Gregory Jones | Staff Writer

The Sustainable Campus Fee Committee held its first meeting of 2011 on Friday, March 4. At this meeting, members discussed recent and new proposals for allocation of the Sustainable Campus Fee. Proposals, as usual, came from students, faculty and staff. At this time and until Friday, March 18, committee members are weighing options during an open vote period. The following are some of the big topics being considered.

First, an unexpected obstacle poses a setback to last semester’s approved solar parking canopy. According to new figures based on the increased cost of materials, the project may be considerably more expensive. The current vote is to increase the budget for the solar parking canopy from $65,000 to nearly $100,000. While that may sound like a lot of money, and surely it is, it is a great opportunity for campus to demonstrate its commitment to renewable energy, which is just the sort of goal intended for when the Sustainable Campus Fee was created.

Two other proposals were submitted requesting energy-efficient vehicles for use by campus personnel. The first, a $16,000 request, would add one new electric vehicle to the fleet already used by many groups on campus, and includes the cost of one new electrical charging outlet.

The other proposal asks for a hybrid vehicle, likely to exceed $30,000, for official use off campus by the Admissions office. While both proposals would be fair use of the Sustainable Campus Fee, the committee agreed the cost of the hybrid vehicle would be considered for covering the cost difference between a new hybrid vehicle and a comparable gasoline vehicle.

Also under review are two proposals for the APSU Farm. A water reclamation system would cost $6,600 and a nutrient management manure spreader would cost $11,000. The rain water reclamation project would recycle rain water for farm animal consumption, thus decreasing water demands from alternative sources and utilizing the natural cooling provided from underground storage. The manure spreader would limit the need for transported soil fertilizer in exchange for the local, on-site service provided for free by the farm animals, thus helping maintain the natural flow of the nutrient cycle.

The last proposal suggests APSU participate in TVA’s Green Power Switch program. This proposal, worth $18,000, would purchase one mega block of “green” power from TVA. By making this vote, the university would be issuing a request to Tennessee’s dominate energy supplier to invest more in renewable energy sources, whether from solar, wind, biofuel or any other source of energy which is not dependant on burning fossil fuels.

In 2006, when the Sustainable Campus Fee was created, there was a particular commitment the university adopted — making APSU a pioneer in Tennessee’s emerging renewable energy efforts. This code has been overshadowed by other plans and goals, but students can remind APSU what the Sustainable Campus Fee is all about. Open class discussions, talk with other students over lunch, join in campus events or start your own and submit sustainable proposals.

Through sustainable projects and the production and purchasing of renewable energy, APSU can still meet its commitment to share in the responsibility for a clean energy future. TAS