Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns on the Rise
Fossil fuel divestment campaigns are active at about 50 U.S. campuses , and many more are expected to launch in coming weeks. Earlier this month, the Board of Trustees at Unity College voted to divest their endowment from fossil fuel industries. . (And last year Hampshire College (MA) passed a sustainable investment policy that effectively divested endowment funds from fossil fuels.) More recently, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced 72 percent of voting students want Harvard University to divest its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels. The divestment movement has increasingly received national exposure due in part to Bill McKibben’s 21-city Do the Math tour. A recent Boston Globe op-ed by McKibben and Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, calls on colleges to make no new investments in fossil fuels, “wind down” current investments in five years, and invest in increasing their own energy efficiency for a greater return.
St. Clair County CC Receives Greenforce Mini Grant
The college has used a $3,000 Greenforce Initiative Innovation Mini Grant to help produce three videos showcasing how it uses green technology to educate students. The videos include how students study bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs, solar hot water, heat and electrical systems, wind turbine technology, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
Georgetown U Receives $20M Environmental Studies Gift
(U.S.): The university received a $20 million donation to support environmental study initiatives. The gift will endow three faculty chairs in the sciences, fund research grant proposals, and support the creation of an environment initiative program center.
Madurai Kamaraj U Seeks Funding for Energy Initiatives
(India): The university has submitted a proposal to the University Grants Commission and the state government to receive funding to implement energy-saving measures on its 700-acre campus. The university has proposed to install solar panels to generate power and to perform an energy audit.
U West Indies Partnership to Create Renewable Energy Studies
(Barbados): The university and Sol, a Caribbean oil company, have signed a three-year agreement that will provide funding for engineering, social sciences and technology students. The partnership will focus on promoting renewable energy studies, funding biofuels research, and growing leadership in the region.
Connecticut Colleges to Share Energy Efficiency Loan
Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority has announced that it is lending $1 million for “Campus Efficiency Now”, a new program aimed at advancing energy efficiency and promoting cleaner energy for the state's independent colleges. The Campus Efficiency Now pilot program will enable the participating colleges to move forward with energy saving measures with no upfront funding by the college.
Unity College Board of Trustees Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels
The Board of Trustees has voted to divest the college endowment from fossil fuels. President Mulkey said in a statement, “the Trustees have looked at the college’s finances in the context of our ethical obligation to our students, and they have chosen to make a stand.”
EPA Provides Support for Plastic Free Campuses Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded funding to Plastic Pollution Coalition and four other organizations to expand the Plastic Free Campuses program to the University of California campuses at Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. A key objective of the program is to reduce plastic pollution at the source.
Pennsylvania State U Receives Grant for Biofuel Research
The university’s College of Agriculture Sciences has received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research biofuel-based economic development. The project will promote the use of marginal farmland and abandoned lands so that these crops will not compete with resources for food production.
Bristol CC Fall River Awarded Renewable Energy Grant
(U.S.): A $600,000 renewable energy grant has been awarded to help fund the institution’s wind turbine project that will meet 25 percent of the campus’s energy needs annually. The grant is one of three awarded to state community colleges through the Department of Energy Resources’ Leading by Example program.
Lord Fairfax CC Receives Grant for Sustainability Initiatives
(U.S.): The college has received a $25,000 Dominion Foundation Higher Education Partnership Grant to implement sustainability and green practices on campus. The grant will enable Student Environmental Sustainability Committees to implement features such as rain barrels, solar panels, motion detection lighting, recycling bins, and other projects identified by the students, faculty and staff. The students will also hold community events such as fluorescent bulb recycling, community shred events, and workshops.
UC Santa Barbara Receives $50 M Grant for Energy Research
(U.S.): The university has received a $50 million private donation to support energy efficiency research and engineering programs. About half the money will be used to construct a building to house the Institute for Energy Efficiency, an interdisciplinary research center.
