Summer 2024 Newsletter

green fund slater led project

Bowling Green State University's Student Green Initiatives Fund Makes Significant Impact in 2023-2024

by Alexa Zvanovec

LED Lighting Improvements at Slater Family Ice Arena

A Record Year for Student Green Initiatives Fund

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) has seen a remarkable year for sustainability efforts with its Student Green Initiatives Fund (SGIF), as the 2023-2024 academic year marked a milestone in funding and executing environmental projects on campus. Established to empower students to spearhead green initiatives, the SGIF has consistently supported projects aimed at enhancing sustainability across the university. The highlight of the year was the unprecedented awarding of funds towards six projects, making it one of the most successful years in the fund's history. These projects ranged from energy-efficient lighting installations to innovative campus-wide sustainability initiatives.

1. LED Lighting at Slater Family Ice Arena:

The largest project funded by the SGIF in its history was the installation of LED lighting at the Slater Family Ice Arena. This significant upgrade cost $364,000 and will reduce energy consumption while improving lighting quality, contributing to BGSU's commitment to sustainability in sports facilities. These LED’s will save around 259,193 kWh to 303,333 kWh annually, saving the school over $26,568 a year. Not only will they conserve more energy, but they also provide a colorful, brighter, and more efficient lighting, enhancing both the player and spectator experience during events.

2. Cooper and Andrew Pools Drinking Stations:

Another notable project was the installation of two drinking stations at Cooper and Andrew Pools, costing $9,142.50. These stations promote sustainability by reducing single-use plastic waste and providing convenient access to drinking water for students, staff, and community members using the pool facilities. Potentially, these water bottle refill stations could save thousands upon thousands of plastic water bottles from ending up in the landfill. Overall, the addition of these stations supports a healthier and more environmentally friendly space for all utilizing the pool.

3. BTSU LED Lighting Upgrades:

The Bowen Thompson Student Union (BTSU) also saw improvements with LED lighting upgrades in the Lobby Area and Falcons Nest, totaling $11,431.80. These upgrades enhance the energy efficiency of the building and create a brighter, more energizing feel within the bustling student hub. With the student union being such a highly trafficked area, the use of lighting is almost constant, making energy efficiency a must. The addition of the LED’s will save 67,448 kWh of energy annually! Essentially, the new lighting not only reduces electricity consumption but also improves the ambiance and usability of these popular student spaces.

4. Callery Pear Tree Removal:

Addressing environmental concerns, the SGIF funded the removal of ten Callery Pear trees in front of the Slater Family Ice Arena at a cost of $12,500. Callery Pear trees happen to be an invasive species to Northwest Ohio and these ten trees are in a noticeable and in a very frequented area for students and guests. Promoting the implementation of such trees is against BGSU’s commitment to sustainability. So, the removal of these Callery Pears and the planting of natives is the perfect way to better manage our campus greenery while showcasing and supporting homegrown species. The first of its kind in invasive species removal at BGSU, this pilot Callery Pear tree removal could lead to further investments in similar projects.

5. Wellness on Wheels Project:

Promoting health and sustainability, the SGIF allocated $8,000 towards the Wellness on Wheels project, enhancing recreational and wellness education on campus. This mobile initiative supports active lifestyles while integrating sustainable practices into campus life. For example, biking is a much more energy efficient way of getting around campus compared to a golf cart or a shared vehicle like a truck or car. The project also includes helmets, brandings, and other aspects that will promote the use of the bike and students’ knowledge of SGIF while also showcasing sustainable activities.

6. PreConsumer Compost Short Term Project:

Finally, the SGIF funded a PreConsumer Compost Short Term Project with an investment of $3,644.55. This initiative focuses on reducing food waste through composting. The focal point of this program will be within dining halls such as The Oaks and Carillon. There, food that is unused i.e., trimmings or food that is unlikely to be served will be placed into bins that will be picked up by GoZero and turned into compost. Specifically, this project is expected to defer about 30 tons of food waste each year. Not only does this pre-consumer compost project divert waste from landfills but it also serves as an educational opportunity for sustainable practices in food management.


