Maintenance & Operations (Managing the Physical Plant)

How Do We Improve Sustainability?

Implement a Student Green Initiatives Fund!

It has been eight years since the Student Green Initiatives Fund was developed and implemented on the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) campus in Bowling Green, OH. Even more amazing is the number of projects and overall commitment the students, faculty, and staff have made to transform our campus to a much more environmentally friendly institution. These projects are all expected to further BGSU’s established sustainability goals of emissions reduction, waste reduction/resource conservation, and education/outreach.

The Student Green Initiatives Fund (“Green Fund”) began in the spring semester of 2010, following approval by the BGSU Board of Trustees. The mission statement for the fund is: “To minimize the environmental impact of BGSU by supporting green initiatives and educational projects that can be proposed and decided on by students. The Student Green Fund will bring a sense of environmental responsibility and literacy, in addition to positive notoriety, to the campus while making BGSU a leader and role model for Ohio, as well as all institutions of higher education, in the area of environmental sustainability.”

Fund Administration and Participation

The fund is financed through an opt-out fee of $5 for students each semester, and is administered through a committee representing students, faculty, and administration. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, the committee meets on a bi-weekly basis, with additional meetings periodically added at the committee’s discretion. The committee implemented shared responsibilities and specific roles for individual members in order to efficiently delegate most of the administrative tasks. The roles and responsibilities are as follows:

  • Fund Administrator: Administrative liaison, holds committee members accountable.
  • Secretary: Creates and distributes agenda/meeting minutes, updates proposal database, emails updates to committee.
  • Project Managers: Emissions reduction, resource conservation, and education (Consistent with BGSU’s sustainability goals); does follow-up research for committee in a timely manner; meets with proposal authors to ask questions before author presents to full committee; liaison between committee and author.
  • Shared responsibilities, to be decided at first meeting of each semester: Meeting facilitator, timekeeper, note taker, treasurer.

The delegation of responsibilities to all individuals serving on the committee has been highly successful in building and maintaining organization, accountability, and efficiency. Being a committee member has created a real-life learning engagement lesson for students. Students learn how to prepare and analyze project proposals, which helps them better understand the value of the potential projects.

Fees for the Green Fund are collected by the Bursar’s Office. Students who wish to opt-out from paying the fee must do so before the 15th of the month prior to the start of the semester. There was an average overall student participation rate of 87.5 percent throughout the 2017 fiscal year. At the end of each academic year the Student Green Initiatives Fund Committee has a required obligation; an annual report detailing the progress and success of the program is to be submitted to the president of BGSU.

Assessment Program and Proposed Actions

The committee and university have been pleased with the level of participation among BGSU students. The total amount invested in campus sustainability initiatives over the lifetime of the fund (excluding future commitments) has been $745,036, representing 53 projects. Additionally, there are several projects in the queue that, once approved, will take the total to well over $1,000,000.

Each academic year continues to be a success for the fund. Students look forward to implementing the suggestions to further opportunities for educational, sustainable initiatives at BGSU. Over the past several years, we have seen projects that started as Green Fund proposals and were adopted into greater sustainability programs. A couple examples of this are water bottle refilling stations and energy-efficiency projects. Our largest project, a LED lighting project, was launched earlier this year.

The Student Green Initiatives Fund has become increasingly important and utilized as BGSU begins the implementation of its Climate Action Plan in order to become carbon neutral by 2040. With the help of the Student Green Initiatives Fund, BGSU will continue to improve its presence as one of the top environmentally sustainable universities in the country.

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This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management June 2018 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Bruce A. Meyer, Ed.D., is assistant vice president of Campus Operations at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, appointed in April 2010. His team currently manages 5,000,000 square feet on a campus with over 20,000 students, faculty and staff.