Geneseo receives sustainability grant for eGarden

Geneseo was recently awarded a grant from the State University of New York’s inaugural Small Grant Sustainability Competition, which will provide funding for a new Energy Garden to be located across from Monroe Hall. SUNY announced the 10 recipients of the grant on Thursday Feb. 7.

The competition was created to support an Energy-Smart New York, a SUNY initiative to help New York meet its energy goals, including reducing energy consumption, promoting renewable energy and protecting the environment.  

The grant will allow for the creation of the eGarden, which will use renewable wind, solar, geothermal and biofuel sources to generate energy for the campus.

The grant awarded to Geneseo was for $7,500, but will be added to approximately $60,000 from Geneseo’s reserve funds. According to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long, the reserve’s balance must be maintained at a certain level, and in spring 2011 the fund was in excess.

As a result, Geneseo administrators conducted a review for critical equipment needs. One request that was reviewed by the budget advisory committee, and subsequently approved, was a windmill to be built on top of the Integrated Science Center.  

Various faculty and staff, however, were concerned with the logistics of the windmill and the project was put on hold. Vice President of Administration and Finance James Milroy, in conjunction with facilities planning, decided to temporarily put the excess reserves aside.

Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics Steve Padalino then spearheaded the eGarden proposal along with the sustainability commission and other collaborators.

According to Long, the project grew out of the availability of funding for alternative energy via the Small Grant Sustainability Competition.

The garden will decrease campus energy consumption and landfill waste, in addition to powering an eco-dorm, a bioconversion green house and the new Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Leadership.

The garden will also foster student learning experiences through opportunities to volunteer, work and research renewable energy sources, as well as a proposed eGarden lab course.

“It’s a great resource for the community,” Long said. “It can work with local businesses who work in the alternative energy field; it can give them a chance to showcase their work and give us a chance to work with them. It can also give community members a chance to learn about renewable energy.”

The facility will also be available to SUNY Brockport, Monroe Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and Genesee Community College faculty and students.

Additional grants were awarded to nine other campuses, sometimes collectively, for various sustainability initiatives.

According to SUNY’s website, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry collaborated on a project to “determine the feasibility of using basic field techniques for non-experts to determine the quality and concentration of heavy metals in soil.”

Another collaboration took place between Brockport, SUNY Fredonia and the University at Albany to study whether food waste education will decrease waste and increase composting. Researchers will invite 40 students from each of the campuses to participate in the study.

A variety of other initiatives, both at individual institutions as well as multiple collaborations within the SUNY system, also received funding.