BGSU Recreation and Wellness Electric Cargo Bike

Total Impact

The total investment for these six projects amounted to $408,718.85, reflecting BGSU's dedication to sustainability and the substantial impact of student-driven initiatives. These projects not only enhance campus infrastructure and sustainability practices but also empower students and staff to actively participate in creating a greener campus environment.

Future Directions

Looking ahead, BGSU remains committed to expanding the SGIF's impact, supporting more innovative projects, and continuing to integrate sustainability into campus operations and student life. The success of the 2023-2024 academic year sets a strong precedent for future initiatives and shows the university's role as a leader in environmental stewardship among educational institutions. As BGSU continues to evolve and implement sustainable projects, the Student Green Initiatives Fund remains a cornerstone in driving positive environmental change on campus and beyond.

shatzel prairie garden coreopsis bloom

The Shatzel Hall Native Prairie Garden is Blooming Just for You!

by Dr. Nick Hennessy, BGSU Sustainability Manager

Coreopsis flower in bloom

Did you know that right here on campus, there’s a gem of a garden demonstrating the simplicity and beauty of what grew long ago on Ohio’s native prairies? Look for the “Native Prairie Garden” sign, just outside the north door of Shatzel Hall, located off the BTSU parking lot, easily accessible to all on a lunch break or stroll across campus, and you’ll find it very much in bloom and “buzzing” with business from pollinators.

The space was created in 1992 and maintained by the Environmental Studies department, (now a part of the School of Earth, Environment and Society) working with the Grounds Department in Campus Operations. It was lovingly attended to for many years until SEES moved to other campus buildings. To keep the space maintained, a partnership was established to include Campus Sustainability, which is also a part of Campus Operations.

A “prairie” is far from a barren wasteland but instead is a unique grassland with complex ecosystems and incredible environmental adaptations. Prairies are well-adapted to the climate of the continental interior, able to withstand droughts, seasonal weather, and harsh climates. The abundant grasses within prairies allows for these environments to thrive, as the different species of grasses and other plants provide food and a habitat for the hundreds of animal species that call a prairie, home.  The plants in the space are a small example of what would actually be growing on a native prairie in Ohio, back in the day.

Just some of the native plants and flowers found growing in this space include prickly pear cactus (yes, that is an Ohio native) covered with delicate yellow flowers when in full bloom; black eyed susan, purple coneflower, spiderwort, coreopsis, goldenrod, Virginia Mountain Mint, Butterfly weed, Boneset, Evening Primrose, Big Blue Stem, and much more. There are labels next to these species to help you identify them.

Currently maintained by Campus Sustainability, with the assistance of several student service projects coordinated throughout the year, the space recently underwent some additional changes.  Part of a Student Green Initiatives Fund award to the Environmental Action Group student organization, a vegetative “green” roof was installed by Campus Sustainability in November, 2023 on a small piece of lower roof that extends into the garden.  The panels of the green roof are composed of a lush mix of sedum (hardy ground cover) and other colorful succulents, provide a fitting crown to the garden and have only become thicker and more vibrant so far this summer.

The space also recently received designation by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a Certified Wildlife Habitat which was the result of an application process. In order to be a certified space, the Shatzel Hall Native Prairie Garden not only includes plants for pollinators, but features a water source for animals, places for shelter, multiple sources of food for insects, and engages in sustainable practices. For us, these improvements specifically, take the form of a birdbath as a water source; leaves, brush, and detritus that provide cover and a home for toads, rabbits, and many beneficial bugs; nectar, pollen, and seeds as sources of food; and sustainability in the form of plants resistant to drought conditions as a form of saving water. The Shatzel Hall Native Prairie Garden is not only a compact and vibrant garden, but it is also providing an oasis of habitat for life in many forms.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, anyone can submit a garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. You too can turn your backyard garden or landscape into a welcoming haven for local wildlife as long as your space meets all the criteria as designated by the NWF. Learn more about the certification process and cost here: You can certify your own garden today!

So while you’re getting in your daily steps, passing by on your way to or from your vehicle or want to make it an actual destination, be sure to check it out!


