Establishment of Student Green Fee
In 2007 a group of students formed the Green Campus Initiative; with the objective of establishing a student “green fee.” Some of the group members were Joan Walker, Liam Schenk, Peter Harrison, Kim Quick and Harris Stewart. The group envisioned that this fee be used to purchase renewable energy credits, to offset a portion of the university’s electricity usage. Over 1,000 student, faculty, and staff signatures were collected in a petition supporting the creation of the green fee. These signatures, a long with three proposals (each involving a different per student fee and analysis of how much of the university’s energy use that amount would offset) were presented to the University Fee Committee during the 2007-2008 school year. Simultaneously, a separate proposal was made by the Student Government Association, in support of the general principal of a green fee but stipulating that the funds should not be used to purchase renewable energy credits, but instead those funds should be used to support sustainability on campus. The Fee Committee approved the SGA proposal, and instated the green fee.
Creation of Green Fee Committee
To allocate and manage the funds, a Green Fee Committee was established, including staff, faculty, and students and headed up by Dr. Bill Haggard. The committee looked into different ways the green fund should be spent each year, and discussed what would be appropriate expenditure of the money. During its one and only year in action, the committee purchased the first GEM electrical vehicle on campus, for use by campus security. During this time, two members of the committee, Joan Walker and Christy Clevenger attended a sustainability conference at the University of Colorado. During the conference they learned about the University of Colorado’s Environmental Center and all the progress the center had made on sustainability on campus, from an improved recycling program, to energy efficiency, and meeting some of the campus’ energy needs with renewable energy. From this experience Christy and Joan proposed the idea that a student environmental center would be a great way to manage the green fund in the long term, employing student interns to research, establish, and maintain programs and to serve as a resource for the whole campus community. It was clear that a committee that met once a week and served on a volunteer basis would not be able to create the most value from the green fund moneys and that an environmental center would also be an important way to institutionalize sustainability in the university.
Creation of the Student Environmental Center
The Student Environmental Center at UNC Asheville was created to serve the following functions:
- To be a resource for the campus community on issues relating to sustainability
- A common ground for groups and individuals that do not typically work together
- A source of information pertaining to sustainability
- To research potential projects to receive green fund money, create support for those projects, design, implement and maintain those projects in the long term.