U North Carolina Asheville Begins Using ESG Investing Lens
Following a multi-year effort initiated by UNC Asheville student leaders, the university's Board of Trustees recently approved using environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria for approximately 10 percent (roughly $5 million) of its endowment that will be divested from fossil fuel investments.
U New Hampshire Places $37M in ESG Investments
The university foundation recently completed the transition of 16 percent of its investable assets—$37 million—into ESG-qualified (environmental, social and governance) investments. This latest transition in UNH’s sustainable investing practices has been guided by the Committee on Investor Responsibility (CIR), established in 2017. The university has also dedicated $5 million to community impact investing.
Doane U Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
At the beginning of May, the university’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to end all future investments in fossil fuel companies. Doane currently holds 1.6 percent of its endowment in two direct oil and gas investments.
U British Columbia Doubles Endowment Portion Divested From Fossil Fuels
The UBC Board of Governors recently approved an additional $25 million contribution to the main fund in the Sustainable Futures Pool, which is composed of low-carbon and “green” investments. Representing less than one percent of the university’s total investment portfolio, the Sustainable Futures Pool is performing at a higher rate than the endowment as a whole.
Salem State U Receives $57K in Fund Holdings for Divesting
The Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund was established in 2014 to collectively pressure universities to divest from fossil fuels. The fund allowed parents, alumni, faculty, staff and students to leverage their donations to help participating universities divest. The fund held and invested donations until a school froze any new endowment investments in fossil fuel companies and divested within five years from current holdings of fossil fuel companies. Salem State University was the only institution out of 30 to fully divest from fossil fuels. The university will use the funds to establish two endowed student scholarships – a climate justice and social justice undergraduate award.
Concordia U Issues “Sustainable Bond” for New Green Building
The $25-million bond will help finance a new Science Hub that is expected to receive LEED Gold certification. Slated for completion in fall 2019, the building is projected to be 35 percent more efficient than an average non-certified research facility.
Sorority Pledges $10M to 96 HBCUs
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, in partnership with the Educational Advancement Foundation, recently announced the establishment of the AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund. Toward the end of February, presidents from 32 of the participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive the first installment of the endowment gift in the amount of $50,000. The fund was created in an effort to assist in the financial stability of HBCUs.
U Minnesota Receives $5M for Sustainability Research
A $5 million gift from the Ecolab Foundation will support environmental sustainability research and education. A cornerstone of the Ecolab Foundation gift is $2 million to establish an endowed chair for the Institute on the Environment. The foundation will also invest more than $1 million in undergraduate scholarships in science, engineering and related environmental and sustainability-focused majors and minors, providing renewable awards of $7,500 for diverse and talented students beginning in their sophomore year. Through the Institute on the Environment, the gift also will support immersive student experiences with global and local partners focused on energy, water quality and supply, sustainable development and public health.
Sterling College Accepts $350K to Establish Ecology Center
Sterling College recently announced the new Robert B. Annis Center for Ecology, thanks to a $350,000 grant from the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation. Construction will begin in spring 2019, and $50,000 of the award will be for scholarships for ecology students.
Gonzaga U Trustees Approve Socially Responsible Investment Strategy
At its December meeting, the university's Board of Trustees approved approximately $10 million to be invested in new funds involved in research and activities that reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, promote social responsibility and seek solutions to climate change. Under the new approach, Gonzaga also will introduce new tools to measure and evaluate current and prospective fund investments against socially responsible investing criteria, and use such tools and criteria to inform decision-making.
Stanford U Adopts Investment Responsibility Framework
Two statements were recently adopted by the university's Board of Trustees: an Ethical Investment Framework, which seeks to actively incorporate ethical considerations into its investment decisions, and an updated Statement on Investment Responsibility, which is a statement of the trustee's view of the responsible investment of the university's endowment and the “abhorrent and ethically unjustifiable” conditions under which an investment should be excluded from it. Stanford is also committing funding to expand academic offerings in the area of responsible investing and governance.