The Native Prairie Garden's Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom


Shatzel Hall Green Roof top left, an addition to the Native Prairie Garden

max frost today cropped

Where Are They Now?

by Zach Hayes


Over the years, many interns have walked in and out of The Office of Campus Sustainability doors. These interns have made major contributions and impacts that have marked successful milestones for the Office of Campus Sustainability. We wanted to know what these interns have been up to and how the work they did as an intern has impacted their lives. Therefore, we started the newsletter series - “Where Are They Now?”

This summer, the Office of Campus Sustainability reconnected with former intern, Max Frost

The Office of Campus Sustainability occasionally likes to check in with our former student interns from throughout the years. In this edition of our Newsletter, we caught up with Max Frost who was an intern with Campus Sustainability from 2020-2021. Max Frost was born in Findlay, OH and moved to Bowling Green while he was a student at Bowling Green State University from 2016-2021. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in April 2019 and continued his education by returning in the fall of 2019 to pursue his Master of Public Administration in Environmental Management & Sustainability, graduating in 2021. During his time in the MPA program he sought to pursue an internship with the Office of Campus Sustainability, joining the team in August 2020 during the very delicate time when COVID-19 was subsiding enough for the return of students to campus.

Working as an intern during this time posed its own series of challenges which he had to overcome. Circumstances required social distancing and masks when on campus. Max didn’t let this hinder his efforts in sustainability but saw it as an opportunity for a more creative approach. He designed flyers and posters to promote events, planned events for Campus Sustainability Week in October, and created sustainability “how-to” type videos such as how to make your own homemade dish soap. Sharing and promoting the content produced by the Office of Campus Sustainability was one of the biggest challenges faced by Max. Digital engagement was the primary form of outreach during his internship. Max organized a spreadsheet with volunteer’s contact information and kept a rolling list of previous volunteers as well as valuable contacts from the Thompson Scholars program and Chapman Learning Community. Event outreach still proved to be difficult, as it still is, but valuable lessons like the importance of advance notice given to volunteers and attendees was something that Max improved in over time.

Max stated that the most rewarding part of his internship was the creativity he was allowed to run with and the autonomy he had to pursue projects that he wanted to do. The culmination of this was the Electronic Waste Drive that is hosted every spring. Max went through great efforts to help publicize it and to recruit the volunteers that were needed to help unload vehicles during the drive-thru style event. He began promotion for the electronics recycling drive over one month in advance. Edits were made to the Campus Sustainability website, flyers were posted around campus and throughout downtown Bowling Green businesses. Social media and Campus Update featured details about the event and the need for student volunteers. Finally, BG Independent News and the BGSU Marketing and Brand Strategy were contacted and press releases were subsequently made. These efforts proved highly effective as in March of 2021, a total of 24,097 pounds of E-waste was collected, a record amount for BGSU that stands to this day. It was more than they were ready to handle, but Max found that event to be particularly rewarding due to the high turnout from the campus and greater Bowling Green community. These many memories were a valuable part of Max’s student experience.


Above: Max Frost at the Electronics Waste Drive, 2021

Now that his time as an intern has come and gone, we caught up with Max Frost in an interview to see where he is now. Max currently resides in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Since graduating from BGSU, he applied on a whim to a position at Amazon, and he was hired on as a “Pick Manager” where he managed a team of associates that, as the name suggests, picked the orders that popped up on their tablets to be shipped out. Over the course of time, he was promoted to Area Manager. This has been his role for the past 2 years and he manages 18 associates at this time. The Amazon Fulfillment Center that he currently works at is the Cuyahoga Falls location. Max’s current role isn’t directly tied to sustainability but he learned a lot from his internship that he can apply to his current role. Namely, the importance of communication and reaching your target audience with an impactful message. Coordinating and managing staff at Amazon has been made easier with the confidence he gained in effective communications while at BGSU. This has led Max to be a champion for sustainability in the ways that his current workplace role allows. For example, Max started collecting different Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from his staff for recycling and is communicating the importance of environmental sustainability to his team often. It’s clear that Max has taken the holistic approach to sustainability, incorporating the pillars of people, planet, and profit into his management approach.

