Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund

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Achieve your green idea with the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund!

How it Works:

The Sustainability Resource Center administers the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund. Contact the SCIF Coordinator with questions or ideas about the program.

  • SCIF logoEvery student at the University pays $2.50 per semester into SCIF.
  • Every student is eligible to apply for funding to engage in a sustainability project on campus.
  • Projects must have a positive environmental impact and help to educate the campus about sustainability.
  • Projects should incorporate economic, social and scientific means to create environmental solutions.
  • Students will collaborate with a faculty or staff member to complete their projects.

Check out our annual reports:

Spring Deadline: February 21, 2014

Contact us with questions.

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Project Scope

  • SCIF logoGrants are awarded to projects that directly address sustainability on campus. Contact us with questions on whether or not a project is defined as "sustainable."
  • Project applications can be submitted by any current student with a staff or faculty advisor.
  • Projects located on campus take precedent over community-based projects.
  • All projects are reviewed by the SCIF Allocation Committee to determine if they can be funded. 
  • The minimum project budget is $1,000.
  • The average project budget is ~$7,000.
  • More detailed information about the program can be found in the bylaws.

Project Criteria

The SCIF Allocation Committee determines which projects to fund by using this list of criteria, in order of importance.


  • Does the project make or save money?
  • What is the expected return on investment?

*Financial savings are considered a benefit to the University and the SCIF program but they are not required. If your project does not have quantifiable monetary savings, you are still eligible to apply.

Environmental Benefit

Does this project help to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions? (GHG Metric ton equivalent)
  • Reduce campus energy consumption (electricity, natural gas or diesel?)
  • Conserve water? (cubic feet/acre feet conserved)
  • Lower sewage or storm water output?
  • Reduce hazardous, solid, liquid or gaseous waste?

Educational Value

  • Will your project enhance environmental literacy on campus?
  • Does your project increase the level of participation in conservation activities?
  • How many departments will collaborate on your project?


  • Who will see this project on campus?
  • Is the project located in one building or is it campus-wide?


  • Will the project have a lasting impact on campus?
  • What is the long-term maintenance required for the project?

Student Involvement

  • Does the project involved students?
  • Are there students from different disciplines collaborating on the project?


  • Has this project been done before on campus, regionally or nationally?
  • Does this project use new technology?
  • Can this project be replicated elsewhere?

Matching Funds

  • Is this project eligible for matching funds, either through tax incentives or private donations? (Undergraduates can apply for funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

Community Engagement

  • Does this project have potential to reach the non-campus community?
  • Is this project visible to campus visitors?
  • Does the project partner with local businesses
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Applying to SCIF

SCIF Applications are submitted through a non-credit Canvas platform; email the SCIF Coordinator with your project idea and your UNID to be enrolled!

Recommended Date to Enroll in Canvas Platform for Fall 2013 Semester: February 14, 2014

First Application Deadline (mandatory): February 21, 2014

Final Application Deadline: March 28, 2014

Project presentations to the Allocation Committee: April 11, 2014

Not sure what it takes to begin a project?  Read on for helpful hints and ideas:

1. Brainstorm Sustainable Projects

The first step is coming up with an idea.

  • Do you see waste (e.g. water running, lights on, unnecessary paper use, non-recyclable containers being used) on campus?
  • Would you like to test the efficiency of a new technology?
  • Are you currently working on or interested in environmental or social justice issues?
  • Would you like to incorporate sustainability concepts into your courses, or have you noticed something in your department that could be more sustainable?

Choose a project area that you are passionate about and want to see implemented on campus.  Applying to SCIF will give you an opportunity to gain real-world experience in any area of interest that is sustainability related.

2. Start the Conversation and Enroll in Canvas

  • Talk with friends and classmates about your project idea and explore opportunities to collaborate with other students.
  • Contact the SCIF Coordinator for project ideas.
  • Check out other University programs similar to SCIF for more project ideas.
  • Follow SCIF on Facebook to keep up with campus projects.
  • Email the SCIF Coordinator with your UNID to view the application materials and learn more about project requirements (it is recommended that you do this as early as possible; enrollment in Canvas is not for credit or a grade, and does not commit you to applying to SCIF).

3. Begin Researching

The University of Utah has many staff members working to make the campus more sustainable.  Contact the Sustainability Resource Center to learn more about what projects are already taking place on campus.

Here are a few common sustainability topics with helpful hints about how to start a project related to that topic:

  • Lighting Efficiency
  • Solar Panels
  • Gardening, Landscaping and Composting
  • Behavior Change Campaigns

4. Write Your Proposal

After doing research, complete the following steps to apply for funding:

  1. Find a project advisor. You will work with a faculty or staff member who has expertise in your project area. The project advisor can help with the application process and oversee the project if it is approved. Contact the SCIF Coordinator for recommendations for potential advisors.
  2. Enroll in Canvas to complete the SCIF Orientation and begin your application. The orientation will help you learn project requirements; the application includes a cover letter, abstract (to be published in the annual SCIF report), commitments of collaboration, and a proposal (including budget information).
  3. Estimate your budget as accurately as possible. You will need to finalize your budget before the final project deadline.
  4. Submit the application to the SCIF Coordinator by 11:59pm on October 25, 2013. Application materials and supporting documentation are outlined in the SCIF Canvas Course, and must be submitted within the course for consideration.

