This semester, Vanderbilt Green Fund will be introducing initiatives focusing on more safe and convenient transportation, as well as improving the sustainability of Campus Dining. This semester, students can expect a new set of covered bike racks that will eventually replace all of the uncovered racks around campus, as well as permanent covered Vandy Van shelters at Highland Quad and Hank Ingram. Green Fund is also in the process of reviewing a proposal for reusable to-go containers for Campus Dining.
The upcoming bike racks were proposed by Andrew Harwell, a Green Fund Committee member, who said he was motivated by the lack of spaces to keep his bike out of the weather. The design of the racks themselves was undertaken as a Senior Engineering Design Project, and the first one will go in outside Rand sometime later this year.
“Coming in as a first-year, I got my first bike, and was excited about it, but then realized on Freshman Commons there’s nowhere to park it that’s not immediately in the rain,” Harwell said.
The bike racks are not the only Senior Design Project to get funding from Green Fund. Bus shelters for the Vandy Vans shuttles with real-time maps and blue light stations will be installed in the coming months at both the Hank Ingram and Highland Quad stops.
“It was actually the police department who were interested in, mostly for security reasons, having permanent bus shelters,” Harwell said. “And so they were the ones to actually contact the Engineering School to initiate the project.”
Green Fund is a collaboration between students and administration run by Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG), Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) and the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO). Every year, they are supplied with a budget of $150,000 to implement sustainability-oriented projects proposed by the students. A student committee is in charge of deciding which of the proposals will be funded.
“It’s not really about accepting the most proposals possible; we try to move on all of the good proposals,” Jimmy Troderman, SPEAR Green Fund Chair, said. “If there’s something that we know is going to save the school money and reduce emissions, we try to move it forward as long as it logistically makes sense.”
Past Green Fund initiatives include the Rand green roof, which took over three years to plan and construct, as well as the ongoing Hydration Station project, which started in 2014.
“We’re up to 97 Hydration Stations across campus right now,” Troderman said. “The plan is to eventually have them all around campus.”
Green Fund was also behind the solar panels on the roof of the Currey Tennis Center. The solar system there has resulted in both a 15% reduction in electricity use and a 40% reduction in natural gas use in the building since its installation in 2016.
“That was actually a proposal that came through the women’s tennis team,” Troderman said. “You wouldn’t expect a group like them, at least time-wise, to be as committed to writing proposals for sustainability issues, so that’s pretty cool.”
The Green Fund Committee generally accepts proposals from October through the end of January each year. As of Jan. 30, Green Fund closed the application process for new sustainability projects and has begun reviewing proposals. Accepted projects will be announced in March, although the funding will not become available until this summer. The committee has not finalized this year’s list yet, but Troderman said students can look forward to another green roof, reusable to-go boxes, and perhaps even a new bikeshare system.
“I think it’s really important for student to know that, if you can’t find all the data, that’s alright,” Troderman stressed. “Writing an application is not the most difficult thing. Most of it is come up with a great idea first, and if you have a great idea, often times it writes itself.”