In addition to the typical seasonal changes, spring may make Lake Forest College’s campus greener in another sense: through the implementation of a potential Green Fund. While still in the process of being reviewed by the College, the fund could be used to ensure a more sustainable and environmentally friendly college campus.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Robert Flot, the fund is the culmination of students’ efforts. “The initiative was initially presented to Student Government during the fall of 2016 by then-current student Ben Labaschin ’16 and is now in the process of ongoing consideration by Student Government,” Flot said. “As I understand it, the genesis of the initiative came from a desire by students to create a campus culture that supports sustainable efforts.”
The Green Fund is not conceptually new, according to Labaschin. “A Green Fund, otherwise known as a Sustainability Fund, is a fundraising tool increasingly used by academic institutions throughout the United States to overcome the unique sustainability challenges these institutions face,” said Labaschin. “Approximately 154 Green Funds exist at 136 comparably-sized institutions throughout the country, including at Knox, Williams, Oberlin, and Wesleyan College, not to mention the College of Lake County.”
In principle, the fund could promote both environmental and economic benefits. “The goal of the Green Fund can be gleaned from its backing philosophy, which is that needless waste is financially untenable and environmentally unsustainable,” Labaschin said.
Continuing, Labaschin said: “At a time when the College budget is being thoroughly examined, it also makes fiscal sense to raise funds to ameliorate costly inefficiencies such as excessive power [consumption]and over-abundant utility reliance at the College. The data from other college Green Funds indicate that after investing in efficient resource allocation, wastefulness was reduced and savings were increased. The Green Fund appears to be both a financially smart investment and an ethically prudent option in a time of growing environmental activism on college campuses.”
Resources that would be saved from eliminating wasteful consumption could have a multitude of implementations. “There are many options at the table for the use of the fund, including investments in energy-efficient light fixtures, trash compactors to reduce the frequency of waste collection, and efficient shower heads, to name a few,” said Labaschin.
The source of funding for the project would stem from moderate increases to the existing Student Activity Fee. While the financial specifics of the fund are still being examined, Labaschin said that “an increase of $8 per semester (which would be somewhat more than $20,000 in an annual fund) seems like a reasonable estimate of what will be sought.”
According to Flot, the project must first clear Student Government before being reviewed by the College Council, a committee responsible for examining the College’s budget as well as proposed changes to the budget. This process is critical to determine how the fund would be implemented practically. According to Flot, considerations by the College Council could possibly occur by the end of the academic year.
Ultimately, Labaschin remains optimistic about the future of the Green Fund. “Thankfully, many institutions have Green Funds in use and their trial periods have shown to be quite successful—so successful that students often vote to increase their fees in order to increase the investment capacity of their funds,” said Labaschin.
Furthermore, Labaschin highlighted qualified campus resources able to oversee the project: “The Campus Sustainability Committee (CSC), a knowledgeable group of staff, faculty, and students, have indicated an interest overseeing the efficient allocation and use of these funds,” he said. “What is more, if any students, staff, or faculty have ideas as to further uses for the fund, they are more than welcome to contact the CSC.”