Note: This is the mandatory fall semester deadline. There will be another chance to apply during the Spring 2014 semester.

5. Finalize Your Proposal

If your first application is approved by the SCIF Coordinator, you will finalize your application to present to the SCIF Allocation Committee.

  1. Complete the line-item budget form. (Excel worksheet)
  2. Receive any additional necessary approval from campus entities as per the SCIF Coordinator; commitments of collaboration are a requirement of continuing through the application process.
  3. Determine the financial savings or environmental benefit of the project.
  4. Finalize any matching funding.
  5. Re-submit your proposal and line-item budget to the SCIF Coordinator electronically by November 22, 2013. Additional information such as photos, product sheets or letters of recommendation can be included as separate documents.

6. Application Review

Each project executive will present their project to the SCIF Allocation Committee shortly after the final application deadline. The committee votes on which projects will receive funding.

7. Implementing Your Project

Once your project has been approved, you will meet with the SCIF Coordinator to discuss the timeline and finances of the project. You can then work with your project advisor to complete your sustainability project.

8. Project Completion

Congratulations! You have completed your sustainable project on campus and we want to hear about the process and results. You will fill out the Post-Project Report (Word document) telling us about your successes and lessons learned. Make sure to send us photos of the project so we can share them on our website!

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I apply to SCIF?

SCIF has two cycles of funding each year and accepts applications in the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters. The application period occurs over the course of a semester as project ideas are developed and approved by campus departments. It is recommended that you apply to SCIF the semester before you think you would like to begin your project (i.e. apply in fall to begin your project in spring, and apply in spring to begin your project in the summer or fall), as grant awards are not made available until the end of the Fall and Spring semesters.

2. What types of projects will SCIF fund?

SCIF can support a wide-variety of projects such as sustainability themed events, sustainability enhancements to campus or class projects.

3. What if I have an idea but no time?

Feel free to contact the SCIF Coordinator to come up with a plan for implementing your great idea.  Don't let it go to waste!

4. If I want to do a project that relates to renewable electricity, lighting, landscaping, or building fixtures, how should I get started?

SCIF is proud to partner with experienced individuals in the Facilities department for SCIF projects relating to energy, landscaping, and campus planning/building. Such projects are required to be in line with campus codes and standards, and partnering with these individuals is key to achieving project approval.  Contact the SCIF Coordinator to learn more about the best people to connect with to discuss your project, and visit the Facilities Department website to learn more about their activities and approval processes.

5. What budget information should be included on the application?

  1. Materials and Equipment: include the cost of any equipment you need to purchase to complete the project.
  2. Labor and Services: include the cost of labor required to complete the project.
  3. Long-term cost: include the estimated long-term cost of maintaining the project.
  4. In-kind contributions: include any donations of services or funding from outside entities.

For the first application, a detailed budget is not required but for the final application deadline, you will need to submit the line-item budget (Excel document).

6. Can I apply to get paid for my time?

The SCIF Allocation Committee has occasionally supported students for their time commitment to their SCIF projects. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, Association of Students at the University of Utah (ASUU) and individual Colleges or Departments are a better bet for that type of funding and can be used as matching funds when applying to SCIF. If you are creating an internship position, the position must be approved by the department in which it will be housed before applying to SCIF.

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Potential SCIF Project Ideas

  • SCIF logoCreate a pollinator garden

  • Create signs for sustainable food choices at on-campus dining facilities
  • Continue the "Air Me Up" project
  • Install electricity generating bikes in campus recreation areas
  • Launch an idle-free outreach campaign on campus
  • Provide "Smart Strips" for residence hall rooms
  • Write a sustainable cooking guide for your office or student group
  • Design and create an art display using recycled materials
  • Shoot a video about sustainability projects on campus
  • Research the feasibility of and/or install solar hot water panels to heat the HPER swimming pool
  • And many more of your great ideas!

Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 Approved Projects

2011-2012 Annual Report (pdf)


Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 Approved Projects

2010-2011 Annual Report (pdf)

  • Air Me Up
  • Bike to the U Day
  • Bio-retention Design Research
  • Campus Hydration Stations
  • Fix-it Yourself Bike Racks
  • Garden Student Leaders
  • Greening OSH Offices
  • Honors Housing: Green Innovation Initiative
  • Huntsman Wellness Gardens
  • "Ice Ball" Cooling Evaluation
  • Marriott Library Water Bottle Filling Stations
  • Skate Stations
  • Solar Ivy
  • University Student Apartments Recycling Initiative
  • Bennion Center Carbon Offsets
  • Campus Garden Tools & Outreach
  • Mercury Thermometer Exchange
  • RecycBikes
  • Social Soup Lecture Series
  • Solar Parking Pass Study
  • Zero Waste Lunch at Club U

Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 Approved Projects

2009-2010 Annual Report (pdf)

  • Bio-retention Rain Garden
  • Campus Garden Tools
  • Greening the Organic Chemistry Lab
  • Green Tee
  • Lights Out!
  • Net Zero Building Exhibit
  • Rio Mesa Carbon Sequestration Research
  • Sill Center Power Down
  • Social Justice Gardens
  • Social Work Lighting Upgrade
  • Sustainable Irrigation Research
  • Sustainability Pledge
  • Sustainability Research Center Energy Displays
  • Union Plaza Lighting Pilot Program
  • Vending Machine Efficiency
Last Updated: 1/22/14