Furman, Duke, Vanderbilt share sustainability grant

June 12, 2012 | Vince Moore

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by Vince Moore, Director of News and Media Relations

Furman, Duke and Vanderbilt universities will share a $75,000 grant from the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation to support student fellowships in community sustainability, research and service.

The Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation Partners Program will include a total of six undergraduate students, two at each of the universities.  Each fellowship is worth $8,000, and the grant will also support research, travel and other programming opportunities for the students.

The key participants from the three schools, including the faculty supervisors, assembled on the Furman campus June 11-12 for a two-day workshop to discuss the Fellows program and provide information about their individual projects.  Representatives from the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation, along with officials from Piedmont Natural Gas, were on campus June 12 to officially announce the grant.

As part of the workshop, students and faculty identified replicable connections across the projects.  The three schools will also share their approach with other universities and communities as a model of how students can positively impact their local communities through research and service.

“Sustainability is a core value that Piedmont Natural Gas strives to incorporate into every facet of our daily business and promote through the work of the foundation,” said George Baldwin, managing director of government relations and sustainability for Piedmont Natural Gas and vice president of the foundation.  “We believe this program will provide enriching educational experiences for our student fellows while also developing energy efficiency and environmental stewardship programs that can help build truly sustainable communities.”

The student fellows from Duke are Charlie Molthrop of Longwood, Fla., and Marc Loeffke of Auburn, Ala.  Furman is represented by student fellows Wes Floyd of Charleston and Patrick Starr of Atlanta, Ga., and the student fellows from Vanderbilt are Kelsey Kaline of Beverly Hills, Mich., and Alexandra Scavone of Princeton, N.J.

The Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation Partners Program has two primary goals: 1) to support student learning through applied sustainability research and service, and 2) to build capacity in local communities to address sustainability challenges related to energy efficiency and community development.

The six students will be involved in a variety of sustainability projects in their communities.  They include creating a residential energy efficiency program in Durham, N.C., documenting the process of developing and implanting a Climate Action and Sustainability Master Plan for Greenville, and creating a sustainability statement for the state of Tennessee.

The fellowship program is being coordinated through the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability at Furman, which prepared the grant proposal.

“The program is designed to support real-world problem solving in collaboration with local nonprofit and government agencies,” said Furman’s Angela Halfacre, director of the Shi Center and professor of political science and sustainability science.  “The first of its kind, the program is a model for how universities across the Southeast can work together, creating meaningful partnerships with each other and with their surrounding communities.”

Here is a list of the fellows from each school and a detailed description of each of the projects.  For more information, contact Furman’s Shi Center at 864-294-2517 or Katherine.kransteuber@furman.edu.

Duke University

Marc Loeffke

Senior

Auburn, Ala.

Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering, Economics, Environmental Sciences and Policy

Charlie Molthrop

Junior

Longwood, Fla.

Major: Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

The two will work with the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiatives through a pilot residential energy efficiency program, where they will work with 15 homeowners in the Durham area to install energy efficiency upgrades in their homes.  Home energy monitors will calculate the change in energy use. The data will be used to determine the change in carbon emissions for the purpose of generating carbon offsets for Duke and helping the university meet its climate neutrality commitment.

Furman University

Wes Floyd

Junior

Charleston, S.C.

Major: Sustainability Science

Patrick Starr

Senior

Atlanta, Ga.

Major: Political Science, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Floyd will work with Greenville officials to help implement a Sustainability Action Plan for the city.  He will research implementation strategies used by other cities and provide support to the city’s Green Ribbon Advisory Committee, which advises City Council, the City Manager, and other city staff on the development of programs and initiatives regarding sustainability. Floyd, based on his research, will craft a manual for other municipalities about the process of developing a Climate Action and Sustainability Plan.

Starr will work with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, a Greenville-based foundation committed to advancing sustainable forestry and vibrant rural communities across America. His work will include creating a database of U.S. watershed protection programs and developing a database of all protected forestlands in the 13 Southern states.  He may also work with bioenergy projects.

Vanderbilt University

Kelsey Kaline

Junior

Beverly Hills, Mich.

Major: Sustainable Community Development

Alexandra Scavone

Junior

Princeton, N.J.

Major: Economics, Earth and Environmental Science

Kaline will work with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in the Office of Sustainable Practices.  She will provide research and recommendations and background grant writing support, and will assist in creating a state sustainability statement.

Scavone is working with the Green Initiatives division of TDEC to create a Governor’s Sustainability Statement.  She will also prepare TDEC’s annual report and research grant opportunities that can fund sustainable projects in Tennessee.