Western Kentucky Receives Grant to Market Local Food
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the university’s Office of Sustainability and the Community Farmers Market (CMU) more than $82,000 in grant funds to help promote the "Local Food for Everyone" program. The two organizations will collaborate on a project that serves as a tool for educating regional farmers and consumers about the variety of locally grown foods.
Syracuse U Receives EPA Grant to Support Environmental Education
The Syracuse Center of Excellence Center for Sustainable Community Solutions will use the $130,000 grant to award approximately 30 grants to schools and community organizations to support projects to reduce the run-off of polluted rainwater and promote municipal waste reduction, recycling and composting. The program is designed to improve connections between organizations and school districts, encourage development of community-based projects and provide career development for students.
U Arizona Introduces Mini Sustainability Grants
In an effort to promote small sustainability projects on campus, the Green Fund Committee has set up a new mini-grants program intended to fund small-scale projects led by students and faculty. Each project has a funding cap of $1,500. The Green Fund Committee has allocated a total of $20,000 per fiscal year to be used for these projects.
Humboldt State U Receives Grant to Expand Recycling Operations
The university is one of 13 recipients of the 2012/2013 Beverage Container Recycling grant, awarded by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The $76,265 grant will be used to purchase new recycling bins and signs, and to fund an outreach and education campaign to increase recycling.
Green Mountain College Receives Grant for Renewable Energy Lab
(U.S.): The college has received a grant of $15,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation for the college’s renewable energy and ecological design (REED) program to develop a digital fabrication laboratory called FabLab. The lab will provide students, local high school students and adults with the infrastructure to acquire skills using digital fabrication technologies.
Marietta College Receives Grant to Add Sustainable Living Option
(U.S.): The $25,000 Higher Education Grant from the Dominion Foundation will be used to convert an existing dormitory into a more sustainable living environment. Initial plans call for solar panels and energy produced by a wind turbine. Students participating in the energy systems minor will be likely candidates to live in the dorm.
Michigan State U Launches Sustainability Project Funding
(U.S.): The Office of Sustainability has launched Be Spartan Green Student Project Fund, a program that will provide financial support for students to explore solutions to sustainability challenges at the university. Up to $5,000 will be awarded to each selected project.
RIT Creates Center for Sustainable Packaging
(U.S.): Gifts totaling $2.2 million will help to create the Center for Sustainable Packaging, an education and research center dedicated to the development and use of sustainable packaging. The center will be a testing ground for ideas and solutions for students, researchers, faculty and corporate partners that are interested in sustainable packaging.
U Minnesota Receives $13 M to Focus on Sustainable Research
(U.S.): The Department of Chemistry has received $13.1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund two centers that could potentially reduce carbon emissions and make solar energy more efficient. Both centers will focus on theoretical chemistry to sequester carbon dioxide and develop programs to find better ways to capture solar energy.
DOE Announces University-led Solar Power Projects
As part of its SunShot Initiative, which aims to drive solar energy to be cost-competitive with other energy sources by 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced new investments totaling $10 million over five years for two university-led projects to advance solar power system technologies. The University of California, Los Angeles will lead a team of researchers from Yale University and the University of California, Berkley to investigate liquid metals as potential heat transfer fluids. The University of Arizona will partner with researchers from Arizona State University and Georgia Tech to develop and demonstrate new, molten salt-based fluids as possible alternatives to traditional heat transfer fluids.
Arizona State U to Receives $3 M for Alternative Energy Program
The National Science Foundation grant will go toward the development of a doctoral program in energy and establishing the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Solar Utilization Network (SUN) program. Focusing on biological conversion, photovoltaics, solar thermal and sustainable policy, the program will provide the groundwork for the Global Institute of Sustainability's planned doctoral program by 2016.
Bellevue College Awarded $815K for Campus Energy Makeover
The Washington State Department of Commerce grant will go toward campus-wide lighting retrofits, low-flow water fixtures and HVAC improvements. The project will also include a solar array and an energy-monitoring dashboard, both funded in partnership with the student environmental sustainability fund.
