University of St. Thomas Sustainability

UST Campus Sustainability Fund

The UST Campus Sustainability Fund‎ (CSF) is a critical component of our University’s commitment to become climate neutral by 2035 as outlined in the UST Climate Action Plan‌‌.

We recognize the significant challenge of reaching climate neutrality and understand all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will not be completely eliminated in 25 years.  UST will only reach neutrality with the use of GHG offsets.   At present, UST is making significant purchases of wind energy earning the university renewable energy credits (RECs).  RECs represent carbon offsets.  However, these RECs alone will not be able to maintain an annual 4% reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions. 

Purchasing carbon offsets is done through markets with the actual offset-funded projects being completed in remote locations.  An opportunity for understanding and education is thereby missed by our community when the funded offsets are distant and not visible.  The CSF gives our community an opportunity to offer funding of Mission-based offsets that are both visible and educational to our own community.

Mission-based offsets contribute to our common good by

  •  enhancing the University’s educational mission
  •  actively involving students and faculty in projects that repair damage caused by our GHG emissions
  •  supporting  the vision, creativity and design capabilities of members of the UST community
  •  increasing local economic development, habitat protection, watershed protection and community education
  •  linking UST to not only neighboring but also distant communities through our VISION trips and departmental service projects abroad

The CSF will be funded from revenue equal to the market value of what GHG offsets are needed to complete any shortfall in our annual goal of a 4% reduction of GHG emissions.  For the past four years, UST has achieved that goal. As long as we are achieving our goal of a 4% reduction, $50,000 annually is being donated to the fund from the UST Facilities Management.  Once a year, applications are received by the CSF evaluation committee from students, faculty, and staff for funding of mission-based offsets. 

While 25 Minnesota colleges and universities have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, we believe that UST is unique in our commitment to actively engage students, staff and faculty in pursuing sustainability efforts.

Deadline for Applications submitted for prior review before final deadline: March 13, 2015
Final Application Deadline for F15-16: 5 p.m. March 27, 2015

Criteria for Successful Campus Sustainability Fund Projects  
(updated Jan 2015)

The UST Campus Sustainability Fund is a component of our efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2035 and to support other sustainability efforts on campus.  Grants from the Campus Sustainability Fund support projects proposed by students, faculty and staff. Ideally, these projects should effectively lower the University’s carbon footprint while encouraging student involvement. In general, the fund enables the University to take advantage of new opportunities, technologies and student interests in the area of sustainability.

Proposals submitted to the Campus Sustainability Fund will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. It is preferred, that projects credibly intend to decrease UST’s carbon footprint. Projects with limited student involvement should be especially cost effective; this is less essential for projects with significant academic benefits.
  2. Projects that do not decrease the carbon footprint, but impact the sustainability of campus or the educational impact of sustainability learning for students will also be considered.
  3. All projects must be submitted by a student, staff member, and/or faculty member at UST. 
  4. The project must be realistically feasible and have support from affected campus individuals and departments based on prior meetings and conversations with those constituents.
  5. Projects and project funding are not intended to be an alternative path to the normal annual budgeting process.
  6. Projects should be designed to address campus sustainability and student education not departmental needs.
  7. The best projects will produce complementary benefits such as student involvement, ongoing educational benefits, interdisciplinary engagement and visible improvements that demonstrate our commitment to campus sustainability.
  8. Innovative projects with demonstration value are preferred. These projects go beyond simply echoing past proposals or expanding on current efforts.
  9. Proposals should include metrics for clearly measurable or observable outcomes. Funded projects must submit a final report within 60 days of the completion. Cost savings, carbon reductions and educational benefits should be reported annually for 3 years. 
  10. All else equal, preference shall be given to proposals that include lifecycle costs, investment payback schedules and potential long-term savings.

It is the goal of the CSF evaluation committee to review all funding proposals within a three week period after the application deadline date.  All recommended projects are then forwarded to the steering level for final approval and determination of the actual funding according to current available fund resources.  We anticipate the announcement of the CSF awards being made within 45 days after the application deadline date. 

If enough funding is not available for an approved project, the evaluation committee will notify the project submitter of the funding limits along with recommendation for continuance of the project with a reduced budget when appropriate.

It is also the goal of the CSF evaluation committee to respond to all applications with comments, recommendations, and/or suggestions for how the project could be successfully resubmitted in future mission-based offset reviews. 

Applications to the CSF fund are accepted in the spring, for projects to begin any time after the start of the next fiscal year (July 1).  If all the funds are not allocated to projects submitted by this deadline, a second round of applications will be accepted in October.  [The 14-15 CSF funds were all allocated in first round of applications]

CSF Application F15-16

Applications for prior review due: March 13, 2015
Final Application Deadline for F15-16: 5 p.m. March 27, 2015


Previously Funded Campus Sustainability Fund proposals:

St. Thomas CSF proposals awarded in 2014-15:

AASHE Stars – Funded at $1,028
Solar Panels  Funded at $50,571

St. Thomas CSF proposals awarded in 2013-14:

Hydration Station Funded at $20,400
Developing the Corner Store Procurement Project Partially funded at $3,440.00
Big Impact for a Few Bucks – Fully funded at $3,010.67
Fume Hood Energy Awareness Stickers – Fully funded at $100 
Growing Science - Fully funded at $21,450

St. Thomas CSF proposals awarded in 2012-13: 

Public Safety Bike Patrol – Fully funded at $7,617.88
Enhancements to the UST Stewardship Garden – Fully funded at $5,600.00
Nice Ride 2012 ‎– Fully funded at $20,000.00
Service learning to increase visibility of UST Sustainability ‎– Partially funded at $4,124.75
Expansion of UST On-Campus Composting Initiative – Fully funded at $3,500.00

St. Thomas CSF proposals awarded in 2011-12: 

Restoration of Oak Forest– Fully funded at $15,000
Delivering Green ‎– Fully funded at $21,000
Hydration Stations Across UST – Partially funded at $14,000

 F14-15 members of the UST Campus Sustainability Fund (CSF) Committee are