U Oregon Hosts Summit on Ethical Endowments in the Age of Climate Change
The Investing in the Age of Climate Change symposium was organized by students, faculty, staff and the University of Oregon Foundation in early April 2017, largely in response to the UO Divest campaign. The gathering tackled the question of how climate change is affecting businesses and investors. The sessions were recorded and can be viewed for free.
Queen's U Belfast Announces Responsible Investment Policy
Following recent discussions with the Students’ Union, the university has updated its investment policy and will, with some caveats, seek to disinvest from companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels by 2025. Additionally, the university is implementing a comprehensive Carbon Management Strategy that aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
U Hong Kong Introduces Green Revolving Fund
(Hong Kong) The university's new Green Revolving Fund (GRF) supports improvement initiatives on campus with the aim of reducing carbon emissions. The fund will invest in energy-efficiency projects in university buildings, returning the utility and maintenance cost savings back to the fund for further projects. Initial funding of approximately $1 million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) will be allocated this year in the GRF’s pilot phase. The seed capital will fund two lighting projects.
Harvard U Takes Pause on Some Fossil Fuel Investments
Harvard Management Company’s head of natural resources Colin Butterfield said recently at a Business School event that Harvard is “pausing” investments in some fossil fuels. Butterfield added that Harvard indirectly invests in fossil fuels through outside funds, however he also said that Harvard's natural resources portfolio will not likely invest in the fossil fuel industry in the future because those funds do not perform that well financially.
U Maine System Announces ESG Investment Policy
Maine’s public universities celebrated Earth Day 2017 with an announcement of a change to their investment policy that gives consideration to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles when completing asset allocation and investment manager reviews. The system's managed investment pool's market value is currently $287 million. The universities also heralded the release of a report that details a 34 percent decline in total gross emissions across the seven-campus system over the last decade.
Chatham U Aims to Invest Endowment in Sustainable Energy
At a recent meeting of the university's investment committee of the board of trustees, members voted to approve two new investment opportunities that are specifically aimed at excluding fossil fuels and supporting sustainable energy. With those changes, 96 percent of its endowment will be fossil fuel-free. Currently, about five percent of the $80 million endowment fund is invested in fossil fuels.
Harvard U and U Pennsylvania Students Stage Divestment Protests
Student protesters at both universities recently held sit-ins asking administrators to divest from fossil fuels. Harvard students are demanding that school officials divest its endowment from the coal industry, while Penn students are seeking immediate divestment from coal and tar sands, and full divestment from fossil fuel corporations within six months. In previous responses to student divestment advocates, officials at both schools have indicated that while they share the students’ concerns about climate change, they disagree on the strategy and will not be divesting money from the fossil industry.
MIT Creates Sustainability Incubator Fund
The new Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT community members to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management and design. It is intended to support the generation of breakthrough sustainability solutions.
Umeå U Ends Fossil Fuel Investments
(Sweden): The decision to end all university investments in fossil fuels was made in December 2016 and contributed to the university being nearly fossil free at the beginning of 2017. A small portion of investments remain that will be phased out this spring. The university's investment policy is now being revised to include a statement prohibiting investments in fossil fuels.
Columbia U Announces Coal Divestment Plans
The university's board of trustees has voted to support a recommendation from its Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing to divest from companies deriving more than 35 percent of their revenue from thermal coal production and to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Program.
U Bristol Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment & Carbon Reduction Plans
(U.K.): The university's board of trustees has agreed to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018, and actively manage other areas of its portfolio of energy investments, including those in oil and gas, to achieve a material reduction in carbon emissions from these investments. This will include investing in companies at the leading edge of carbon management and in companies with strong, deliverable commitments to improving their carbon efficiency, as well as a greater investment focus on non-fossil fuel energy providers.
Kings College London Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
(U.K.): Sharing concern with the Students' Union about the dangers of human-induced climate change, the college recently committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of the year 2022, to be carbon neutral by 2025, and to increase its commitment to investments with socially responsible benefits from the present goal of 15 percent to an aspiration of at least 40 percent by 2025. With this agreement, the direct action campaign that called on the college to divest from fossil fuels drew to a close.
Barnard College Endowment to Divest From Climate Change Deniers
The college's board of trustees recently voted to divest from energy companies that deny climate change. The board approved the measure saying the college will “distinguish between companies based on their behavior and willingness to transition to a cleaner economy.” Barnard students initially pressed for a broad divestment pledge before proposing a more limited measure that would target only those fossil fuel companies that seek to deny climate science or thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of global warming.
U British Columbia Starts $10M Sustainability Investment Fund
Donors now have the option to give to the university's new Sustainable Future Fund, a fund for low-carbon emission and high environmental, social and governance equity funds. Seeded with $10 million, the fund was launched as a result of a responsible investment policy for its endowment, approved by the university's board of governors in 2015.
