Student Projects Spring 2009

Sustainability is a broad and multi-faceted issue. Each semester, groups of students work with organizations and institutions from around the state, around the country, indeed, sometimes even around the world.  This semester we worked with a wide range of “clients” on projects that support their efforts to move in a more sustainable direction.

UW Sports Medicine Center: Member Outreach on Green Issues

The UW Sports Medicine Center is a health and fitness center in Research Park on the city’s west side.  Their primary clientele are older adults from the Madison area who are seeking to increase their health and fitness.  This project created an outreach and marketing campaign for clients (generally well-off and older adults).  The focus of the campaign was on greening their lives and lifestyles.  The Center has a very limited budget for this, so creative ways to do education and outreach were required.  The team’s job was to design an outreach and educational campaign that will result in members minimizing their environmental footprints.  The campaign included household changes as well as lifestyle changes (transportation, eating out, etc.).  If successful, this campaign can lead to tremendous environmental benefits through changes that members will make.

Building the Case for FRESH Food in Southern Wisconsin

Farmers Raising Ecologically Sustainable, Healthy Food, or FRESH Food Connection, is a newly formed cooperative of community supported agriculture farms in Wisconsin. As farmers seeking to produce in harmony with nature and with the least environmental impact, farmers sign onto a sustainability pledge that enumerates the principles they follow. As a group, they also act as a growers’ guild, encouraging communication and information-sharing between farmers in order to hone their professional skills.

Students developed a community based social marketing and communications plan to help grow, connect, and sustain their members.  At the core of this plan is an interactive website that catalyzes innovation and collaboration amongst growers and eaters, and increases wider public understanding, participation and dialogue with those involved in our local food system.

Growing the EnAct Program, A Business Plan for Social Sustainability

The goal of this project was to develop a business plan that outlines the sustainable growth of Madison Environmental Group, Inc.’s EnAct Steps to Greener Living Program. The plan includes strategies to expand the EnAct program to communities statewide, regionally and nationally.

EnAct is the community outreach program of Madison Environmental Group, Inc., and is designed to help individuals live sustainably in their communities through volunteer-led EnAct teams. An EnAct team is an action-oriented book club with a group of neighbors, classmates, friends, or colleagues who want to do something to improve the world. With the EnAct guidebook, team members help motivate each other to take steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle, with measurable results in:

•     Conserving energy

•     Wasting less

•     Avoiding toxins

•     Saving water

•     Driving less

•     Eating well


What can a laundry business do to improve their “green quotient”?
Lazybones, Inc. is a student-orientated pick-up laundry and dry cleaning service with locations in Madison, Boulder, Boston and others.  Many of their clients are asking about greening the laundry business. A shift towards a greener Lazybones would be both good for the environment and for business.

The team provided recommendations as to how this might be accomplished.  They identified the “low-hanging fruit” and provided recommendations for how to move forward.  They addressed trying some greener soaps and alternatives to perc.  They recommended changes to how laundry was delivered and the installation of new machines.  Cost analysis for all options were done.

Analysis of Socially Responsible Investing as an Investment Strategy

Since 1974, Madison Investment Advisors, Inc. has served investment management clients with a sound blend of investment philosophy and process, disciplined thinking and a spirit of independence. Madison and its subsidiaries manage multiple billions of dollars of fixed income portfolios, risk-sensitive equity accounts and personalized balanced portfolios.

Madison Investment Advisors does not currently manage money under the banner of a socially responsible investment (SRI) philosophy.  They wanted a team to develop the idea of SRI and recommend how it would fit with their existing investment philosophies.

Springs Window Fashions

Springs is the largest provider of residential window coverings in this country.  Over the last few years, we have done a number of projects with them that have helped them think very systematically about greening their business.  This semester they are looking for students for two projects.  The appeal of working with Springs is that they are right at the point where they are struggling to figure out what sustainability or greening means to them.


Consumer Interest in Green Products

With the declining economy, has consumer sentiment (and more importantly) spending, shifted away from Green products, sped up / slowed down, or possibly shifted towards different elements of Green?  It would also be interesting to understand if the recent drop in oil prices may also have an impact on both intentions and actions – is there measurable evidence in the market of any trend shifts here?  Which products and why?

Communicating the Energy Story of Window Blinds

The energy story for interior window treatments is pretty much a secret.  On one extreme – you can get highly technical with solar heat gain, IR transmission, etc.  On the other end, you can make blanket statements that window treatments “save energy” which don’t seem to hold any water.  We need ideas and help on how / where / what to say here and how deep to go.  The team looked at existing window treatment marketing vehicles and developed ideas and options to integrate energy messaging and energy specific marketing items.

Chamber of Sustainability, Inc. The Chamber of Sustainability’s mission is to foster dialogue between organizations working towards sustainability practices. The development of a national ratings program to notate the top 2,000 sustainable companies in the United States will be the most comprehensive view of the current economic outlook on national sustainability practices.

Development of Ratings System

The SUSTAINABLE2000 ratings system is designed to rate companies based on their positive sustainability initiatives. The team developed an approach that considered environmental, economic, and social practices. The system was designed to include strategic rating criteria along with a tiered point structure to allow for company rankings.

Development of Marketing Plan

The ratings system will need a multi-faceted marketing campaign for the initial launch. The marketing campaign that was developed by the students is a high frequency, multi-touch campaign that reaches business owners and sustainability business professionals. The project included general research on the target audience, ways to reach them, recommendations on implementation, and development of cohesive marketing messages to raise awareness of the ratings system and encourage business submissions.


F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture: Market Viability Proposal

F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture has been a student organization on the UW-Madison campus since 1979. Since being granted funds from the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), they expanded their farming operations and student outreach. They currently operate a 1.5 acre farm near Eagle Heights Community Gardens on the west side of campus. During the summer of 2008, F.H. King donated over $15,000 worth of produce to the Madison student body on Library Mall.

A team of students investigated the feasibility of establishing a student farm.  They determine the market viability on the UW-Madison campus of a sustainable, student-managed farm, develop a comparative analysis of other student farms and how the farm has benefited their respective campus and communities and analyzed current UW administrators to determine who the report should be presented to.

Fitchburg Fields Marketing Plan

The mission of Fitchburg Fields is to promote sustainable living, especially regionally-based food systems, across the United States – primarily by creating a center for teaching and practicing small-scale, organic agriculture and sustainable living in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.  In order to sustain their vision, they need profit-making activities.  The team looked at various options and prepared recommendations on how to move forward.