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Socially Responsible Investment Endowment Committee
DePaul University prides itself on its commitment to its mission, which provides “…the criterion against which plans are formulated and major decisions made” (Mission 2005). It continues, “In meeting its public service responsibility, the university encourages faculty, staff and students to apply specialized expertise in ways that contribute to the societal, economic, cultural and ethical quality of life in the metropolitan area and beyond… Motivated by the example of St. Vincent, who instilled a love of God by leading his contemporaries in serving urgent human needs, the DePaul community is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person” (Mission). Despite this commitment to the mission, DePaul University received a C grade on the Investment Priorities component of the Green Report Card administered by the Sustainable Endowments Initiative (Green Report Card 2009).
According to the Vincentian Endowment Fund, “the endowment thus seeks to assist the university in its developing understanding of how, as an institution of higher education informed by the vision of Vincent de Paul, it is to be Catholic as it enters its second century”(VEF 2005).As an academic, moral, and community leader, DePaul University must hold itself to a greater responsibility. This paper will demonstrate that DePaul can maintain its values by implementing a Sustainable Investment Committee that will oversee investment criteria while not compromising the endowment's risk adjusted returns, but it must be willing to take the road less traveled.
In the VISION twenty12 Leadership Congress Presidential Address, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider said, “DePaul's endowment represents about eight months of the operating budget…an amount that is far below the generally accepted standard of having an endowment that is twice your operating budget.(President 2006) The implication is that the present goal is to double the endowment to equal the present operating budget. For fiscal year 2009, the operating expenses are $434,340,000, which brings the 2009 endowment goal to $868,680,000 (Appendix A 2009 15). As DePaul expands and continues to increase its enrollment and operating budget, this endowment goal will increase as well. Rev. Holtschneider concluded his address saying, “DePaul intends to become one of the finest urban, Catholic universities of the United States… DePaul will focus its energies on…building the financial and operational foundations to make our cherished mission permanent and truly effective” (Mission 2005).
As of September 30, 2009 the Endowment stands at $281,376,000, which is down from $468,225,000 on June 30, 2008 (Appendix 2009 18). The Appendix A Continuing Disclosure suggests that DePaul approaches its investment with “prudent risk restraints to preserve capital” (18). In the above average return year of 2007, endowments of similar size to DePaul's had an average return of 17.8% (Jaschik 2008) while DePaul had an estimated return of 18.1% (Consolidated 2009 11). This suggests the DePaul maintains a similar investment strategy to that of its counterparts.
According to Elizabeth Honold, Manager of Investment Administration, the Board of Trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the Endowment and the Administration generally follows the suggestions presented by the Board. According to Elizabeth, risk adjusted returns are a primary focus on decisions related to investment as the greater returns lead to a greater ability to provide support for the university mission (Honold). The university aims to optimize investment return and has not made any public statements about investigating or investing in renewable energy funds or community development loan funds. There have been discussions to become more transparent but there are no plans for a white paper. Robert DiMeo recently wrote that, “most institutions have hurdle rates of approximately 8% and returns of this level, even before the stock market tanked, are no simple feat”(Dimeo Sure 1). According to the DePaul website, DiMeo Schneider and Associates, LLC acts as an endowment consultant, so for this reason it is assumed that the average expected risk adjusted returns is 8%. Comparatively, socially responsible investments (SRI), have been proven to reach this 8% return goal and in many circumstances, surpass it. The Domini 400 Social Index, which is a benchmark that measures the impact of social screening on financial performance, was used to measure the returns of socially responsible investments versus the typical investments. Over an eight-year period, the Domini Index returned an average of 18.54%, which is 1.59% more than the 16.95% for the S&P 500 (Harrington 2003). In a recent book, Mark Lane, author of “Profitable Socially Responsible Investing?”, used another eight year study to show that SRI related investments reported a 2.53% greater return than the Russell 3000 (Wikipedia 2009).
Overall, the socially responsible investments are a quickly growing portion of the U.S. investment market. Since 1995, SRI assets have raised over 324 percent from $639 billion in 1995 to $2.71 trillion in 2007, which represents 1 in every 9 dollars invested (2007 Report 2007 ii). In addition 24% of institutions include SRI criteria in their investment decision (Mission-Based 2009). The Board of Trustees has a great responsibility because of the power of the $281 million they invest. The issue is not about whether DePaul feels good about themselves, but rather whether it is in DePaul's best interest. This large and growing percentage of investments suggests that SRI is a legitimate form of investment that DePaul should consider in its investment strategy because of its commitment to Vincentian ideals and for the financial benefit.
