William & Mary Sustainability has announced the Green Fee awards for the 2021-2022 academic year. With the promotion of sustainable practices at the forefront of these grants, there were 22 projects awarded funding throughout the fall, spring and summer application cycles. W&M Sustainability approved a total of $143,064 in grants and $90,000 in loans to be spent across an array of projects on campus, ranging from academic research to operations that make the institution more sustainable.  

The W&M Green Fee program has been providing funding to the campus community since its establishment in 2008. It has funded sustainability research, outreach, operations, and much more. The Committee on Sustainability accepts Green Fee proposals every semester. The following descriptions were taken from the project proposals and edited to comply with the style used by W&M News.

Ongoing Green Fee Projects:

Project Highlight: Solar Car Canopy 

Facilities Management has been awarded an additional $60,695 for a total of $85,000 in Green Fee grants towards the installation of a set of car canopy solar in the parking lot located behind the Admission Building. Additionally, Sustainability has provided a Green to Gold Revolving Fund loan of $90,000 that will be repaid to the fund over four years. These sustainability awards will match funding provided by the Virginia Department of Energy and will enable the completion of the solar array this summer.  

The location of the solar array was chosen due to its favorable solar conditions and its visibility to those visiting the Undergraduate Admission building. It will serve as a prominent reminder of the university’s sustainability efforts, helping to highlight that 50% of W&M’s electricity is purchased from a local solar farm. The array will serve educational purposes, with data made available for use in courses and research.    

Fall Green Fee Projects: 


$2,500 to Jacob Brotman-Krass ’22, Anthea Empson ’22, Payton Reidy ’23 and Ran Yang, Lecturer of Physics

Analogica is a device that interprets electronic signals in plants and turns them into music, using environmental factors to influence various sound qualities. The purpose is to connect the user to their natural environment, addressing an oft-missed aspect of sustainability: a personal connection to the land and nature. Funding will enable integration of this device into the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center’s classes and availability to the student body, which will open avenues for education and inspiration for positive change. 

Bird Collision Window Tape for Keck Lab

$1,025 to Madeline Reinsel, Research Assistant

Bird collisions with campus building windows are a major environmental issue at the university. This project will include installing bird collision tape on additional windows at the Keck Lab, where a large number of bird collisions and deaths are known to occur, especially during migratory seasons. Working with Chancellor Professor of Biology Professor Dan Cristol and students, the project organizers will study the reduction in bird collisions before and after bird tape is installed. The organizers are hopeful that this additional bird collision tape will dramatically reduce or completely eliminate bird collisions with Keck Lab windows. 

A film on a window includes dots
Bird tape on a window at the Keck Lab. (Courtesy photo)

Briggs Amphitheatre house lighting

$3,000 to Nicholas Hollomon, Assistant Director of Technical Services/Briggs Supervisor

During the past two years of the pandemic, The Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka has become an essential part of campus life as a safe outdoor space. Between hosting more events and partnering with Campus Recreation, there has been a significant increase in foot traffic at all hours of the day and night. Fun and safety is the main concern for all associated with the theatre space, and it’s with that in mind that this project will improve the house lighting. By converting all work lights to L.E.D., it will make the space brighter and more sustainable. This will be a cheaper and more efficient way to light the theatre for all who come and enjoy the space in the evenings. 

Building Community & Reducing Waste

$4,000 to LaRhonda Johnson-Horton, Assistant Director Community Development 

The Center for Community Development (CCD) is a creative planning space and resource room where Campus Living Student Staff and Student Organizational Leaders create bulletin boards, posters and craft materials to advertise events, educate residential students, share W&M community happenings and beautify the residence halls.  Student leaders who use the CCD are tasked with transporting large items to each residence hall, the Campus Center and the Sadler Center.  The allocated funds will be used to purchase totes and reusable bags to replace the single-use plastics currently provided for creating, storing and transporting items. The expected outcomes are to eliminate the use, purchase and dependence on single-use plastics and practice stewardship of resources. The hope is this practice will translate into other components of student life across campus. 

