Something named “Charlotte Green Initiative” could take on several meanings on a campus like UNC Charlotte’s.
It could open a debate about whether the campus has enough green space, especially in times of recent growth and the resulting construction projects. It could easily be the athletic department’s push for 49ers fans to dress more fervently in school colors.
But if you’re more interested in how UNC Charlotte can be more sustainable environmentally, Charlotte Green Initiative (CGI) is just for you. And if you have a campus project in mind, it’s the time of year to propose it to the student-led committee.
We’re doing a push to have more student ideas but we still get a lot of groups making proposals.
Kaitlyn Chapman, CGI student chairwoman
Since its founding in 2008, CGI has sponsored countless environmental and sustainability projects around campus. What’s different this year is that CGI established a Nov. 2 deadline for accepting proposals and turned the process into a campus-wide competition.
“We’re doing a push to have more student ideas but we still get a lot of groups making proposals,” said CGI student chairwoman Kaitlyn Chapman. “We’re trying to get more student initiatives.”
Chapman shared that one project proposed by a biology student last year focused on natural grasses. His proposal was to bring more North Carolina grasses to campus.
CGI’s committee is comprised of seven students and many are engineering students like Chapman. She says the committee would like to be more diverse by having several other majors of study represented.
CGI works directly with the Facilities Department and Sustainability Office in coordinating its projects. CGI’s university staff advisers are sustainability officer Mike Lizotte and sustainability coordinator Devin Hatley.
Students or student groups are eligible to apply for CGI funding. Applications are available online and require an applicant to identify the project’s purpose, a proposed budget and a timeline for completing the project.
The CGI committee considers presentations from the applicants and receives advice from Lizotte and Hatley on their practicality. Once the projects are approved and underway, the CGI committee and its advisers follow through with the project’s leaders.
“We tell a student, ‘Don’t just come with an idea, come with a way you can help make this happen,’ ” said Hatley. “They have to have a sponsor, from a department, maybe someone from the engineering department, who can help them.
“We want to make sure there is ownership after the project is complete. Some department will take ownership and help maintain it as it moves forward.”
CGI has an annual budget of about $50,000 and is funded by $2 that is charged to every full-time student. Project proposals are not bound to requesting a minimum or maximum amount of money.
Hatley said some of the CGI projects in progress are the purchase of compost bins for a campus garden, installing bike lane signage and adding more than 350 recycling bins throughout campus.
One of CGI’s biggest projects in recent years was conforming Jerry Richardson Stadium into a zero waste football stadium. That means everything sold at the stadium is either recyclable or compostable.
“There were constant conversations to determine what could be sold, down to the kinds of straws that were sold,” said Chapman.
Sustainability is one of Chapman’s passions; it’s a career field she is hoping to pursue when she graduates in the spring. But she doesn’t limit her environmental interests to CGI.
As a Levine Scholars Program student, Chapman is assisting with a project that will help the nearly constructed Levine residence hall attain its formal green certification. Chapman is examining construction specs to review the building’s energy and water use, among other criteria.
Recently, Chapman assisted the Sustainability Office’s Sustainability Week on campus. On Oct. 6-8, the office sponsored a campus cleanup, a tree-binding, a transportation fair and a campus social.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: email@example.com.