Sustainability Fund

S.A.F.E. Project Archive

Since the Sustainable Advancements Funding Endeavor (S.A.F.E.) was established, the Sustainability Committee has awarded over $100,000 to various sustainability projects and employment positions.

  • FALL 2020

    Hydrating Facilities Staff | $4,798
    SAFE - Hydrating Facilities Staff

    Project Purpose: To install three water bottle refill stations (one on each floor of Mundy and one on the first floor of the Physical Plant) and to provide all Facilities Management staff with stainless steel water bottles. The new water bottle stations replaced the existing water fountains and increased free filtered water access.

    Submitted By: Mike Sedwick (Staff)

    Reusable Utensil Program | $229
    Reusable Utensil Program

    Project Purpose: To enhance reusability in Southwestern’s food service by introducing reusable utensils to students as a complement to the reusable to-go containers. The project significantly reduced the amount of plastic utensil waste.

    Submitted By: Sam Ramon ’21, Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Revamped Food Waste Reduction and Compost Program | $1,443
    Revamped Food Waste and Compost Program

    Project Purpose: To create a composting pilot program and acquire 75 additional compost bins to reduce the amount of organic waste Southwestern University contributes to landfills. In the spring 2021 semester, the university partnered with Break It Down Austin to compost 120 gallons of food waste from the Mabee Commons!

    Submitted By: Anthony Garcia ’23, Nicole Rajtak ’22, Sam Ramon ’21, Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Robertson Center LED Retrofit | $25,560
    Robertson Center Lighting Retrofit to LED

    Project Purpose: To replace the existing light fixtures in the Robertson Center large gymnasium, indoor track, and outdoor canopy lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs. The lighting is expected to save 126,052 kilowatt-hours each year.

    Submitted By: Glenn Schwab (Staff), Shorty Schwartz (Staff), Brandon Quintanilla (Staff)

    USGBC Membership & TRUE Advisor Certification | $1,650 SAFE - TRUE Advisor

    Project Purpose: To fund U.S. Green Building Council membership and TRUE Advisor Certification for 3 Facilities Management staff. The TRUE Advisor certificate program provides a comprehensive curriculum about zero waste policies and programs. The TRUE Advisor certificate holder will have a practical understanding of the most current zero waste business principles.

    Submitted By: John Dixon (Staff), Juan Garza (Staff), Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    SPRING 2021

    Compost Program Continuation | $1,750 SAFE - Compost Program Continuation

    Project Purpose: To fund the continuation of the composting program and Break It Down Austin service in the Mabee Commons for the 2021-2022 academic year.

    Submitted By: Anthony Garcia ’23, Nicole Rajtak ’22, Sam Ramon ’21, Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Period Project Expansion | $5,000 SAFE - Period Project Expansion

    Project Purpose: To fund a soft expansion of the “Period Project” into additional bathrooms for the 2021-2022 academic year.

    Submitted By: Ceanna Cooksey ’23, Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Pirate Pantry | $1,035

    Project Purpose: To provide students access to free non-perishable food items in order to address food insecurity on-campus and prevent any student from experiencing hunger.

    Submitted By: Reece Sandercock ’23, Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Story Tree Brace | $430 SAFE - Story Tree

    Project Purpose: To provide funding for a brace to extend the life expectancy of the historic “Story Tree” on campus.

    Submitted By: Lance Roberson (Staff)

    Weather Station Online | $935

    Project Purpose: To network connect the weather station on campus is to have a method to collect and real-time monitor the weather on campus.

    Submitted By: Lance Roberson (Staff)

  • FALL 2019

    Automatic Lights for Practice Rooms | $1,000
    Automatic Lights for Practice Rooms

    Project Purpose: To change the lights in the practice rooms of the Sarofim School from manual to automatic lights. The room occupancy sensors help conserve energy and save money.

    Submitted By: Alexandra Slaid ’20, Laura Sewell (Staff Sponsor)

    BatBnBs | $750

    Project Purpose: To install BatBnB bat houses on campus. Each bat house provides a home for up to 120 bats, which are critical to keeping the number of pests and insects under control, pollinating flowers, and carrying seeds for important plants. Three bat houses were installed, two on a golf course emergency shelter, and one near the campus Greenhouse.

