Big Ten’s Eco Efforts: University of Maryland

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In the spirit of our “Green Gridirons” series (but just in case college football wasn’t your thing), the “Big Ten’s Eco Efforts” series highlights creative off-the-field sustainability efforts.

One of the many projects funded by the University Sustainability Fund is an incentive program to upgrade to energy-efficient refrigerators. Photo: Flickr.

One of the many projects funded by the University Sustainability Fund is an incentive program to upgrade to energy-efficient refrigerators. Photo: Flickr.

Students at the University of Maryland are so passionate about protecting their environment that they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, they volunteered to.

In 2010 students created the University Sustainability Fund, a self-imposed $12 fee per student each year. The money is then distributed to environmental projects across campus.

In 2012-2013, they raised $300,000, said Mark Stewart, senior project manager at the university’s sustainability office. Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to submit their project ideas by Nov. 1. Among the projects submitted this year are urban and rooftop farming.

This year’s biggest grant of $62,282 went to Terps Heart the Tap, a program to reduce the consumption of bottled water by providing filling stations in 64 high-traffic locations across campus.

The fund favors projects that increase the use of renewable energy in the local community, increases energy efficiency, reduces waste and integrates sustainability into teaching, research and service, Stewart said.

Since the fund was created three years ago, $624,016 in grants have been distributed to 38 projects.

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