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The Carletonian

Students submit proposals for Sustainability Revolving Fund

<ve you ever wanted to install motion sensors in dorm hallways? Well, Alex Walker ‘12 and David Kornfeld’s ‘11 Sustainability Revolving Fund (SRF) proposal may make your dreams come true. These motion sensors, however, are not to detect when that girl you dislike is on your floor, but to reduce Carleton’s consumption of electricity. Walker hopes to be a SRF recipient in order to install motion/and or infrared sensors that will automatically turn off lights when nobody is using dorm hallways, lounges, or bathrooms.

“This seemed like a good way to effect the change I wanted to see happen and conserve energy in the process.” said Walker.

The Sustainability Revolving Fund is a fund that annually gives grants to create student-initiated projects that reduce Carleton’s greenhouse gas emissions and are able to pay for themselves within seven years. The SRF allows the school to reap the benefits of students’ ideas to help improve the environment. Perhaps the most recognizable green student-proposed idea was Carleton’s wind turbine, which has substantially reduced the community’s energy consumption and induced St. Olaf to build a wind turbine as well. The SRF often is used to build test subjects of energy-saving ideas before the College uses other funds to implement successful ideas across campus. Last month, five students sent initial proposals to the SRF committee on their ideas to improve Carleton’s community. By this Wednesday, Feb. 25, the students must submit a final and fully detailed proposal in order for their ideas to be considered by the committee. The committee, which involves staff of the Department of Environmental and Technology Studies (ENTS) as well as STAs, will decide how to spend its $70,000 on projects by the first week of Spring Term. Students whose proposals are accepted would use the money received to purchase the materials needed and to work with campus’s Facilities Management to create the project.

The Student Organization to Protect the Environment (SOPE) played a role in some of this year’s planned projects. Kornfeld leads the SOPE SRF Task Force, which helped develop his proposal that was eventually combined with Alex Walker’s similar proposal. Also the organization composed a proposal that has been already approved by the SRF committee to install low-flow showerheads in Goodhue. Another SOPE proposal that is currently in progress is to have a food “pulper” to decrease waste disposal in Burton Dining Hall. Yet, many of the proposed SRF projects originate from individuals, as Walker’s did. Ben Hellerstein ’12 initiated his plan to reduce the school’s light pollution by replacing current outdoor light fixtures with energy-saving ones after walking one night from the LDC to Burton. Nathaniel Rosenblum ’10 proposed installing dual and low-flush toilets in Watson.

The fund was created a few years ago through the Environment Advisory Committee (EAC). The idea was developed off of similar funds that existed at other schools such as Connecticut College. After the initial funds were contributed by the EAC, Carleton College agreed to match the Carleton Student Association’s generous donation to the fund, making the SRF into a legitimate source of grants provided by the College. Last year, alum Jim Haughn ’83 raised nearly $14,000 for the fund by biking 800 miles from his home in Toledo, OH to his Class’s reunion in Northfield. As of November 3, 2008, the SRF had $70,191.50 for student projects. The committee uses the money saved from reducing energy consumption to increase the fund. Facilities Management is in the development phase of creating its own revolving fund for projects.

Some participants are facing difficulties with getting their proposals in time for the Feb. 25 deadline but there will be at least several projects competing for the grant.

The current economic crisis has not decreased the SRF’s supplies.

Chris Erickson, an ENTS Education Associate on the SRF committee, remarked, “The current economic crisis does not affect the fund at all, except to make these kinds of projects more urgent.”

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