SGA Environmental Committee

Student Government Association Environmental Committee (SGAEC)

Mission

The Student Government Association Environmental Committee (SGAEC) works to collaborate with UMass Amherst administration, staff, students and the Student Government Association in order to implement environmentally sustainable initiatives in all realms of campus life. We aim to focus campus-wide efforts to create policies which contribute to sustainability and are financially efficient practices. Above all, we as a Committee work to minimize the ecological footprint we generate today for the benefit of future generations of the UMass Community.
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History

Environmental sustainability is an important priority for the UMass community. The 10-member SGAEC was established in 2008 to initiate projects on behalf of the undergraduate student body to enhance environmental sustainability on the UMass campus, and working together with the administration we have already made strides: we worked with Dining Services on the trayless dining initiative, we have been working with the Physical Plant to craft new environmentally conscience heating and cooling policies, we have started a composting initiative in the Blue Wall that is geared to spread to the other Campus Center eateries, and more.

To learn about our current initiatives and how to get involved, read about our new Working Groups.
Want to know more about who we are? Read about our Members.

Past Initiatives

Green Dining - Trayless Initiative

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One main focus in Spring 2009 was working with Ken Toong and Dining Services to reduce waste in the Dining Commons. Trayless dining will eliminate tons of food waste and vastly decrease water and energy use in the DCs, saving money, which can be put towards improving food quality. The committee is coordinating volunteers from the Eco-Rep program to create informational displays, which include more in-depth information and statistics about savings.

We’ve also worked with Dining Services to implement a new program to reduce use of paper cups on campus. This year all students will receive stainless steel, reusable water bottles with the on-campus Meal Plan. Reusable travel mugs will also be available to purchase. Both the water bottles and the travel mugs can be used at any of the Dining Commons on campus.

Energy  &  Climate

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The Energy Subcommittee focuses on working with UMass administration to create and enact efficient energy policies on campus.  Conservation of energy is also a main focus of this subcommittee.  In addition, we are committed to researching ways to bring sustainable energy production to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Currently we are compiling all the information we can gather about current UMass energy-use policies, we are preparing a few proposals regarding electricity conservation and HVAC set-points, and we are researching the possibilities for increasing UMass' solar photovoltaic electricity production.

Contact:
Time/Location of meetings for Fall 2010 Semester:
 Every Wednesday, 8:00pm @ the Blue Wall

Transportation

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The Transportation Subcommittee works to reduce the the environmental impact of transit to, from, and within the UMass campus.  Focus areas may include providing sustainable options for commuters, students moving between the Five Colleges, UMass-owned vehicles, or anything else! Committee members work with administrators to encourage policy that will produce efficient transportation practices for years to come.

At present, the Committee is in the planning stages of developing a Bike Sharing Program to be available to all students, staff, and faculty.  Research is in progress for ways in which to increase the fuel efficiency of all University vehicles.  Additionally, we are considering incentives to motivate carpooling.  

Contact: Amber Hewett (ahewett@student.umass.edu)
Time/Location of meetings for Fall 2010 Semester:
 Contact Amber for date/time location information

Green Buildings  &  Grounds

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The overarching goal of this particular working group is to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings and dormitories on campus by means of implementing more focused changes in certain internal processes. The current two projects include the switch from paper towel dispensers in restrooms to air hand dryers, as well as the implementation of green roofing, starting with the Worcester D.C., which will provide natural insulation against cold and heat. Both projects are still in research stages, but will prove to be huge assets to the university in terms of environmental consciousness as well as save on the bills once completed. Both projects aim to be approved by the proper university administration by the end of the fall semester 2009.

Heating Policies for Housing Services

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This project is focused on working with Housing Services to both define what policies they use to heat the dorms by and to alter/create more environmentally friendly and comfortable policies. Specifically, we are determining if Housing Services has a maximum temperature that we try not to heat the dorms above and if they don't, to create a policy that would set the maximum target temperature of 67 degrees F for all dorms on campus. This would reduce the excess energy that is used to heat the dorms to the excessively high temperatures that they currently reach. To exemplify this point, we have seen actual date from a lower Central dorm that had a reading of 90 degrees F in the beginning of March! Not only does heating dorms to such excessive temperatures make students uncomfortable, but is also an enormous waste of energy.

Climate Action

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We've worked on several Climate Action projects, some of them in coordination with the Environmental Performance Advisory Committee (EPAC):
  • UMass Climate Action Plan: in compliance with the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment to reduce net campus carbon emissions to zero, the deadline for completion of the Climate Action Plan is September 2009.
  • Grant proposal for online “energy dashboard” displays for campus buildings.
  • Proposal for cold-water washers and clothes lines in the UMass dorm laundry rooms.
  • Feasibility study for co-production of biochar and bioenergy for the UMass Central Heating Plant. Biochar, produced from heating organic matter (straw, wood chips, manure, etc.) in the absence of air, can be buried in the soil to sequester carbon and reverse global warming, as well as enhancing soil and crop yields. Bioenergy and heat are valuable co-products of making biochar. We have been investigating this technology for use at the UMass Central Heating Plant as a way to reduce campus carbon emissions.
  • Organizing a Northeast Biochar Symposium for November 13, 2009.


Finance  &  Administration

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The Finance and Administration working group is a team of individuals coming from an interdisciplinary background at UMass Amherst. This diverse team  is currently working towards three goals; A) to create a UMass Green Rotating Loan Fund for the 10'-11' school year, B) establish a green purchasing, and most importantly C) to reduce the university's carbon footprint. We have had success in the past working very closely with the newly established campus sustainability coordinator, Josh Stoffel. Recent successes include establishing a Green Fund as an option for the 2010 senior gift.

Contact
Time/Location of meetings for Fall 2010 Semester:
 Every Wednesday, 8:00pm @ the Blue Wall

Media  &  Outreach

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Developing a strong communication network is a vital component of the SGA Environmental Committee's pledge to improve our campus's dedication to sustainability.  Without effective communications, students wanting to get involved won't know how to, student organizations with similar interests unaware of each other's efforts, and calls for action and cooperation will fall flat. 

Contact:
Time/Location of meetings for Fall 2010 Semester:
 Every Wednesday, 8:00pm @ the Blue Wall

Food Services  &  Waste Management

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The purpose of this group is to increase the amount of REAL (local, seasonal, organic) FOOD in the UMass community. Some initiatives include:
  • Outreach and Education, e.g.,UMass Cooking Classes (UMaCCs) & EcoReps trainings
  • Coordinate UMass Gardens and Farms (starting with Franklin DC)
  • Creating a Green Food Website for UMass
  • Building a Strong Slow Food Five College Chapter
  • Eating and Enjoying REAL FOOD in Community
Contact: Kim Rinard     krinard@student.umass.edu
Time/Location of meetings for Fall 2010 Semester:
 Every Wednesday, 8:00pm @ the Blue Wall