Katie Jo Kohls

Miami University is known for red brick buildings, sprawling green quads and picturesque surroundings, but a wind turbine near the Ecology Research Center behind Yager Stadium will soon add another landmark to Oxford.

“You will be able to see it from campus and be reminded of Miami’s commitment to green initiatives,” said junior Emily Horne, one of two student members on the Revolving Green Fund committee.

According to Horne, funding was approved Jan 20. Miami engineering seniors Mike Eilers, Meredith Linch, William Nelson and Andrew Reynolds prepared the proposal.

Eilers said Anthony Ferraro, Miami energy management engineer and David Prytherch, sustainability coordinator and associate professor of geography, gathered most of the information for the project.

“We compiled their information and wrote the proposal,” Eilers said. 

This is the first proposal to be reviewed and passed by the Revolving Green Fund committee.

“I think the cross-turn will come from students when concern turns to financing,” said Adam Harris, a Revolving Green Fund committee member and member of Green Oxford.

Harris said the Bio-Science Group in Pearson Hall would fund one-third of the project. The total cost of the project will be between $14,000 and $19,000 depending on the size of the turbine. The group is currently working with Ohio company, Custom Agri Systems, Inc.

“(Revolving Green Funds) are only on a handful of campuses nation-wide,” Harris said.

Horne said the Revolving Green Fund was established to promote green initiatives by making money available to students.

“Any money saved will be returned to the fund,” Horne said. “This gives the Revolving Green Fund its name because it is self-sustaining.”

Harris said proposals are evaluated using predetermined criteria including commitment to environmental sustainability, potential to achieve green results, measurable outcomes, cost effective use of funds, terms of payment plan and student participation.

Horne said the payback period is the most important of the measurable criteria.

“Ideally, we would use the funds to pay for every idea that is proposed,” Horne said. “But we must evaluate if the payback will be quick enough to keep the fund afloat.”

Harris said Oxford is not conducive to wind and solar projects because of its Miami Valley location but the Ecology Research Center is in a natural tree clearing. This location uses Butler County Rural Electric, costlier than Duke Energy (Miami’s electric supplier), making the project more valuable.

“Basically it is a way to capture wind energy, harvest it and put it back into the ERC facility,” Horne said.

Besides saving on energy costs, Harris said he hopes classes take advantage of the wind turbine as an example of alternative energy.

“I think students will be excited Miami is going green,” Harris said.

Harris said he hopes the fruition of one student-proposed green initiative will encourage other students to seek funding from the Revolving Green Fund. He said the next proposal might be a student sustainability project involving a biodiesel program, which has been in the works for more than a year.

“Eventually as we get more and more proposals we will be able to weigh them against each other,” Horne said.

According to Horne the project still requires a seal of approval from David Creamer, Miami’s vice president of finance and business services.

“All around it is exciting to see this happen, to have the first proposal under our belt,” Harris said. “We have the confidence to take on more projects and projects of a larger scale.”