Advancing Sustainability Efforts: $25,000 in Grants to Fund Projects

Friday, November 6 2009

MOSCOW, Idaho – Through a competitive process, thanks to $25,000 in funding provided by the University of Idaho Sustainability Center and the Sustainable Idaho Initiative, nine projects have been selected to advance sustainability efforts at the University of Idaho's Moscow campus in surrounding communities.

The annual grant competition is one collaborative way the university's sustainability efforts move forward. The funded projects will be led by students, faculty and staff and will support problem solving across a broad spectrum of sustainability issues. The grants support initiative work in broad areas such as transportation, food systems, waste minimization, energy and education. The projects include:

• Design and construction of a covered bike shelter and bioswale at the Sixth Street Living Learning Center. The shelter will be composed of environmentally friendly materials and designed to collect water from adjacent buildings. Water will shed into the bioswale, which will then filter the water before it enters Paradise Creek, reducing in-stream pollutants. Project leader: Ryan Beitz, junior, architecture and interior design

• Installation of 23 new bicycle parking racks in highly utilized, centrally located areas of the university campus. The project will encourage bicycle ridership with a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motorized transportation. Project leader: Rebecca Couch, information specialist, parking and transportation services.

Food systems
• Creation of Vandal Community Garden on the Moscow campus. The project will teach students how to grow their own food and encourage the idea of growing and buying from local resources. Project leader: Danielle Merriman, junior, international studies, environmental science, and Spanish, and vice president of the university Environmental Club.

• Development of a community garden at Paradise Creek Regional High School in Moscow. Students from the university and high school will work with the university’s Soil Stewards, Moscow Food Co-op and Backyard Harvest to produce and distribute food for low-income residents and local food pantries. Project leader: Adrian Wurr, assistant director of service-learning and internships and adjunct faculty in curriculum and instruction.

• Research study on biochar, a type of charcoal used to improve soil fertility, increase plant productivity, and sequester carbon to mitigate climate change. Positive results from the study may lead to a variety of biochar applications on campus. Project leader: Kristin McElligott, graduate student, forest resources.

Waste Minimization
• Design and implementation of a composting system to process all food waste from campus dining and all animal waste from the university dairy and other animal units. The system will reduce the amount of waste generated by the university and allay disposal costs associated with food and farm waste. Project leader: John Boyd, senior, biological systems, engineering and Spanish.

• Research the food and farm waste composting bays at the university dairy. The study will explore opportunities for process improvement and end use to create linkages between engineering design, microbiology and plant science. Project lead: Aurelio Briones, assistant professor of plant, soil and entomological sciences.

• Installation of motion sensor lights in three large classrooms of the Menard Law Building. The project will reduce energy consumption and costs by keeping lights off when the classrooms are not occupied. Project lead: Sally Butts, second-year law student.

• Present four student-led workshops to showcase simple, do-it-yourself projects to decrease an individual's environmental footprint. The workshop series is targeted to students as a way to shift campus culture toward sustainable living practices. Project leader: Michael Hazel, sophomore, conservation social sciences, in collaboration with the Student Organization of People and the Environment

For more information about the projects, contact the Sustainability Center at (208) 885-0125 or, or Alecia Hoene in the Environmental Science Program at (208) 885-6113 or  

As increasing environmental awareness drives interest in sustainable practices, the University of Idaho continues to promote initiatives that meet the current and future needs of society and to contribute to the quality of life in Idaho, the nation and the world. The University of Idaho emitted some 38,981 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2007, which is equal to 3.59 tons per student. The university has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and has begun to work to reduce carbon emissions across campus. For more information about the university’s sustainability efforts, contact the University of Idaho Sustainability Center at or visit   
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation classification for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit  

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit