Flagstaff, AZ – Students at Northern Arizona University are literally putting some of their own "green" onto the field of sustainability. Last March, NAU students voted to add five dollars a semester to their tuition to finance environmental projects on campus.
Modeled after a fund at the University of California Berkeley, NAU's is the first in Arizona's university system to be up and running. A committee of six student and three non-student representatives oversees the fund.
Kevin Ordean, one of the founders of the NAU Green Fund, said a student body questionnaire gave approval to the idea. With the blessings of the university president and the state board of regents, the initiative was a go.
The fund has so far generated about $170,000. Renewable energy is a top priority. So one of first, and most visible, projects will be a small-scale wind turbine to be installed at the Applied Research and Development building on the Flagstaff campus. A residence hall energy efficiency project is underway, and a free food and film festival recently took place.
Project ideas can come from any student and are scored on eight criteria. Committee members say they are "hungry" for more ideas for this student-driven fund.
Keenly aware whose money they're spending, the Green Fund committee wants to use it well and wisely, while honoring the promise of a sustainable campus that students felt was worthwhile enough to finance out of their own pockets.