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Programs awarded for sustainability work

Four Western sustainability programs were awarded $1,000 at the third annual Western Sustainability Awards on Thursday, Oct. 22, as a part of Vikings for Change month. 

Paul Brower was awarded a sustainability award in academics for his work on reducing energy in the Western Gallery on Thursday, Oct. 22. // Photo by Christina Becker
Paul Brower was awarded a sustainability award in academics for his work on reducing energy in the Western Gallery on Thursday, Oct. 22. // Photo by Christina Becker

The awards honor organizations and individuals who contribute significantly to sustainability at Western through their work in academics, operations, student life and community engagement, Campus Sustainability Manager Seth Vidaña said in an email.

“The event is just to showcase all of Western’s cool accomplishments that are happening sustainability-wise at the school and even in the community,” said Ann Kemper, Associated Students Environmental and Sustainability Programs director.

That money that is awarded to the winners comes from the Sustainable Action Fund, previously known as the Green Energy Fee, which is a $7 student fee every quarter, Kemper said. 

Anyone in the community who promotes Western sustainability can win, though preference is given to groups that engage students since the award money comes from quarterly student fees, Kemper said.

“The whole idea behind sustainability is that there’s three basic tenets: economic, social and environmental,” Kemper said.

This year’s winner in academics was Paul Brower and the Western Gallery. Brower worked to reduce the energy use in the Western Gallery by changing halogen light bulbs to LED, saving $559 a year and reducing the gallery’s energy use by 89 percent since 2011, Vidaña said at the event.

The Puget Sound Energy Rebates Team won the award in operations, for their upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls across campus. Their upgrades led to a net utility savings of $30,000 a year for Western, Vidaña said.

Jill MacIntyre Witt and the Climatefest team won the award for student life, for their work with the climate change teach-in. More than 300 people from the Puget Sound area attended the teach-in, Vidaña said.

The community partnership award was given to Kim Masser and Soap for Hope. Masser collected partially used soap and other hygiene products during move out at the end of the year, and donated the refurbished products to various nonprofits throughout the community, including the YWCA, Lydia’s Place and Lighthouse Mission, Masser said.

“[The award] is recognition for something that’s happening that’s helping others,” Masser said. “It makes me proud to be a part of something that renews self-esteem and potentially hope for people in transitional housing and homeless people.”

The Northwest Indian College Foodscaping Team and Ane Berrett won the award for local initiatives. They were honored for their work on a model garden of local, traditional and organic food, Vidaña said.

The winners were selected by the Sustainability Advisory Committee, which is made up of a variety of faculty, staff and students, said Steve Hollenhorst, dean of Huxley College of the Environment and co-chair of the committee.

The committee was created by President Bruce Shepard in 2005, Kemper said.

“We want sustainability to happen across everything we do here on campus, all the way from our operations to our programs,” Hollenhorst said. “Those are all things that we think sustainability should be at the heart of what we do. It’s kind of at the core of our identity here at Western.”

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