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Student Sustainability Grants Awarded

By Victoria L. Venegas, Crimson Staff Writer

Earlier this week, the Harvard Office for Sustainability announced its 2011 recipients of the Student Sustainability Grant, which included a grant to expand a bike share program and a $3,000 grant to build a model of a sustainable dorm room in Kirkland House.

The grant program, now in its second year, aims to provide seed funding to enable Harvard undergraduate and graduate students to implement green initiatives and help the University reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2016.

This year, the Office for Sustainability received 40 applications, an increase of seven from the year before, and gave out 14 grants ranging from $500 to $5,000.

The applications were judged on innovation, creativity, and educational value, among other things.

Heather A. Henriksen, director of the Office for Sustainability, described the program as a way for the University to demonstrate sustainable leadership.

“The University and Office for Sustainability created this grant program because we saw it as an exciting opportunity to engage students in thinking creatively about how we can further our sustainability initiatives and to create replicable models that might be used in other parts of Harvard and beyond,” she said.

Several undergraduate proposals were awarded grants, including a plan to implement a water capture system to conserve water for the Harvard Community Garden.

The proposal submitted by the Harvard Community Garden—a collaboration between the Center for Health and the Global Environment, other Harvard offices, and student groups—focuses on highlighting innovative watering techniques.

Louisa C. Denison ’11, co-manager of the community garden, described the proposal as a way to get students who might not normally be interested in agriculture involved in trying to find creative ways to make Harvard more sustaniable.

“People take for granted our unlimited access to water, and that is not at all the case,” Denison said. “In parts of the world and many parts of America, water is not a limitless resource. The proposal seems like a way in which people can think more deeply about what it is that keeps the plants going and the water our agricultural system works on.”

Other proposals include funding worm-based compost efforts in Thayer Hall and a campaign that will post water and energy conservation reminders throughout freshmen dorms.

Colin B. Durrant, manager of sustainability communications, said that students can expect to see these proposals put into action over the next few months, as the projects must be completed by April.

As a final requirement, students are asked to write a short report that documents their projects as well as the results of their efforts.

Durrant added that the short reports will be posted on the Office for Sustainability’s website as a way to share the lessons learned.

—Staff writer Victoria L. Venegas can be reached at vvenegas@college.harvard.edu.

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