Solar Kiosk Software Development and Training

Year: 2014

Grant Amount: $30,600

In order to ensure and enhance the success of the custom solar stations funded by past Green Fee projects, this project will further develop the user interface of the kiosks and train volunteers to allow sufficient knowledge and expertise to be passed on to secure the long-term stability and maintenance of the current solar units.


Waller Creek Awareness

Waller Creek

Year: 2013

Grant Amount: $4,365

Waller Creek runs through UT and has undergone significant beautification processes through the Green Fee Program. This project aims to keep the focus on Waller Creek through raised awareness via student involvement with Waller Creek Cleanups. Student involvement will be incentivized through prizes and entertaining events.

UT Tree Nursery


Year: 2011, 2013

Grant Amount: $54,198 (2011), $21,780 (Renewal of funding for 2013-2016)

The Tree Nursery is located at the LBJ Wildflower Center. Originally proposed as a way to grow large trees for beautification and landscape improvement, the importance of the UT Tree Nursery skyrocketed when Bastrop, TX was devastated by wildfires in September 2011. The Tree Nursery immediately began growing Loblolly pines to donate to Bastrop and other communities that need reforestation.  The Nursery also provides service opportunities for students to plant trees in areas that experienced devastation from the fires.

A 30 foot by 96 foot shaded house was built to shade the seedlings while they grow. The Tree Nursery has been a point of contact for outside environmentalists as well as an opportunity for students to get hands on experience planting trees and serving the Bastrop community. Future objectives for the Tree Nursery are to grow trees for use in UT landscaping, and possibly launch a ‘heritage’ program for seeds collected on campus. The Tree Nursery is also open to collaboration with research initiatives as well as more community engagement, merging science and the public.

Green Roof at the LBJ Wildflower Center


Year: 2012

Grant amount: $39,540

This project will rehabilitate a “dead zone” at the Wildflower Center while providing an opportunity to develop best practices for green roofs on main campus. This is an area of great interest for students and the rest of the UT community and the Green Fee Committee is endorsing a close study of costs, longevity, and potential academic applications.

Green roofs slow the amount of runoff on a roof and even can act as a water purifier. Furthermore, they provide great insulation as well as a weapon against the urban heat island effect. They also add aesthetic value to structures.

Note: These are photos of green roof research being done at The Wildflower Center, the Green Fee funded roof will go on a section of the roof at the visitor center.

Project Owner: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Pervious Cover near San Jacinto Garage


Year: 2012

Grant Amount: $55,100

Impervious cover decreases the amount of infiltration that can occur during rain storms. In a large city like Austin, our abundance of impervious cover causes intense amounts of contaminants to runoff into creeks, specifically Waller Creek on campus. Pervious cover, unlike impervious cover, allows for water to pass through the concrete and filtrate directly into the ground.

The new pervious cover just outside of the San Jacinto garage on the southern side allows for more filtration of rainwater before it enters Waller Creek nearby. This filtering effect will better the water quality of Waller Creek, which often has poor water quality due to the intense amounts of urbanization surrounding the creek.

Furthermore, the new surface provides many possibilities for research on specific effects of pervious cover, infiltration times, and water quality improvement.  This project is an excellent start to more pervious cover on campus and will be a useful research site.

Algae as Fertilizer

Year: 2011, 2012

Grant Amounts: $35,444 (2011) $26,117 (2012)

During the first year of this project, Dr. Rhykka Connelly worked with four undergraduates and one high school student to explore the use of algae as fertilizer. The project included researching the effects of dried algae as a fertilizer and comparing its results to that of traditional fertilizers. The group built six raised garden beds in the field next to the Pickle Research Center to use as a test site. Traditional fertilizers have been known to cause multitudes of problems, particularly eutrophication in estuaries. Algae as fertilizer could change the way we fertilize our crops, and provide an alternative fertilizer method. Algae grows easily and is used in research at the Pickle Campus, which lends potential to new methods of crop fertilization. Also, using algae would drop the cost from $148.01 to $2.23 per acre for typical fertilization.
In the second year of the project, the group tested to see if algae would work just as well as a fertilizer if they did not put it through the drying process first. This would reduce the time and cost of drying algae, and would also provide water to the area they are fertilizing, saving more money in watering costs. Dr. Connelly worked with two undergraduate students to address these questions: Is drying the algae necessary? Can different types of algae have different applications?
The project has been translated into three invited talks, an undergraduate poster display, and a feature on the CEM website. See the video above to hear from Dr. Connelly about their findings.

Harry Ransom Center Landscape Re-Design

HRC Water Efficient Plaza

Year: 2011

Grant Amount: $30,799

The Green Fee sponsored the redesign of the large, sunken planting areas in front of the Harry Ransom Center. This new zeriscape installation not only conserves water but also provides an elegant contrast to the Live Oaks of UT. 2550 square feet of new plants were added, and Facilities Services estimates this area will save 72,000 gallons of water per year compared to a standard flowering bush installation.