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Blue Goes Green Awards Grants

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012

bike rack on USU campus

Six projects will be funded by the Blue Goes Green grant this fall. One of the projects is an additional bike rack on the east side of the Taggart Student Center. (Jessica Fife photo from the USU Statesman Online)

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.

Blue Goes Green Awards Grants

By Lis Stewart, staff writer, The Utah Statesman, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A master plan to protect recreation and open spaces for student use will soon be underway thanks to a grant funded by the Blue Goes Green student fee and Campus Recreation. The grant is one of five awarded for various educational sustainability projects around campus.

“What we found is if you don’t do something like this, campus planners tend to look at space that was recreational playing fields and they think that was a great space for a parking lot or something,” said Kevin Kobe, Campus Recreation director.

Kobe said the master plan was proposed by David Smith, a student who was on the committee that oversaw construction of the Legacy Fields. Through the building process and noticing how students were searching for places for open recreation, it was determined the university needs a recreation plan to be implemented in its master plan.

With a master recreation plan in place, future campus planners will have to consider open green spaces when figuring out construction projects on campus, according to Kobe.

“At that point it will guide Utah State, so we’ll always have open spaces for students,” Kobe said.

The plan will be the end result of planning meetings and focus groups comprised of students, according to Sean Damitz, Student Sustainability Office director. The plan should be ready to present to students at the end of the spring 2013 semester.

Damitz said the grant is one of five awarded Nov. 15 by the Student Sustainability Office. The total amount of grants funded by the Blue Goes Green fee this semester was $21,000 and two of the grant projects will receive matching funds from various places, he said.

The grants are written by students, though the most successful Damitz said he has seen are those created through collaboration between students and professors or campus departments. This fall’s Blue Goes Green grant awardees focused primarily on education in addition to their sustainability focus.

The Students for Sustainability club submitted a proposal and received a grant to build a new bike rack on the TSC’s east side. Twenty U-racks will be built next spring, according to Crista Sorenson, the club’s president. Plans call for a QR code scanner for smartphones that will lead students to information about bike routes and places to park around campus, she said.

“We wanted to have it be a place where people can get information about bike routes on campus about the benefits of biking and commuting, not just personally but as a community as a giant whole, and things like that,” said Chris Binder, a graduate student in landscape architecture who helped write the grant for the bike rack.

Damitz said the bike rack project was awarded $5,000 in a Blue Goes Green grant and Facilities is matching the money to total the cost of the bike rack to $10,000.

Binder received a $765 grant to purchase a bike trailer for Aggie Blue Bikes. Binder said he had the idea to apply for it when he moved in August and was looking for a fuel-efficient alternative to move large items that would not fit inside his car. The trailer will be useful for many students who ride bikes, whether it is transporting a project or large instrument.

One of the barriers to choosing to commute via bicycle is transporting large objects, Binder said.

“I mean you’ve got the hills, you’ve got the weather, you’ve got the fact that people just can’t take enough stuff with them,” Binder said. “And I can’t do anything about the hills, and I certainly can’t do anything about the weather, but that’s something we thought we could help with.”

Trent Morrison, a senior in communication studies, was awarded $881.10 to implement his Greeks Go Green project, which will start a recycling program in the Greek houses off-campus. Morrison, who is the ASUSU senator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said he wanted to keep the cost for his project low.

“As I looked at the need, I saw that the cost for me was a lot lower in the long run,” Morrison said.

Morrison noticed his fraternity’s house did not have a recycling program and was looking for ways to start one when he found out about the Blue Goes Green grant. He said after extensive research and price matching, he came up with the exact sum to start a program in all the Greek houses. He said the cost covers the first year, and then the houses will pay for the rest should they choose to continue it.

Morrison said since the houses are off campus, Logan City’s recycling program will likely be the one they go with.

The Greeks Go Green project is more than bringing recycling bins to the houses, Morrison said. He said education will be a big part of the project because it seems like a lot of people are confused about what to recycle.

“It’s pretty simple,” Morrison said. “The education is focused on what’s recycled and how to recycle and important aspects of recycling.”

Morrison said part of his goal is to create a Greek Goes Green committee, comprised of members from each house, to present to other organizations about recycling.

“You can look at this as kind of a test group of how education influences behavior, specifically recycling,” Damitz said.

The fifth grant awarded this fall is to a project that received a grant last spring to build a teaching greenhouse at Edith Bowen Laboratory School.

Ethan DeVilbiss, who applied for the grant, said he originally wanted to build a raised-bed garden with a hoop-house at EBLS where volunteers could work in an after-school program teaching the students. However, the project stalled when it became apparent it was too dependent on warm weather and needed a more permanent structure.

DeVilbiss applied for and received another Blue Goes Green grant for $4,300 this fall. Construction on the greenhouse is due to start at the end of the week, according to sources at the school.

Damitz said two other previous grant projects are still in the works. Development of a solar algae dryer and a solar air heater are in the production phase. Both projects are tied to classes in the College of Engineering and expect to produce prototypes by the end of the semester, he said.

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