Western alumna Nausheen Kasmani, a founding member of Students for Renewable Energy (SRE), received the Heroes in Our Own Back Yard award from the Washington Environmental Council.
The award recognizes Kasmani's contributions to Students for Renewable Energy. In 2005, SRE passed an initiative that made Western the first state university in the United States to purchase 100% of its power from renewable energy sources.
Kasmani made it clear that getting the initiative passed took the work of many people, including other SRE members, the student body and Western's administration.
“It was Students for Renewable Energy that made this happen and not just one person,” Kasmani said.
Molly Ayre-Svingen, another founding member of SRE, will be at the award ceremony with Kasmani on Nov. 9, Kasmani said.
Students for Renewable Energy started as an AS club in 2003. A handful of students, including Kasmani and Ayre-Svingen, met in Scott Brennan's Environmental Studies 202 class. Brennan challenged his students to find a way to get Western to use more renewable energy.
“We can all switch off some lights to save energy,” Kasmani said. “But trying to get the university to change over would be one big move.”
SRE determined that for less than $19 per student per quarter, Western could run on 100% renewable energy. They gathered over 600 signatures to put an initiative on the student ballot, and in spring of 2004, the initiative was passed with 84.7% approval. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the proposal the following winter. The fee went into action at $10.50 per quarter for full-time students in 2005.
Kasmani graduated from Western in Spring of 2005, but she still works to protect the environment. She is now the Graphics Communication Manager at South Puget Sound Community College, where she is also a member of the Environmental Sustainability Committee. Last week, South Puget Sound Community College began composting all of the leftover food from its dining halls.
Western is number ten on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of the top ten college and university purchasers of green energy as of Oct. 1.