Crim Jell: Effects of Water Conditions on Blooms of the Freshwater Jellyfish, Craspedacusta sowerbii

$4,737 to Alexis Reece ’22, Maria Clagett ’24, Abby Hazelgrove ’24 and Jonathan Allen, Associate Professor of Biology

The invasive jellyfish Craspedacusta sowerbii is widespread in freshwater systems around the world, and W&M’s own Crim Dell is no exception. Recently, explosive blooms in the C. sowerbii Crim Dell population have become more frequent, occurring every two years as opposed to once or twice a decade. Such rapid increases in C. sowerbii numbers have been correlated with rising temperatures worldwide due to climate change. This Green Fee project will fund the installation of year-round temperature, dissolved oxygen and conductivity probes in the Crim Dell that will elucidate the connections between water conditions, specifically temperature and the increasing frequency of C. sowerbii blooms. This project will also provide an opportunity for education of the local community regarding freshwater jellyfish and the often harmful impacts of invasive species such as C. sowerbii

People prepare to put nets into a body of water
Students use fishing nets to collect jellyfish at the Crim Dell. (Courtesy photo)

Global Innovation Challenge (WMGIC)

$3,000 to Sophie Workinger ’24 and Robert Rose, Executive Director of the Institute for Integrative Conservation 

After five consecutive years of running a successful 24-hour case competition, the W&M Glocal Innovation Challenge wants to expand its impact past its day-long timeframe. With its last competition, WMGIC engaged over 110 students from 15 different universities worldwide and worked with 40 judges and mentors to address a case regarding palm oil in Kalimantan. While these staggering numbers are impressive, WMGIC’s goal is to continue the conversation on international and sustainable development even after the competition ends. The funding from the Green Fee will help WMGIC continue to spread opportunities for sustained engagement and awareness about the year’s case competition at W&M.   

Outdoor Solar Workstation

$5,000 to Citiana Ali ’23, Colleen Norton’21, Emma Rebour ’21 and Rowan Lockwood, Geology Department Chair and Professor 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students on campus are increasingly searching for outdoor study spaces. Not only would this outdoor solar workstation provide those, but it will allow for students to charge their heavily relied on electronics such as computers and tablets by providing 120 volts of energy. The goal is the promotion of the use of renewable energy across campus by educating students on how it can be woven into their personal and professional lives. All the while, this study space will serve as a symbol of W&M’s commitment to more sustainable sources of energy.   

Pollinators and the Nectar Microbiome in Common Milkweed

$4,978.15 to Heather Natterer ‘22, Ivan Munkres M.S. ’23 and Kurt Williamson and Harmony Dalgleish, Associate Professors of Biology 

Floral nectar is a small, ephemeral environment inhabited by specialized bacteria and yeasts. These microbes have been shown to alter nectar chemical composition in ways that impact pollinator preference. This project aims to compare how microbial community composition and nectar sugar profiles are affected by different types and amounts of pollinator visitation in common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Significant changes are likely to influence plants’ probabilities of successful pollination, and ultimately, the availability of milkweed for the declining monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus

Spring Green Fee Projects: 

Nature Study Room

$2,508 to Lindsey Smith ’23, Lydia Grund ’22, Catie Jones ’22, Victoria Morales ’22, Caroline Taylor ’22 and Dorothy Ibes, Director of the Parks & Ecotherapy Research Lab (PERL)  

The field of nature and health examines the benefit of time spent in nature, but there is a lack of research on the psychological and physiological impact of indoor nature. This study evaluates the influence of nature-rich study spaces on college student productivity and well-being. Green Fee funding will be used to create an indoor nature study room with plants, nature images, a water feature and other natural elements, all of which have been shown to have positive impacts on health. By creating a nature study room, the project organizers hope to gain a stronger understanding of how biophilic design and the inclusion of natural elements indoors can support students’ well-being and productivity. This project supports the education and well-being facets of the W&M Sustainability Plan and goals 3a and 3c of the Vision 2026. 

A mural on the side of a building shows a hand holding a flower, a hummingbird and bees
The mural that was painted on the wall on the Swem Library patio. (Courtesy photo)

Augmented Reality Conservation Mural

$5,000 to the Institute for Integrative Conservation and William & Mary Libraries

As society faces rapid environmental change and degradation, there is an immediate need to revisit the connection to the environment and to inspire a diverse community to implement solutions that ensure humans and nature thrive. Art and technology can inspire people to think in a new way and can inspire meaningful action. The Institute for Integrative Conservation, Augmented Island Studios, W&M Libraries, and the Muscarelle Museum of Art are collaborating to support the implementation of an augmented reality conservation mural designed to inspire the Williamsburg community to see their connection to nature in a new way. Led by an interdisciplinary team of students, faculty and partners, this mural, located on the outside wall of Swem Library patio, will serve as a resource for the community to connect to nature and to learn how we can come together to engage in meaningful sustainable actions. 