UC Santa Cruz Receives USDA Grant for Organic Farming Curriculum
A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to teach organic farming techniques to students enrolled in the university’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems apprenticeship program. The grant will also allow the Ecological Farming Association, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and the California Certified Organic Farmers to collaborate on the apprenticeship project.
Hartwick College Receives Watershed Education Grant
The Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies has received a three-year, $201,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to engage faculty and students in efforts to increase knowledge, understanding and action in order to protect and maintain the Upper Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
Southern Oregon U Receives Grant to Explore Biomass Generation
The $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the university to determine the feasibility of using wood pellets, slash and other byproducts from nearby forests to generate heat and electricity on its Ashland campus. The study will also determine whether the recommended 1.2 megawatt biomass co-generation system will meet Department of Environmental Quality and other regulatory agency requirements. If built, the power plant could generate 100 percent of the current campus electrical need.
Catawba College Creates Clean Energy Revolving Fund
Over the next four years, the college will set aside $400,000 to provide the principal for a new green revolving fund that will loan money to finance on-campus investments in clean energy and efficiency projects. The college has also joined the Sustainable Endowments Institute's (SEI) Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which promotes turning energy efficiency projects into long-term financial investments.
Higher Ed Endowments Lagging in Sustainable Investments
Once a leader in adopting environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in their investments, higher education endowments in the U.S. are now lagging behind mainstream institutional investors, reports a recent GreenBiz.com article. Informed by a new, joint report from the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute and Tellus Institute, the article says one indicator of the failure of college and university endowments to keep up is the absence of these institutions as signatories to key institutional networks like the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment and the Council of Institutional Investors. U.S. college and university endowments control more than $400 billion in combined assets.
U Texas El Paso to Develop Green Energy Manufacturing Courses
A $2.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant will fund a five-year collaboration between the university's Department of Industrial, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering and Drexel University that will integrate green energy manufacturing courses into the curriculum at both universities. The courses will incorporate technology-based and real-world problem solving.
Concordia U Receives $1.6 M for Renewable Energy Research
The university’s Institute in Energy, Water and Sustainability has received a $1,643,700 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to train approximately 20 students a year in research areas including the production of renewable energy and the optimization of water usage in industry.
SUNY Canton Receives $6.6 M for Wind Turbine Project
Funded by the New York Power Authority, the university will design and, if approved, construct a 2.8-megawatt wind turbine. The project is expected to provide up to one-third of the electricity needed to power the campus and provide educational opportunities for students.
Cornell U Announces Funding for Sustainable Projects
Provided by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s academic venture fund, the university has announced $735,000 in awards for 10 cross-disciplinary sustainability science research projects. Winning proposals include the sustainable production of green vegetable crops in sub-Saharan Africa; improving energy costs and scalability of algal biofuels; developing species-specific and environmentally friendly insect control; energy harvesting from high-density, small-scale turbines in urban areas; assessing mycotoxin exposure in pregnant Zimbabwean women; and climate protection as a driver for job creation for New York state.
Duke U Adopts Investment Guidelines on Conflict Minerals
A student-led effort to tie the university’s investment guidelines to the issue of conflict minerals has received the backing of the Board of Trustees. A resolution was approved that authorizes the university’s investment arm to adopt a proxy voting guideline for investments in which the university has direct ownership. The guideline stipulates that the university will vote in favor of "well-written and reasonable shareholder resolutions that ask companies for reports on their policies and efforts regarding their avoidance of conflict minerals and conflict mineral derivatives."
Energy Department Announces $56 M toward Solar Research
Spanning 13 states for a total of $56 million over three years, the research projects will be conducted in partnership with universities, private industry and national laboratories. The awards support the department's SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar power cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.
Report Calls for Sustained Investment in Higher Education
In the face of major challenges including decreased state funding, a recent National Research Council report argues that a larger commitment is needed from state and federal governments in public and private universities. Including policy principles like revitalizing and redefining the partnership between the federal government, state governments, research universities, and businesses, "Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security" calls for a larger commitment from state and federal governments in exchange for greater efficiency and more openness to collaboration with businesses on the part of universities.
