Tuition funds a greener UVM through $225,000 Clean Energy Fund

When green comes out of students’ pockets, the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) committee uses it to make UVM more environmentally efficient. In March 2010, Vice President of Finance and Administration Richard Cate agreed to fund eight project proposals presented by the CEF committee in September 2009, according to the UVM Office of Sustainability. The idea of CEF began in 2005 after 68 percent of a randomized survey of 419 students declared they would pay $10 per semester for the development of clean energy on campus, according to the Office of Sustainability website. “The CEF committee is currently making the proposed projects a reality,” CEF Education & Outreach Fellow James Edward Wilcox said. One of the eight projects that is currently being developed is a university wide energy display system, which records and publishes the generation of campus renewable energy to the public online, according to the Office of Sustainability website. “Renewable energy installations from CEF projects provide the educational opportunity to see the vast amount of energy that we use on campus … So [UVM] can strategize and know the reality of the situation in order to go carbon neutral,” Wilcox said. The $10 student fee included in students’ tuition provides a total of $225,000 annually for the CEF so that projects can be organized and implemented, according to the Office of Sustainablility website. “The CEF is great for funding the smaller projects that the larger institution can later take on,” CEF administrator and Sustainability Projects Coordinator Mieko A. Ozeki said. Eleven students, faculty and staff make up the CEF committee, which uses the new web application IdeaScale to encourage more people to discuss and become involved with ideas for potential CEF projects, said Ozeki. “IdeaScale lowers the initial barrier of participation so that more students can be engaged in how the money from the CEF is allocated,” said Wilcox. Other uses of the funds will include a virtual carport course, teaching students about sustainable transportation, solar hot water for Slade Hall and a study evaluating Trinity Campus’ potential for utilizing biomass energy, according to a UVM Communications document published on April 21.