2014 Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund Winners Selected

Lisa A. Pappas, Graham Sustainability Institute
Release Date: 

The Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund (PBSIF), which funds large-scale, student-initiated sustainability projects on campus, recently selected six teams to receive a total of nearly $69,000 in project support. While the annual PBSIF program usually awards a total of $50,000 per year, funds that were not used in 2013 were allocated to the 2014 projects, which are as follows (in order of funding, wth the largest PBSIF grants first):

Solar-Powered Workstation:

With a Fall 2014 expected launch date, this project will place picnic tables equipped with solar-powered charging stations on north and central campus and aims to show just how easy it can be to incorporate solar into everyday life. With these tables, the desire to enjoy a hot sunny day will no longer be an excuse to not do homework! This project will also include an educational campaign about solar energy. The team includes Laura Hobbs, Literature, Science, & the Arts (LSA), and Matt Irish, Chemical Engineering. (Grant Amount: Up to $25,000)

Bees on Roofs/Roofs on Bees:

This project intends to put bee-hives on a roof on central campus and to also establish a honeybee sanctuary at the Campus Farm. Honeybees are essential to food security and are key to sustainable ecosystems—one in three bites of food is the direct result of honeybee pollination. This projects aims to raise awareness among students’ of the importance of bees and to partner with professors and classes for research and teaching opportunities. Bees on Roofs/Roofs on Bees hopes to launch by June 2014. Project leads are Mike Bianco, a master’s student in Art and Design, and Parker Anderson, a master’s student in SNRE and Landscape Architecture, in collaboration with UMBees. (Grant Amount: Up to $14,000)

Native Grass at Music School Pond

This project, that also has a Fall 2014 launch date, will replace some of the turf grass at the School of Music pond with native grasses. The native grass will help re-establish the natural ecological system at the pond, and the team will be looking for volunteers to help with planting efforts! Project leads include: Dagmar Schoettle, LSA and Avery Gleason, LSA. (Grant Amount: Up to $8,500)

Events Based Composting Program:

This project aims to help create a culture of reuse at the University of Michigan by establishing student-run, event-based compost programs within four academic units across campus. This compost expansion project is an outgrowth of the successful composting work conducted by the Law School and the Student Sustainability Initiative. The project lead is Chris Wolff, a master’s student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) and Ford School of Public Policy. (Grant Amount: Up to $8,000)

Food Recovery Network: 

Waste reduction is one of the University of Michigan’s most urgent sustainability goals. One of the main culprits of waste on campus is the dining halls, and Food Recovery Network (FRN) aims to do something about it. FRN diverts leftover food from U-M Dining Halls to local food banks. They are currently successfully running this effort in two campus dining halls; with PBSIF funding for the purchase of freezers, trays, and coolers, FRN hopes to expand the program to all campus dining halls by June 2015. The FRN team includes: Hannah Gingerich; Program in the Environment (PitE), Joseph Letner, Biomedical Engineering, and Taylor Flowers, SAC/Communications. (Grant Amount: Up to $7,730)

Environmental Community Program: 

Also with a Fall 2014 intended launch date, this project will start an Environmental Community Program (ECP) within the Michigan Community Scholars Program Michigan Learning Community. Many students at the University of Michigan have a passion for sustainability and the environment. ECP will give students, specifically incoming freshmen, the opportunity to explore environmental issues and problem solving and will help create the next generation of sustainability leaders. The project team includes: Mary Hirt, LSA; Jessica Kreamer, LSA; Karishma Satapathy, LSA; and Danielle Schmutz a master’s student in the School of Social Work. (Grant Amount: Up to $5,500)

Projects were selected by a PBSIF student review board. The PBSIF program is administered by the Graham Sustainability Institute. To learn more, visit http://sustainability.umich.edu/pbsif.