    Submitted By: Veronica Johnson (Staff)

    Bee Campus USA | $2,150
    Bee Campus USA

    Project Purpose: To meet the qualifications needed to certify Southwestern as a Bee Campus USA institution. The grant covered educational signage, a “Protected Native Habitat” permanent marker, native pollinator-friendly seeds, and seasonal bug releases.

    Submitted By: Samatha Buehler ’20, Karonech Chreng ’20, Katey Ewton ’20, Abbey Lloyd ’20, Spencer Kleypas ’20, Dr. Joshua Long (Faculty Sponsor)

    EIM-OC Repurposing Sit-to-Stand Desks | $2,440
    Sit-to-Stand Desks

    Project Purpose: To create six sit-to-stand desks utilizing surplus tabletops that would have been sent to landfill otherwise. The project is a continuation of the BeWell Hub pilot initiative funded by a S.A.F.E. grant in Spring 2019. The sit-to-stand desks have been installed in Mood-Bridwell, Robertson, Olin, and Prothro.

    Submitted By: Leilani McDaniel ’20, Dr. Vanessa Mikan (Faculty Sponsor)

    Grounds Going Green (Fuel-Efficient Trimmers) | $1,800
    Grounds Going Green

    Project Purpose: To replace the Facilities Management’s Stihl trimmers with fuel-efficient Echo trimmers. The new trimmers are also better for the health of the Grounds team. Eventually, the Grounds team would like to transition to all-electric equipment, but the fuel-efficient trimmers help alleviate the ecological damage in the interim.

    Submitted By: Richard Dabbs (Staff)

    Period Project | $1,000
    Period Project

    Project Purpose: To provide free access to sustainable period products. 100% organic pads and tampons from Aunt Flow are currently being piloted in the first-floor and third-floor restrooms of McCombs Campus Center. In October 2020, the Office of Sustainability partnered with OrganiCup to distribute free menstrual cups to interested students.

    Submitted By: Kathryn Caudell ’19, Ceanna Cooksey ’23, Veronica Johnson (Staff Sponsor)

    The Treasure Chest | $500
    The Treasure Chest

    Project Purpose: To establish the professionalism of the Treasure Chest, a student-run exchange store. The grant covered clothing racks, a pirate-themed collection bin, and a skeleton mascot, which helped improve the aesthetic of the space.

    Submitted By: Nissi Frutos-Ramos ’20, Veronica Johnson (Staff Sponsor)

    Upperclassmen Hydration Stations | $7,326
    Upperclassmen Hydration Stations

    Project Purpose: To install two water bottle refill stations in the Sharon Lord Center laundry room and the Herman Brown kitchen. These two locations were chosen to give upperclassmen on-campus residents close access to a hydration station, which were only in academic buildings and first-year residential halls before the award.

    Submitted By: Nicole Rajtak ’22, Veronica Johnson (Staff Sponsor)

    SPRING 2020

    Arbor Day Tree Planting | $2,200
    Arbor Day

    Project Purpose: To plant trees to maintain our Tree Campus Higher Education recognition for the fourth year. A large Live Oak was planted in front of the Library on Texas Arbor Day 2020 and 2 Live Oak trees were planted on National Arbor Day 2021 to replace the Bradford Pears between the Chapel and McCombs Campus Center.

    Submitted By: Dr. Carl Robertson (Faculty)

    Waste Standard Campus-Wide Roll-Out | $3,400
    Waste Roll Out

    Project Purpose: To fund 50 signs/frames for the existing slim Busch Systems bins in the Fondren-Jones classrooms, which were redistributed across the campus, and 275 mini-hanging Trash Buddies for all the remaining offices on campus. The project increased the visibility of the University’s recycling program and diversion from landfills.