W&M Geology Field Gear Lending Library

$2,000 to W&M Association for Women Geoscientists Chapter and Department of Geology 

Field experiences are critical for geology students to develop science skills, create a sense of identity as scientists and build community among peers and professors. One barrier to participation in field experiences is the high cost of outdoor gear. The field gear lending library will increase accessibility and inclusion, foster sustainability and further the diver, equity and inclusion goals of the W&M geology department. Cheap, less durable outdoor gear will shortly end up in a landfill. The gear library creates a circular model where quality gear, such as hiking boots and rain gear, is borrowed and maintained. This furthers William & Mary’s sustainability goals and promotes equal learning opportunities in the geoscience community.

Repurposing Trees to Benches

$5,000 to Linda Knight, Executive Director of Health & Wellness and Director of Campus Recreation.   

Everything that is done in Health & Wellness and Campus Recreation represents one of the eight dimensions of wellness. One of those dimensions is environmental wellness. When Knight knew some trees had to come down for a campus project, she applied for a grant to have some of the wood from the trees made into benches that will be around campus for people to enjoy.

VIMS Community Garden Shed Expansion with Solar Charged Mower

$1,629 to Julie Gross and advisor David Wilcox, GIS Program Manager at VIMS 

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science= Community Garden has moved away from the expensive and wasteful use of mulch for walkways. This grant will support that move with the expansion of the existing 4×4 shed for the VIMS Community Garden to provide roll-in storage for an electric mower, storage for additional garden tools and a solar-powered charging station for the mower batteries and improve the overall experience of garden club members. The mower will permit the maintenance of the vegetated walkways and eliminate the waste involved in repeated applications of mulch. 

Virginia Youth Wood Duck Conservation Initiative (Materials)

$633 to Matt Whalen ’22, David Niebuhr, Warhill High School Teacher and Randy Chambers, Director of Keck Environmental Science Laboratory 

The wood duck (Aix sponsa) is a charismatic species of cavity nesting waterfowl that was historically channeled off the path of extinction in the early 20th century because of grassroots efforts involving the implementation of artificial nest boxes. While society learns to socially adapt to a global pandemic, students in under-funded public high school districts, as well as the future of our society, could benefit considerably from the facilitation of more substantive, hands-on and experiential learning opportunities in conservation activities that increase youth exposure to ecological sciences in formative life stages. Using nest boxes built by the grantee, the Virginia Youth Wood Duck Conservation Initiative (VYWDCI) is a high school student-led, citizen science wood duck nest box monitoring program that will be integrated into the course design of Niebuhr’s entry level environmental science classes at Warhill High School (WHS). The property of WHS is uniquely surrounded by an interconnected wetland complex at the headwaters of Powhatan Creek and consists of suitable wood duck brood-rearing habitats. Additionally, the VYWDCI will provide William & Mary student environmental leaders with an opportunity to serve as mentors to WHS students through annual box maintenance and data collection events, providing meaningful opportunities for W&M students to reciprocate to the Greater Williamsburg community in a genuine way. The goal of this initiative is dual; to bolster local wood duck populations on one hand, while on the other, simultaneously develop a feasible framework for increasing youth exposure to citizen science conservation strategies and ecological field method skills that instills within them a greater sense of passion, empowerment, and personal responsibility for becoming local stewards of the land within their home community. 

Use of eDNA to Detect Rare Fish Species in Campus Streams

$1,872 to James Skelton, Assistant Professor in Biology

The streams on W&M’s campus are under increasing pressure from development in the surrounding watershed. The impacts of these pressures may have diminished or extirpated some populations of fish. Management and restoration efforts might be directed to improve campus stream habitat to support fish populations, if they still exist. Students in the Aquatic Ecology (BIOL426) class will analyze environmental DNA (eDNA) to determine whether least brook lamprey and other native fishes are still present in the streams draining into Lake Matoaka. This project supports sustainability on campus by providing vital conservation data for our streams while providing hands-on experience for students in state-of-the-art DNA-based biosurveillance techniques.  

