After two quarters of meetings, crafting guidelines for grants, working on the TGIF website and developing our bylaws, The Green Initiative Fund is moving forward into its third quarter. We are only a few weeks away from opening our doors to accept proposals to help reduce the university’s impact on the environment. We spent this year ensuring that every aspect of the fund represents the guiding principles of TGIF, and that the structure is set in place for TGIF to work most effectively in the future.

TGIF is intended to encourage the university to go above and beyond its sustainability commitments. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to TGIF in last year’s elections; 74.64 percent of undergrads and 82 percent of graduate students who voted said yes to TGIF. We are all proud that UCSB has already made great commitments to reducing its environmental impacts. Some of these commitments include mandating all buildings built after 2004 to strive to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standards. This ensures that our buildings are built with environmental criteria in mind, commits to bring 25 existing buildings up to LEED standards in the next five years and spearheads the UC system into action in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. We hope to build on these commitments, and allow students to influence the directions that UCSB can take. For example, after signing the climate commitment, the University of California Office of the President released a new UC Sustainability Policy requiring all campuses to create a plan for becoming climate neutral by the end of 2008 – one year earlier than the date required by the ACUPCC! The ACUPCC provided the impetus for the UC Sustainability Policy to be taken one step further. We hope to use TGIF to stimulate similar important steps forward here at UCSB.

We hope TGIF can provide a starting place for excellent projects, and can make students’ money go farther by combining it with funding from other groups, including the university. TGIF funding won’t give financial support to projects that are already mandated by law or UCSB policy or directive. For example, we wouldn’t provide funds for a new building to go LEED Silver, because the university has already committed to that. The fund is being used to sponsor projects from students, staff and faculty that extend past the scope of the policies already adopted by our university, and that might not be implemented without extra encouragement from the students being provided through TGIF.

Check out the TGIF website for more information and keep up to date on the release of the TGIF call for proposals, coming at the end of April. The call for proposals will be a paperless process submitted through the TGIF website. The applications will be uploaded to a database that the grants making committee can access as the proposals roll in. We are happy to eliminate paper applications and paper, ink, and energy. We are very excited to see all the creative proposals that will be coming in when the call for proposals is opened.

TGIF is opening one grant cycle this year, and we have all our funds available at once to support the maximum amount of proposals. By limiting ourselves to one grant cycle, we’re ensuring we have enough funds for large projects, and making certain we have a big applicant pool so we can pick the best proposals.

We know we will receive great proposals from university students, staff and faculty at the end of April. All of us in the committee are excited to see our hard work come together, and see TGIF breathe life into new projects. So get ready to submit your proposals, and stay tuned to see what comes next!