    Submitted By: Veronica Johnson (Staff)

  • FALL 2018

    Greenhouse Irrigation Repair and Community Garden Restoration | $1,057
    Greenhouse Irrigation Repair and Community Garden Restoration

    Project Purpose: To improve the Community Garden and Greenhouse’s water irrigation system. The installed automated water irrigation system helped alleviate the burden of manual water, enabling the available labor to be used elsewhere, such as weed control.

    Submitted By: Karonech Chreng ’20, Randy Erben (Staff Sponsor)

    On-Campus Dishware Rentals | $359
    Dishware Rental

    Project Purpose: To purchase 100 Preserve reusable plates, bowls, cups, forks, spoons, and knives. Anyone in the Southwestern community can borrow the reusable dishes for free instead of purchasing disposable products to use at their on-campus events.

    Submitted By: Leah Horick ’21, Dr. Laura Hobgood (Faculty Sponsor)

    SPRING 2019

    AASHE 2019 Conference Funding | $2,750
    AASHE 2019 Conference Funding

    Project Purpose: To send members of the Office of Sustainability to Spokane, Washington for the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) 2019 conference. Southwestern’s Sustainability Coordinator, Veronica Johnson, and EcoReps Logan Spalding ’19 and Kathryn Caudell ’19 attended the conference.

    Submitted By: Leah Horick ’21, Randy Erben (Staff Sponsor)

    BeWell Hub Initiative | $2,310
    BeWell Hub Initiative

    Project Purpose: To pilot the BeWell Hub Initiative to encourage students to engage in physical activity while simultaneously studying or doing homework. The BeWell Hubs, each consisting of a sit-to-stand desk, an active learning stool, a desk bike, and an anti-fatigue mat, were installed on the 4th floor of the Fondren-Jones Science Building and the 2nd floor of Prothro Building.

    Submitted By: Brianna Lombardi ’20, Dr. Vanessa Mikan (Faculty Sponsor)

    Biodiversity Index of Southwestern University | $400 | In-Progress
    Biodiversity Index

    Project Purpose: To purchase small cover boards to catalog the campus’ invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles. The basic field skills project allowed underclassmen students to get their hands dirty learning how to locate, photograph, and identify species at Southwestern University.

    Submitted By: Bekki Chastain ’20, Sage Clay ’22, Nicole Rajtak ’22, Logan Davis ’22, Dr. Benjamin Pierce (Faculty Sponsor)

    Recycling Bin Acquisition | $4,800
    Recycling Bin Acquisition

    Project Purpose: To purchase ten 24-gallon recycling and trash bin sets from Busch Systems to place in campus locations without recycling access. These bins are made of 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Material and now serve as the campus standard for recycling and trash bins.

    Submitted By: Leah Horick ’21, Randy Erben (Staff Sponsor)

  • FALL 2017

    Central TX Collaborative Air Quality Monitoring Experiment | $5,000
    Central TX Collaborative Air Quality Monitoring Experiment

    Project Purpose: To investigate the effects of local emission on air quality in Central Texas in a collaborative experiment with St. Edward’s University. The data collected included air temperature, relative humidity, and ozone concentration using instruments launched on weather balloons.

    Submitted By: Dr. Rebecca Edwards (Faculty) 

    Community Garden/Greenhouse Caretaker | $8,267
    Greenhouse Tech

    Project Purpose: To hire a part-time Community Garden and Greenhouse caretaker to maintain the garden, coordinate activities and projects within the garden with students and staff, collaborate with volunteers, speak at various meetings, and maintain records. Lance Roberson was hired for this position in Fall 2018.

    Submitted By: Mike Miller (Staff)

    Lighting Energy Efficiency Project for Sarofim School of Fine Arts Gallery | $1,501
    Fine Arts Gallery Lights

    Project Purpose: To purchase LED light bulbs and install three dimmer switches in the Fine Arts Gallery to replace the halogen light bulbs.

    Submitted By: Seth Daulton (Staff)

    Outdoor Recycling Bins | $6,000
    Outdoor Recycling Bins

    Project Purpose: To place outdoor recycling bins next to the large outdoor trash cans and around popular buildings on campus. Instead of purchasing new bins, half of the existing black landfill bins were painted blue and labeled ‘recycling.’