The Board of Trustees of DePaul University should form a committee comprised of two undergraduate students, two graduate students, two faculty, two administrators, and two Board members that will be responsible for updating the board on the consistency of their investments in relative to the university mission. The diversity of the board committee will allow for greatest impact and perspective while not prohibiting efficiency. Following the layout of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the committee would have three primary roles. First, they will be responsible for educating the board on present issues that the board can then include in its criteria for investment selection. This is known as both shareholder advocacy and active ownership (Responsible Investment Overview 2009 1). Secondly, the committee will be responsible for presenting investments that are consistent with the investment criteria that are consistent with the Mission of the university (1). Lastly, they will be responsible for researching all present and future investments and screening out investments that are not consistent with mission (1).
To make this committee effective at DePaul, the Board will have to clearly define the values they believe represent the role of the Endowment and themselves. Then the committee members will propose a list of criteria that will be used from now on to evaluate potential investments. The Board will vote item by item through this proposal to create the initial criteria. The committee will then take the criteria and begin vetting the current and proposed investments to make a full report to the Board of Trustees along with recommendations for divestment and investment opportunities.
It is essential that DePaul not just create a committee to appease outside constituents. The proposed committee must fit the style and goals of the Board of Trustees. For this reason, the SRI Endowment Committee proposal has taken into account the desired privacy, efficiency, and clarity of roles that the Board currently maintains. This committee is an effective way of connecting the Board of Trustees to the mission of the university while not interfering with its overall goal of greater returns. A committee is being proposed because it is believed that the Board has the Vincentian values in mind and just need someone to do the research on where the investments meet the Mission. This advisory committee will work independently of the Board and then present their findings, which will prove efficient and effective. The committee members will be vetted to be sure they understand the finer points of endowment investing so as to make proposals based on the current asset allocation structure. Lastly, this committee will soothe the naysayers that believe DePaul may be investing in socially irresponsible funds and places, which may include Darfur and Halliburton, and put DePaul back in the position as a leader by example of the community in the spirit of St Vincent DePaul.
To facilitate the development of this committee and socially responsible investing, the DePaul Green Revolving Fund (DGRF) that is presented below will commit 25% of its funds on an annual basis, which equates to $1.25 million over 5 years, to begin investing in low risk funds that respect the investment criteria of the SRI Endowment Committee and the values of the DGRF. This serves the endowment fund, as it provides a no risk opportunity to invest in socially responsible investments that reflect the values of the Board and observe their returns. This also serves the DGRF because the size of the endowment gives their funds the best opportunity for returns on investment.
The SRI Committee has proven successful at leading universities around the United States in many forms. Yale University had one of the earliest and most recognized. Three professors started their committee in 1972 when the endowment had $500 million and it has since served as a template for universities around the United States (Responsible Returns 2009 2). Their investment has grown more than seven times its 1972 level in real dollars, which required the creation of three additional asset types to handle the large amount of funds. Similar to DePaul, Yale has a commitment to public service both on their campus and in the world (15). For this reason, they have used their endowment for extensive development of the campus, hiring top professors, and funding students but have also committed to using environment, social issues, and corporate governance (ESG) as criteria for selecting investments (16).
In addition to Yale, Brown University presently has a committee in place called Brown's Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices (ACCRIP), which is partly responsible for ensuring that Brown's investments reflect its social mission (Brown Social 2009). This board practices this responsibility by examining the proxy votes and evaluating them basic on preset voting guidelines, analyzing which investments should be divested from, challenging Brown to take a more active role in climate change by joining the Investor's Network on Climate Risk (Brown), and lastly by being proactive about investing in “environmentally-focused mutual funds that proactively screen for best practices (Brown).” With their committee, the Brown Endowment has reflected the trends of the overall market and presently sits around $2 billion (Endowment).
Students at Columbia University saw that their university had taken active stances on issues of equal hiring, non discrimination policies, and other important issues, so it was not out of ordinary to request that Columbia University form a committee to analyze the effects of their university's investments on the environment (Campus Success 2009). Though formed as an ad hoc group primarily by students, the university responded by forming a “working group” to examine the issues and then officially forming the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investment (Campus). Their primary responsibility is to review and make recommendations “regarding the ethical and social consequences of the University's investments.” Through this committee, the students and university felt that were able to affect a large range of issues to have a positive effect on the community around them.
University of Pennsylvania, another leading university, was asked by a student group in 2000 to consider “human rights, environmental consequences, indigenous rights, and other ethical issues when considering stocks for the university's portfolio” (Starting 2009). The university responded by formed the Social Responsibility Advisory Committee in the spring of 2003 (Starting).
Socially responsible investment is a proven financially and ethically responsible way for the DePaul University Board of Trustees to invest the endowment. As an extension of St Vincent DePaul and leader in the greater community, DePaul University has a moral and social responsibility to act quickly to respond climate change and other social issues. In doing so, DePaul will demonstrate that it does not sacrifice its global ethics in order to serve its local campus goals. By using the financial power of the endowment to divest from irresponsible funds and invest in responsible funds, DePaul can challenge companies to become more responsible and improve the overall well being of society. The DePaul University SRI Committee is the perfect way to help the Board of Trustees connect the Mission to its investments while not compromising the integrity of the Board.
