Green Fund


The UW–Madison Green Fund supports student-initiated projects that reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of on-campus facilities in the areas of 1) solid waste, 2) energy, and 3) water conservation. The Green Fund is a revolving fund. This means that funding recipients are encouraged (though not required) to return some of the cost savings generated by their project to replenish the fund for future years.


Application Information

Full application instructions and forms are now available! Pre-proposals are due by 10 p.m. on February 7; full applications are due by 10 p.m. on February 28. All materials should be submitted as email attachments to


Frequently Asked Questions


Info session: Friday, Jan. 27, 1-2:30 pm in Union South (TITU)

Pre-proposals due: Tuesday, Feb. 7

Full applications due: Tuesday, Feb. 28

What types of projects are eligible?
What are some past projects?
How does the process work?
Who can apply?
How much funding is available?
What is the timeline?
How are proposals evaluated?
Who evaluates the proposals?
How will students be supported in their work?
How can you help us and future students?

This information is subject to change. Prior to submitting an application, please be sure to consult the full 2016-2017 Green Fund Application Guide.


What types of projects are eligible?

The Green Fund supports implementation of equipment, systems, or processes that will reduce the environmental footprint and operating costs of one or more on-campus auxiliary facilities. Campus auxiliary facilities include residence halls, dining halls, Eagle Heights housing, Memorial Union, Union South, and the Discovery Building. These buildings pay their own utility bills and have the fiscal independence to be able to return some cost savings to the Green Fund.

The Green Fund can support offsite projects that impact on-campus facilities. For example, the Fund could support the purchase of a specialized screen for the UW West Agricultural Research Station to reduce the contamination of compost coming from on-campus facilities.

Research projects are not eligible for the Green Fund. However, we strongly encourage proposals based on prior research, including class projects or undergraduate or graduate student research. For example, the Green Fund would not support a solar feasibility study but could fund the labor and materials needed to install a solar array. Likewise, we encourage outreach and education related to a funded project but will not fund the human resources or materials to do so. Many classes and student organizations are natural partners for such efforts. Educational signage can be funded as part of a larger intervention.


What are some past projects?

This is the first year of the UW–Madison Student Green Fund, but many other universities operate Green Revolving Funds. Here are some examples from other schools:

  • Carlton College replaced light fixtures in the locker rooms of their athletics facilities with energy-efficient bulbs with motion sensors for $5,845, with annual savings of 18 MMBTUs of energy and 5 MTCO2E of emissions and a payback of 16.1 years
  • Transylvania University installed WiFi remote access thermostats in its theater for $5,750, with annual savings of 187 MMBTUs of energy and 44 MTCO2E of emissions and a payback period of 1.7 years
  • Bucknell University installed waterless urinals in a restroom for $2,594, with annual savings of 102,493 gallons of water and payback period of 1.6 years
  • University of Texas San Antonio installed rooftop solar panels for $1,012,932, with 106 MTCO2E in annual emissions savings and a 69.9 year payback period


How does the process work?

The student applicant(s) will initiate the project and play the roles of advocate, visionary, and connector. Students must work in partnership with maintenance, construction, procurement, and/or administrative staff associated with the location of their proposed upgrade. Working relationships with staff should be established prior to the application to demonstrate facility support for the project.

Office of Sustainability staff can help problem-solve and facilitate connections with facility staff or resources. Students are expected to work directly with the project facility partner to complete the project.

The Green Fund will disburse funds directly to the host facility. Once completed, any physical improvements will be owned and managed by the host facility. Purchasing of any needed materials or equipment must follow UW–Madison procurement policies and procedures.


Who can apply?

Any student in good academic standing can apply to the Green Fund, including full- or part-time students and both undergraduate and graduate students. Consult your school or college for academic standing requirements. (For undergraduates, typically this means not being on probation or in dropped status; for graduate students, the requirements are more complex.)


How much funding is available?