Brandeis U Adopts Fossil Fuel Divestment Policies
The university's Board of Trustees recently adopted policies that balance the university's climate-related concerns with its fiduciary responsibility. The university will make no direct investments of endowment funds with companies whose principle business is mining coal for energy; existing investments will end with the funds' typical life cycles and then will be suspended for a three-year period; and the university's investment bodies will increase their focus on finding investments in renewable energy sources and technology. Additionally, the provost and president will prioritize support for Brandeis faculty and researchers working on climate change and related issues through the provost research fund.
College William & Mary Announces 2019-2024 Sustainability Plan
As part of the the university’s first long-range, comprehensive Sustainability Plan, the university has signed onto the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge, pledging to grow its green revolving fund for environmental efforts from $200,000 to $1 million by 2025. Other components of the W&M Sustainability Plan include a commitment to creating a climate action plan by 2020 and exploring renewable energy for the campus. Individual departmental efforts include elimination of single-use plastics by dining services and implementation of electric vehicle charging stations by transportation.
Second Nature Receives $90K From Ray C. Anderson Fdn
The NextGen Committee of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded a $90,000 grant to Second Nature, which will be used to provide resources for colleges and universities that have signed Second Nature's Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments and are ready to move from the initial administrative commitment stage to measurable climate action within the next calendar year. Second Nature aims to enable multiple universities to complete a large-scale, aggregated procurement of clean energy in 2019 through a power purchase agreement.
Whitman College Creates Plan to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The Whitman College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new investment policy that directs the college to begin reducing ownership in fossil fuels and to not invest in any companies listed on the Carbon Underground 200. This action was taken in response to a proposal submitted by the student-led organization Divest Whitman.
U Rochester, RIT & Suffolk County CC to Receive $1M Each for Clean Energy Projects
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that New York State will award nearly $1 million each to the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Suffolk County Community College as part of the Energy to Lead Competition. The competition challenges New York colleges and universities across the state to develop plans for local clean energy projects on campus and in their communities.
Seattle U Trustees Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The university's Board of Trustees recently voted to adopt a pair of recommendations that will divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels within the next five years. The plan calls for a 50 percent reduction in exposure to companies owning fossil fuel reserves in the marketable portion of the endowment portfolio by Dec. 31, 2020, and full divestment by June 30, 2023.
Yale U Adopts Policy Against Investing in Assault Weapon Retailers
The university's recently adopted policy regarding the investment of its endowment says that it will not invest in any retail outlets that market and sell assault weapons to the general public. The decision was based on the recommendation from its Corporation and Advisory Committees on Investor Responsibility.
Danville Area CC Sustainability Land Learning Lab Receives Grant
The $20,000 gift from the Arconic Foundation includes funds to improve the honey bee project with new bees and hives, bee suits, and honey harvest equipment. Another portion of the funds will provide tools to aid in production and curriculum such as a solar powered remote weather station and agricultural drone. Finally, the grant provides funds for equipment to improve working conditions at the lab – a utility vehicle and gas generator.
U Manchester Joins Principles for Responsible Investment
(U.K.) In joining the U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the university now works with its investment managers to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into their selection criteria. A couple features of the policy are identifying and promoting low or zero-carbon investments where available without detrimental impact to investment risk and returns, divesting in shares in companies which do not respond positively to concerns about their practices or are deemed to be in breach of acceptable standards or ethical or environmental practice, and engaging more proactively with investment managers to ensure that the new policy is being put into practice.
Three Universities Receive NACUBO Sustainability Awards
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) annual awards honor institutional excellence in higher education business and financial management. The three universities that received this honor for sustainability leadership are University of California, Los Angeles; University of Minnesota, Morris; and University of Texas at Arlington.
U College Cork Divests From Projects With Environmental Impact
(Ireland) The new pledge announces the university's divestment from all projects with adverse environmental consequences and is intended to ensure that the university accounts for a diverse range of environmental, social and governance concerns in its financial decision-making. In conjunction with this decision, the university has joined the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
Loughborough U Divests From Fossil Fuels
(U.K.) Following conversations with both students and staff members of the university, the university will no longer invest funds in fossil fuel companies and will withdraw all current investments in such organizations within three years.
Queens' College Initiates Divest/Invest Strategy
(U.K.) The college will shift its investments in fossil fuel companies within the roughly $114 million (86 million British pounds) endowment into environmental, social and governance-screened (ESG) companies.