GREEN REVOLVING FUND
Revolving loan funds are a growing trend among socially conscience university administrations and students as they serve as an effective way to green college campuses, promote sustainability, reduce wasteful energy usage, and empower all sectors of the university community to have a greater role in positive change. These funds can be funded in many ways but the most feasible option is through a Green Fee, another growing trend. These items will be explained and include a proposal for DePaul for a Revolving Green Fee Loan Fund. Examples of similar projects at other leading universities will also be shared.
Traditional Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) operate by holding money and then making small loans for small business development projects (Campus Inpower 2009 1). Loans are made to both individuals and small businesses to pay the upfront costs of sustainability projects, and as money is repaid from the financial savings of the project, additional loans are made (Campus). The name “revolving” loan fund comes because funds “revolve” from entity to entity. A simple example of this is money used to purchase CFL light bulbs. These low energy bulbs cost more than traditional light bulbs but they save money on electricity. The repayment would come from the energy savings.
The fund committee has criteria to evaluate competing project proposal. The criteria could include any measures the committee deemed important but most often they include: payback period, cost of the investment, effect on energy savings, effect on community, and ease of implementation (1). The payback period can also be gauged on a project by project basis, but it should extend to a length that would allow the fund to be fully repaid plus a defined amount so that the fund is continually growing and able to support additional projects (1).
The primary issue with RLF's is the initial funding. Though worthwhile, the present economic recession and focus on endowment development make it improbable that universities will allocate general or endowment funds toward an RLF. Students around the U.S. have responded to this obstacle by relying on their peers to raise the necessary funds through student enacted Green Fees. A Green Fee is a charge or tax that will be added to a student's tuition bill that will go into a fund for sustainability projects on campus (Why 2009). Harvard, Emory, University of Florida, University of Washington, and many others have enacted these fees with great success as they provide an independent source of funding for projects that benefit the entirety of the campus (Why).
Despite the slight rise in tuition, studies have shown students to be in favor of green fees when they know the funds are going toward sustainability projects. Surveys have been taken at University Illinois Urbana Champaign, Southern Illinois University, University of Oregon, The College of William and Mary, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Northern Illinois, and numerous other universities with student approval averaging near 75% (Mandatory 2009). Anthony Alfano, the head of the Environmental Concerns Committee which is a sub committee of the DePaul University Student Government, took a survey over a one month period asking students their favorability of adding a $10 green fee every quarter (Alfano 2009). The DePaul University student body responded with a favorability of 81.6%.
Revolving Loan Funds and Green Fees have grown most significantly at universities in response to greater sustainability on campus. The most prominent is Harvard University, which established the Green Campus Loan Fund in January 2002 with $3 million from its endowment (Building 1). The plan behind the fund was to motivate students and faculty to take responsibility in greening the campus by removing the common obstacle of upfront costs up to $20,000 as well as to educate the student body about sustainability. (1)
In the last 7 years, the Harvard Green Fund has funded 18 projects with $1.7 million (2). Through an initial study of the first 15 months, an annual savings of $509,058 is expected through energy savings, water savings, operations and management reductions, and avoided waste management savings (Building). In addition to an over 300% return on investment for the university, Harvard has also an annual kWh savings of 4,222,579, saved 3,520 in annual steam MMBtu, reduced annual natural gas 61,076, reduced carbon emissions by 7.7 million pounds, reduced water usage by over 5 million gallons, and reduced waste disposal by a quarter of a million pounds (2). The funded projects included a 75kW Tecogen cogeneration system, an upgraded irrigation controls, an upgraded low watt security light bulbs, the installation of energy efficient vending machines, a computer energy reduction program, and a switch to steam kettles and dishwashing system (2). The fund now has an extensive website highlighting its many different student proposed projects which highlights the involvement and direct effect on the students' value in sustainability.
In November 2007, the Oregon State University student body voted for an $8.50 green fee in an effort to make OSU run entirely on renewable energy. (Chunk 2009 1). OSU has had such a successful green fee program that the Student Incidental Frees Committee committed $100,000 per year, 23% of their annual green fee, from 2009 to 2013 to additional energy efficiency projects on campus (Chunk).
Concordia University passed a Sustainability Action Fund in April 2009 which will levy a 25 cent fee per credit hour for the next five years (Revolving 2009 1). The fund was decided upon by referendum of the undergraduate students and will net the fund close to $200,000 per year for the next five years (1).
