campus. $11,498 awarded to Jesse Smyth ‘18, Carolina May ‘18 and advisor Linda Morse, geology professor.

James River Park System Invasive Species Research – The James River Park System in Richmond has launched a citizen-science program to map non-native invasive plant species. This project validates the data and methods of volunteers by mapping the actual cover of invasive species in a subset of the 83 management units. The research has implications for citizen science and on the use and publication of this methodology. $4,750 awarded to Jesse Smyth ‘18 and advisor Doug DeBerry, visiting assistant professor of biology.

Mapping Invasive Plants in Virginia’s Coastal Plain – This identifies the location and spread of invasive vascular plant species in the coastal plain of Virginia by first cataloging herbarium specimens and, after identifying gaps in distribution records, conducting field collections. Cataloged data will be published through the Southeastern Regional Network of Expertise and Collections data portal, and the results will be sent for inclusion in the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora database, making the information available for research and removal efforts. $5,020 awarded to Erin Chapman ‘17 and advisor Beth Chambers, herbarium curator.

Sustainable Art – Three art installations focus on nature, human use and sustainability. “Nature’s Oration,” by Lowry Palmer ’17 is a wire sculpture of an orator’s hand at the Cove Amphitheater, which is being reclaimed by nature. “Mom, Look, Birds” by Ada Hao ’16 and Lindsay Garcia, Ph.D. ’19 was a one-night-only exhibition in Millington Hall’s basement of live performance, video, sculpture, photography and other art engaged with ecology. “Back to the Earth” is the senior art show of Zoe Powell ’16, who used three new techniques in ceramics: using local clay, firing in wood-burning kilns or pit fires and coloring with natural oils and pigments. $1,250 awarded to Lowry Palmer, $530 to Ada Hao and Lindsay Garcia, and $742 to Zoe Powell. Alan Braddock, professor of art history and American studies, is the faculty advisor for all three projects.

Combating Packaging Waste – Three projects address food packaging. One provides biodegradable containers for Campus Kitchens, which provides complete meals for nearly 200 food-insecure families in the community. A second project would replace paper bags with reusable lunch bags for the 2,500 people served lunch during Day for Admitted Students. The third project has the Sadler Center replacing disposable take-out containers with rigid-plastic containers that can be returned through an Ozzi collection machine for reuse. $800 awarded to Annie Goldblatt ’17, Thomeka Watkins ’18 and advisor Bria Brown, community engagement health and nutrition fellow, for Campus Kitchens; $6,000 to Justine Okerson, associate dean of admission for Day for Admitted Students and $15,889 for the Ozzi machine to Stephen Moyer, operations manager and dining sustainability chair.

Green Gardens – Two projects install or improve community gardens. A nutrition garden will be established at Queens Lake Middle School in one project. In the second, VIMS’ community garden will get a 450-gallon rain barrel with a solar powered pump. $380 awarded to Thomeka Watkins ’19 and advisor Dennis Taylor, VIMS professor emeritus, for the Queens Lake garden and $837 awarded to Pamela Braff, Ph.D. ’19 and advisors Scott Lerberg, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stewardship coordinator, and Sarah Nuss, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve general education and outreach coordinator, for the rain barrel.

Recycling Bins – Four projects will provide new recycling bins in three academic buildings, VIMS, the Dillard Complex and at outdoor campus locations. $7,920 awarded to Audrey Kriva ’16, Committee on Sustainability subcommittee member; $7,629 to Kelley Uhlig, M.S. ’17, VIMS Green Team chair, and advisor Mark Brabham, director of facilities management; $5,836 to Londen Mance, facilities and operations intern, and advisors Michael Pritchett, assistant athletic director of facilities and operations, and Vicki Collier, coordinator of facilities and operations; and $3,665 to John Dutro, facilities management support services coordinator.

VIMS Greenhouse Gas Survey Update – This project updates the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s campus greenhouse gas inventory, last updated in 2011. The final survey report, posted to the VIMS website, identifies emission-generating activities and increases awareness of how to modify behaviors. $5,000 awarded to Kelley Uhlig, SMS ’17 and VIMS Green Team chair, and advisor Carl Hershner, Center for Coastal Resources Management director.

Community-Based Sustainability Culture Survey With an Emphasis On Race and Ethnicity – To help further advance W&M’s sustainability efforts, the project develops and distributes an online student survey to characterize the campus’ present culture of sustainability. The survey includes questions about sustainability-related behaviors and values, awareness of campus initiatives and how students racially and ethnically identity themselves. The information will help W&M improve sustainability efforts and ensure they are more inclusive, diverse and culturally aware. $4,248 awarded to Amirio Freeman ’17 and Anne Charity Hudley, associate professor of education, English, linguistics and Africana studies.

Recycling Outreach - William & Mary has participated in a nationwide competition known as RecycleMania since 2009. This project encourages increased recycling among students, faculty and staff through RecycleMania advertising, promotions and events. $330 awarded to Jason Zhang ’18 and advisor Calandra Waters Lake, director of sustainability.

Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 2016 Conference Sponsorship – In October, William & Mary will be an official sponsor of the AASHE 2016 Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. This sponsorship includes two student summit passes, one full conference registration and a display table in the expo hall. The sponsorship demonstrates W&M’s commitment to sustainability and to collaborative events that foster solutions to sustainability challenges. $1,500 awarded to Calandra Waters Lake, director of sustainability.