Student Projects Spring 2007

Sustainability, as you will see, is a broad and multi-faceted issue. In the past, I have had groups of students work with a Fortune 100 company, with local organic farms and with small businesses on a variety of issues. This semester we worked with a wide range of “clients” on projects that support their efforts to move in a more sustainable direction.


Willy Street Cooperative

Willy Street Coop is the largest grocery coop in Madison. They have been in business for more than 40 years. Approximately 5 years ago, they built a new, bigger store on Williamson Street. They provide an outlet for many local farmers to sell produce, meat and other wares in Madison. They also stock mostly organic foods. They have developed several potential projects, which are explained below:

Marketing Project

  • Identify strategies that competition is using in this industry that Coop is not employing.
  • Create marketing proposal that focuses on benefits of shopping at a Coop rather than a typical grocery retailer
  • Research upcoming/future trends/dangers/benefits in the industry that will effect coop
  • Recommend how to attract students to become member-owners.

Local Vendors That Are Not Technically Organic

  • Research regulations on marketing non-organic products that are produced with organic standards
  • Propose ways to market, or communicate to customers production methods employed and how they may be organic, or in “transition”
  • Coop program to help qualified vendors in becoming Certified

East side Farmers Market

  • Research and recommend method to hand-over control of market to farmers.
  • How to relay value to farmers of owning/running their own farmers market
  • Develop organizational options for farmers for running the East side Farmers Market
  • How to increase size/customer base to east side farmers market

Current Site

  • Analysis and recommendations on improving use/efficiency of current site
  • CSA pick-up/ Green Roof/ Loading Dock 2nd floor etc…..


Springs Window Fashions

Springs Window Fashions is the largest provider of residential window coverings in this country.

Springs Windows Packaging Proposal

There are extensive “green” initiatives going on in the packaging industry. Companies can select products that help position them for different “green” levels. Describe how green initiatives would impact our business.

We would like a group of students to provide Springs Window Fashions with a understanding of packaging materials; looking at recycled content, energy efficiency, environmental footprint and other “green” issues. Recommend options to achieve higher ‘green’ levels.

We would like students to provide recommendations on packaging material selection – looking at both the materials themselves and the companies that produce them (for instance, does the company have an Environmental Management System?). We would like to increase ‘green’ in packaging materials. What are the options and the cost of doing this?

Greening Window Coverings Proposal

Springs Window Fashions would like to understand the demand for green products in our industry. We currently have some products that fit into some type of green classification but need a better understanding of if and how we should proceed into the “green” market.

We would like a group of students to provide recommendations on:

  • What is the market demand for “green” products
  • How big is the market for these products?
  • What are competitors doing?
  • Is it working for them?
  • What are other companies in interior furnishing industries doing?
  • What innovative design is taking place to meet the needs of “green” products?

AG Edwards – Socially Responsible Investing

AG Edwards is a large investment firm. They would like a group of students to put together a marketing plan that can be used to build a practice that targets the socially responsible investment markets in Dane County. This marketing plan might include a comprehensive overview of the SRI market in Dane County, including identification of SRI Market Targets (pensions; non-profit and religious organizations and community funds; individual Investors; University faculty and staff; and local Businesses).

A Comprehensive marketing plan might include (for each target market):

  • a broad market overview for each SRI group
  • marketing timeline
  • target market descriptions and demographics
  • products offered for that market segment
  • key marketing issues and how to address them
  • relevant organizations and affiliations for each group
  • a specific presentation that targets the specific needs of each group
  • draft marketing letters
  • media promotion strategies (articles to send to newspapers, publications, strategies to get local coverage, etc.)

In short, this should be a roadmap that someone could use that would allow them to build a practice based on SRI. It will address how to identify target markets, how to market to these target markets, and provide a schedule and tools to do so.

The Natural Heritage Land Trust

The Natural Heritage Land Trust is a non-profit corporation that protects natural areas, wildlife habitat, working farms, healthy lakes and streams, and recreational land to provide a high-quality of life in the Dane County region.

We hypothesize that many Dane County businesses locate and remain here because of the availability of a well educated and high-quality workforce. In turn, the individuals in that workforce choose to live here because of the many amenities Dane County has to offer, including beautiful rural landscapes, and a strong community identity based in large part on our land and water resources.

We would like a group of students to recommend ways that we could identify the businesses that value our high-quality of life, especially the land-related aspects. We also would like recommendations on how to market/appeal to those businesses to attract their financial and civic support as members and donors.

UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

CIAS is the campus research center for sustainable agriculture with about 17 staff and student workers. ( Since its inception in 1989, CIAS has been housed in the Old Agricultural Bulletin Building. Staff recently learned that we will be relocated to the second floor of the old Genetics Building in late 2007. This building has a history of poor ventilation, lighting, and has toxics issues (asbestos, mold, radioactivity, VOCs from renovation in other parts of the building). Genetics is on the master plan for eventual removal, but not in the foreseeable future.

As an extension of the CIAS sustainability mission, staff is committed to a green renovation of the new space, with a goal of meeting LEED-CI standards for certification (design accreditation available late 2007). As far as we can tell, there are no existing LEED certified projects on the UW campus, although there are a number of green building projects in their infancy and a commitment from the Chancellor to “develop sustainability guidelines using “green” building materials and techniques”. A number of other campuses across the country have committed to LEED certification as a way to document their commitment to green building. We see this project as an opportunity to educate UW Facilities and Planning Management staff about LEED standards and how they can be implemented on a small scale, hopefully in preparation for more extensive projects. We also see the project as a positive story, and a way to position the UW for future donations to further a green building agenda.

Approximately 2000 sq ft will be renovated to house the Center, with work beginning in July 2007. The first planning meeting with UW facilities planners is scheduled for April 2007. Ideally, students would work with staff to draft a remodeling plan, and present it at the April meeting. Student assistance with redrafting the remodeling plan to respond to administrative concerns, construction codes, and budget constraints would also be appreciated, as time permits. The proposed plan would address LEED-CI checklist issues, and would include a materials list, and draft budget for the project.