Designing, Implementing, and Project Managing Campus Green Funds


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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.

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  • Expanded index to campus green funds
  • Designing, Implementing, and Project Managing Campus Green Funds

    1. 1. + Mieko A. Ozeki Projects Coordinator, Office of Sustainability The University of Vermont
    2. 2. + DefinitionsWhat are campus green funds (CGFs)?Dedicated funding for on-campus, sustainability projects.Also called student green funds, sustainability funds, etc.How are CGFs funded?• Student fees revenue • Department budgets• Alumni donations • Senior Administrator budgets
    3. 3. +  Main campus in Burlington, VT  ~13,000 FTE undergraduate, graduate, and medical students  Campaign started in 2005; approved by UVM Board of Trustees in 2008.  The Clean Energy Fund (CEF) is a student green fund, sustained by a self- imposed student fee of $10 per student per semester.  The CEF is designed to advance renewable energy: Research, Education, and Infrastructure on campus.  Fund generates $225,000 per year.
    4. 4. + Current CEF Projects 2009-2010 Projects 2010-2011 Projects Equine Center Solar PV system  Comprehensive Campus Renewable Energy Feasibility Study Slade Hall Solar Hot Water System  Green Labs Program Aiken Solar Trackers  Clean Energy Internship Program Energy Auditing & Retrofitting Course  Clean Energy Futures University-wide Energy Display System Lecture/Workshop Series Virtual Carport course  Organic Solar Cells Fabricated by UVM Students Solar Power & Smart Grid Research  Greenhouse Solar (structural & Biomass Feasibility Study for Trinity electrical study) Campus  Pilot Revolving Door Installation Clean Energy Fund Implementation and (architectural study) Education Program
    5. 5. + Research Question How do we sanely manage green funds while avoiding the potential for greenwashing and eco-clutter on our campuses?
    6. 6. + Student Green Fund Implementation In U.S. Colleges And Universities From 1973-2010: An Exploratory Review Of The National Context, Design, Management, And Application Of Student Fees To On- campus Sustainability Projects 1st component: 3rd component: 2nd component: Comprehensive review of Recommendations on Exploratory case studies of student green funds in design and management of student green fund North America student green funds• Background: • Illustrate the historical • Fee design • History of campus development and the sustainability implementation student • Fund management • Literature review green fund programs on • Legal context on use of campuses via interviews of mandatory student fees students, faculty, and staff • Project solicitation and selection• Institutional characteristics: geography, size, institutional • Evaluation type (public/private), types of projects funded• Public database of funds
    7. 7. + Methods 1st Component: 2nd Component:  Develop a list U.S. college and  Gather anecdotal advice on universities with active student lessons learned from student green green funds. fund managers.  Review generalized findings on institutional and student green fee  Develop exploratory case studies. characteristics. Data Collection Methods: Data Collection Method:  Identifying accredited degree granting colleges and universities  Interviews via NCES database. Framework:  Survey  Exploratory Case Study Review  Internet Research
    8. 8. + National Findings on Student Green Funds (as of December 2010)  80 accredited U.S. colleges & universities with active student green funds:  64 public / 16 private not-for-profit  75 Four-year Bachelor’s degree / 5 Two-year Associate’s degree granting institutions  Represent 29 out of 50 states.
    9. 9. + National Findings on Student Green Funds (as of December 2010)  87 active student green funds  Estimated annual total revenue generated from 86 of the 87 active student green funds: $30.5 million  Green Fund Themes:  58 General Sustainability Projects  18 Renewable Energy Projects  4 Sustainability Program  3 Recycling Services  2 Green Building  1 Transportation services
    10. 10. + Example of ProjectsGreen Fund Theme Example of projects fundedCampus Sustainability Organize a solar decathlon competition.Projects Establish a student farm on campus. Occupancy sensors. Prairie restoration project. Mapping sustainability efforts on-campus. Edible forest garden by childcare center. Biodiesel facility production/workshops. Electric vehicle purchase. Indoor compost buckets.Renewable Energy Projects RECs to offset energy consumption for residential halls. Installation of solar trackers to offset newly renovated green building. Energy audit and retrofit course. Purchase of Kill-A-Watt meters for dorms.Support Sustainability Office Engage undergraduate students with Sustainability office through internships.or ProgramRecycling Service Hire students as Recycling Technicians, a full-time Program Manager, and 2 full- time support staff to collect and package material for sale to scraps market.Green Building Construction of a LEED Gold certified law school that uses 100% renewable energy. Provide funding to purchase and install green materials, implement green practices, and obtain LEED Silver certification for a student health center.Transportation Service Allows students unlimited use of public transportation near and commuting to campus. Bike maintenance and rental program
    11. 11. + Exploratory Case StudiesCases Purpose of FundInterviewee #1: Wind Energy Fee Funds were allocated toward wind energy offsets for three student run campus buildings.Interviewee #2: Clean Energy Funds were allocated toward renewable energyTechnology Fee and energy efficiency projects on campus.Interviewee #3: Renewable Energy Funds were allocated to RECs and renewableFee energy technology installationsInterviewee #4: Campus Funds were allocated to student organizationsSustainability Fee that coordinated sustainability-related events and hands-on, student-led projects on campus.Interviewee #5: Clean Energy Funds were allocated toward RECs (50%) andInitiatives Fee renewable energy and resource conservation projects (50%) on campus.
    12. 12. + Campus Green Funds (as of March 2012)  117 student green funds at 107 North American colleges and universities  46 alumni and non-student fee based funds at 58 North American colleges and universities.  Most student green fee-based funds are in public institutions.  Creation of funds reflects campus sustainability history and impact of the 2008 recession.
    13. 13. + Map of Campus Green Funds
    14. 14. + North American Campus Green Funds Index
    15. 15. + Recommendations From Student and Staff green fund managers
    16. 16. + Fee Design  Be precise with ballot language (specific to student green fees).  Write clear criteria on what types of projects are funded.  Make sure the scope of the campus green fund allocation operates at scale and there are enough credible projects to work on.  Aligngreen fund with the academic, operational, and strategic planning goals at your institution (i.e. climate action plans and/or sustainability plans)
    17. 17. + Fund Management  Create a management plan prior to distributing funds.  Hire a permanent staff person to help administer the fund and coordinate committee meetings.  Make sure decision making body is representative from diverse areas of campus (students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni) or bring in representatives to decision making process.  Committee and/or fund administrator should be aware of key stakeholders on campus.
    18. 18. + Education & Outreach Education and outreach is a key piece to making the campus community aware of the green fund’s purpose. Applicationsshould be specific and upfront on what kind of information they need from applicant. Committees should select projects that fit with the institution’s strategic goals such as a climate action plan.
    19. 19. + Awareness Campaign See video at:
    20. 20. + Program Evaluation Plana project evaluation process of the fund design. Have a plan to follow-up with project leaders. Projectinformation should be readily accessible to the public.
    21. 21. + Thank you Upcoming article “A Deeper Look: Stimulating Sustainability Initiatives in Higher Education” in AASHE 2012 Bulletin Review Find updates on campus green funds on Facebook at: More information at: Mieko A. Ozeki Sustainability Projects Coordinator