Western is about to get a whole lot greener – eventually.  Last year, $263,000 from the Green Energy Fee was awarded to five student-designed projects. Western’s Green Energy Fee provides money for student-created projects that promote experiential learning opportunities and sustainable practices on campus, according to an email from Associated Students Vice President for Student Life Sara Richards.

These projects were chosen on how well they exemplified the Green Energy Fee Program mission statement, which includes increasing student involvement and education, reducing Western’s environmental impact and creating an aware and engaged campus community, according to the Green Energy Fee website.

None of the projects have a specific finish date, except for the solar array panels on top of the Environmental Studies building, said Kathryn Freeman, the Green Energy Fee Grant Program coordinator. On Nov. 3, A&R Solar, a company based out of Seattle, proposed the lowest bid and was deemed the tentative contractor on the project. 

Parking Lot LED Lighting Retrofitting
This $61,000 project will replace the current parking-lot lighting fixtures in the south campus C-Lots with energy-efficient LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting.

The project is currently in the estimation process by Western’s Facilities Management, which takes four to five weeks. During this process, the assessment of how much the project will cost is determined. On top of that, the educational aspect of the project still needs to be developed and implemented on and off site, Richards said. 

“Think Outside the Bottle” Water Bottle Refilling Stations
Senior Anna Amundson, along with the Students for Sustainable Water club, proposed installing water bottle refilling stations on Western’s campus. The second floor of Old Main, the first floor of Arntzen Hall and across from the reception desk at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, Amundson said.  These water fountains will promote reusable water bottle usage and the decrease – and hopefully the removal – of bottles of water sold on campus, Amundson said.

“I think it’s really important because other schools are taking that step towards making the students and staff be more conscious of their environmental impact,” Amundson said. “We are supposed to be green, but we don’t have these.”

This project was awarded $21,000, and the design for the refilling stations includes a counter that shows how many plastic bottles are being saved with the usage of each station, Amundson said.

The project is currently in the estimation process by Western’s Facilities Management. Richards said the projects’ educational components are awaiting the inclusion of information about the Lake Whatcom water supply and quality, as well as water bottles with labels promoting the project and the Green Energy Fee program.
The project was originally slated to be finished fall 2011.

High-Speed Air Hand Dryers
Junior Bodie Cabiyo and two other students proposed replacing the paper towel dispensers and reducing waste in select bathrooms throughout Western by installing air hand dryers. The project was awarded $13,000.

This project is in the estimation process by Western’s Facilities Management, Freeman said.

The method to evaluate the effectiveness of the projects, a requirement of all the Green Energy Fee proposals, still needs to be submitted, Richards said. The appropriate hand-dryer make and model still needs to be decided.

Compostable Trash Bags
Greg Meyer and his group were awarded $1,400 to replace the plastic trash bags on the first and second floor bathrooms of Wilson Library with compostable trash bags.

The educational component piece of this project has yet to be created, so the project cannot proceed until that is submitted, Richards said.

The project is in the final estimation stages with Western’s Facilities Management.

Environmental Studies Building Solar Array
The project awarded the most money is the installation of a 5-killowat (kWh) solar array on the Environmental Studies building’s south-facing roof.  The implementation of the solar array will assist in adopting on-campus renewable solar energy.

Since this is the project costs more than $90,000 – the project was granted $167,500 – it will be carried out as a public works project, meaning an outside contractor does the job. The development of a contract is the next step in the process, Freeman said.

“Because of the location of the array, and since facilities has rules about interfering with the learning environment on campus, the construction will have to happen over an academic break,” Freeman said.

“And since it’s outdoors, the plan is to do construction over spring break.”