Posts Tagged ‘Billion Dollar Green Challenge’

By Stephen Mulkey, President, Unity College

Over the last decade, Unity College has made great strides in developing its sustainability portfolio by implementing numerous infrastructure projects and sustainable practices into our operations.  Our former president, Mitchell Thomashow, did much to enhance our commitment to sustainability (see our remarkable 90 percent passive dorm, TerraHaus, and our net zero multipurpose facility, Unity House).  Most recently, I have committed the College to participation as a founding member of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge developed by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, in partnership with the ACUPCC, Second Nature, AASHE, and others.   The green revolving fund established through our participation will provide Unity College with a source of recurring dollars to fund sustainability projects over the long term.

Unity House at Unity College

Equally important to our infrastructure improvements is our institutional commitment to teaching sustainability.  As an institution focused on environmental and natural resource sciences, we have renewed our development of a curriculum focused on Sustainability Science.  All of these efforts have built on a much longer tradition of engagement with local and regional partners committed to sustainable resource use.  Unity College has a long list of such partners including several conservation land trusts, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and a variety of commercial and noncommercial entities concerned with food and energy sustainability.

I believe in the connection between our effectiveness as a regional anchor for sustainability scholarship and practice, and our increasing public support and expanding donor base.  Our College Development office has weathered some lean times, but recently we have experienced a significant increase in donor activity, including a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor, which we announced in late August 2011.   (more…)

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A team of students and faculty from Alfred State College pose with electric car at AASHE 2011.*

The 2011 AASHE Conference, held in Pittsburgh Oct. 9-12, was a great success.  Second Nature was very involved, delivering plenary talks, panel sessions, and more, that highlighted our work supporting the ACUPCC.

The following members of the Second Nature staff, fellows and board were in attendance: Peter Bardaglio, Sarah Brylinsky, Tony Cortese, Georges Dyer, Bill Johnson, Nilda Mesa, Steve Muzzy, Toni Nelson, Andrea Putman, and Mitchell Thomashow.  As were our friends from the following ACUPCC Sponsor organizations: Organica, Siemens, Trane, Waste ManagementGreenerU and the American Meteorological Society.

Below are brief summaries of Second Nature’s main activities at the conference.  And here are links to presentations from some of Second Nature’s sessions:

Sunday, Oct. 9

Student Summit: The 2011 AASHE Student Summit hosted more than 600 attendees with a keynote from Bill McKibben founder of 350.org, and several motivating peer-to-peer presentation sessions.  Sarah Brylinsky represented the Second Nature team by facilitating breakout discussion groups for networking and action planning with the students, and provided an overview of the ACUPCC to students interested in climate action and sustainability education work on campus. Sarah also led a breakout networking session Tuesday evening with Steve Muzzy and members of the AASHE team for 30-40 students, focused explicitly on connecting students working on similar issues, including signing the ACUPCC and regional climate action.


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PA Treasurer Rob McCord announces the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund at Drexel

On Wednesday, at Drexel University, Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Rob McCord announced the launch of the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund.  Drexel, which recently signed the ACUPCC, will be the first university to participate in the Fund.  A description from the press release states:

The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund is a first-of-its-kind investment that can generate as much as $45 million in improvements at as many as 12 schools through projects creating more than 700 new jobs. Over the 20-year useful life of these projects, schools are expected to save $150 million in utility costs and reduce their carbon dioxide footprint by 1.4 million tons – or the equivalent annual emissions of 250,000 cars.

Blue Hill Partners will manage the Fund, which offers a promising model for ramping up energy efficiency efforts, and driving down energy consumption – saving money, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs.

This approach has great potential to help ACUPCC institutions meet their goals, and leverage the power of the critical mass the ACUPCC network represents. Working with trusted partners and ramping up scale can help reduce risk, and overcome some of the common barriers to making these projects happened, such as those discussed in our recent post on Innovations in Energy Efficiency Finance.

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which will officially launch next week will help individual institutions realize significant savings, and leverage returns for reinvestment in future projects by establishing Green Revolving Funds — an excellent strategy for moving closer to climate neutrality.  By scaling such a model up through consortia of many institutions leveraging the capital of many investors, higher education can go further, faster. These kinds of strategies for cost containment are crucial in minimizing tuition and improving access and affordability.

Read the full press release from the PA Campus Energy Efficiency Fund launch here.

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By Mark Orlowski, Founder & Executive Director, Sustainable Endowments Institute
(This article appears in the April, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


Facing rising energy costs and steep budget cuts, many colleges are grappling with how to finance urgently needed carbon emissions reductions. In response, more schools are tapping a new option for financing energy efficiency improvements, while earning a high return on investment. Their successful methods are revealed in Greening the Bottom Line: The Trend toward Green Revolving Funds on Campus.

The Cambridge-based Sustainable Endowments Institute (a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) published the report in collaboration with 11 partner organizations including the ACUPCC, AASHE, Second Nature, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership.

Based on the first survey ever conducted about green revolving funds (GRFs) in higher education, Greening the Bottom Line details how GRFs help cut operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions at 52 schools. The number of green revolving funds has more than quadrupled since 2008. A major incentive is the financial benefit–a median annual return on investment of 32 percent. The breakthrough in this approach is using the substantial cost savings to replenish the fund for investment in the next round of green upgrades. (more…)

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