MIT Partners to Improve State Pension Investment Data

A new partnership between the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and the Massachusetts state pension fund aims to provide data to investors who want to make decisions based on things like the way a company treats its workers, its carbon emissions or its product safety record. For MIT, the partnership will inform research questions and methodology to refine the challenges of integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into the investment process.

U California Berkeley Students Win the Student Corporate Engagement Competition

A panel of judges recently selected a team from the University of California, Berkeley as the inaugural winners of the SIILK Corporate Engagement Competition. They were recognized for preparing strong investment recommendations and shareholder engagement strategy to improve company performance (and investment returns) through better environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. Hosted by the Intentional Endowments Network, the Student Corporate Engagement Competition invites student teams to write and present an investment recommendation for a publicly-traded company listed on any major exchange, and include in the investment recommendation a proposed shareholder engagement strategy that aims to improve company financial and sustainability performance.

U Vermont Divests From Fossil Fuels

The university's board of trustees voted unanimously in mid-July to immediately end new direct investment in fossil fuels, to fully divest from public investments in fossil fuels by July 2023 and to allow pre-existing multi-year private investments, which it stopped acquiring in 2017, to lapse without renewal. It will also accelerate an engagement campaign with managers of its commingled funds, asking that they factor the financial risks of climate change into their investment decision-making process and share their framework for doing so with the university.

George Washington U Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment

The university board of trustees pledged in late June to not make any new investments in businesses that derive the majority of their revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels and agreed to eliminate 100 percent of all such investments from its endowment over the next five years. The board also committed to working with investment managers to encourage investment in companies with environmentally sustainable business practices.

15 Canadian HEIs Sign Investment Charter

A group of 15 Canadian higher education institutions in mid-June signed onto a charter pledging each school to follow responsible investment practices. The charter calls on all signatories to adopt a responsible investment framework to guide investment decision-making, regularly measure the carbon intensity of investment portfolios, evaluate their progress regularly, and share assessments publicly.

U Manchester to Decarbonize Its Investment Portfolio

(U.K.) The university recently announced that it will end investments in fossil fuel reserve and extraction companies by 2022, and decarbonize its investment portfolio by 2038. Its decarbonization commitment seeks to not only divest from fossil fuel companies but redirect its investments from carbon-intensive companies to companies that are more carbon efficient (emit less carbon for their level of activity).

Cornell U Announces Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Investments

The university's board of trustees voted in May to institute a moratorium on new private investments focused on fossil fuels and to grow its investments in alternative energy technologies. The moratorium emerged from the university's Investment Committee review of its $6.9 billion endowment portfolio; the near- and medium-term financial outlook for the coal, oil and gas industries; and the potential threat posed by climate change. The percentage of long-term investments focused on fossil fuels is expected to dwindle to zero over time as existing investments mature.

U Illinois System Invests $160M Using ESG Lens

The university system recently invested nearly $160 million of the system endowment into a new environmentally and socially focused strategy launched by a global asset manager. The three-university system’s investment decision was rooted in its Guiding Principles, which include financial and environmental sustainability.

IEN Launches Blog Series

Intentional Endowments Network launched a new blog series featuring IEN members sharing their thoughts about intentional endowment investing in the face of the global pandemic. The first post comes from Arizona State University.

Harvard U to Eliminate Carbon Footprint in Investment Portfolio

A new pledge to reduce emissions sets a goal to have the university's endowment reflect net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Oxford U Bans Fossil Fuel Investments

The university recently passed a motion requiring its endowment fund be divested from all direct investments in fossil fuel companies, and end future investment in funds that primarily hold stock in fossil fuel companies. The motion further requires endowment managers to request evidence of plans to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from companies across Oxford’s entire portfolio of investments.

American U Eliminates Fossil Fuel Investments

While the university has had no direct investments in fossil fuel funds for several years, in a series of transactions over the last few months, the board of trustees eliminated the remaining $12.9 million of fossil fuel exposure within the public endowment portfolio. This action was executed through the sale of $350 million in commingled and index funds, with the proceeds reinvested in investments that do not include any fossil fuel holdings.

Cardiff U to Discontinue Investments in Fossil Fuels

(U.K.) Following a recent meeting about the university's draft ethical investment policy, the university announced its decision to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021.

Wesleyan U to Divest From Fossil Fuels

The university recently announced its decision to not make any new investments in fossil fuels and to reduce current investments as quickly as possible. It expects to be fully divested from direct fossil fuel investments by the end of the decade.

Brown U Divests From Fossil Fuels

The university's president recently announced that 90 percent of Brown's investments in companies that extract fossil fuels have been sold, and the remainder (less than 1 percent of the portfolio) is being liquidated as it becomes possible to do so. The Investment Office has made no new investments in this area.

Northland College Finalizes Fossil Fuel Divestment

In 2017, the college's board of trustees voted to divest all investments in the fossil fuel industry within five years, but did so in less than three. The college now no longer has fossil fuel-related investments.

Georgetown U Adopts Fossil Fuel Investments Policy

Under the new policy, the university will continue to make investments that target a market rate of return in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related areas while freezing new endowment investments in companies or funds whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels. Georgetown will also divest from public securities of fossil fuel companies within the next five years and divest from existing private investments in those companies over the next 10 years.

