Photos by Juan Gonzalez
Every semester students pay a three dollar green fee as part of their tuition, which goes into a fund that is used accordingly for projects to help make Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) a more environmentally friendly campus. After the installation of solar panels on Building D, the Green Fee Committee is currently determining how to use funds for future projects to meet their goals for a greener NEIU.
The solar panels that were installed had a monitor hooked up to record the amount of energy generated/saved for the school. Besides saving on electricity solar panels are also easy to maintain, requiring minimal maintenance and usually lasting for around 20-30 years. Solar panels are also fairly easy to install.
The Green Fee Committee doesn’t randomly spend money on whatever project comes to mind. Their projects are based on input from students and usually are the ideas of the students themselves, often times with those very same students managing the project. This year the Green Fee Committee has been looking for students with project ideas and has been thinking of using the green fee funds for even more bicycle racks, an increase in solar panels or adding bottle water filling systems to the currently existing drinking fountains.
Though a water bottle filling system may seem like a strange way to be more eco-friendly, students are likely to be helped by the presence of water bottle filling systems on the campus. With water bottle fillers students are not throwing away as many bottles and are also saving money since they are not buying beverages from stores. Nor would students be throwing away plastic bottles which contribute to pollution when they are not being recycled.
The Independent took a survey of over 50 students. The survey found that 60 percent of the students currently use the water fountains for drinking water as opposed to 40 percent who don’t. On a second question asking if water bottle filling stations would help them, 75 percent of the students said yes they would, while only 10 percent said it would make them more inclined to drink water from the fountains as well, thus reducing the amount that wouldn’t use the water fountains down to 15 percent.
This is just one idea of many that the Green Fee Committee considers during their meetings. Even though some of these plans are ideas that the Green Fee Committee still has in the works, they encourage and welcome any student to come to their meetings with ideas in mind.
The easiest way to reach the Green Fee Committee and its members would be through their website at http://neiu.edu/~greenfee/.