Three men with shovels and a rake stand near a newly planted tree.
Nearly 80 sustainability initiatives at BGSU have been supported through the Student Green Initiatives Fund. (BGSU photo/Haven Conn '22)

BGSU Green Fund has supported nearly $2 million in projects for a ‘greener’ University

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Nearly 80 sustainability initiatives on campus have been supported through the fund

By Laren Kowalczyk '07

More than a decade ago, a Bowling Green State University student proposed collecting a modest, voluntary fee from students each semester — akin to the cost of a cup of coffee — to fund sustainability initiatives on campus.

Today, that fund has supported nearly $2 million in student-proposed projects across campus, making an indelible impact on the environment and the University.

The Student Green Initiatives Fund has reduced waste and energy consumption, decreased the University’s carbon footprint, conserved natural resources and helped promote environmentally friendly behavior through the nearly 80 projects funded since its creation in 2010.

“The Green Fund significantly contributes to the University’s efforts in creating a greener, more sustainable campus,” said Dr. Nick Hennessy, sustainability manager in the BGSU Office of Campus Sustainability and manager for the Student Green Initiatives Fund.

“It’s clear that BGSU students care about the environment and want to attend a University that aligns with their values. The fact that the idea originated from a student and is funded by students makes its impact much more meaningful.”

The University’s commitment to sustainability encompasses numerous initiatives in addition to those spearheaded by the Green Fund and has led to BGSU being named among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges for 10 years.

The University scored a perfect 99 out of 99 in the annual Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges 2023 rankings and for the second consecutive year, earned a spot in the review’s Green College Honor Roll rankings as the only university in Ohio among 40 nationwide.

BGSU is also on target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually by an average of 4% to achieve institutional carbon neutrality by 2040, as outlined in the BGSU Climate Action Plan.

A woman cuts a mushroom
The Green Fund annually contributes to the University's composting program that diverts a weekly average of 1,400 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from landfills.
BGSU campus at night.
Indoor and outdoor spaces at BGSU have been upgraded to energy-efficient LED lighting through the BGSU Green Fund.

A brief history

Jazmine (Bennett) Danci ‘09 was a senior at the University when she proposed the idea for a green fee after attending an environmental conference in Washington.

A lifelong environmentalist, Danci saw the green fee as an opportunity to help BGSU distinguish itself as a leader in sustainability. The University was among the first in Ohio to establish a green fund.

“Sustainability wasn’t a super popular topic then,” Danci said. “Not like it is now.”

The BGSU Board of Trustees approved the proposal in the summer of 2009, and the fund officially became a part of the University’s sustainability efforts in Fall 2010.

“Helping to establish the Green Fund at BGSU is one of my proudest accomplishments,” Danci said. “My four years at BGSU were so special and important, and it’s amazing to know that I’ve left my mark at the University in such an impactful way.”

A BGSU policeman on a bicycle.
The Green Fund supports various sustainability initiatives at BGSU, including purchasing bicycles for BGSU police.

Green Fund impact

Through the Green Fund, solar panels have been installed on campus buildings, indoor and outdoor spaces have been upgraded to energy-efficient LED lighting, 180 drinking fountains with water bottle refilling stations have been placed in buildings throughout the University and a reusable food container system has been implemented at Carillon Place.

The fund has also aided in the purchase of an electric Zamboni for the Slater Family Ice Arena, a hybrid recycling truck, bicycles for BGSU police, seven electric vehicle charging stations, a green roof at The Oaks Dining Center and annually contributes to the University’s composting program that diverts a weekly average of 1,400 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from landfills.

During the 2022-23 academic year, the Green Fund supported several projects, including upgrading to LED lighting in the Student Recreation Center racquetball courts, reforestation, the Shatzel Hall native prairie garden and green roof project, purchasing items for the Falcon Food Pantry and community garden and the composting program.

“The cost, complexity and type of projects supported by the Green Fund vary, but each one furthers our commitment to sustainability,” Hennessy said.

BGSU senior Alex Kralik, president of the BGSU Environmental Action Group, submitted a proposal for funding to upgrade the Shatzel Hall native prairie garden and install a green roof on the building's structure that extends into the garden.

Native prairies and green roofs help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increase biodiversity, reduce stormwater runoff and increase soil and nutrient retention, which is crucial in the fight against climate change.

Hennessy highlighted the project’s focus on sustainability education and outreach, one of the sustainability goals Green Fund projects must meet.

Student Recreation Center at BGSU.
Lighting in various areas of the Student Recreation Center has been upgraded to energy-efficient LED through projects funded by the Green Fund.
The green roof at The Oaks.
The green roof at The Oaks Dining Center was supported through the Green Fund.

Recent BGSU alumnus Andrew McNutt ‘23, a former graduate assistant at the Recreation Center, submitted the Green Fund proposal for LED lighting in the racquetball courts in collaboration with David Hollinger, director of the Recreation Center.

The proposal followed McNutt’s efforts in helping the Recreation Center achieve certification as a Green Office, both aimed at helping elevate the facility as a campus leader in sustainability.

“It was incredible to have our proposal approved,” McNutt said. “BGSU does an exceptional job of integrating sustainability into the very framework of the community. From the ReStore to planting trees on Earth Day to compostable plates at large events like Convocation, there are always elements of sustainability present.

“The Green Fund fee is such a small donation to help BGSU continue to take thoughtful actions toward protecting the environment and improving the overall college experience.”

How the fund works

Yearly contributions vary depending on BGSU enrollment and student participation, which Hennessy said has averaged around 80% most years.

Project proposals, often the combined work of a student and a faculty or staff mentor, are reviewed and approved on a rolling basis by the Green Fund committee composed of students, faculty and administrative staff members.

BGSU junior Kaylee Dean began her second year on the committee this fall. As an environmental science major, Dean joined due to her passion for the environment and interest in making a difference at the University.

“I like having a voice as a part of the student body in representing how the Green Fund money is used to make BGSU more sustainable,” she said. “I’m proud of BGSU and the steps we’re taking to be more sustainable, and I really admire our University leaders for prioritizing sustainability.”

The committee meets bi-weekly to review proposals and strives to work with students to refine their applications. Hennessy said proposals needing additional information are returned to students with feedback on how to complete the application and resubmit.

“Our goal is to fund projects that align with the University’s sustainability goals, so if the proposal meets that qualification but is missing a cost breakdown, we’re going to do what we can to help them make those adjustments to improve the likelihood of the project being approved,” Hennessy said.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 11/01/2023 09:37AM