U Utah Building Earns LEED Gold
The building that houses the university's Department of Mechanical Engineering features a 34.2 kilowatt solar electric array, an energy-efficient air conditioning and heating system, energy-efficient elevators, and a new pedestrian walkway. The university's Revolving Loan Fund helped to offset the cost of making these changes to the building.
U Nottingham Divests From Fossil Fuels
(U.K.) Any investments in coal and tars sands will be removed immediately and the university will completely divest its financial portfolio from fossil fuels within the next 12 months. Currently around 6 percent of the university’s $67.6 million (50 million British pounds) endowment fund is invested in the oil and gas sector.
U Louisville Launches Student Sustainability Fund & Philanthropy Program
The new fund allows finance students to participate in socially responsible investing by selecting funds, investing real dollars, managing the fund and voting their proxies. Then, social change students use the proceeds to fund local nonprofit or philanthropic projects either on or off campus. The inaugural beneficiary was a local non-profit organization dedicated to housing and mentoring youth who are in the state's custody and aging out of the foster care system.
Bowdoin College Achieves Carbon Neutrality
Two years ahead of schedule, the college has achieved carbon neutrality through a variety of campus energy projects, campus engagement, regional carbon offsets and renewable energy credits, with additional contributions from changes to the Maine electrical grid. The college has reduced its on-site carbon emissions by 29 percent compared to a 2008 baseline.
Stetson U Students Compile ESG Stock Index
Five university seniors in the Roland George Investments Program (RGIP) created a new index focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. In total, $300,000 was approved from the RGIP Growth Fund for investment in four of the six stocks comprising the index.
U Bristol Strengthens Divestment Commitment
(U.K.) The University has pledged to divest completely from all investments in fossil fuel companies within two years. The new commitment builds on its previous commitment to end investment in companies that derive more than five percent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands.
Durham U to Divest From Fossil Fuels
(U.K.) Following a year-long review of divestment options and the impact divestment would have on the university’s finances, the university’s highest governing body recently decided to withdraw financial investments from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. These currently total less than $2.1 million (1.5 million British pounds).
George Washington U Announces a Sustainable Investment Fund
The Sustainable Investment Fund is a Student Association-driven initiative focused on responsible investment and student engagement. GW will establish the fund with an initial $2 million from the university endowment and aim to engage stakeholders on issues relevant to responsible investing, including promoting and producing innovation in sustainable practices and seeking to avoid investments in the top coal, oil and gas companies.
Lewis & Clark College Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies
The Lewis & Clark College board of trustees recently voted unanimously to divest from all fossil fuel holdings in the endowment by the end of 2022. Additionally, no new investments will be made in any fund that has exposure to fossil fuel companies. An annual update will be made to the broader campus community on holdings of fossil fuel securities in the endowment portfolio.
Duke U Partners With Delta Airlines on Carbon Offset Initiative
The university and Delta Airlines covered the cost of 1,000 trees that will be planted in Duke's hometown of Durham, North Carolina. The purchase, facilitated by Urban Offsets, simultaneously offsets carbon from all university business travel on Delta in 2017. The 1,000 trees are equal to 5,000 carbon credits and will be planted during the 2017-18 planting season in neighborhoods found to have insufficient tree cover, according to a 2016 survey by Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
Brandeis U Receives $8.4M Gift for Social Justice Initiatives
A former rehabilitation doctor who visited Brandeis just once, but felt a strong connection to its social justice values, left the university an $8.4 million gift, which will provide financial aid for four to five students in the Sustainable International Development program and support research and program development in the Center for Global Development and Sustainability.
Johns Hopkins U to Divest Holdings in Major Coal Producers
Following a recent vote of its board of trustees, the university will divest from its separately managed holdings in thermal coal recently. The board's vote directs the university to stop buying the stocks and bonds of companies that produce coal for electric power as a major part of their business, and to sell from its endowment or other investments any securities it directly owns from those companies, on a schedule that minimizes financial loss.