    Submitted By: Lilly Dennis ’18, Leilani McDaniel ’20, Dr. Romi Burks (Faculty Sponsor)

    Project Poop (Pet Waste Container Station) | $700
    Project Poop

    Project Purpose: To install dog waste stations around the residential halls. Each installed station is equipped with compostable bags and signs that encourage people to pick up after their pets.

    Submitted By: Carly Ammel ’18

    Prothro Water Refill Stations | $5,456
    Prothro Water Refill Stations

    Project Purpose: To install water bottle refill stations in the Prothro building. At the time, Prothro was the only remaining academic building without a water refill station. Several Prothro offices were subscribed to a bottled water cooler refill service which cost them $1000 a year. This installation saved the offices money and gave building occupants a more sustainable source of water.

    Submitted By: Sarah Brackmann (Staff)

    Student GIS Coordinator | $3,000
    GIS temp

    Project Purpose: To hire a Student GIS Coordinator to support the GIS system which is used to support the Environmental Studies program and the university as a whole. Simone Yoxall ’19 and Sam Buehler ’20 were hired for this position.

    Submitted By: Dominique Bertrand (Staff)

    Student Sustainability Coordinator Mentee | $1,300
    Mentee - aashe bronze

    Project Purpose: To hire a Student Sustainability Coordinator Mentee. Keara Hudler, the Student Sustainability Coordinator at the time taught the mentee how to complete Southwestern’s STARS report, going through the report section by section to become familiar with the language, structure, and expectations of the system. Kathryn Caudell ’19 was hired for the mentee position.

    Submitted By: Keara Hudler ’18

    SPRING 2018

    Rock Filter to Clean the Ecolab | $3,000
    Rock Filter temp

    Project Purpose: To test whether a rock filter could be used to remediate contaminated water that was entering the Ecolab from the housing development across the street. Chris Nissen ’20 was hired for this research project.

    Submitted By: Dr. Steve Alexander (Faculty)

  • FALL 2016

    Ecolab Restoration Project | $6,000
    Ecolab Restoration Project

    Project Purpose: To fund the first portion of a sustainable trail in the Ecolab. Funds covered the construction of a quarter-mile long hiking path within the 25-acre boundary of Ecolab, increasing the safety and accessibility of the site and making it more aesthetically pleasing.

    Submitted By: Daniel Buffington ’17, Dr. Joshua Long (Faculty Sponsor)

    Ecolab Wildlife Management and Census | $461
    Ecolab Wildlife Management

    Project Purpose: To expand the university’s Ecolab’s macrofauna census with the purchase of three additional GameCams. The cameras are used to identify wildlife in the area, allowing students to analyze wildlife patterns, perform species modeling, and promote green infrastructure and wildlife corridors.

    Submitted By: Simone Yoxall ’19, Dr. Joshua Long (Faculty Sponsor)

    Empirical Power Monitoring | $6,000
    Power Monitoring

    Project Purpose: To purchase a Dranetz HDPQ-VAFLEX3PKG, a piece of equipment that monitors power usage and efficiency. The equipment allowed Facilities Management to gather information about how much power is being consumed by lighting/electrical equipment and determine which projects are most viable and cost-effective.

    Submitted By: Shorty Schwartz (Staff)

    Promoting Environmental Literacy | $500
    Promoting Env Lit

    Project Purpose: To promote environmental literacy by implementing an Operation Achievement program focused on experiential learning in the Southwestern Community Garden.

    Submitted By: Jeanette Montalvo (Staff)

    Student Sustainability Coordinator | $2,350
    Student Sustainability Coordinator - aashe silver

    Project Purpose: To continue funding the student-worker position Student Sustainability Coordinator to help with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) submission. Keara Hudler ’18 continued in this position.

    Submitted By: Keara Hudler ’18, Anwar Sounny-Slitine (Faculty Sponsor)

    SPRING 2017

    Weather Station | $8,582
    Weather Station

    Project Purpose: To install a weather station to collect more accurate, continuous data of weather events local to campus. The weather station was installed just outside of the Physical Plant building and is currently monitored by the campus’ Greenhouse Technician Lance Roberson.

