On the RISE

Robert Shields / Sun Star

The Review of Infrastructure for Sustainable Energy (RISE) board met on April 5 to discuss a project that donated 40 pounds of food to a Fairbanks nonprofit and the development of a program that would oversee sustainability activities in dorms.

This gathering was largely devoted to a discussion led by guest Fire Chief Doug Schrage about how important building relationships is in getting project funding.  He shared his experiences on how he has gone about requesting funds to replace the existing station, which doesn’t meet current fire code.

The sustainability fee helped to pay for and install a solar array at the University Fire Station, which was completed in 2013.

“The 24 panels provide a significant portion of our annual energy needs and other stations are interested in doing the same,” according to Schrage.

40 lbs of left over food from dining services, normally thrown out, last week was diverted and delivered to the Door, which is a nonprofit center for homeless teens. This was discussed at the meeting, along with the development of a “Green Rep” program for students to oversee the management of sustainable activities in each dorm. The meeting concluded with a discussion about upcoming Earth Day and Springfest activities.

In 2009 students banded together and “went class to class,” according to then-student Amy Brown, to pass the Student Initiative for Renewable Energy Now (SIREN) fund, which is a student-initiated $20 per student fee that will sunset in 2019.

As stated in the name and in the charter on file with ASUAF, this money was intended to invest in the development of renewable energy on campus as the means of moving away from coal. This investment portfolio is managed by a group of elected and appointed students and faculty collectively known as the Review of Infrastructure for Sustainable Energy (RISE) board.

The SIREN fund, now called the Sustainability Fee, is matched by the chancellor and has been used for a number of projects around campus and in Fairbanks.  The projects includes community gardening, a green bike program, energy efficiency upgrades to the CTC parking garage and a solar bus and the Free Store located in the upper section of the Lola Tilly Commons. The  is also is the base of operations of the Office of Sustainability, whose staff is paid for from the Sustainability fee.

As of the fall of 2015, in addition to continuing to pay into the sustainability fee,  Alaska senate bill 218 requires students to pay an additional fee which can be as much as 40 dollars per year with no sunset.  This money, referred to on students’ statements as a maintenance fee, is how the University is building the new coal plant, the completion of which depends on budget adjustments.  The plant may have the ability to utilize as much as 15 percent biomass, according to the website.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, April 19 at 1 p.m. in the upper section of the Lola Tilly Commons.

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