The green fee, officially known as the Student Environmental Initiatives Fee, was established in 2005 by the Student Government Association to create a fund for environmental projects on campus.
The fee is $10 for in-state students and $30 for out-of-state students per semester, and accrues $800,000 annually. In the past, the green fee has funded projects like filtered bottle refill stations, zero waste game days, the generation of renewable energy via solar power, and new bike racks around campus.
These projects contribute to the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring down year-over-year utility costs.
One example of a project funded through the green fee: Jon Hathaway, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with an interest in sustainable urban water and green infrastructure, received $30,000 for environmental education, research, and stewardship for Knoxville’s Second Creek, which runs through campus.
The project ran from October 2015 to May 2016. However, the water quality sampling continued until December 2017. A monitoring station was set up to record flow data and collect water samples.
After analyzing the data, researchers learned that Second Creek has all the characteristics of urban stream syndrome. This means that during rain events the flow is very high, there are high pollutant concentrations, and a lot of trash ends up in the creek.
“We are excited to have some upcoming projects that will allow us to take our initial data and begin investigating other things, like tracking the sources of contamination in the watershed,” Hathaway said.
For more information visit the green fee website.