Hampshire College Chronicles Its Mission-Based Endowment Investing
A case study released by Intentional Endowments Institute describes Hampshire College's policy and process for aligning its endowment investments with its nonprofit mission and values. The case study also reveals how the college developed its investment policies with staff and student engagement.
U Edinburgh Invests Millions in Low Carbon Companies
(U.K.) The university recently moved $79.3 million (60 million pounds) of its investments into two funds that businesses that support a cleaner, more sustainable and climate-friendly future. One fund invests in companies that tackle a range of sustainability issues, including green products, low-carbon infrastructure, sustainable water, energy and food, while the second fund direct supports a global transition to low-carbon and renewable energy.
Smith College Establishes a $100K Student Managed Fossil Fuel-Free Fund
Smith College has provided $100,000 to the Smith College Investment Club to create and manage a new portfolio of fossil-fuel-free investments. Students will set criteria for what meets the standard of a fossil-fuel-free portfolio, and will make investment decisions. The new fund, which grew out of a recommendation from the Study Group on Climate Change, offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the growing field of impact investing.
Smith College Trustees Approve Responsible Investment Recommendations
At its October meeting, the college's board of trustees adopted four strategic recommendations regarding climate change and the Smith endowment, which are designed to support the college’s commitment to environmental sustainability while also ensuring the continued health of the endowment.
SUNY Receives $800K Grant to Develop Sustainable Village in Haiti
With a nearly $800,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 10 State University of New York campuses and five not-for-profit organizations will be working together to establish a sustainable village and learning community on 40 acres of land in Akayè, Haiti.
Pitzer College Launches ESG-Focused, Fossil-Free Fund
This August, the college became the founding investor in a new global equity index fund that is both environmental, social and governance focused and fossil fuel free. The fund is designed to help endowments, foundations and other nonprofit organizations meet their responsible investment goals.
SUNY New Paltz to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies
The SUNY New Paltz Foundation board voted recently to remove endowment funds from direct investment in fossil fuel companies. The initial request to consider divestment came from a group of students who raised the issue with the college president in September 2016. The SUNY New Paltz Foundation endowment currently stands at about $20 million. Data as of June 30, 2017, show that about 4.5 percent, or $920,055, was directly invested in fossil fuel companies.
U Nebraska Kearney to Invest $11M in Solar Energy
The university is expected to meet 25 percent of its electrical energy through a new $11 million, 25-year contract for solar energy from a nearby 5.8-megawatt array that is expected to be completed in February 2018. The university anticipates saving more than $250,000 over the next 25 years of the contract.
Virginia Private Colleges Receive Solar Energy Funding
The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) has been awarded more than $807,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to help 16 member colleges develop comprehensive plans for implementing solar power on their campuses. The three-year program is designed to help the colleges navigate the legal, regulatory and technical challenges associated with installing solar systems, leverage group purchasing power, and create a learning network accessible by other organizations considering solar power.
U Notre Dame Establishes Endowment for Sustainability Minor
The Otterbeck Family Endowment for Excellence in Undergraduate Sustainability Studies was established in March. The first major program supported by the endowment this past semester was a course development grant, which was awarded to six faculty members to support the creation of new sustainability courses. Other goals include student research support, alumni mentoring and career guidance.
Australian Catholic U Raises AU$200M Through Sale of Sustainability Bonds
(Australia) The university has secured 200 million Australian dollars ($158.5 million) in investor funds earmarked for projects that deliver positive social and environmental outcomes. The funds will go toward teaching and research in areas including education and healthcare and green property projects that are in alignment with the International Capital Market Association’s Sustainability Bond Guidelines. The ACU Sustainability Bonds are the first sustainability bonds issued in Australia.
Loyola Marymount U Signs Principles for Responsible Investment Pledge
In an effort to promote and support ethical decision-making, the university recently announced its decision to sign onto the U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, a set of guidelines for incorporating environmental, social and governance factors into investment decisions.
Northland College to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The college's board of trustees voted recently to fully divest the college’s endowment funds from fossil fuels in the next five years. Approximately 2.9 percent of the college’s $28 million endowment is currently invested in fossil fuels listed in the Carbon Underground 200. These investments will be replaced with more socially responsible investments and no new endowment funds will be invested in fossil fuel companies.