6 Students Awarded Community Sustainability Fellowships
Furman University (South Carolina), Duke University (North Carolina) and Vanderbilt University (Tennessee) will share a $75,000 grant from the Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation to support student fellowships in community sustainability, research and service. Two undergraduate Duke fellows will work with the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative to install energy efficiency upgrades in 15 local homes; two Furman fellows will help implement a Sustainability Action Plan for the City of Greenville and work with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to advance sustainable forestry; and two Vanderbilt fellows will provide research and recommendations for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in the Office of Sustainable Practices, and work with the Green Initiatives division of TDEC to create a Governor’s Sustainability Statement.
Texas A&M Announces Green Fee Projects
(U.S.): The university has announced $335,000 in awards for campus sustainability projects including the installation of bike racks, high-tech recycling bins and more water-bottle filling stations; the creation of an educational organic agriculture facility that will use solar and rainwater technologies; and a project to recapture and preserve open green spaces. The funding comes from a $3 per semester student green fee.
U Plymouth Receives Funding to Start Local Food-Growing Network
(U.K.): The National Union of Students has received more than £260,000 in funding from Local Food, a £57.5 million program supported by the Big Lottery Fund, which provides funding for projects working to make local food more accessible and affordable to communities. The money will be spent on creating a network of 18 new local food-growing projects on campuses across the country.
Indiana U-Purdue U Indianapolis Awards 2012 Green Grants
The university’s Office of Sustainability has awarded a total of $46,000 in Greening IUPUI grants. The nine projects, including native and urban gardens, increasing sustainability-related educational opportunities and developing sustainable best practices, will begin this spring.
Slippery Rock U Receives $15K for Energy Dashboards
The West Penn Power Sustainability Fund grant will enable the university to purchase six energy dashboard touch screens to track energy consumption in residence halls and act as an energy conservation education and awareness tool. If successful in meeting a 3 percent energy usage savings projection, the university could save an estimated $1.5 million over 10 years.
Southern Alberta Institute of Tech to Debut Green Design Lab
With an $800,000 grant from the federal College-Industry Innovation Fund, the institute will construct a new lab from reclaimed shipping containers for environmentally friendly construction research. The lab will include solar thermal and photovoltaic systems, a green roof and rainwater collection basin.
NSF Provides $3.3 M for Solar Energy Research, Curriculum
(U.S.): The National Science Foundation has given $3.3 million to the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Texas at El Paso to establish a materials science and engineering program that will focus on solar energy research. The partnership will give students the opportunity to pursue photovoltaic materials research at either campus.
U California Berkeley Announces 2012 TGIF Awards
Twenty-two projects will receive a total of $308,630 from The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) this year, the most funding awarded in one grant year. TGIF provides funding for projects that reduce the university's negative impact on the environment and make the campus more sustainable. This year’s amount puts TGIF over the million dollar mark in total grant funding awarded over five years.
Slippery Rock U Announces Latest Round of Green Grant Funds
Four new Green Fund grants totaling $39,590 will go toward the purchase of energy monitors for residence halls; the installation of an electric meter to measure the effectiveness of energy initiatives in campus buildings; and fund two projects titled “Harnessing Human Energy” and "2012 Campus Conversation on Climate Change and Regional Policy: An Exercise in Deliberative Democracy."
U Pennsylvania Announces Green Fund Award Recipients
Ranging from a comprehensive recycling center within the School of Engineering and Applied Science to a behavior change project focusing on water conservation, the university's Green Campus Partnership has named five sustainability projects that will receive spring funding.
U Michigan Planet Blue Announces Student Project Grants
Out of 22 concept proposals submitted for consideration, four student-led sustainability projects have received financial support from the university’s Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund. Selected projects include a reusable containers program, bicycle repair station, sustainable food kiosk and a student-run campus farm.