Fund finances local clean energy projects

Every semester, $10 of each undergraduate and graduate student’s tuition goes toward “greening” UVM’s campus through the Clean Energy Fund.

As part of the Office of Sustainability, the Clean Energy Fund finances clean energy projects on campus and in the greater Burlington area. The fund was created May 2008 by UVM’s board of trustees after first gaining support from student-led initiatives in 2005. The SGA endorsed the fund in 2007 by implementing a randomized survey of 419 students in which 68 percent agreed to pay $10 per semester for developing clean energy on campus, according to the UVM Clean Energy Fund website.

The fund is used for clean energy projects on campus, though up to 10 percent of the funds it raised can be used for administrative costs associated with the program, and is not associated with the University’s general budget. The fund is led by a committee of students, faculty, staff and administrators. Decisions are then suggested to the vice president for finance for approval, according to the Clean Energy Fund website.

Although the presence of the project is spread throughout campus in the form of solar panels and conference opportunities, many students are unaware of its role on campus. First-year environmental studies and ecological agriculture major Danielle Norris represents a number of the students who are unaware of the project. “It’s what UVM is all about,” Norris said. “I wish I was informed about it before I paid tuition, especially if it’s working to make UVM a better place for current students and future [students].”

“The fact that UVM students are making decisions and representing our views sounds like a wonderful opportunity,” she said.

“I would like to know what they’re up to though,” she said. The  2014-15 projects are in progress. This includes bringing a student energy action seminar series to campus in the fall. The seminar is designed to tie academic course offerings and applied experiential education through energy-related internship offerings and field trips. Other initiatives involved bringing the Power from the North Conference, a transnational clean energy production conference, to the Davis Center March 2015 .