COLUMBIA – MU was selected to receive a $35,000 to $50,000 grant to help develop ways of reducing the university’s carbon footprint, according to a news release from the Rocky Mountain Institute, which administers the grant.
The money comes from an anonymous foundation and is handled by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting organization that helps a variety of groups reduce their carbon footprint, according to Michael Kinsley, senior consultant for the institute. Eleven other schools will also receive grants.
MU student and former Sustain Mizzou president Patrick Margherio said they plan to use the money to expand the Building Dashboard program and to educate students about energy conservation and how to use the program.
Building Dashboard is a real-time monitoring program that hooks up to a building’s utility system. It sends information on energy usage to a service that feeds it to the Dashboard Web site, Margherio said. One can then compare energy usage over time.
Building Dashboard was set up in three residence halls this spring,thanks to another former Sustain Mizzou president, Ben Datema. Datema was awarded a $25,000 student grant in July 2008 and used the money to launch the program. This spring Building Dashboard was installed in the Schurz, Hatch and College Avenue residence halls, according to a Missourian article published in January.
Margherio said the new grant money could be used to expand the program to other buildings.
MU must submit a project proposal to the Rocky Mountain Institute by July 1. The institute will then determine exactly how much money the university will receive.
Margherio said he hopes this will make students more conscious of energy usage. In April there was a competition in the three residence halls to conserve energy using the Building Dashboard system. During the weeklong competition, they were able to reduce their energy usage by three percent.
Margherio was one of three campus representatives who attended a Rocky Mountain Institute collaborative workshop from June 2 to 4 in Denver.
"We basically just sat down and talked about different barriers that RMI had come across when they visited our campus,” Margherio said.
Prior to the workshop the Rocky Mountain Institute visited each of the 12 campuses to learn about the on-campus programs the universities already had in place and about the barriers they faced.
“We then interviewed operations people and administrative people, faculty and staff,to find out what they were learning about those barriers and the solutions they were finding to those barriers,” Kinsley said.
“The biggest barrier is financing," Margherio said. "People just don’t have the money to do sustainability initiatives right now.”
Once the money is awarded, the campuses can use the money in whatever way they think is appropriate, Kinsley said. “RMI does not have a consulting role, although the campus can call on them for assistance.”