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From bees to LEDs, grants support sustainability projects across W&M

  • Busy bee:
    Busy bee:  One of the grants will be used to start two active beehives on campus and buy beekeeping classes from the Colonial Beekeeping Association.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Community garden:
    Community garden:  One of the grants will enable reconstruction of the beds in the community garden at W&M's Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  VIMS photo
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The William & Mary Committee on Sustainability awarded more than $50,000 in funding to faculty, students and staff in the fall for sustainability projects on campus and in the local community through Green Fee grants.

The Green Fee program began as a grassroots student initiative in 2008. Since then, it has funded more than 200 sustainability projects.

The fall semester saw a wide variety of proposals, from campus-wide initiatives to innovative sustainability research projects. The funded projects include:

Reducing Bird Window Collisions on Campus

$2,613 to Nick Newberry ’17, Ohad Paris M.S. ’17 and Dan Cristol, Professor of Biology

It is estimated that up to 988 million birds die each year from building collisions in the U.S. alone. Birds of national conservation concern are among the many species especially vulnerable to collisions.

Bird death data collected between 2013 and 2016 on the William & Mary campus have identified the glass lobby of the Muscarelle Museum of Art as a serious hazard to birds, causing up to 360 deaths every year.

The W&M Bird Club is collaborating with the Muscarelle to install highly-effective window treatments that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified and tested by the American Bird Conservancy. Treating the Muscarelle glass lobby will prevent the deaths of hundreds of federally protected birds every year, thereby preserving local wildlife well into the future, while setting an example for other college campuses in Virginia and nationwide.

Beekeeping Club Start-Up

$858.71 to Claire Murphy ’19, Ben Lazarus ’19, Casey Maclean ’18 and Randy Chambers, Director of W&M Keck Environmental Laboratory

The goal of this project is to inform the William & Mary community about the sustainability of beekeeping as well as to teach students how to actually keep bees.

The funding will be used to start two active beehives on campus and buy beekeeping classes from the Colonial Beekeeping Association. Once the hives are established, members of Beekeeping Club will harvest the honey and sell it locally to cover maintenance costs and become self-sufficient.

VIMS Community Garden Beds and Compost Co-op

$3,055 to Mark Stratton ’17 and Dave Wilcox, VIMS Biological Sciences

Since 2012, the community garden at W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science has provided space for VIMS faculty, students and staff to grow healthy food for their families, recycle organic waste via composting and build a sense of community through the exchange of environmentally-friendly gardening knowledge.

The funding will enable reconstruction of aging wooden raised garden beds, allowing the addition of topsoil and compost to immediately improve soil fertility. To ensure long-term soil fertility, a compost co-op will be established to expand organic waste recycling to additional members of the VIMS community. On-site educational signage will inform garden visitors about the process and benefits of composting.

Branch Out Waste Reduction

$1,380 to Ellen Yates ’17 and Meghan Foley, Community Engagement Fellow for Alternative Breaks

Students on Branch Out Alternative Break teams shop for food and prepare it together while on alternative breaks around the country. The hosting community or housing partners often provide paper or plastic utensils and dishware for use during the break.

This funding allows the Branch Out program, operated by the Office of Community Engagement, to purchase 120 mess kits and 100 reusable grocery bags. Given that about 200 students will travel on an alternative break this year, this initiative is expected to eliminate the need for large amounts of food-related paper and plastic waste while also limiting the burden placed on hosting organizations.

Early Childhood Environmental Education Program

$3,247 to Janet Yang, Williamsburg Campus Child Care Director

Williamsburg Campus Child Care plans to educate the youngest members of the William & Mary community about the importance of sustainable practices in tailored educational programming for the infant to pre-kindergarten age group.

Classroom scholarships will be used to bring age-appropriate lessons to life through activities, presentations, materials and staff training. Additionally, funds will be applied to include sustainable products in facility upgrades to ensure that WCCC is not only teaching the importance of sustainability to its students, but is ensuring that the facility emulates the importance as well. The Early Childhood Environmental Education Rating Scale, developed by the North American Association for Environmental Education, will be used to measure the project outcomes.

Commonwealth Auditorium LED Lighting

$25,000 to Chandler Agett, Assistant Director for Technical Services, Sadler and Campus Centers, and Bob Knowlton, Director of the Sadler and Campus Centers

The current stage lights in Commonwealth Auditorium are outdated and inefficient. This funding will start the process of updating and replacing archaic stage lights with lower-power light-emitting diode (LED) options. The new lighting will decrease power consumption by 90 percent by reducing the amount of energy used as well as the number of lighting fixtures.

Gizmos, Instruments and Tools to Inspire Sustainability at W&M Libraries

$865 to Lauren Goode, Science Librarian and Martha Higgins-Reference and Instruction Librarian, and Elizabeth Luna, Reserves Supervisor

W&M Libraries is dedicated to fostering sustainability and knowledge of the environment. Swem Library currently has a program to check out popular equipment items to students.

This grant will be used to purchase new equipment such as solar chargers and high-quality binoculars to help support the W&M Libraries mission of serving students while continuing to be innovative in the library world by supporting green ventures. The solar chargers will enable students to save electricity or to charge their phones while on outdoor adventures, such as bird watching through the new binoculars.

Raising Awareness of the Carbon Offset Program

$6,130 to Eileen Nakahata ’17, Meghan Frere ’17, Rachel Merriman-Goldring ’17 and Tom Griffiths ’16

William & Mary’s innovative on-campus carbon offset program provides a venue for members of the university community, including faculty, students and alumni, to compensate for their personal carbon emissions by donating to projects that improve energy efficiency on campus.

This funding will allow the program to hire a website designer to update the site and make it more accessible for potential donors. In addition, this grant will allow the program to purchase promotional materials, including stickers for school vehicles whose emissions have been offset, and smaller stickers that will promote visibility within the student body.

Replacing HID exterior lights with LED lights

$5,867 to Kelley Uhlig ’17, Mark Rogers, VIMS Facilities Manager, and Mark Brabham, VIMS Facilities Director

This project seeks to reduce electricity usage on the VIMS campus through replacing 11 older, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps with newer light-emitting diode (LED) lamps on the exterior of the Seawater Research Laboratory operated by W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

This project is intended as a first phase to assess the cost savings of switching to more efficient exterior lighting. This can reduce the use of kilowatts of electricity used for outdoor lighting at VIMS by 10 percent.

Permaculture Demonstration Garden

$1,887 to Rafael Snell-Feikema ’18, Lydia Funk ’19, and Sarah Mehaffey ’19, Wendy Webb-Robers, Director, Public Service Careers at the Cohen Career Center, and Randy Chambers, Director of W&M Keck Environmental Laboratory

Permaculture describes the development of sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems. Not only is this bound to be an important form of agriculture in the future, but also it can produce sustainable and low maintenance food-producing spaces.

Permaculture gardening can be adapted into a variety of ecosystems without significant disruption of the ecosystem, allowing for continued use of the space by natural inhabitants. On campus, a garden based off of these principles is being constructed via Green Fee funding near the Keck Environmental Field Laboratory.

It will provide fresh fruit, leafy greens and root crops to students. It will also demonstrate the feasibility of permaculture and agroforestry systems, with little-to-no maintenance after establishment.