The Green Fund has $50,000 to disburse during the 2016-2017 academic year. We anticipate funding 2 to 4 projects. It is expected that applicants will identify additional sources of support, such as in-kind contributions from the host facility (e.g., labor provided by the host facility to install materials purchased by the Green Fund) or external funding (e.g., a government rebate for energy efficiency). The budget section of the application form requests both the amount requested from the Green Fund and any amount(s) provided by other sources.

Important: When an infrastructure project budget exceeds $50,000, the state of Wisconsin requires additional project review. This review extends the project timeline to 2 to 3 years depending on the complexity of the project. The Green Fund Review Board will consider applications for larger projects, but applicants should be aware of the implications of proposing projects over this $50,000 threshold.


What is the timeline?

Please note: This timeline may shift slightly as the process unfolds. Please check this website for the most up-to-date calendar. We will also inform applicants of any changes to the timeline by email.

2016-2017 Academic Year

  • December 9: Information session for interested applicants
  • December 16-January 16: Winter break
  • January 26: Issue request for proposals
  • January 27: Information session for interested applicants
  • January 28-February 23: Meetings between applicants, facilities staff, and Office of Sustainability staff to work out details of proposals
  • February 7: Pre-proposal due (required)
  • February 10: Provide feedback on pre-proposals to applicants
  • February 28: Full application due
  • March 17: Communicate accept/decline to all applicants and send out contracts to successful applicants
  • March 18-26: Spring break
  • March 31: Deadline to sign agreement
  • Early April: Disburse funds to recipients
  • April-August: Recipients complete project activities
  • June 1: Recipients submit a progress report
  • August 24: Recipients submit a final report
  • September 6: First day of instruction 2017-2018 academic year
  • Mid-September: Host event for 2016-2017 recipients to share lessons learned with the university community and potential applicants

Subsequent Years

  • Mid-September: Issue request for proposals and host information session
  • Mid-October: Applications due
  • November-May or August: Recipients complete project activities


How are proposals evaluated?

A successful application will both present a creative idea and demonstrate a clear path to implementation in partnership with a host facility. Projects must result in measurable impacts. The Green Fund application package includes a calculator to aid in the measurement process.

Evaluation criteria:

  • Implementation – 30% (evaluated based on responses to the Support Letter, Work Plan, and attendance/communications records of Green Fund staff)
    • Does the applicant demonstrate the ability to accomplish what they set out to do?
      • Did the applicant build a working relationship with relevant staff at the host facility (maintenance, construction, administration, procurement)?
      • Is the application understandable and complete?
      • Did the applicant attend info sessions and correspond with Office of Sustainability staff during the application development process?
    • Does the host facility have the capacity and willingness to construct and maintain the improvement?
  • Impact – 40% (evaluated based on responses to the Budget and Impact Calculator)
    • Environmental – reductions in energy, gas, water, solid waste consumption and carbon emissions; reduced exposure to environmental contaminants/ improved air quality
    • Economic – reductions in operating costs; contributions of host facility toward project budget
    • Social – improved workplace safety, creation of education opportunities, creation of aesthetic and social public places
  • Anticipated payback to the Revolving Fund – 30% (evaluated based on responses to the Budget and Impact Calculator)
    • What percent of the total award will the applicant return to the Green Fund?


Who evaluates the proposals?

The Green Fund Review Board consists of 9 people: students (2), faculty members (2), facilities staff members (3), and Office of Sustainability staff (2). Review Board members will first rank applications individually and then determine the final outcome as a group. Office of Sustainability staff will communicate the outcomes to all applicants in a timely manner.


How will students be supported in their work?

Office of Sustainability staff are available to support students during both the application and implementation phases. We encourage students to attend information sessions, ask questions, and contact us if challenges arise at any time during the process. Applicants are also welcome to submit proposal drafts for feedback ahead of the deadline.


How can I help you and future students?

This is our first year running the Green Fund. We welcome feedback to improve the process for future years.


Feedback? Questions?

Contact Ian Aley, Office of Sustainability Green Fund Project Coordinator