U California Divests $475M from Wells Fargo Contracts
Following continued advocacy from the Afrikan Black Coalition, a Black student union, the university has discontinued $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo citing amoral practices and unfair treatment of black and brown people as the reason. The decision comes on the heels of several cities and states terminating relationships with Wells Fargo.
Colorado State U Commits to 100% Renewable Energy
The university president recently signed a pledge committing the university to be powered from 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, after more than 4,300 students, faculty and staff had signed a petition encouraging the university to consider the pledge. The university says that the decision to invest in renewable energy is due to the projected increase in energy prices over the next 20 years.
U California, Irvine Converts Bus Fleet to All Electric
The student-funded and -operated Anteater Express shuttle service is acquiring 20 all-electric buses to the tune of $15 million. The buses will roll onto campus for the 2017-18 academic year, joining a hydrogen electric bus, to provide more than 2 million pollution-free rides annually. Undergraduates voted to pay up to $40 per quarter to the Associated Students of UCI to cover the bus purchase.
Red Deer College to Receive $4.75M to Boost Energy Infrastructure & Training
Under the a Canadian federal government investment fund, the college will receive more than $4.75 million for two projects, and it will match the funding, for a total investment of $9.5 million that it is allocating toward upgrades to the campus, and training and research opportunities focused on alternative energy production processes.
U Melbourne Unveils Four-Year Sustainability Plan
(Australia): The university’s first institution-wide Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 indicates the university will become carbon neutral before 2030, achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021 and will now report annually on the institution’s sustainability impact and performance. The plan also calls for the establishment of a sustainable investment framework for evaluating and managing material climate change risk, and will set out the criteria for divestment from and investment in listed equities.
SUNY New Paltz Awards $1.4M Toward Energy Projects
The university's energy management coordinator organized awards totaling more than $1.4 million for four energy projects: a solar energy storage system, thermal blankets to wrap heating piping in the mechanical rooms of buildings across campus to conserve energy and reduce heat loss, LED lighting upgrades and implement a summer demand response program.
Oregon State U Board Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels
Responding to calls from students and faculty concerned about global warming, the university's board of trustees voted recently to dump the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry. The decision means the state treasurer will begin selling off about $6.7 million in securities issued by fossil fuel companies, which represent less than 2 percent of the $516 million currently held in the fund.
Maryland Gov. Announces $7.5M for U Maryland 'Green Energy Institute'
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced his environmental agenda for the coming legislative session that included allocation of $7.5 million to the University of Maryland to create a green energy research center. The mission of the Green Energy Institute will be to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations and deployment solutions in Maryland.
Michigan State U Receives $2M for Community Partnerships
The university's Office of K-12 Outreach will use a $2.1 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to work with the city of Flint, Michigan. The funding will be used in Flint Community Schools on four strategies that include training the district's managers on the effective use of data and strengthening community relations.
NY Times Covers Influence of Corporate Funding on Higher Ed Research
Recently published in The New York Times, the article highlights the experience of three professors at different universities–University of Exeter in England, West Virginia University and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich–to examine the ways agrochemical companies influenced scientific inquiry.
Emory U Awards Micro-Grants to Sustainability Projects
The general Sustainability Incentives Fund allows students, faculty and staff at the university to request up to $3,000 to complete a sustainability project. Recently awarded projects cover the areas of energy, climate, public engagement, grounds, transportation, buildings and waste. All proposals were reviewed by a committee of students, faculty and staff engaged with sustainability programs and practices on campus.
Georgia State U Receives $160K Grant for Parking Deck Lighting Improvements
After receiving an energy audit and report of a university-owned parking deck from an Atlanta-based, energy nonprofit, the university will use a matching grant of $160,340, for a total of $320,680, to retrofit or replace existing metal halide and fluorescent lighting with LED lighting, install occupancy sensors and raise light levels to increase safety. In total, the project is expected to reduce site energy consumption by 52 percent, a cost avoidance of nearly $55,000 annually.
Southern Illinois U Green Fund Supports Lactation Room
The room, which will be centrally located on the university library’s third floor, is meant to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff who need to breastfeed or pump between classes and study sessions. The student-led project started in the spring of 2014 after a community nutrition class conducted a needs assessment study of the campus. An independent study class that is working to complete the project.
Michigan State U Receives $2.3M to Diversify Economics Profession
The American Economic Association chose the university, after a national competition, to house the two-month residential program until 2020. The university has received more than $2.3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and other organizations to continue operating an economics-training program for undergraduates designed to increase diversity in economics doctoral programs and professions.
U Washington to Receive $210M for Its 'Population Health Initiative'
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced its $210 million gift to the university's Population Health Initiative, which aims to bring together the research and resources of the university and its partners to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world. The gift will fund construction of a new building to house the Department of Global Health, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and portions of the School of Public Health, all of which are currently spread across Seattle.
