Mia Kuniholm

Date of Award

Spring 12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

Brandon Hoover


This study researches the effects of third-party certifications and memberships on decision-making pertaining to environmental practices at higher education institutions (HEIs). A survey containing up to 22 questions was sent to all colleges and universities on the Green Schools Listserv. The questions centered around the six main areas explored in the associated literature review—motivators, intra-institutional processes, benefits, public perception, best practices, and accountability.The study revealed that publicity, guidance/inspiration, accountability, and an institution’s own culture are strong motivators for HEIs to obtain and maintain certifications and memberships. Publicity is the most common motivation, though, as it directly correlates to growing financial capital at HEIs. All told, they prevent unsustainable action 67% of the time and prompt sustainable action 83% of the time, according to responders.