Green Seed Fund brings sustainable ideas to life

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(article by Matthew Spaw courtesy of The Daily of the University of Washington)

The Green Seed Fund, working off of the university’s Climate Action Plan to achieve a net output of zero greenhouse gases, is helping to make the ideas of those at the UW a reality.

The Green Seed Fund grants funding to select projects proposed by faculty, students, and staff of the UW that contribute to environmental sustainability. The fund is sponsored by the UW Office of Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, and the recipients of the fund will be selected by the Green Seed Fund Committee.

The Green Seed Fund promises to decrease the carbon footprint of the UW campus, as well as involve students, faculty, and staff in opportunities to contribute to the campus’ sustainability goals, its website stated.

Out of 15 proposals to improve campus sustainability, five were selected to receive a total of approximately $279,000 in funding from the UW. The recipients, who were notified in January, planned projects ranging from analyzing the efficiency of the UW’s grounds utility vehicles to examining the indoor environmental quality of the HUB.

Each team, consisting of at least one faculty member, staff member, and student, planned out, budgeted, and submitted a project. The five groups are now preparing to use the grant money to implement their proposals.

Nancy Rottle, director of the UW’s Green Futures Research and Design Lab, was part of one of the groups chosen to receive funding. Her project is a natural continuation of the work she has done with the Biodiversity Green Wall, a vertical garden on the southeast corner of Gould Hall.

“The Green Seed Fund is specifically to monitor the wall’s effectiveness at a few different factors,” Rottle said. “These factors include biodiversity, thermal performance, and contribution to the cooling of Gould Hall.”

Rottle said that, by measuring these factors, the project should help to make similar undertakings by the UW and other institutions more effective.

For some, the announcement of the Green Seed Fund came at the perfect time.

“I had been thinking about alternate sources of fuel for our vehicles, and I thought that would be a great way to apply for that grant,” said Kathleen DeMaria, a gardener at the UW Arboretum and member of one of the five projects that received funding.

DeMaria says that her plan to measure the performance and carbon footprint of the university’s utility vehicles could change the way that other schools maintain their own grounds. The university’s own utility vehicles, which are used to maintain the grounds and plant collections, contribute 1.48 percent of its direct carbon dioxide emissions, which DeMaria hopes to lower.

One project will be relying on more than just traditional scientific measures to make the UW more eco-friendly. Amy Kim, assistant professor of civil & environmental engineering, helped plan a project that will test the indoor qualities of the HUB by using the traditional method of gathering measurements via equipment, as well as through a less typical method: questionnaires.

“We will also survey the occupants to see how they subjectively feel about their environment,” Kim said.

Her project hopes to maximize the efficiency of the LEED-certified Gold building while preserving the comfort of those inside. A building that is LEED-certified has already gone through rigorous testing that confirms that it has minimized negative environmental impacts.