Amherst College Sets Up Green Revolving Fund with $2M Gift from Alumnus
The college recently joined the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, an initiative of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, after Prince Albert Grimaldi ’81 of Monaco gifted $2 million toward the establishment of a fund to support operational and facilities environmental initiatives. The overarching purpose of the green revolving fund is to aid the college in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing the resources to implement energy conservation measures.
Boston U to Avoid Investments in Carbon-Intensive Fuels
The university's board of trustees recently approved a Climate Action Plan that includes avoiding investments in companies that extract coal and tar sands oil. Additionally, the board calls for the university's endowment investment office to include managers with expertise in renewable energy and technology.
Smith College Invests $8.5M of Endowment in Sustainability
In her annual welcome letter, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney announced the college will invest $8.5 million of its endowment in a private equity fund focused on energy efficiency and sustainable manufacturing processes. McCartney's welcome letter also mentions a commitment to a just and inclusive campus and highlights a few key events during the upcoming year to build a campus of inclusion.
U Oregon Adopts ESG Investment Considerations
The university's chief investment officer recently mentioned its new environmental, social and governance considerations for investments, which state that carbon-based investments will expire without renewal. The investment management statement also indicates the university owns no investments in coal.
North Central College Signs Billion Dollar Challenge
The challenge encourages colleges and universities to invest a combined total of $1 billion in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency and other sustainability project improvements. North Central created its own green revolving fund, the Cardinal Sustainability Fund, in 2014, as a means to provide funding for energy efficiency projects that reduce energy consumption on campus. The money saved gets reinvested in future sustainability projects.
Three Universities Participate in Voluntary Carbon Offset Market
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ball State University and Southern Oregon University sold credits produced through carbon-reducing activities to help finance and further their carbon neutrality work on campus. Made possible by Second Nature's Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program, the sale to BP Target Neutral generated over $1 million.
Hope College Adds 330 LED Lights to Fieldhouse
Replacing 540 compact fluorescent fixtures with 330 LED ones and dimmers was $200,000 and has been estimated to cut the college's power use by 80-kilowatts per month. The college will receive $16,000 in energy-efficiency rebates.
Business Officers Discuss Sustainability
Business leaders gathered recently after the NACUBO annual meeting to explore how to preserve the core mission and values while ensuring a more sustainable future. The content and discussion was focused on building integrated strategies for affordability, diversity and sustainability for higher education to fulfill its critical role in meeting society's needs.
U Massachusetts Accepts $1M to Support Resiliency Plan
Recognized for its multi-campus, hazard mitigation plan, the university recently won a $1 million grant from the state that will be used to purchase emergency generators in preparation and response to natural threats.
Energy Department Funds $2.1M Solar Training Program
The Solar Training Network that includes the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) aims to improve access to solar training, resources and careers, and seeks to increase the quality and diversity of the solar workforce and establish national training standards. The $2.1 million program is led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Northeastern U to Invest $25M in Environmental Sustainability
The university recently announced it will direct $25 million of its endowment, currently valued at approximately $700 million, to investments with a focus on sustainability, including clean energy, renewables, green building, and sustainable water and agriculture. Implementation will take place over five years.
Brown U Launches Donor Sustainability Fund
With the help of students, the university recently launched the Brown University Sustainable Investment Fund that gives donors who wish to support the university a sustainability-focused giving option structured to invest in companies that meet high standards of environmental, social and governance practices.
Emory U to Launch $1.5M Sustainability Revolving Fund
The soon-to-launch $1.5 million, self-replenishing program will be used to fund capital-intensive energy and water efficiency projects. Made possible by a $500,000 grant from The Kendeda Fund and matched with $1 million from the university, Emory also joins the Billion Dollar Green Challenge led by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.
U Maryland System to Direct Endowment Away from Fossil Fuels
Following a student-led movement to direct more of its portfolio toward clean energy, the University System of Maryland Foundation, which oversees the state university system's $1 billion endowment, said that it will stop investing directly in the 200 coal, oil and gas-related companies on a list complied by Fossil Free Indexes. Students at University of Maryland, College Park began the push to divest from fossil fuels in 2013, circulating a petition with nearly 600 signatures from within and outside the university.
Austin CC Receives $150K for Solar System
EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) recently announced the community college Highland Campus Library as the winner of the grant that will cover up to $150,000 of the cost of installing a solar array, allowing the university to reduce its electricity expenditures.
Becker College Invests Full Endowment to Benefit Society
The trustees of the college recently announced they have officially mandated that all investments in their endowment should generate a positive impact on society, as well as a targeted financial return. The completion date for the portfolio transformation of the school’s $5 million endowment is June 2017.