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Commitment to environmental excellence demonstrated with green fund vote

RELEASED: Feb. 2, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Student Senate has passed a bill approving the largest allocation of dollars to environmental initiatives in the UW System.

In a vote of 24-1-1, an allocation to the university's "green fund" totaling $139,543 was approved for the 2011-12 academic year, following the recommendations of the Environmental Endeavors Commission for improving sustainability on campus. Twelve projects in areas such as campus ecology, waste management, transportation, energy, water conservation and environmental awareness and outreach will be funded.

The sustainable projects were conceived of and proposed by students, faculty and members of the campus community. Those awarded funds will be required to report the progress on their projects to the EEC to insure that the original proposals and requirements are met.

"This is the flagship year for the green fund and EEC, so we really wanted to have a series of solid starter programs," said Ben Ponkratz, director of the EEC. "We want UW-Eau Claire to become more environmentally sustainable and these proposals are a crucial step in the right direction."

The green fund was established by referendum in 2009 with nearly 70 percent of student respondents voting in favor of the investment. Student segregated fees of $10 per semester are directed toward reducing UW-Eau Claire's environmental impact and overseen by the EEC. Because it is supported by segregated fees, the fund cannot be used for direct learning experiences. Segregated fees can fund projects that increase awareness of sustainability or physical changes to campus but cannot be solely used in a course.

The EEC decided not to allocate the entire environmental sustainability account, leaving $30,000 for a renewable energy project in 2011. Any additional remaining funds are for the purposes of carryover as well as "quick greens," which are intended to be one-time, short-term allocations, primarily for the purpose of coordinating an outreach activity or event.

The Student Senate represents the students of UW-Eau Claire. One of the roles of Student Senate is to author and pass legislation to create and change policies that will improve student life and the overall quality of the university. Student Senate consults with the chancellor, faculty and staff, UW System administration, the Eau Claire City Council, as well as the state and federal governments.

For more information, contact Ben Ponkratz, Environmental Endeavors Commission director, at ponkrabt@uwec.edu.

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NH/RD/DW

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