By Gabriela Garcia-Huff, Brianna Mortensen, Jaden Torres / NM News Port
The UNM Green Fund—now accepting student applications for 2018—has invested $43,000 of allocated student fees to support student-created projects like electric charging stations in campus parking garages, a seed library and a composting system to Lobo Gardens, and events educating the public on zero waste initiatives.
UNM’s Office of Sustainability created the Green Fund five-years ago. Its mission is to stimulate ideas and actions that make UNM more environmentally friendly.
Manager of the Office of Sustainability, Mary Clark, is in charge of accepting applications for and regulating these projects throughout the year. “The UNM Green Fund is important because it provides students funding to implement their sustainability capstone or final class projects… and projects that will continue to be a benefit to campus for many years,” Clark said.
“The Green Fund has been very successful in funding small energy conservation projects across campus,” Clark said.
This has included the addition of energy efficient vending machines in buildings around campus and the installation of solar power systems in Regener Hall.
The Green Fund has collaborated with University departments like the Physical Plant Department and Parking & Transportation Services to work on larger projects, such as the $17,000 installment of an electric vehicle charging stations in the Yale and Cornell parking structures, and a $12,000 project to conserve energy for collections in the Maxwell Museum.
There have also been partnerships with students and lecturers in the Sustainability Studies Program to assist them in hosting an outdoor zero-waste event in 2017.
“Creating the Green Fund was an assignment of an Office of Sustainability intern several years ago,” Clark said. “That student researched green funds on other campuses, wrote the UNM Green Fund and got it approved by ASUNM.”
Resolution 11S to create the Green Fund was passed by the student senate in 2013. Since its establishment, the fund — overseen by UNM representatives and sponsored by student fees — has supported eight projects across the campus.
Because funds are limited, proposed projects must meet certain criteria to be approved. They must make a clear and positive impact on the university’s carbon footprint and enhance student awareness of sustainability needs, which is why they must also be highly noticeable and identifiable as well. In addition, students need to form a partnership with UNM departments and organizations for effective execution of the project. Finally, each proposal must be accompanied by a foreseeable outcome.
Clark says the Green Fund rewards student initiative, but it isn’t the only effort at building a sustainable campus. “UNM is always seeking ways to reduce energy and water usage across campus but our efforts are not readily seen by students,” Clark said. “We have reduced energy usage across campus by 26% and water usage by several million gallons.”
Clark says all students can make help make UNM a more Earth-friendly campus. “Students need to consider their plastic, water, and electricity usage and be responsible for reducing those as their part in making our campus green.”
Gabriela Garcia-Huff, Brianna Mortensen and Jaden Torres can be contacted on their Twitters at @ggarciahuff, @BriMortensen and @JTorresNM