The University of Vermont’s Sustainable Campus Fund (SCF) was created in 2008 (originally the Clean Energy Fund) in response to students’ vision of UVM running efficiently on a fraction of its current energy needs, powered by clean, locally produced renewable energy that fulfills both the University’s needs and supports the local economy. 

Background

In 2008, three student organizers, Dan Belhumeur, Ken Bagstad, and Nikola Janjić, conducted background research, polled students in a campus-wide survey, and developed a comprehensive proposal for a Clean Energy Fund. The students gained support from the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Faculty Senate. In May 2008, the University's Board of Trustees voted to establish the fund and raise the student fee by $10 per student per semester.

In 2016 the Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council’s (SRIAC) mission statement was redefined and broadened to support the Vice President for Finance & Administration in fulfilling their responsibilities related to investments of the operating cash reserves at the University, the administrative oversight of the Clean Energy Fund, and any other issues related to investments.

In 2019, students requested the charter of the Clean Energy Fund be amended to expand the scope of the fund beyond clean energy to incorporate aspects of sustainability and climate action. The students also requested the SRIAC structure be amended by the Board of Trustees to increase the number of undergraduate representatives on the committee from two to four, more effectively representing the contributions to the Sustainable Campus Fund each semester by undergraduate students.

Mission of the Sustainable Campus Fund

Vision: The Sustainable Campus Fund supports students’ vision of enhancing a culture of sustainability, innovation, and research on campus. Sustainability solutions can come from many areas of the University. The Sustainable Campus Fund has been created to effectively leverage education and solutions across campus to address the pressing sustainability issues of our time and in particular, their relationship to climate change.

The University of Vermont’s Sustainable Campus Fund (SCF) was initially established to advance renewable and efficient energy infrastructure on campus and foster clean energy research and academics. A self-imposed student fee of $10 per student per semester replenishes the fund with about $230,000 annually.

The revised priority of this fund is to support campus sustainability projects that reduce the University's impact on climate and the environment by preparing for and making the necessary changes at UVM to address the climate crisis. Solutions should aim to engage key aspects of sustainability wherever possible; social equity, ecological health, economic viability, human values and behavior. Funds can be used for projects and research related to renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, transportation, recycling and waste reduction, purchasing practices, or food and agriculture. Other innovative approaches directly tied to sustainability may be considered. Research may also investigate the implementation of university policies to promote sustainability across campus.

Organizational Structure & Roles

See below.

Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council (SRIAC)

The SRIAC comprises representatives from all major constituents on campus: graduate students, staff, and faculty each have two representatives on SRIAC, while undergraduate students have four representatives. These four undergraduate representatives will be appointed by the Student Government Association in conjunction with SCF administrators.

SRIAC will communicate with the campus community through Town Hall forums and other calls for input.

SRIAC will make recommendations on project proposals to the VP for Finance & Administration, who will make final funding decisions.

Sustainable Infrastructure Committee (SIC)

The SIC will comprise of 1 representative from each of the following offices:

  • Office of Sustainability
  • Planning, Design & Construction
  • Physical Plant Department
  • Division of Finance & Administration (committee chair
  • Sustainable Funds Coordinator

Sustainable Funds Coordinator

The Sustainable Funds Coordinator is responsible for communicating with various stakeholders related to the SIC, maintaining the SCF website, and facilitating strong and open connections to staff, faculty, and students. The Sustainable Funds Coordinator will work directly with proposal authors to clarify expectations for proposals and support proposal development. The Sustainable Funds Coordinator should work in conjunction with the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) to conduct outreach to the student body. The Sustainable Funds Coordinator will be integrally involved in facilitating communication between the various entities associated with the CEF including the student body, the Office of Sustainability, the FOUR Office, the Graduate College, and the Sustainable Infrastructure Committee.

Process

A call for proposals is extended to the University community each semester. SRIAC representatives will solicit ideas from their constituents and the Sustainable Funds Coordinator, working with the SGA and GSS, will work to market and publicize the call for proposals. An initial round of proposal reviews will reduce the number of proposals to be presented at the Sustainability Fund Forum each semester.

SCF projects will fall under one of three categories:

  1. Infrastructure: The Sustainable Infrastructure Committee (SIC) will identify several infrastructure projects annually that are economically feasible and have the support of planning personnel on campus. Infrastructure project proposals must be supported by the Sustainable Infrastructure Committee before final approval by the SRIAC. Examples of infrastructure projects include building energy dashboards, installation of solar panels, smart meters, and feasibility studies.
  2. Academics and Co-Curricular Education: SRIAC, in partnership with the SGA and the Sustainable Funds Coordinator, will solicit new ideas for Academics and Co-Curricular Education from the university community. Ideal projects will foster classroom learning, project-based learning and opportunities to hear from experts and leaders on sustainability topics. Examples of academic and co-curricular education projects include lecture series, guest lecturers in the classroom and co-curricular education projects.
  3. Innovative Research: These projects will be developed in collaboration with the Graduate College and the FOUR Office before being moved forward to SRIAC. Both have existing institutional processes for awarding research funding to eligible students. Relevant innovation and research examples include the creation of organic solar cells for photovoltaic panels, and development of small-scale wind turbines.

Following the forum, SRIAC will review all proposals using guiding criteria and a rubric. SRIAC members will vote on proposals to recommend to the VP for Finance and Administration. SRIAC may recommend full funding, partial funding, no funding or modifications to the proposal to increase chances for funding.

Funding & Eligibility

No more than 50% of the total Sustainable Campus Fund is to be allocated for an individual category (infrastructure, academics, innovation) each semester. Any amount over this percentage for a specific proposal requires approval by the VP for Finance and Administration.

The SCF is not to be used for professional development for individuals, course work at other institutions, or food or drink for meetings. Neither is the SCF intended to fund faculty research. Specific, highly relevant faculty research proposals may be considered if the connection to the campus is explicit. Undergraduate research proposals require a faculty sponsor.

These funds are not intended to subsidize university unit budgets. Ideal proposals will be independent of university operations budgets and support projects and initiatives that would not otherwise find funding sources. Project completion does not necessarily need to fit within an annual academic year.

 

The SCF is administered through the Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council.

The fund is managed by the Vice President for Finance & Administration and the University Controller's Office.