This year’s Green Grants an exercise in sustainability

Publication Date

When Lilia Tiemann went for a daily lunchtime walk around campus, she and her co-worker thought they and others might be inspired to go farther if there were distance markers along the way.

Additionally, the markers could include “fun facts of the health benefits of walking, which would be beneficial to not only Union staff and students but to the Schenectady community as well,” said Tiemann, who coordinates campus events for Admissions.

President David R. Harris, left, and Professor Jeff Corbin, far right, with this year's winners

President David R. Harris, left, and Professor Jeff Corbin, far right, with this
year's winners

She’s about to get her wish.

Tiemann’s proposal is among the seven projects selected for Presidential Green Grants, an initiative aimed at supporting environmentally sustainable projects at Union.

Now in its 11th year, the grants are open to faculty, staff and students. Since it was launched, grants totaling $173,000 have been awarded to support 132 projects.

During a ceremony at Feigenbaum Hall Thursday, each winner was presented with a certificate by Jeff Corbin, professor of biology and faculty co-chair of U Sustain. Corbin was the first to suggest the idea of an incentive program to support environmentally sustainable projects at Union.

“Seeing the depth and breadth of the creativity that comes from our community and how they solve environmental projects both locally and globally is truly inspirational,” Corbin said.

President David R. Harris said the Green Grants address two parts of what’s important about Union.

“At a residential campus like Union, you want to see people spending time outside the classroom doing things that are important, but that are not required,” Harris said. “Secondly, you want to see people, as they go through college, engaging the major issues of the day. You shouldn’t come out of college and say I know nothing more about the important issues of the day than I did when I wrote my college applications.”

At the ceremony, Corbin also announced that a gift from Lawrence Eisenberg ’64 and his wife, Ellen, will support the Presidential Green Grants for the next three years.

Sustainability is one of the key priorities of the College’s Strategic Plan. Recently, Union was again named one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges.”

The 2018-19 Green Grant winners and their projects:

Lilia Tiemann (coordinator of campus events for Admissions): Distance markers on walking path.

Ben Weiner (residence director, Residential Life): Create a space in Davidson and Webster House that uses signage to teach first-year students with signage how to recycle properly, reduce their individual carbon footprints and help the campus be more sustainable.

Anat Tewari ‘19: Partner with Ecovative Design, a company specializing in sustainable materials, to develop Union-themed merchandise that could eventually be sold in the College Bookstore.

Aaron Rapaport ‘20: Work with faculty adviser Michael Hagerman, professor of chemistry and co-director of Nanotechnology on nanoscale mixing of conductive polymers for printing solar energy devices.

Raya Petrova ‘21, Sruti Bandlamuri ‘21: Promote equitable and sustainable menstruation by offering free environmentally friendly menstrual products in three high-traffic women’s bathrooms.

Kayla Quarless ‘21: Continue to support the mission of Octopus’s Garden by offering fresh and local produce.

Andrew Wojtowicz ‘19: Work with faculty adviser David Hodgson, associate professor of mechanical engineering to design a solar thermal water pasteurization system that can provide 1,000 liters of clean drinking water a day.