Sustainability in the spotlight with latest Green Grants

Publication Date

Reusable bags, battery-powered equipment for groundskeepers and an educational campaign to preserve the Hans Groot’s Kill are some of the projects awarded the latest Presidential Green Grants.

The grants, which support environmentally sustainable projects at Union, the grants are open to faculty, staff and students. Since the initiative was launched 12 years ago, grants totaling nearly $179,000 have been awarded to 139 projects.

Green Grants 2020

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

“We have innovated and greened our food choices, reduced our waste, driven green energy conservation and improved our bike and board infrastructure,” Corbin said. "We’ve enabled cutting-edge resources for a variety of fields, from engineering to science to visual arts.”

The College’s commitment to sustainability was affirmed recently when Union was named to The Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Green Colleges,” an annual ranking that highlights the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

“We have a commitment as an institution to sustainability and the issues around global climate change,” said President David R. Harris. "But a lot of what we do is about individuals taking the initiative, and you’ve done that.”

Funding for this year’s seven projects came from a gift from Lawrence Eisenberg ’64 and his wife, Ellen. The couple attended the ceremony.

The 2019-20 Green Grant winners and their projects:

Anna Browne ‘20, Shaina Hogan (administrative assistant, Biology Department), Jessalyn Li ‘21, Andrew Nordell ’23, Carlos Piedad ‘20, Kira Wilson ‘20: A U-Sustain project to purchase and distribute more than 1,000 reusable bags to reduce the usage of plastic bags at Union's convenience store and at stores frequently visited by students.

Tom Heisinger (manager of Grounds Department): Replace gas-powered equipment with battery operated equipment for his 13 staff members.

Omar Lebbar ’20: Design, build and test a data furnace based on mineral oil immersion of a personal computer to heat up a water tank for residential use.

Ethan Oswald ’21: Support and promote Octopus’s Garden, Union's organic vegetable garden.

Alex Pradhan’20 and Sam Veith ’20: Create a low-cost autonomous underwater vehicle for researchers to collect marine data.

Aaron Rapaport ’20: Study the performance and efficiency of electric aircraft on package and food delivery.

Lauren Stebbins ’21: Create customized signs to encourage mindfulness of the Hans Groot's Kill and dissuade the community from littering the stream.