    Submitted By: Simone Yoxall ’19, Dr. Rebecca Edwards (Faculty Sponsor)

    Summer Garden Workers 2017 | $1,705
    Summer Garden Workers

    Project Purpose: To fund two garden workers over the summer of 2017 to maintain Southwestern’s Campus Garden. The workers hosted garden sessions for students, faculty, and the community to plant fall crops, pull weeds, and water the plants.

    Submitted By: Anne Brown ’17, Megan Danner (Staff Sponsor)

  • FALL 2015

    Energy Efficient Water Recycling | $760
    Water Recycling

    Project Purpose: To help protect the astronomy equipment The Fountainwood Observatory from central Texas elements by adding a variety of cooling measures. Viburnum Suspensum shrubs were placed around the building, shielding the observatory from direct sunlight and lowering energy consumption needed to cool the equipment inside. The dehumidifying system was upgraded to run fully on solar power and features a drip irrigation system that recycles water from the dehumidifiers to water the shrubs.

    Submitted By: Susana Beltran ’18, Michael Measom ’16, Diana Beltran ’18, Kyle Zarosky ’17, Hunter Snell ’18, Dr. Mark Bottorff (Faculty Sponsor) 

    LED Lighting in the Cove | $1,950
    LED Lighting in the Cove

    Project Purpose: To restore lighting in the local campus hangout, the Cove. The installed LED lights use less energy, save money, prevent heat buildup, and play a role in lowering the campus’ carbon emissions.

    Submitted By: Jason Chapman (Staff)

    Our Pirates Bikes are GREEN (Pirate Bike-Themed Bottle Giveaway) | $1,500
    Pirate Bike Bottle

    Project Purpose: The Student Philanthropy Council, Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge, and the Office of Administration partnered to distribute reusable water bottles to all first-year students. The bottles were distributed to reduce the use of single-use water bottles on campus, encourage students to use the new water bottle refill stations, and promote the Pirate Bike program.

    Submitted By: Amanda Blanchard ’17, Becky Rodriguez (Staff Sponsor), Bob Baldwin (Staff Sponsor)

    Raised Bed Garden Plots | $1,500
    Raised Beds

    Project Purpose: To raise Southwestern Garden plots by adding wooden frames and filling the extra space with topsoil. This directly addressed the complications with ground-level garden plots such as weeds, poor water drainage, and erosion. This project also improved garden accessibility for campus community members with disabilities and enhanced the experience of classes implementing civic engagement and experiential learning into the curricula.

    Submitted By: Sam Guess ’17

    Sustainable Lighting in Jones Theatre | $228
    Jones Lobby Lights

    Project Purpose: To upgrade the lighting in the Jones Theater Lobby. The lights were replaced with long-term options that reduce energy costs and labor expenses associated with changing the bulbs. The few simple changes to the lighting also improved the aesthetic of the lobby.

    Submitted By: Dakota McDurham ’16, Dalton Teague ’16

    Student Sustainability Coordinator | $3,060
    Student Sustainability Coordinator temp

    Project Purpose: To hire a student-worker to help advance the sustainability goals of the university and work towards a greener campus. Keara Hudler ’18 was hired for this position and received valuable learning opportunities in coordinating sustainability efforts.

    Submitted By: Anwar Sounny-Slitine (Faculty)

    Water Bottle Refill Stations (Academic Buildings) | $6,860
    Water Bottle Refill

    Project Purpose: To install water bottle refill stations Mood Bridwell Hall, Smith Library Center, and Fine Arts Building. The installed bottle refill stations have an extra filtration component and served as a good visual reminder to students to carry a reusable water bottle to prevent plastic water bottles from ending up in landfills.

    Submitted By: Amanda Blanchard ’17

    SPRING 2016

    Bathroom Hand Dryers for the Smith Library Center | $2,094
    Bathroom Hand Dryers

    Project Purpose: To install fast drying hand dryers in the Smith Library Center bathrooms. The installed hand dryers reduced paper towel waste and more expenses. Hand dryers are also more sanitary than paper towels and help lower the university’s carbon footprint.

