Students, staff propose sustainable ideas for campus at green fair

Jennifer Chi|Staff Photographer Jasleen Sidhu, business administration junior, gives a passionate pitch about her idea to install solar-powered trash compactors on campus.

Students presented science-fair-style projects displaying green initiatives and environmentally sustainable ideas for the campus on Oct. 9 at the annual Green Fair.

The fair was put on by the UTD chapter of Enactus, an international nonprofit organization that utilizes entrepreneurial skills to give back to the community in different ways such as educating people about financial literacy and visiting women’s shelters.

Annually, the student group participates in an Enactus competition where the members present all of the projects they’ve carried out during the year. Competition organizers required that one of the projects be related to environmental sustainability in 2012. After having trouble choosing a project, Jeanne Sluder, the adviser for UTD’s chapter of Enactus, tasked students in her business communications class with proposing an environmentally sustainable idea that could be implemented on campus.

The students held a green fair, and the club members determined which idea was best for the school, leading to the water bottle refilling stations around campus.

“It amazes me to see how students get involved in it and how passionate students are about green projects here on campus,” Sluder said. “To see that at the fair, to see people actually stop and spend time at each table, looking at what each project was, and then choosing which one they liked the best. We think that students don’t care, but they do care about green projects.”

The Office of Sustainability has since started working with Enactus to implement plans students present at the Green Fair. Students were able to stop by the fair and vote on different categories, including most innovative, conserves the most energy, best business plan and green champion.

The installment of revolving doors in campus buildings won most innovative. This initiative would prevent air from being let out and save energy, as well as several thousands of dollars on energy bills.

“Some of the new buildings are either hot or cold, and it kind of makes it uncomfortable,” said Logan Matamoros, accounting sophomore and one of the students who pitched revolving doors. “It’s kind of distracting. I’ve seen a lot of large buildings that use revolving doors. We kind of just looked into that.”

Other propositions at the fair included the Hummingbird Initiative, a plan to place birdhouses around campus for migrating hummingbirds, and Net Zero, a net-zero-energy design for the campus where UTD would produce the same amount of energy as it uses. Net Zero received the most votes for best business plan.

The students behind Caffeine Green, voted most student involvement, suggested giving a 15-percent discount to students using mugs instead of paper cups.

“We were kind of bouncing around ideas, and we thought about coffee. We have an 8:30 class, so everyone’s sipping on their coffee,” said Cherry Srivastava, marketing sophomore and one of the group members of Caffeine Green.

Solar-powered trash compactors and reverse recycle machines that receive recyclable items and give back incentive to the recycler tied for green champion.

The organizers of the fair hope the event will get students involved in environmental sustainability on campus.

“We want a student-led green initiative on this campus, which would basically be a committee that is made up of faculty, administrative staff but also students,” Sluder said. “So, they would get to have input into what projects we pick.”

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