Advice from Max Frost to current students: “One thing that I’ve learned from my path is that you don’t necessarily have to hold out for your dream sustainability job. There’s a lot of things that you can do in a non-traditional sustainability role, just by introducing things that can help your current workplace. One example, I started collecting PPE for recycling; making sure that you’re communicating to your teams about the importance of environmental sustainability. Different things you can do at the “local” level. Also continuing your education after you finish college is always important! I’m currently looking at different safety certifications that I can do; applying for the Certified Hazardous Material Manager program so that I can get that certification. I think in the future my goal might be to break into EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) space – so your education never stops.”

Max’s employer Amazon has been in the news recently for their efforts to reduce their use of plastic packaging materials. Reports indicate that they have replaced 95% of the plastic air pillows from delivery packaging in North America with 100% recycled paper filler – avoiding 15 billion plastic air pillows annually. Last year, Amazon reported using 11.6% less plastic packaging globally in 2022 compared to the previous year. These changes by the corporate powers at Amazon come on the heels of various environmental groups and employees campaigning for them to reduce plastic packaging. We’re happy to hear of Max’s successes since his graduation and are hopeful that sharing some of his story will inspire you to incorporate sustainability into your workplace, no matter where it may be.


What Moves You, BGSU?

Highlighting BGSU's Wide Variety of Sustainable Transportation Modes

by Zach Hayes

Transportation is a major category of BGSU’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2040. Tailpipe exhaust emissions generated by internal combustion engines are primarily nitrogen (71%), carbon dioxide (14%), and water vapor (13%). Carbon dioxide is a notorious greenhouse gas and it is not the only harmful substance generated from transportation exhausts. The remaining 2% of internal combustion engine exhaust is made up of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and soot particulates – all of which are not healthy for people to breathe nor for the future of the planet. BGSU has been steadily targeting the Climate Action Plan’s goals for emissions reductions since it was ratified in 2015. However, an added challenge has been to reduce the amount of commuting to and from campus, as 52% of BGSU’s transportation emissions were cited as coming from commutes. With all of this in mind, how is BGSU currently doing when it comes to its transportation goals?

Since the Climate Action Plan was implemented, Bowling Green State University’s transportation profile has decreased from a high of 171 university vehicles in 2017 to 148 as of July, 2024.

Many current vehicles are shared across a greater number of BGSU staff, increasing travel efficiency. Not only has BGSU phased out older and less efficient vehicles from its inventory as a means of becoming more sustainable and reducing carbon emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles, it has also supported vehicles that run on alternative fuels, the purchasing of hybrid vehicles, as well as some fully electric vehicles. Support for fully electric vehicles (EVs) has grown. There were zero charging stations just a decade ago. Now, BGSU and the greater City of Bowling Green currently feature 10 electric vehicle charging stations in total, showing an investment in green infrastructure. Eric Heilmeier, BGSU Director of Campus Services, spoke to future growth of these investments, saying, “We are actively reviewing options for our fleet to support the BGSU Climate Action Plan. This includes closely monitoring our vehicle usages throughout the department, so we can avoid the purchase or maintenance of an underutilized vehicle, [giving preference] to the implementation of EVs. Our goal over the next few years is to fold in the use of EV(s) within our fleet. We are exploring the infrastructure needed to support EVs that would be utilized by a department that functions 24/7.”

In the spring of 2023, BGSU Campus Services upgraded its fleet of vehicles to include 10 Ford Maverick hybrid trucks (pictured right, photo credit: Cole Payne). The truck utilizes energy regeneration technology to recharge the battery and assists in getting employees around campus much more efficiently than before, getting up to 42mpg city. The new trucks emit only ~.46 lbs. CO2 per mile as compared to ~.93 lbs. CO2 per mile from previous trucks, reducing emissions by half every trip.