    Submitted By: Jean Whewell (Staff)

    Bicycle Repair Stations | $1,539
    Bike Repair

    Project Purpose: To create bicycle repair stations for the campus’ Pirate Bikes. The installed bike repair kits include numerous tools to quickly repair Pirate Bikes and personal bikes.

    Submitted By: Anne Brown ’17

    Community Garden Outdoor Classroom | $750
    Outdoor Classroom

    Project Purpose: To create a community outdoor classroom to use during classes and free time. One classroom area in the center of the garden accommodates more than the average number of students. The second area functions as a recreational space and is available for garden workshops or for students who wish to do school work outside.

    Submitted By: Lauren Childers ’16

    Creative Sustainability Archive | $200

    Project Purpose: To create the Sustainable Archive, a living collection of achievements in sustainability made by members of the Southwestern Community. The bookshelf holds student research, projects, and published faculty work that pertains to sustainability. The Archive is a resource for the public located in Mood-Bridwell Hall, inspiring future sustainability projects.

    Submitted By: Keara Hudler ’18

    Diatomaceous Earth for Southwestern’s Community Garden | $45
    Diatomaceous Earth

    Project Purpose: To purchase two 10 pound bags of Diatomaceous Earth, a natural insect killer, to keep invasive fire ants from gardening beds. This was used as a teaching opportunity to stress the importance of organic pest control methods.

    Submitted By: Craig Bradley ’16

    Heather Hall Energy Monitoring | $3,393
    Heather Hall

    Project Purpose: To transform the black box theater, Heather Hall, into an energy-neutral space. The installed TED electrical monitoring system collects and displays pertinent data on public touchscreen kiosks. Students can determine how much electrical energy is being produced by the Heather Hall solar array and compare that with the electrical energy being used by the lighting systems.

    Submitted By: Dr. John Ore (Faculty)

    Library Courtyard Improvement | $1,800
    Library Courtyard

    Project Purpose: To replace the lighting within the courtyard of the Smith Library Center. Facilities Management replaced the broken lights with new LED floodlights.

    Submitted By: Jean Whewell (Staff)

    Raised Wicking Beds | $500
    Raised Wicking Beds

    Project Purpose: To raise the wicking beds in the Southwestern Garden. The installed wicking beds require 40-50% less water than traditional beds and are self-watering with reservoirs beneath the plants, helping conserve the garden’s limited resources during warmer months.

    Submitted By: Kaitlyn Campbell ’17

    Summer Garden Workers 2016 | $1,550
    Summer Garden Workers

    Project Purpose: To fund two garden workers over the summer of 2016 to maintain Southwestern’s Campus Garden. The garden workers hosted garden sessions for those taking summer classes to assist with summer upkeep and plantings.

    Submitted By: Sam Guess ’17

    Walzel Courts Lighting Project | $10,000
    Walzel Courts

    Project Purpose: To update the lighting in the Walzel Gymnasium to reduce energy load and increase energy efficiency. The energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs were replaced with more cost-effective LED lighting. These changes to only a small portion of Robertson Center are expected to generate enough savings for Facilities Management to reinvest into more lighting improvements.

    Submitted By: Rachel Ehler ’16, Dakota McDurham ’16, Nick Espino ’16, Kron Heilman ’16, Dalton Teague ’16, Aaron Moyer ’16, Dr. Joshua Long (Faculty Sponsor)

    Water Bottle Refill Stations | $2,670
    Clark/Mabee Hydration Station

    Project Purpose: To install a water bottle refill station between the Clark and Mabee first-year residence halls and on the second floor of the Robertson Center. The Clark/Mabee location was chosen because first-year students received a reusable water bottle the previous semester. The Robertson location was the most requested location for a water bottle refill station. Both stations encouraged students to carry around a reusable water bottle and reduced single-use water bottle usage.

    Submitted By: Amanda Blanchard ’17