Got Ideas?

Do you have a great idea to help green Brown? We want to hear from you!

Students have been instrumental in proposing and gathering support for many of the sustainability efforts on campus.  Well-crafted student initiatives have been supported by the administration in the past and have played a role in many of the most successful campaigns on campus including the GHG goals, the Beyond the Bottle Campaign and the Real Food Initiative.   Here are some important steps you should take in order to create a successful project, proposal or campaign.

  1. Do your research! – This is essential to getting the administrative support you’ll need to move your project forward.  Having a solid background in the topic will make you feel confident in future meetings and will help gain the respect of key stakeholders.  Ask yourself:

    • Have I read the Annual Sustainability Report? – Much of the information students ask for can be found in that report!
    • Does Brown already have something like this? – Building off of and collaborating with existing projects builds support. 
    • Are other students working on this? – Check out an emPower meeting on Sundays from 8-10pm in Wilson 101.  
    • Are other schools doing it? – Keeping up with peer institutions is important and knowing that a project has gone well somewhere else can help create confidence that it is a good idea here too! 
  2. Do the math! – Keep in mind that the people you will be presenting this information to are administrators and engineers.  They like numbers! They will want to know how much it costs and what the potential savings are.  A strong proposal will include this information.  To put together a strong case, consider:
    • Do we have the data I need? – If you do need to contact someone to get that data, be specific in what you ask for! These are busy people and the less you ask for the more likely you are to get it!
    • What assumptions do I need to make? – It’s fine, and necessary, to make some assumptions in your calculations.  Just make sure to clearly outline what your assumptions are (i.e. - $0.13/kWh, 5 hours a day of use, $35 for installation, etc.) and try to set up your calculations so you can easily make changes to these assumptions.  Make sure your assumptions are logical and conservative to strengthen your argument.
    • Can I get some help? – Contact our Academic & Student Engagement Coordinator  at
  3. Create a proposal – write up a document that is  comprehensive and concise and answers the questions:
    • Why is this important?
    • Why should we do it now?
    • What do you need, and from whom, to get this project done?
  4. Talk to the right people – Share your proposal with key stakeholders and start building support! Remember, it’s better to build support from the bottom than getting shut down from the top! Start by sharing your proposal with key staff within a department who can help you strengthen and improve it, before you go straight to the director of a department! This will show you have some organizational savvy and are dedicated to the process.  See the tips below.

  5. Stick with it and have a plan for the future! – Projects and decision making in an inclusive university like Brown take time! You probably won’t be able to get a project done in one semester. Make sure you have a long-term implementation and institutional memory plan to keep moving things forward even if you go abroad or graduate.


Tips for reaching out to stakeholders:

  • Keep your e-mails short and concise.  Use descriptive subject lines and be clear about what you want and the time frame in which you want it. The more you ask for the longer it will take someone to compile. 
  • Think about whom your allies are – Start by sharing your proposal with key staff who can help you strengthen and improve it.  Lower-level staff might have more time to meet with you and can help advocate for your proposal if it gets passed up to a department head or VP.