Sustainability on college campuses is on the rise. More than 675 colleges nationwide have become signatories of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a network of college and university presidents and chancellors dedicated to promoting sustainability efforts on college campuses. The EFC at UNC is assisting colleges and universities in crafting innovative strategies to invest in energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects on campus.
The EFC at UNC partnered with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to develop a guide that provides small colleges and universities with a tool-kit to use when considering investment in sustainable energy projects. “Financing Sustainable Energy Projects at Small Liberal Arts Colleges” outlines the steps each school can take to prioritize the projects, understand the financing options available and evaluate the results. By considering these steps and reviewing the available financing mechanisms and case studies provided in the guide, a college will be able develop an implementation strategy that will help it achieve its long-term sustainability and financial goals.
The EFC at UNC also partnered with the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) to examine the economic and environmental aspects of using electricity generated from landfill gas. The CICV and six of its member colleges explored a proposal from Collegiate Clean Energy, LLC (CCE) to provide the colleges with electricity through 100% renewable, Green-e-certified energy generated from landfill gas. The EFC produced a report for the CICV that includes a review of the VA State Corporation Commission's Rules Governing Retail Access to Competitive Energy Services, an analysis of Virginia electric utility rate structures and historical rate increases, a financial analysis of the proposal set forth by CCE, and other items that each college should consider when making a decision to move forward. Using the findings of this report, 5 of the 6 colleges moved forward with using electricity generated from landfill gas. To learn more abou the landfill gas to power project, see a recent article in the Washington Post.
In June 2012, the EFC was hired to work with Duke University’s carbon offset office – the Duke Carbon Offset Initiative (DCOI) – to analyze alternatives for investment in energy efficiency carbon offset projects to help Duke reach its 2024 carbon neutrality goal. The University plans to initiate an energy efficiency employee benefit pilot program that replicates portions of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) program. This program will provide resources to employees that are expected to dramatically reduce energy usage in employee homes. The EFC provides financial advisory and program management support for this pilot program which is expected to reach approximately 30 employees during the four month pilot period between March and June 2014 and will serve as the foundation for a University-wide employee energy efficiency and renewable energy benefit program.
Working together to build a model that can be replicated by other colleges, universities, and organizations, the DCOI HEAL program will develop and implement an employee benefit program for Duke University employees that will include online and in-person sustainable energy educational resources, energy auditing tools, a qualified contractor network and financing options for residential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.