Small Colleges Begin to See Results of Fund’s Energy Conservation Initiative

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (January 3, 2011) – Over the past two years, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has encouraged small private liberal arts colleges to explore strategies to reduce energy consumption on campus — as a means of both improving conservation and reducing costs.

To date, 14 colleges and universities have initiated intentional conservation and sustainability programs supported by grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Preliminary results are encouraging, and suggest the long-term impact of this work will be significant — for the schools and for their students.

“We now have a clear, coordinated approach to addressing the college’s energy conservation needs,” reports Susan Kidd, director of sustainability at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia

“Sustainability is more commonly a part of the dialog at Transylvania, and this seems to be true among faculty, staff and students,” writes R. Owen Williams, president of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.

Agnes Scott and Transylvania are among 37 small, private liberal arts colleges and universities that are eligible for support from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. These institutions face continuing financial challenges in the rapidly changing landscape of higher education.

In early 2009, the Fund saw an opportunity to help these institutions significantly reduce their energy consumption — a move that would benefit the environment, by reducing carbon emissions, and benefit the institutions, by reducing their costs. The Fund held a series of symposia for the institutions’ presidents and facility managers that introduced them to fundamental strategies for reducing on-campus energy consumption and engaging faculty, staff and students in conservation efforts. Then the Fund offered grant support for those institutions that wished to pursue those strategies on their campuses.

Since August 2009, 14 institutions have received more than $1.3 million in support from the Fund to conduct energy audits, install upgraded metering systems, retrofit facilities, engage consultants to help develop policies and plans, initiate programs and provide staff support for these efforts.

In addition, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, which works with 15 private colleges and universities in Virginia, has received the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s support for efforts to engage VFIC members in energy-saving initiatives.

Based on the input of consultants and experts, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has developed guidelines to encourage the colleges and universities to be methodical in their approach to energy conservation.

 Institutions are encouraged first to assess their current energy consumption, through audits and submetering of major buildings. This helps institutions identify which areas need the greatest attention and provides baseline data to measure change going forward.

 Institutions also are encouraged to develop plans and policies that will support ongoing conservation efforts, and identify the staff necessary to implement those plans.

 Finally, the institutions are encouraged to develop programs that will engage students, faculty and staff in broad-based conservation efforts.

Agnes Scott College is following that game plan. Officials there have identified the “top ten” projects that will provide the greatest reduction in energy use and are working with a consultant to set priorities for retrofitting and maintenance projects. Meanwhile, the college is developing a system for ongoing monitoring of energy use and savings, designing mechanisms that will be obvious to students and, therefore, be both educational and motivating.

In addition to mechanical changes, Agnes Scott instituted a Sustainability Fellow program, to train graduates for “green” jobs and serve as a catalyst for campus engagement.

At Transylvania, officials determined early on that it was necessary to take a structural approach, creating a sustainability master plan and developing energy policies for the campus. A sustainability coordinator was hired and has worked closely with physical plant managers to collect and organize data. The coordinator also has engaged with the campus community, developing training programs for residents assistants, introducing sustainability components into the student orientation program and working with on-campus conservation groups.

In October 2010, Transylvania adopted comprehensive energy policies for all campus buildings, addressing heating, cooling, humidity, lighting and use of electronics.

“We are very encouraged by these early accomplishments, but we recognize that the true impact of this initiative will be felt over the long term,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “Our hope is that as these concepts take root, they will become part of the core operations at these schools, yielding significant benefits for students, for the environment and for the bottom line.”

CONTACT:

Sherry Magill, president

904-353-0890 / smagill@dupontfund.org

Mary Kress Littlepage, KBT & Associates

904-384-8496 / mekl@comcast.net