Mercyhurst Energy program undergoes changes to make campus more sustainable

After much campaigning, the Green Team finally received the passage of the Student Green Energy Fee. This fee will take $5 from each student’s account every term to increase Mercyhurst’s commitment to renewable green energy.

The fee was approved after 1,000 students signed a petition. It was approved by a 2-1 margin in a student referendum.

The Student Green Energy program was created in 2007 and has been working with various projects to make the campus more “green.” Since the approval of the fee, the name has been changed to the Sustainability Fund in order to expand the project and proposal list.

The name change will allow a broader option list of projects to make the campus more sustainable. The former name only focused on renewable energy and energy conservation. The altered title allows the fund to deal with issues such as alternative transportation, water conservation and water reduction.

Proposals may be submitted by students, staff or faculty members, and are then analyzed by the Fund Review Board.

“I don’t have an agenda, but I would encourage any student with ideas to contact the board. I’d like to make it more student driven,” Assistant Professor of the Physics Department Dyan McBride, Ph.D, said.

The board is comprised of nine members: four students, two faculty members, the director of the physical plant, the executive assistant to the president and the sustainability officer. The four students consist of a Mercyhurst Student Government representative, a Green Team representative and two students studying sustainability.

The two positions of sustainability students are new, and proposal votes may still be taken without these positions present, as long as the other two student positions are there for the vote.

The Review Board meetings are open to everyone, and suggestions and feedback are welcome. Non-board members may not take part in the voting process.
The name change will not have a large effect on students, although more student input for uses of the funds is greatly encouraged.

“I think it’s a good idea to get the students’ opinions, because, after all, we are the ones that pay money to go here,” junior Kyle McIntyre said.

Previous approved proposals over the years have been the purchase of a solar safety-emergency lighting system and increasing the college’s wind offset purchase by 20 percent of the campus electricity consumption in 2008.

“Ideas like a bike share program where students can rent bikes and a compost facility have been proposed,” McBride said.

The funds also brought the Egan plastic to-go meal containers to replace the disposable ones and the purchase of carbon accounting software to aid maintenance of the Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory this fall.