The Oberlin College Green EDGE Fund
Ecological Design & General Efficiency
(Last Updated Fall 2015)
The mission of the Oberlin College Green EDGE Fund is to support projects that promote environmental sustainability within the Oberlin College & City community while promoting innovation and education, and projects at Oberlin College that meaningfully improve efficiency and reduce resource consumption.
2A. Funding Structure:
The Green EDGE Fund is a student board that manages a set of accounts designated for loan and grant allocations. Efficiency Loans are funded through Oberlin College while Sustainability Grants and the Carbon Management Fund Grants are funded through student semesterly green fees.
2A1. Efficiency Loans are allocated to projects that reduce resource consumption and have clear and calculable financial savings for Oberlin College. This account operates on a revolving loan fund model; all financial savings directly resulting from these projects are paid by the College into the Efficiency Loan Account on an annual basis until 150 percent of the initial investment is repaid so that further loans can be made. Savings may be calculated based on conservative estimates or measurable changes in resource consumption data.
2A2. Sustainability Grants are allocated to projects that promote environmental sustainability within the Oberlin Community, and do not have clear and calculable financial savings for Oberlin College. These projects do not necessarily result in direct resource use reductions, but do promote environmental sustainability as defined by the sitting Board.
2A3. Carbon Management Fund (CMF) Grants are allocated to projects that provide verifiable sequestration of carbon and are situated in or around Oberlin within a 6-county region including: Lorain, Erie, Huron, Ashland, Wayne, and Medina. These carbon sequestrations are meant to be attributed to specific areas of the College for which carbon offsets have not yet been acquired such as student travel to and from campus. Non-Recourse Carbon Investments do not have payback requirements, but do require a calculation quantifying the carbon saved through the project. Non-Recourse Carbon Investments are awarded based on the relative cost to offset a metric ton of CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gases by the project and an additional consideration of non-carbon related benefits resulting from the project.
2B. Governing Structure:
The Green EDGE Fund is comprised of the Student Board, the Student Senate Liaison, the Office of Environmental Sustainability Liaison, the Primary Administrative Board Member, the Secondary Administrative Board Member, and receives support from a designated faculty advisor as well as several other administrative and faculty advisors. The Student Board is primarily responsible for decision-making processes with direct oversight from the two administrative board members. The faculty advisor provides feedback on a regular basis and attends all weekly meetings. Monetary allocations must be approved by one of the two Administrative Board Members as detailed in section 3C. Input is sought from all relevant and available parties whenever important decisions are made by the Student Board.
2B1. Student Board:
The Student Board is the primary decision making body of the Green EDGE Fund, and is responsible for seeking counsel from faculty and administrators in pursuit of developing and reviewing project ideas and project proposals.
2B1a. Officer Positions:
The Student Board is responsible for electing members to officer positions each year based on individual qualifications and interest. Officer position descriptions are subject to adjustment on a semesterly basis.
2B1b. Student Board Terms of Service:
Recruitment of new members is the responsibility of incumbent members of the Student Board. They are responsible for recruitment of new members once each academic year or as deemed necessary. Once elected to the board, student members have the option to act on a voluntary basis or to earn one (1) semester course credit by designating their service to the board as a private reading with the faculty advisor. Board members are encouraged (time and skills permitting) to advance and support the Fund’s work by cooperating and consulting with potential and former grantees, partners, and stakeholders in proposal development, project generation, internal documentation and infrastructure.
2B2. Student Senate Liaison
The Student Senate Liaison is selected by Student Senate on a semesterly basis, and serves as a voting member of the Student Board. The Student Senate Liaison is expected to attend all weekly Green EDGE Fund meetings and meet the same expectations as Student Board members.
2B3. Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) Liaison
The OES Liaison is employed as a paid OES student worker and serves as a voting member of the Student Board. The primary focus of this position is the development of large-scale efficiency projects, associated metrics, projected and actual savings, and outcome reports. The OES Liaison is expected to attend all weekly Green EDGE Fund meetings, and attend regular OES staff meetings. Hiring for this position is coordinated by OES staff, Faculty Advisor, and Student Board Chair. A full job description is included as an addendum.
2B4. Carbon Management Fund Liaison
The Carbon Management Fund (CMF) Liaison is employed as a paid intern at the Carbon Management Fund and serves as a voting member of the Student Board. The CMF Liaison is expected to attend all weekly Green EDGE Fund meetings, and meet regularly with and work with the Carbon Management Fund coordinator at the Oberlin Project. Hiring for the position is decided by the Carbon Management Fund coordinator at the Oberlin Project and position appointment to the Green EDGE Fund is approved by the Student Board. The CMF Liaison is expected to keep the Student Board updated on relevant or notable CMF work advancements or issues.
2B5. Administrative Board Members
The Oberlin College VP of Finance is responsible for serving or delegating the position of Primary Administrative Board Member, and for selecting a Secondary Administrative Board Member.
2B6. Faculty Advisor
Any Oberlin College faculty member is eligible for this position. The faculty advisor is selected by the Student Board with consultation from administrative stakeholders, and is expected to serve until no longer able or until the majority of the Student Board votes to seek a replacement.
2B7. Administrator and Faculty Advisers
Counsel and support is regularly provided by several administrative offices and faculty members. Most notably, by employees from the Office of Environmental Sustainability, Facilities Construction and Planning, Facilities Operations, Office of the Controller, and the Office of Finance.
3. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE
Unless otherwise specified, group decisions require majority support and votes are carried out based on the standards of Robert’s Rules of Order. Furthermore a list of Standard Operating Procedures can be found in here.
3A. Regular Meetings
The Student Board members meet weekly with their faculty advisor to review progress and revise short-term and long-term goals. These meetings are outlined at the beginning of each semester in the Semester Outline.
The Student Board members also meet weekly without their faculty advisor to provide one another with feedback and support with regard to project development and other short-term goals. This is a less formal meeting, and can be used to provide consultation to prospective proposal authors.
3B. Project Development
The Student Board is expected to be directly involved in the development of Efficiency Loan and Sustainability Grant proposals, and are encouraged to submit proposals themselves. Carbon Management Fund proposals differ in that they require extensive knowledge regarding carbon offsets. Thus carbon offsetting projects can be initiated by everyone, but requires meeting regularly with the Carbon Management Fund appointed board member at the EDGE Fund to help navigate this process.
The process for creating and submitting project proposals is outlined in a semesterly Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP outlines and describes the semester’s deadlines, application requirements, submission process, review criteria, and scoring rubric. It is updated at the start of each semester and circulated to Oberlin students, faculty, administrators, and community members.
3C. Project Approval
Student Board members are primarily responsible for reviewing and approving project proposals. An extended meeting of the Student Board is required to review final project proposals. Every Student Board member will voice their approval or disapproval of the proposal in writing or at the extended the meeting of the Student Board. A proposal for funding may be approved, denied, approved with conditions, tabled for future discussion, or returned to the authors for improvement. Consensus should be achieved where possible, but decisions will be made by majority rule when consensus is not possible.
Projects under $1000.00 require final approval by the Secondary Administrative Board member. Projects over $1000.00 require final approval by the Primary Administrative Board member. Following proposal review by the Student Board, necessary documentation is drafted for projects approved by the Student Board, and is presented at a Full Board meeting to Administrative Board Members for their final approval.
3D. Award Allocations
Once a project proposal is approved by the Student Board, an approval document is drafted. Approval documents are brief (usually 1-page) documents that outline the approved allocation and benefits of supporting the approved project. This document includes the account to be charged and the method for allocating funds (i.e. reimbursement, personal check, direct withdrawal). Approval documents must be signed by a representative of the Student Board, and by the relevant Administrative Board Member as detailed in section 3C.
Following final approval from Administrative Board Members, award letters are drafted by the Student Board and sent to award recipients. Award letters are 1-page documents that briefly outline the approved allocation and any necessary documentation or clarification required before the award can be distributed.
Quantitative information from the project progress report regarding the funds allocated from any of the three award types should be recorded in a single document to be shared with the Controller.
3D1. Sustainability Grant Allocations
The Student Board and Administrative Board Member must approve sustainability grant proposals based on “standard metrics” outlined in the RFP. Following approval, funds will be allocated through the Controller’s Office; all transfers and payments must be finalized by June 30th, the end of the fiscal year. Sustainability grant awardees are required to submit a proof of implementation to the Green EDGE Fund, in addition to a project progress report (subject to individual project scope and need), 3-6 months from the date of project implementation.
3D2. Efficiency Loan Allocations
The Student Board and Administrative Board Member must approve efficiency loan proposals based on “standard metrics” and “efficiency loan metrics” as outlined in the RFP. The Student Board is also responsible for tracking, calculating, and securing approval (through the Oberlin Finance and Controllers Offices) for Efficiency Loan paybacks. Per agreement with Oberlin College in 2007, the Green EDGE Fund will recoup 150% of the total loan amount through resource savings accrued by the College.
3D3. Carbon Management Fund (CMF) Allocations
CMF projects are developed by the applicant and a third party, such as Oberlin Project. Oberlin College, or City of Oberlin staff, capable of calculating the amount of carbon equivalents expected to be offset, and then reviewed by the Green EDGE Fund Board. All CMF projects will be verified by a third party. The Student Board and Administrative Board Member must approve CMF grant proposals based on “standard metrics” and “CMF metrics” as outlined in the RFP.
3E. Charter Changes
All proposed changes to the mission, structure, or decision-making processes described in this document must be reviewed and approved by a majority of the Student Board and receive final approval from both Administrative Board Members.
The board may approve a proposal for change as follows: a board member makes a motion to approve the change, followed by another board member who seconds the motion. A vote is proposed, and all voting Board members may approve, disapprove, or abstain.
4. APPROPRIATE USE OF FUNDS
All grants and loans are primarily to be used for materials or products and costs directly associated with implementation. Although preference is given to infrastructural development, sustainability grants can also be granted to a wider variety of projects that promote environmental sustainability in the Oberlin Community. The following types of projects require consensus of the Student Board: faculty or student research; workshops or guest lectures; wages or labor costs not associated with installation; advertising, prizes, or incentives.
The Student Board is authorized to allocate funds for public engagement. This allocation is made at the beginning of each semester based on estimates of upcoming expenditures. Unspent publicity allocations are carried over to the following semester.
4C. Meeting Expenditures
The Student Board is authorized to allocate funds for meeting expenses. This allocation is made at the same time as the allocation of Publicity funds. Use of funds for meeting expenses should be kept to a minimum.
4D. OES Liaison
The OES Liaison is to receive funding from the Sustainability Grant Account for no more than 10 hours per week at wage rate equivalent to that of other OES student workers.