Additionally, BGSU Parking Services has begun use of a 2023 Toyota Prius LE hybrid in daily patrols around campus. It can get up to 57 miles per gallon, which is almost twice as fuel-efficient as the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LS that it replaced. According to John Stewart, BGSU Manager of Parking and Shuttle Services, this vehicle is optimal for lowering costs over the two Chevrolet Colorado’s and the Chevrolet Cruze that they still have at this time, which is why his goal is to one day have an entirely hybrid fleet when the time comes to replace those. Curious where used BGSU vehicles are sold? BGSU uses GovDeals ( to sell its surplus so that buyers can re-use and repurpose items (including vehicles), giving things a second life beyond their tenure on campus.

Many BGSU transportation improvements have been made with the help of the Student Green Initiatives Fund, more commonly known as the “Green Fund”. With the help of the Green Fund in 2012, BGSU Grounds and Campus Sustainability purchased two fully battery-powered electric carts that emit no tailpipe carbon emissions when in use (pictured right, photo credit: Cole Payne).


In 2016, Green Fund partnered with Campus Operations on the purchase of a hybrid box truck to be used for the pickup of recycling across campus and at Green Game Day. The following year, also with Green Fund assistance, six BGSU Campus Shuttles were converted to run on propane, which burns cleaner than diesel and has led to the reduction of up to 24% of the greenhouse gas emissions that the shuttles have produced since their implementation. The more people utilize public transportation, the more individual trips decrease and the emissions of one single vehicle is shared by more people. The Campus Shuttles have routes that cover campus and beyond so that students don’t have to drive. The shuttles can be tracked live on their routes during the academic year at or on the BGSU Transloc App, available for download on Apple and Android phones.

BGSU Athletics added a sustainable vehicle to their fleet in 2020 with the assistance of the Green Fund in the form of a 100% all-electric Zamboni for use at the Slater Family Ice Arena. This electric Zamboni replaced a Zamboni that ran on liquefied petroleum gas, and has been saving roughly 422.72 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually since its inception. Most recently, BGSU Recreation and Wellness submitted a successful application to the Green Fund for an electric cargo bike. This replaces the need for gas-powered golf carts to transport things across campus. The Green Fund has been a vital resource for the funding of a diversity of sustainable transportation modes, furthering BGSU’s sustainability goals in incremental steps as we continue to pursue the goals of the Climate Action Plan.

These modes of transportation are bolstered by the BGSU Bike Rental program, which has a fleet of more than seventy bicycles available to student, faculty and staff renters on a first-come, first-serve basis. The City of Bowling Green is a great place to ride a bike, whether for leisure or to run errands. Riding a bike in the place of driving not only saves money, it is also much better for the environment. According to UCLA, making one trip a day by bicycle instead of a motor vehicle can reduce the average person’s carbon emissions by 67%. Our BGSU Bike Rental program is a great resource for the campus community to reduce their carbon footprint from transportation. The pricing is $39 per semester, or $69 for the whole academic year with free mechanic servicing included. Renters simply need to provide their own u-lock. More information can be found at


Additionally, BGSU utilizes some other non-conventional “vehicles”. According to Eric Heilmeier, Campus Services also has “multiple autonomous pieces of equipment. This includes an autonomous Line Painter for the athletics fields, which reduces the use for our gas-powered line painter. We also have 4 autonomous mowers used in various areas around campus. Again, this allows us to reduce the use of our diesel mowers.” These mowers and painters can be seen from time to time around campus quietly fulfilling our sustainable mission.

BGSU has made good strides in the past decade to transition its transportation fleet in a “greener” direction. When combined with electricity generated from renewable sources, support and funding from the Student Green Initiatives Fund, and investment from campus, these innovations will help BGSU reach its Climate Action Plan goals of becoming a zero-emission campus. We need your support as you can make a great difference in our transportation sustainability! Choose to bike or walk rather than drive, take advantage of the Campus Shuttle Services whenever you can, carpool as much as possible, don’t let your vehicle idle needlessly while parked, and make your voice heard about your support for more electric and zero-emission modes of transportation on campus, or by submitting a Green Fund proposal. With a collective mindset for sustainability in transportation, we can realize the goals of the BGSU Climate Action Plan and create a healthier campus for people and the planet.

Updated: 07/10/2024 01:10PM