Phase II Grants Program is Announced for Energy Conservation Initiative

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Since 2009, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has worked with a cohort of 37 small colleges and universities to encourage and support efforts to reduce energy consumption and, thereby, reduce costs. To date, the Fund has awarded $2.5 million in grants in support of these efforts at the 22 institutions that have accepted the challenge.

Now, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund announces Phase II of this energy conservation initiative, inviting those institutions that have successfully completed Phase I to apply for a new round of funding that is intended to help them build long-term resources in support of energy conservation.

The new round of funding will offer grants of $50,000-$125,000 per institution, depending on endowment size per student and ability to raise matching funds, to help the college or university create a “green revolving loan fund” — permanently held capital to be used for energy-saving retrofit projects on campus, with the fund replenished by the resulting savings.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund has allocated $750,000 a year to this initiative for a minimum of three years.

“We are deeply committed to helping these institutions reduce their energy consumption – for environmental, educational and financial reasons,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “By creating green revolving loan funds, we are helping these institutions make this work more self-sustaining going forward.”

Indeed, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund sees energy conservation as a core practice for higher education today.

“Campus energy conservation has the potential to save money, pay for itself, protect the environment and educate students and faculty about sustainability,” Magill told college presidents when the initiative was launched in 2009. “In our view, conservation should be the foundation of all sustainability efforts on campus.”

In designing the energy conservation initiative, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund staff sought to create a mechanism that would make college presidents aware of the potential for energy conservation, offer some proven strategies to achieve that potential and provide incentives for the administration to act.

The initiative takes a very strategic approach. Phase I encouraged colleges and universities to:

  • Collect precise data on energy consumption on campus. Energy consumption cannot be managed, or conserved, without good data. Colleges should have energy audits and install submeters, so energy usage can be monitored building by building.
  • Develop an energy master plan and energy policies, and identify/hire staff to analyze data, monitor compliance and oversee programs. The audit and data are of limited value without a plan for reducing consumption and policies that will facilitate that plan. Similarly, the plan is only effective if there is staff dedicated to implementing it, monitoring progress and enforcing policies.
  • Develop and implement programs to engage the broader campus community in energy conservation. Energy conservation cannot be the sole responsibility of administrators and facilities managers. Students, staff and faculty must be engaged in the process.

Phase II of the grantmaking initiative is intended to seed a permanent, self-sustaining fund to support ongoing improvements.

The green revolving loan fund dollars may only be used for campus retrofitting — installing solar or green roofs, for example, or replacing inefficient lighting or installing low-flow toilets and showerheads. With the benefit of good data collection practices established under Phase I, the institution should be able to track the dollars saved from retrofits, and deposit these savings back into the revolving loan fund.

Phase II grant terms require savings from the retrofits to be deposited into the revolving fund and expressly prohibit those savings from being used to finance other parts of the college budget.

“Our goal is to build a mechanism that can provide financial support for – and capture the rewards of – on-campus changes that will reduce energy consumption,” Magill said.

Representatives of colleges and universities eligible for support from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund may contact their program officer to learn more about the energy conservation initiative and how to participate.