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CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — The Sustainability Council at Southern Illinois University is reviewing 28 proposed projects designed to enhance campus sustainability using money from a student “green fee.”

The council comprised of students, faculty and staff reviews the proposals and selects the strongest ones for funding.

The campus has nearly 170 sustainability projects made possible by the green fee, which was instituted by a campuswide referendum in 2009, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

An environmental student organization led the initiative to adopt the $10 student fee in 2007.

Sustainability program coordinator Karen Schauwecker said the group drew the idea from other universities where students had paid a fee to help fund green initiatives on campus.

Sustainability coordinator Geory Kurtzhals said such student fees are becoming common at universities that are trying to push sustainability.

“When the students are engaged in these proposals, it enhances their university experience. It empowers them to make a difference on their corner of campus. And then how often is a student able to write a grant and have it funded while they’re learning at a university?” Kurtzhals said. “In addition to a practical learning experience, it’s a great resume builder,”

Money from the fee has helped pay for projects including four trash/recycling containers with solar-powered compacting mechanisms, which collect more than 200 pounds of bottles and cans over six months. That’s five times the usual amount of trash, said Schauwecker.

“What that does is it has a big cost savings in terms of labor,” Schauwecker said.