Student committee working to improve green infrastructure at the Engineering School

Engineering Student Council Committee on Sustainability aims to increase student happiness, productivity by improving sustainability infrastructure


The ESC compiled the locations of water bottle filling stations and bike racks onto maps so students could easily locate them.

Courtesy Sydney Applegate

The Engineering Student Council Committee on Sustainability has been working to adopt sustainable measures across the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, including beautifying outdoor green-spaces, adding indoor green-spaces and improving accessibility and knowledge of water bottle filling stations and bike racks.

The Committee on Sustainability was started in February 2017 to research and adopt sustainable measures across the Engineering School in order to address student concerns and promote student well-being.

Behind this new committee is Sydney Applegate, a third-year Engineering student, who initially pitched the idea to the ESC and now is one of the co-directors of the committee. According to Applegate, the Sustainability Committee is split up into three smaller sub-committees — Zero Waste, Event Planning and Infrastructure.  

This past year, the infrastructure sub-committee has been at work trying to make changes within Engineering School through their four “infrastructure-based” projects. 

“The [ESC] on Sustainability is working on improving the outdoor and indoor spaces within the Engineering school to increase productivity, happiness and student satisfaction,” Applegate wrote in an email to engineering students outlining two of the four projects.  

Known as the “adopt an oasis program,” the council plans to add more greenery and plants to the inside of E-school buildings in order to improve indoor spaces. This program allows professors, staff members and graduate students to adopt a plant and take care of it.

“The indoor spaces [in the Engineering School], especially, were very functional and not very livable,” said Cydnie Golson, a first-year Engineering student and member of the Sustainability Committee. “We came up with the idea that adding additional green space indoors could not only connect people to nature more and get more of a sense of our connection to the earth and responsibility in a way.” 

The outdoor space project focuses on increasing collaboration space in outdoor E-school areas and generally improving the outdoor green space. 

“We are getting new outdoor picnic tables so students can utilize those outdoors spaces better,” Applegate said. “We are trying to imagine different ways to increase the accessibility to students sitting outside, for instance, the patio outside of Argo Tea could be really improved.”  

Other programs that the ESC on Sustainability focused on were a water bottle filling station project, which is near completion and a bike rack mapping project, which has been completed. In an email that Applegate sent to engineering students, she explained how they compiled the locations of the bike racks and water-bottle filling stations into a map that allows students to easily locate these.

According to Applegate, the goal for these two projects is to reduce waste and lessen students’ carbon footprints. The goal of making students aware of the location of water bottle filling stations is to encourage the use of reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles, according to Golson. 

While no infrastructural changes have been made yet to these two projects, Applegate said  that she sent out surveys to bikers in order to hear about their concerns regarding biking on Grounds and what improvements they would like to see made. 

Applegate said one of the top priorities of the Sustainability Committee is to work on getting funding to meet the concerns of bikers and any other concerns students have about sustainability within the Engineering School. They are looking for around $1,100 to $1,300 in funding for a bike maintenance station, and at least $500 for the indoor plant project. 

“John Notis, Director of Planning & Facilities of School of Engineering and Applied Science and GIFT are both helping us fund these projects,” Applegate said. “We are also pitching our projects at SustainaPitch Night later this month.”

According to Golson, sustainability is a combination of environmental consciousness and personal resilience. For example, the more stressed a person is, the more likely that the person will not choose the environmentally responsible option. 

Golson said that while the Committee on Sustainability is focused on expanding the idea of sustainability through the Engineering School, these infrastructure-based projects strive to increase the health and happiness of students. 

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