Fund going green

UVM accepts the challenge—to continue going green that is. The Board of Trustees approved a resolution earmarking $13 million for a revolving loan fund that will finance energy efficiency projects on campus at a meeting Feb. 4. To create the fund, the University joined 34 other colleges in committing to the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge. Created in October 2011, the Billion Dollar Green Challenge hopes to encourage colleges across the nation to establish similar funds amounting to $1 billion. Participating institutions have committed nearly $80 million thus far. UVM now boasts the largest revolving loan fund in the country, surpassing Harvard’s $12 million fund for the number one spot. Money from the fund will be used to improve energy efficiency on campus, and the resulting savings on energy expenditures will replenish the fund to allow for other projects to be financed, Richard Cate, vice president for finance and administration, told the board. The fund represents about ten percent of UVM’s liquid assets—money that the University has on hand from tuition payments and other revenues. At the Feb. 4 meeting, Cate said projects will be funded according to two criteria: they must not require funding in excess of $3 million, and they must yield full payback in seven years or less. To ensure that proposed projects meet these requirements, UVM will enlist the help of two Vermont-based groups, he said. Project proposals will be vetted by Efficiency Vermont, a nonprofit corporation that helps Vermonters improve energy efficiency, and the Burlington Electric Department, UVM’s electricity provider. Cate provided three examples of proposed projects to the board: ·      implementation of demand-controlled ventilation systems ·      replacement of current exterior lighting with LED fixtures ·      improvement to the Waterman building through lighting and ventilation systems Cate said he hopes the establishment of the fund will inspire other institutions to make similar commitments. “We hope our decision helps other Vermont institutions become aware of this important tool for saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. UVM now joins the ranks of three Vermont colleges that have set up similar funds; Burlington College, Green Mountain College and Middlebury College have earmarked $25,000, $30,000 and $300,000, respectively. UVM’s move also garnered praise from Gov. Peter Shumlin, a member of the Board of Trustees. “I applaud UVM’s decision to establish such a robust fund and hope the decision inspires other schools, businesses and institutions, like local and state government, to try this approach,” Shumlin said in a news release. He also said the fund is both fiscally and environmentally practical. “The rewards in cost savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions make this a true win-win.” Junior Mia Payraudeau said the fund is a good use of her tuition dollars. “I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s economically and ecologically efficient, and it’s probably the smartest allocation of University money I have ever heard of.”