Green fee funds new sustainability projects

Nadia Dreid

In December, the Center for Sustainability announced it would be funding 11 out of 25 proposals submitted by Georgia Southern University students, faculty and staff to help make campus greener.

The center used nearly all of the $200,000 allotted for proposed sustainability initiatives, which are funded by the $10 green fee students pay each semester.

Dr. Lissa Leege, professor of biology and director of the Center for Sustainability, said that students can expect most of these projects to be in full swing by the end of the semester.

“One of the critical things that we evaluated was whether or not it would actually improve campus sustainability, so you could actually point to that improvement. In terms of reducing greenhouse gases or taking care of storm water or increasing campus biodiversity,” Leege said.

Quentin Ladson, Student Government Association senator, was on the committee that voted on which proposals to fund. He said he tried to choose the proposals that would do the most good, while staying within the budget.

“I’m really excited for them all because it’s going to save us money and we’re going to be more sustainable,” Ladson said.

The funded proposals include plans for testing an energy efficient high speed computer network, placing several solar powered compacting recycling cans on campus and harvesting wind energy from campus air condition towers, which could be used to charge electric cars.

Dr. Ji Wu, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Shaowen Xu, professor of mechanical engineering, submitted a proposal to create and test lithium ion batteries in campus streetlights.

“We are trying to improve the capacities. To use very small volumes to store huge amounts of energy, which is more portable, more cost effective,” Leege said.

The proposal would fund two streetlights outside the Carruth Building. The batteries in those streetlights would be smaller and more powerful than the current streetlights, Wu said, as well as self-charging, through solar power.

Average streetlights cost approximately 10 cent per kilowatt-hour to operate, Wu said. The ones powered with lithium ion batteries would cost nothing after the initial investment.

But more than saving money, Wu said he hopes that the project helps fuel students’ interest in sustainability, because the world’s supply of fossil fuels is not endless.

“In the short term, we can save some energy using a self-powered street lamp . . . but the long [term] goal is to arouse the importance of green technologies, green science, sustainable science, among students,” Leege said.