Students leading 8 projects to promote sustainability

sustainability leaf iconsUAB has committed to improving the campus in sustainable ways, including the use of recycled building materials, design features in and around new buildings and reducing use of disposable water bottles. Now students are taking the lead.

Julie Price, coordinator of Sustainability at UAB, said she’s been impressed by their enthusiasm and the projects they proposed to the Sustainability Investment Fund.

“It is so important for students to be engaged in their campus as both a facility and a learning environment,” Price said. “The ways we choose to develop our campus and infrastructure — and how we involve students in this process — really make a difference during their time with us.”

“I've always been an avid supporter of the great outdoors and ways to keep a sustainable world,” said Jeromy Huang, a junior civil engineering student. “So when I saw a post on Facebook about getting green projects funded, I knew that it was something I had to check out.”

Huang, who had two projects selected for implementation, is one of seven students to receive awards totaling $18,000 through the Sustainability Investment Fund, which is supported by student activity fees. The projects include increased recycling, installation of two electric car-charging stations and a bike-repair station on the Campus Green. The winning proposals and their authors are listed here:

  • Will Rutland, J.D., a student in the joint master of public health and doctor of medicine program, proposed electric car-charging stations; two will be placed in the School of Medicine parking lot by Volker Hall on University Boulevard. The board awarded $1,000 for this project.
  • Sarah Simpson, a graduate student in public health and public administration, proposed a program to facilitate increased recycling and repurposing of items during dorm move-out. The board awarded $300 for this project.
  • Jessica Winek, a doctoral student in cell, developmental and integrative biology, proposed a new water-bottle filling station in the Tinsley Harrison Building. The board awarded $1,400 for this project.
  • Jeromy Huang, a junior in civil engineering, proposed a project for the addition of more functional bike racks on campus. The board awarded $5,000 for this project.
  • Huang also proposed a self-service bike-repair station for the Campus Green. The board awarded $1,300 for this project.
  • The Green Initiative, a student-led group focused on promoting and implementing sustainable practices and solutions at UAB and in Birmingham, and Gabby Brow, a freshman in chemistry and Spanish, individually proposed adding recycling bins to all floors of all residence halls and creating a work-study position in UAB Recycling to service the new bins. The Green Initiative and Brow will work together to implement the project. The board awarded $7,000 for this project.
  • Dana Lackey, a graduate student in civil engineering, proposed adding paper-recycling receptacles in all UAB lobbies where current recycling rolling bins won’t fit. The board awarded $600 for this project.
  • Caroline Durena, M.D., a graduate student in public health, applying on behalf of the Public Health Student Association, proposed a new water-bottle filling station in the Ryals Public Health Building. The board awarded $1,400 for this project.

"Students are the main people who are affected by what the campus has to offer. By giving students an opportunity to improve their living conditions, an opportunity to solve a problem that no one else has solved before, UAB can increase the overall appeal of UAB."

Huang said the fund is one way UAB is making students feel more connected to the ever-growing campus, which is important for students.

“Students are the main people who are affected by what the campus has to offer,” Huang said. “By giving students an opportunity to improve their living conditions, an opportunity to solve a problem that no one else has solved before, UAB can increase the overall appeal of UAB.”

“As the number one employer in the state and its leading medical and scientific research facility, UAB has an obligation to be at the forefront of sustainable practices and a responsible use of resources,” said Emily Feinstein, director of Student Engagement. “It is critical for our students to be leaders who carry out meaningful projects that result in positive and enduring changes for our UAB community.”

The students will work with UAB Facilities and UAB Recycling to complete the projects by the fall. Price said the annual awards will enable students to continuously improve the campus and gain experience in all aspects of a project’s implementation.

“I think there will always be ways that UAB facilities and programs would benefit from fresh ideas from students through this fund,” Price said. “As much as I hope that our future will be sustainable in every way, I know there will always be ways to improve.”

Other projects were proposed, but not funded, that the board recognized for their effort:

  • Nicholas Hoppmann, M.D., an internal medicine resident, will work with hospital environmental services to help improve recycling collection in Spain Auditorium and other high-traffic hospital and School of Medicine sites.
  • Courtlyn Robinson, a senior in environmental health sciences, and Nirja Gajjar, a sophomore in public health, proposed a bike-sharing program; the Regional Planning Commission has already started working on a citywide program.