Program Funds Sustainable New Projects

Grant Money Helps Drive Diverse Group of Benevolent Endeavors

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A campus sustainability program awarded $2 million to projects as diverse as stoves that may help decrease rape in Darfur and ultraviolet light tubes that kill waterborne pathogens last week.

The Sustainable Products and Solutions Program, based in the Center for Responsible Business at the Haas School of Business, funded 23 projects with a $2 million fund last week, part of a five-year, $10 million dollar gift from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation announced in October 2007.

Executive-in-Residence Tony Kingsbury, who manages the program, said the projects were chosen in part because of their multidisciplinary approach.

"Where we run into problems in society is where we look at things with just one view, for example, ethanol," he said. "If you look at it in that context, that's great, but if you don't talk to the folks in natural resources about how much land there is to grow corn and how that affects the rice and corn prices, there may be unintended consequences."

Each winning project team was given between $4,000 and $135,000.

One winning project designs portable stoves that use less firewood than traditional cooking practices employed in Darfur. The stoves will enable women to make fewer dangerous trips outside refugee camps in search of wood, which puts them at risk of rape and assault.

Jelena Simjanovic, a member of the project team working on the stove, said this program is different because it stresses practical applications.

"It allows you a lot of flexibility in terms of the research project you want to do, and it requires you to have some real-world application," she said.

Another winning project also hopes to help the developing world by using a tube that exposes water to high-intensity light to kill diarrhea-causing bacteria.

Fermin Reygadas, a member of the team working on the tube, said the grant will be used to conduct a trial to test the tube's effectiveness.

Kingsbury said the program is in search of additional funding, but Bo Miller, president and executive director of the foundation, said the success of the program will attract future donors.

"We saw the opportunity to bring multiple disciplines together to look at these challenges" he said. "Such an activity does not exist anywhere else in the world."


Amy Brooks covers environmental issues. Contact her at [email protected]

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