Students take a sample from one of the campus streams
Students take a sample from one of the campus streams (Courtesy photo)

W&M Libraries Electric Cargo Delivery Bike

$2,500 to Lisa Nickel, Associate Dean of Research & Public Services, and David Morales, Circulation Manager for W&M Libraries 

With the university’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, W&M Libraries wants  to its our part by modeling greener options for campus mobility. W&M Libraries is purchasing an e-bike (specifically a cargo e-bike) to support our campus-wide book delivery service, provide a green option for library staff traveling across campus to meetings and act as an example of what going electric can look like and be in practical terms.  The e-bike is one small step in the strategy for creating a campus fleet that has net zero carbon emissions. Biking is also a much more sustainable, pleasurable and healthier option, and every time W&M Libraries uses the e-bike for deliveries, its fossil-fuel burning van is parked, getting one more car off of campus roads. 

Campus Public Compost Transportation and Expansion

$12,490 to Dorian Miller ’22, Grace Phillips ’23, Sydney Thayer ’24 and Claire Wille ’22 and Stephen Moyer, Operations Manager for The Commons

William & Mary has the second-best composting program in the nation for a university of its size, thanks largely in part to its network of public compost bins. This system is maintained by the dining sustainability interns, who walk the bins to the nearest dining hall when they are full. The main factor limiting the expansion of compost bins is transportation, as highly requested locations are too far from dining halls to transport bins by foot. This project will fund an electric golf cart capable of moving compost bins, allowing us to expand our public compost network and revamp our transportation system. 

VIMS Waste and Recycle Center Standard

$5,000 to Mark Brabham, VIMS Executive Director of Facilities Management 

This project will purchase organized receptacle systems to be placed in central locations of Davis Hall and Watermen’s Hall and provide faculty, staff, students and guests a central location to dispose of their waste and recyclable materials. An additional outdoor receptacle will be purchased to accommodate the highly trafficked outdoor patio and lawn of Davis Hall. Currently, recycling stations are far outweighed by the availability of opportunities to dispose of waste in a receptacle that ends up in the landfill.  By reducing the availability of waste baskets and providing the community with an equal opportunity to choose the proper disposal option, the volume contributed to the waste stream will be reduced. 

Environmental Justice Art Museum & Environmental Humanities Hub

$1,000 to Tara Vasanth ’23 and Alan C. Braddock, Associate Professor, Ralph H. Wark Chair of Art History and American Studies

The project organizers proposed building two interrelated websites that do the following: examine the relationship between art and environmental justice in visual and artistic media and connect students with academic opportunities and faculty at W&M to promote the interdisciplinary study of environmentalism and sustainability. Simply put, the Environmental Justice Art Museum (EJAM) and the Environmental Humanities Hub (EHH), respectively, form a dynamic duo: Both sites strive to champion interactive and inclusive exploration of the world, anchored to real-world ecological interests and approaches. The project is also intended to dovetail with interdisciplinary work soon to emerge from the new environmental humanities concentration within the Environment & Sustainability program major, which begins in fall 2022.  

Summer Green Fee Projects: 

“Life Was Sustainin’ on the Land”: Oral Histories from a York County Descendant Community

 $7,188 to Molly Robinson Ph.D. ’26

On Aug. 7, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation that “[took] over immediately for the United States possession of and title to each and all of the parcels of land” of a nearly 11,000-acre tract to establish the Naval Weapons Station.” This project collects the oral histories of African-American families and their descendants who were dispossessed of homes and livelihoods as a result. “We respectfully pray that we will not be turned out of doors at this season of the year,” stated a prayer petition addressed to the Secretary of the Navy and signed by 80 community members. This oral history project animates memories of how the older generation of people forcibly removed from the “reservation” brought the land with them by creating opportunities for their children to learn oystering, fishing and farming. The project extends oral history efforts at William & Mary by connecting the university with the Village Initiative’s Local Black Histories Project and the greater Williamsburg community.   

Effects of Environment-Related Media on Meat Consumption

$7,308 to Daniel Valerio Montero, Graduate Student in Psychological Sciences, and Catherine Forestell, Associate Professor of Psychology 

Given that the production of meat has devastating effects on the environment, an important dimension of sustainability is to reduce the demand for animal-based products. The goal of this study is to test whether educating students about the environmental impacts of meat production using short video clips will result in reductions of wanting and intentions to eat meat. We will further assess whether wanting and intentions predict students’ meat consumption over the subsequent week. As part of this project, we will provide students with information about sustainable food options on campus and share students’ reports of the barriers that interfered with changes in eating behaviors with dining services.