Presented on March 21, 2012 at Ball State University's Greening of the Campus IX Conference by Mieko Ozeki, Sustainability Projects Coordinator and Clean Energy Fund Manager.
College campuses across the U.S. and abroad have seen a growth of student campaigns to take institutional action on climate change. One of the barriers to implementing sustainability initiatives on-campus has been financing these efforts through existing internal resources, such as general and administrative funds or institutional endowments. Student green fees are one of many alternative financial mechanisms to support sustainability initiatives on college campuses. Documentation on student green fees focus primarily on the creation of this financial structure through student campaigns, but there are limited resources that explore the design and management of these programs once they go into effect.
This paper reviews the institutional characteristics of 89 colleges and universities in the North America that currently collect at least one student green fee. A total of 98 green fees have been identified from student reports, online research, and an online survey conducted in October 2010. A majority of these fees was allocated to a broad range of sustainability initiatives while others explicitly fund services such as recycling programs, green attributes of capital construction projects, or supporting a campus sustainability office. Five sustainability managers were interviewed for an exploratory review of lessons learned on the design and implementation of student green fee programs. Four areas of student green fee design and management are highlighted with advice from sustainability managers. The intent of this presentation is to provide background info on this funding mechanism and offer recommendations on best practices for designing green fee campaigns and managing funded projects.