VIMS awarded sustainability grants

Two energy-saving projects at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science were among a dozen funded by the College of William & Mary's Committee on Sustainability (COS) during its fall 2009 round of awards.

The 12 awards, totaling $78,759, were selected from 26 proposals totaling almost $250,000 in requests. Funding for the program comes via the student green fee.

Marine technician Todd Nelson and colleagues were awarded $1,500 to support continued work at VIMS on renewable energy generation using both wind and solar power.

Richard White, Director of Facilities Management at VIMS, was awarded $3,300 to replace incandescent exit signage with more energy-efficient LED units. The switch will both save energy and reduce the Institute's carbon footprint. The lights will also generate cost savings due to the longer life expectancy of the LED bulbs.

VIMS professor Dennis Taylor, COS co-chair, says "This round of proposals contains several projects that address energy and carbon-footprint reductions, as well as storm-water management, habitat, and recycling. These issues are all among our top priorities for the College."

In the spring of 2008, students overwhelmingly voted in favor of an annual $30 fee to support sustainability projects and research at the College. The administration endorsed the effort and the fee was approved by the William & Mary Board of Visitors in May 2008. The fee totals more than $200,000 per year, and funds 2 rounds of projects, 4 student summer research grants, and investments in the Green Endowment each year.

Two previous grants to VIMS in spring 2009 helped install energy-efficient fluorescent lighting in the Hargis Library and motion-sensor lighting in low-traffic areas around campus. The energy and cost savings from these projects is already apparent.

VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says the awards are particularly welcome in light of recent state budget cuts. "Saving energy is in line with our focus on environmental stewardship," says Wells, "and every dollar saved is one that we can use to support our core mission of marine research, education, and advisory service."

The other 10 projects awarded for fall 2009 support actions on W&M's main campus in Williamsburg:

  1. Compost Bins for Commons Dining Hall - $2,770 to Ian Fuller '10 (Dining Services Sustainability Intern)
  2. College-wide DOT (Do One Thing) Campaign - $3,050 to Erin Ryan (law faculty):
  3. Swem Library variable frequency drives - $36,000 to Facilities Management (staff, Facilities Management):
  4. Campus Rain Garden - $1,750 to Dylan Reilly '12, Laura Andrew '12 and Randy Chambers (biology faculty/Keck Lab)
  5. Event Recycling Kits - $5,000 to Pat Van Zandt, Kim Lyddane, Steve Cole, and Mike Pritchett (staff, Swem, Conference Services, and Athletics)
  6. Law School Paper Towel Dispensers - $2,289 to Liz Jackson (staff, Law)
  7. Facilities Management Thermal Imager Unit - $8,200 to Dan Patterson (staff, Facilities Management)
  8. Campus Kitchens Herb Garden - $2,500 to Andy Runyan (staff, Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship)
  9. Electric Maintenance Truck - $10,000 to David Dutt (staff, Facilities Management)
  10. NO to Bottled Water" Campaign - up to $2,400 to Mark Fowler (faculty, Environmental Science and Policy Program)

In addition to the projects funded, $20,000 of the student fee was invested in the Green Endowment, which now has a total market value of $71,217. According to Sam Jones, the College's Vice President of Finance, the Green Endowment has seen a notable 27.43% return since its initial investment in January.

The projects funded this semester reflect a growing enthusiasm for sustainability that is permeating the university. Lynda Butler, professor of law and the other co-chair of COS, explained: "The proposals represented a wider range of College units and tackled more aspects of sustainability than ever before. We are very pleased with the results."

For more details on the current round of awards and the Committee on Sustainability, visit