In fall 2005, by request of student vote during SGA elections, the student facilities fee was increased to establish funding for green power and campus sustainability initiatives. This “green fee” (officially known as the Student Environmental Initiatives fee) is administered by the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee as a representative body of students, faculty, and staff. The mission of the committee is to identify, research, and recommend uses of funds supporting environmental stewardship and sustainability as well as clean and renewable energy technologies. The committee’s charter and guidelines were approved and adopted in April 2012.
In fall 2009, the UT Board of Trustees increased funding for Student Environmental Initiatives from $5/$30 to its current $10/$35 per semester for in-state/out-of-state students, respectively. This enables the Knoxville campus to accelerate work on projects such as those listed below.
Green Power Purchase: Since 2005-06, a significant portion of the Student Environmental Initiatives fee has been used to stimulate demand for renewable energy in the Tennessee Valley and southeastern United States. The university currently purchases 6,667 megawatt hours (MWh) per month of Green-e certified renewable energy credits (RECs) through the TVA Green Power Switch program. The purchase makes UT an EPA Green Power Partner and one of the largest purchasers of green power in the Southeast!
SMC Lighting System Upgrades: With labor donated by the Facilities Services Department, this four-year, $384,000 project supported the installation of new lighting fixtures and controls that use about one-third less electricity and eliminate the need for excessive lighting in the Stokely Management Center (SMC). In addition, the project added daylight harvesting technology to the building so that the lighting dims as sunlight enters a space. These improvements have saved $56,000 a year based on 2003 electric rates.
AASHE Membership: The Student Environmental Initiatives fee has paid membership dues for UT to join the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE hosts a wide range of activities and maintains an excellent resource center on sustainability efforts in higher education. Anyone with a valid @utk.edu or @tennessee.edu email address can access AASHE resources for free. For more information, visit the AASHE account webpage.
IEEE Robotics Competition: With $1,000 in support from the Student Environmental Initiatives fee, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Branch at the University of Tennessee competed in the 2009 IEEE SoutheastCon Robotics Competition. The competition, which was held in Atlanta, featured a recycling theme where student teams built a robot to pick up aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and other recyclable materials. The robots then placed each material into a corresponding bag without any human guidance.
Graduate Assistantships: The Student Environmental Initiatives fee has funded a number of graduate assistant student positions. Sara Malley served as a graduate assistant from 2009 to 2011. As a GA, Sara helped launch the Eco-Vols program and assisted with various projects to promote environmental stewardship on campus and in the community. Katie Kimsey (Bennett) served as a graduate assistant from 2009 to 2011 and spearheaded the design and layout of the Big Orange Green Guide.
View a complete list of Student Environmental Initiatives projects as of April 2011.
If you have questions about the Student Environmental Initiatives fee, have ideas for new campus environmental sustainability projects, or would like to get involved with the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee (you must be a current UT student or employee), please email email@example.com.