U Rochester Joins 'Climate Action 100+' Coalition

The university recently joined the Climate Action 100+, a coalition of investment firms, pension funds, and institutional investors influencing the corporations that are the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters to agree to lowering emissions, being transparent about their operations, and taking necessary action on climate change. Additionally, the university's investment committee approved two recommendations: no direct investments in thermal coal production or in the production of oil from tar sands.

Balliol College Reduces Fossil Fuel Investments

(U.K.) The college announced a number of steps it will soon take in order to reduce the fossil fuel exposure of its endowment, from approximately 2.4 percent of its total endowment to a target of less than 1 percent. The college is also working with students on a climate change action plan.

National Taiwan U Divests From Polluters

(Taiwan) The university recently announced that it is divesting from six companies, accounting for 22 percent of the university’s investments. It has already divested from four of them and plans to divest from the remaining two by the end of 2020.

U British Columbia Board Agrees to Fossil Fuel Divestment

After recently declaring a Climate Emergency, the university's board of governors agreed to divest the main endowment pool ($1.71B) from fossil fuels and directed the administration to conduct analysis necessary to support such action. Also, the board agreed to financial and legal reviews of transferring $380 million of endowed university funds to the university’s sustainable future pool, a fossil-free and low carbon fund established in 2017.

McGill U Reduces Carbon Footprint of Portfolio

At a recent meeting, the university's board of governors approved all the proposed recommendations from the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility. The report recommends decreasing McGill’s endowment portfolio exposure to carbon-intensive investments, including those within the fossil fuel industry. The report also recommends increasing the university's low-carbon holdings through impact investments, such as those in clean technologies, renewable energy infrastructure and fossil-fuel-free funds.

Fitzwilliam College Adopts ESG Investment Principles

(U.K.) In late November, the college's governing body adopted a new investment policy prioritizing environmental, social and governance principles. Indirect investments in fossil fuels, tobacco manufacturers, or weapons manufacturers will also be minimized and kept under constant review.

Concordia U Divests & Commits to Sustainable Investments

The university's foundation recently committed to end investments in the coal, oil and gas sector within five years. The foundation also announced a target of 100 percent sustainable investments by 2025.

Cornell U Undergoes Lighting Upgrade

The Cornell Energy Conservation Initiative recently completed a multi-phase comprehensive lighting upgrade earlier this year that replaced lighting in indoor and outdoor spaces with LED bulbs. With the project fully completed, the new lighting reduces the campus carbon footprint by nearly 3 percent annually. The upgrades, which began in 2014, have a cost avoidance of $2.9 million-to-date.

Duke U Students Receive $100K for Impact Investing

A student group, Duke Impact Investing Group (DIIG), recently secured $100,000 from the university administration to invest in impact-oriented businesses. The student-driven group hopes to educate the Duke community on the field of impact investing and drive growth for socially- and environmentally-conscious businesses through their investments.

U College London Adopts Ambitious Sustainability Strategy

Among other targets, the university's new Sustainability Strategy 2019-2024 includes the following commitments: it will not to invest in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction or production and will make public its portfolio of investments; all buildings will be net zero carbon by 2024 and the whole institution will be net zero carbon by 2030; and it will have a single-use-plastic free campus by 2024.

Smith College Board Approves Divestment

The college's board of trustees voted recently to direct Smith's endowment management firm to exclude from the endowment all future investments with fossil fuel specific managers. The college will also begin an immediate phaseout of all current investments with fossil fuel specific managers in its endowment. This phaseout will be achieved through the sale, maturity or liquidation of investments held by fossil fuel specific managers over a projected period of 15 years.

Harvard U Joins 'Climate Action 100+'

The university announced that its endowment has joined Climate Action 100+, an investor-led initiative to ensure that the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take steps to address climate change. As a member of this global network, Harvard Management Company (HMC) will join other investors in direct engagement with more than 100 oil and gas companies, utilities, and other important emitters, that account for two-thirds of annual global industrial emissions. HMC plans to engage with these companies to encourage efforts that curb carbon emissions, strengthen climate-related financial disclosures, and improve corporate governance and risk management.

U California System Divests From Fossil Fuels

Believing that fossil fuel investments pose a long-term risk to generating strong returns, the University of California system announced a decision to completely divest its $13.4-billion endowment of holdings in fossil fuel companies by the end of September 2019. Its $70-billion pension fund will also be divested.

U Liverpool to Divest From Fossil Fuels

(U.K.) The university recently committed to sell its remaining $3.4 million (2.8 million British pounds) holdings in fossil fuel companies by July 2022, which represents 1.2 percent of the university’s investment portfolio. The move to fully divest from fossil fuels builds on the university’s ethical investment policy introduced last year, which also excludes companies that derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from the manufacture or sale of armaments; companies engaged in testing of cosmetic and non-pharmaceutical products on animals except where it is mandatory; companies that derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from the sale of tobacco products; and companies that manufacture tobacco products.

Arizona State U Creates Socially Responsible Investment Fund

In late June, the university's foundation established a socially responsible investment fund that endowment donors can select for their money rather than the traditional endowment pool. The investments will be in public and private companies with strong racial and gender equality, good governance and a focus on economic, social and environmental sustainability.

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.