UT-Austin Green Fee: Funding Transformative Projects Since 2011

Hello all,

I hope that your semester is off to a good start. At our meeting this week we will be hosting a panel of Green Fee recipients. In light of this, I figured it would be a good idea to lay out some of the history of the UT Green Fee and its current operations.

The UT-Austin Green Fee is a $5 fee assessed to all tuition paying students since Fall 2011 (it’s included in that fees section when you pay your tuition). This fee, and the associated fund created through the aggregation of all of the assessed green fees, “may be allocated toward efficiency improvement projects for existing infrastructure, environmental improvements through services related to recycling, energy efficiency and renewable energy, transportation, employment, product purchasing, planning and maintenance, and irrigation; and toward matching funds already established for student internships, scholarships and research grants; and toward any other environmental initiative proposed by university students, faculty or staff.”

Through a Green Fee grant, The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is leading a pilot project to recycle hard-mold foam packaging from university labs. Pilot projects like this one help the university work out the logistics of a larger-scale recycling effort. Photo Credit: Chelsea Purghan.

Through a Green Fee grant, The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is leading a pilot project to recycle hard-mold foam packaging from university labs. Pilot projects like this one help the university work out the logistics of a larger-scale recycling effort. Photo Credit: Chelsea Purghan.

The UT-Austin Green Fee funds are managed by the Green Fee Committee, a student-majority committee consisting of two students appointed by student government, one graduate student appointed by the Graduate Student Assembly, one student appointed by the Campus Environmental Center, two students at-large appointed by the Green Fee Committee, one faculty member appointed by the Provost, one staff member appointed by the Office of Student Affairs, and one staff member appointed by University Operations. Additionally, a non-voting Green Fee Committee project manager hired by the Office of Sustainability assists with the various tasks required of the committee. This committee determines the goals for funds allocation, reviews project applications and determines funds allocation, and reports on the projects that receive funds.

The Green Fee Committee accepts applications from all current UT-Austin students, faculty, and staff. Applications for the Fall 2013 funding cycle are due on October 1, 2013. I encourage anyone with an idea of how to provide an environmental service to campus to apply! Detailed instructions for the application process can be found here. In addition to projects, the UT-Austin Green Fee is also available for those seeking to fund research on the campus environment, ecosystem, or inhabitants. Research grants are limited to $2,500 for undergraduate students and $5,000 for graduate students.  Detailed instructions on the research grant application process can be found here.

In the past, the UT-Austin Green Fee has funded a number of exciting and transformative projects and research. A major grant recipient has been the UT Micro Farm, a student-run farm on Leona Street that is working to grow food for University dining halls and provide local, organic, and sustainably grown food for the student community, as well as to research sustainable farming methods and practices in Central Texas. They have a great blog (and weekly workdays) which you can find here.

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Hard at Work at the UT Micro Farm

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Another great project that the UT-Austin Green Fee has funded is the UT Tree Nursery, which grows 70,000+ seedlings (primarily Loblolly Pines) for the purpose of reforesting the forests of Bastrop which were lost to wildfires in 2011.

If you would like more information regarding the UT-Austin Green Fee, this webpage is a great resource. It includes a description of past funded projects and research awards, as well as information regarding the history of Green Fee and the Green Fee Committee’s by-laws. I encourage you to check out the many ways this fee is improving our campus, and hopefully this will spark you to submit your own application!

Green ’em

-Collin

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