Prioritizing Sustainability Projects with Low Market Value in Institutions of Higher Education: a green roof case study




Storm, Lenna A.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis adds to the body of knowledge available to decision makers in higher education by presenting a framework for why valuable sustainability projects are often not pursued on university campuses, and offers one approach to overcoming the perceived financial obstacles for making investments in sustainability projects. The framework is tested and verified through the evaluation of the benefits and costs of a green roof case study at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It is concluded that the traditional approach to cost-benefit analysis is woefully insufficient at assessing the true value of sustainability projects in higher education. However, with the inclusion of valuing the environmental and social benefits of these projects, cost-benefit analysis not only becomes more accurate, but the process itself can catalyze latent interest in the use of sustainability projects to enhance teaching and research. Therefore, establishing standardized processes and communication methods to support the conduct of a costbenefit analysis of any sustainability project in higher education are critical components to ensuring the success of the exercise.



Green roof, Sustainability in higher education, Non-market benefit, Market failure, Information asymmetry