Announcing the 2018-19 Green Fund Grantees

Green Fund, University of Texas at Austin

The grant program known as Green Fee is now named Green Fund.

The Office of Sustainability is pleased to announce the 2018-19 Green Fund grants. A committee of three faculty-staff and six students reviewed 28 projects, ultimately funding 17 for a total amount just over $300,000.  The projects focus on, among other things, waste reduction, native landscaping, recycling cotton fabric, and energy conservation.

Green Fund is a competitive grant program funded by UT Austin tuition fees to support sustainability-related projects and initiatives proposed by university students, faculty or staff. Since the program’s creation in 2011, over 160 grants have been awarded totaling over $3 million dollars.

“Over six years, Green Fund has jump-started major, sustainable change on campus,” says Jill Parrish, Green Fund Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “It is truly a pleasure to see a new slate of fantastic ideas each year, ideas that some from so many people committed to making UT Austin green.”

The seventeen projects chosen for funding in 2018-19 include an inventory of the food system on campus, remote testing of pollutants on UT Lands, an exhibit about environmental activism in 1969 (the Battle of Waller Creek), and ways to reduce energy consumption and waste reduction at Pickle Research Campus.


Faculty Research Projects

  • 4D Longhorn Construction Waste Visualization and Reuse awarded to Drs. Kasey Faust and Fernanda Leite, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Construction is the norm on campus, and this project aims to both understand (with 4D simulation) and determine potential avenues of reuse for the waste generated by these activities.
  • Cotton Recycling Systems for Solid Waste Reduction and Fashion Sustainability Enhancement, a faculty research award granted to Dr. Jonathan Chen and colleagues in the Division of Textiles and Apparel, School of Human Ecology. Even though cotton production has significant environmental impact, cotton recycling is not the norm. This project will support faculty research on a UT patent-pending technology to convert material into new rayon fabric.

Graduate Student Research

  • State of the Food System at UT Austin, awarded to Community and Regional Planning graduate students Clare Zutz and Elisabeth Altazan in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability. After creating an inventory of food vendor current practices on campus, this project seeks to create, share and present a baseline report about the campus food system with the aim to increase sustainable practices on campus.
  • Quantifying Air Pollution on University Lands Utilizing Satellite Data, a research award granted to graduate student Sahil Bhandari, Chemical Engineering. Using remote sensing and “quick” techniques, this project will estimate pollutant emissions on University Lands due to petroleum production.
  • Maximizing Comfort and Energy Savings on Campus, a research award granted to graduate student Jose Ramon Vazquez-Canteli, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. By collecting data on room temperature comfort-level from hundreds of people across campus, this project aims to help UT Utilities save energy as well as research thermal comfort.

Education and Outreach

  • Environ Implementation, awarded to Dr. Paul Toprac, Computer Science. This project will provide the finishing touches—as well as accompanying curriculum development—to an educational game developed by UT students at the SAGA lab that helps users understand balancing economic and environmental sustainability.
  • Unearthed, awarded to student organization Design for America. Visuals are central to creating change, and this project will construct an art installation in Jester City Limits to teach campus about the importance—and how-to—of composting.
  • Battle of Waller Creek Anniversary Activism Exhibit and Catalogue, awarded to Dr. Allan Shearer, faculty in the School of Architecture (SOA). To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Waller Creek—when students protested the removal of trees for the expansion of the stadium—SOA is designing an exhibit, and this grant will fund promotional materials.
  • Waller Creek Working Group, awarded to Dr. Mary Poteet, Geological Sciences and Texas Institute for Discovery Education, and colleagues. This grant is to fund the second year of a project, continuing the development of the Waller Creek archive and data repository, expanding water chemistry research, working with Blue Index, and encouraging citizen science.


Energy Conservation

  • Energy Saving Motion Sensor Installation for the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory (NETL), awarded to staff in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering. To align this laboratory at the Pickle Research Campus with UT’s energy conservation goals, motion sensors will be added to reduce electricity consumption associated with lighting.


  • East Mall Rain Garden Project, awarded to Net Impact Undergraduate Engineering, working in collaboration with Landscape Services. Imagine the Martin Luther King Jr. statue surrounded by native plants permanently tended by a rain garden: this project aims to remake the degraded lawns of the East Mall.
  • Half-Pint Urban Prairie, awarded to student organization the Campus Environmental Center. Working with UT’s Landscape Services and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this project aims to bring a native Blackland prairie to campus to educate people about native grasses and plants.

Waste reduction

  • UHD Battery Recycling, awarded to staff in University Housing and Dining. This project will establish battery recycling stations in the dorms.
  • Best Practices in Professional Theater, this student award to Iman Corbani, Theater and Dance. With an aim to introduce sustainaible set design to campus theatre and to improve rehearsal practices, the funding of this project assists the production of Mr. Burns: A Post-electric Play as well as educational opportunities that will accompany the waste audit and other events.
  • Recycling at J.J. Pickle Research Campus, awarded to staff affiliated with the Center for Electromechanics. This project will help staff align their laboratory with UT’s zero waste goals by funding signage and other materials.
  • Waste Free Longhorn Band (LHB), awarded to student organization the Longhorn Band Student Association. In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of 380 students on the road, this project will add water filling stations in the Butler School of Music and find non-disposable options for food and drink.
  • Medsafe at the Forty Acres Pharmacy, awarded to staff at the campus’ pharmacy.  This project continues funding of a medicine take-back program operated by the pharmacy on campus.  Take back programs prevent the addition of unused medicine to the landfill and water system, as well as reducing the likelihood of improper consumption of prescriptions by people.