On Tuesday, October 25, 2022, University Sustainability hosted its first Campus Sustainability Tour, showcasing Patriot Green Fund (PGF) projects that have reduced Mason’s environmental impact through innovative student, staff, and faculty efforts. Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered outside of the Northern Neck Starbucks on the Fairfax campus to begin the tour – the location of a new zero waste station, with industrial composting!
The campus walking tour was led by prominent members of the University Sustainability team, Sarah D’Alexander, PGF Program Manager, Colleen Regan, Zero Waste Specialist, and Benjamin Auger, Sustainability Engagement Coordinator.
The PGF is a $100,000 per year sustainability fund, from Mason Facilities, devoted to making Mason’s campuses more sustainable through infrastructure improvements and research projects. Since its inception in 2011, the PGF has sponsored 100+ projects. Several of Mason’s PGF projects were featured during the walking tour. One sustainable project, highlighted during the tour at Mason’s Innovation Food Forest, was the “Bee Hotel,” a nesting habitat for native bees to safely lay and hatch their eggs.
The on-campus walking tour highlighted seven sustainability efforts:
- The Composting Pilot at Northern Neck Starbucks
- The George Mason University Arboretum
- Piedmont Rain Garden
- Waste Reduction at Southside
- Bird Strike Prevention Research
- Plastics Reduction
- Permaculture at the Innovation Food Forest
“Overall, the goal of the tour [was] to draw attention to the campus's sustainable infrastructure, as a showcase of the PGF’s impacts at Mason, to inspire future engagement with the program,” said D’Alexander. “It is so impactful to connect with the community and show them what is possible with support from the PGF. These tours highlight ways University Sustainability can equip anyone at Mason with the resources and knowledge needed to make positive change in the pursuit of our shared vision for a more sustainable future."
Throughout the tour, the University Sustainability team shared valuable information with participants including, but not limited to: proper methods of waste disposal, identification of Mason’s arboretum trees and foliage, Mason’s sustainable community-campus partnerships, the benefits of campus rain gardens, compost, reuse, and plastic reduction efforts, food insecurity initiatives, bird strike prevention, Greenhouse and Gardens program involvement, and engagement opportunities.
Promoting student involvement and engagement with sustainability is a year-round mission at Mason; however, it is a focal point during October, otherwise known as, Sustainability Month – a month-long series of events, including programs, initiatives, sharing best practices, and building capacity for a more sustainable Mason. Sustainability Month comes to close, but does not end! University Sustainability encourages the Mason Community to continue making an impact, exemplifying our university’s commitment to a just and sustainable future for all. University Sustainability and the PGF are hoping to offer similar opportunities for sustainable engagement in the future.
Do you have a sustainable project idea? Any current student, faculty, or staff member may apply for funds to support a sustainable project. Start your application by submitting the interest form and a member of the PGF Committee will provide you with one on one support to guide you through the application process.
Questions? Explore our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.
Contact the PGF via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.