Here are some additional revolving loan success stories from around the U.S. . MacAlester University started the Clean Energy Revolving Fund in 2006 with $23,000 from the student government, campus administration, and an academic department and it now has over $100,000 (RLF 2). Despite major hits to their endowments, the University of Michigan and Northwestern University have been able to continue funding sustainability projects because of their established loan funds (Revolving 2009.) The University of California Berkeley has also been a pioneer in green fees passing a Green Fee in 2007. Their $5 per student fee, called the Green Initiative Fund, brings in $200,000 per year (Green Fees 2009 1). The University of Maine Board of Trustees authorized up to $300,000 from the University of Maine Foundation to establish a Green Loan Fund (AASHE 2009 7). This particular fund supports projects with a payback of less than five years (7).
Other universities of similar size or shared values that have implemented revolving loan funds and or green fees include: University of Maine, Connecticut College, Evergreen State College, Middle Tennessee State University, Mount Allison University, Tennessee Technological University, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Northland College, Appalachian State University, Northeastern University, University of Kentucky, and many others.
DePaul University should enact a Green Fee of $10 per quarter for full time undergraduate and graduate students with the proceeds going directly to the DePaul Green Revolving Fund for 10 years (DGRF). With an enrollment of 25,000, a Green Fee of $10 per quarter would net the DGRF close to $1,000,000 per year. For this reason, the DGRF will need proper oversight and authority to implement plans. A committee of 2 undergraduate students, 2 graduate students, 2 faculty members, and one administrator will manage the DGRF. One of the faculty members must be from the Facilities and Management Department. The administrator must have authority to propose projects to the overall administration that decides campus projects.
Environmental impact, expected return on investment, payback period, ease of implementation, and impact on the campus community will make up the framework for proposal evaluation. The committee must develop any additional framework it would like to include. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and administrators can propose projects, but decisions will be made by a majority vote. As this is a student fee, the intention is for students to make up a majority of the committee to give the power to select the most appropriate projects. For a project to be implemented however will require the support of the administrator and the facilities and faculty representatives when applicable. This balance is essential to the development of a greener campus, as all levels of the university must support the project to some degree.
It is important that the Student Government support the DePaul Revolving Fund, but the administration support is crucial. For this reason, the DGRF will be run out of the DePaul's Capital Projects Division (1). The DGRF will then be in supported position to best to fund all sorts of sustainability projects. These projects can include bike sharing, purchase of energy offsets and conservation, low water faucets, local food purchases, sustainability internships, curriculum research, and any other projects that fit the criteria the DGRF ultimately decides. This fund will have no proposed end date as the effects and purposes of this fund go beyond the incredibly important task of creating a sustainable campus.
25% of the net value of the DGRF will be invested through the DePaul University Endowment to maximize the highest return on investment possible while investing in low risk investment funds that match the same criteria of the DGRF. This investment serves 2 purposes. First, this will stabilize the DGRF as the committee works out any issues that may rise from funding projects on campus and prevent any possibilities of bankruptcy. Secondly, the Socially Responsible Investment Committee will use these as an opportunity to research funds with a positive environmental impact than can be used as the precedent for future investments. This second reason exhibits the power of the DGRF as this student led fund will have a sizable impact on the direction of the Board of Trustees Endowment procedures by giving safe and just cause to invest in socially responsible funds while not impacting their duty to maximize the return on investment of the endowment.
Ten percent of the net value of the DGRF will always be retained in FDIC Assured bank accounts as a safe guard against any unforeseen expenses. The remaining 65% of the DGRF will be awarded to sustainability proposals on a rolling basis. Once a sustainable flow of projects is reached on an bi-annual basis, the DGRF will move to a deadline based approach to receiving project proposals to make a fair decision making process. The 65/25/10 distribution strategy was developed to share risk and to maximize the environmental impact of the funds across the campus.
Using a commonly found return on investment percentage of 30% on energy efficiency projects combined with the experiences of the aforementioned colleges and universities, it is reasonable to expect the DGRF to have a return on investment of 30% within five years. With a green fee of $10 per quarter raising $1 million per year on average, a compounding interest rate on monies held of 4%, an investment return of 8%, and payback of 30% on energy efficiency projects, it can be expected that the DGRF will have a net value of near $15 million within 10 years. With a fund value of this size, the DGRF will be able to partner with the administration on larger campus greening projects that individual students or faculty may not be able to implement on their own. In addition to these large projects, an annual fund increase of $1 million will allow the DGRF to support up to 30 additional greening projects annually.
Implementing the DePaul Green Revolving Fund and green fee will go a long way to inspire and educate students into lives of holistic service, prove effective in recruiting prospective students to DePaul, and further the Vincentian values upon which DePaul was founded. However, the ultimate goals of this fund are to decrease DePaul's presently detrimental environmental impact and empower the present and future generations of students of the importance of living responsibly.
Revolving Loan Funds and green fees are proven and effective ways of reducing the environmental impact of colleges and universities around the United States. They also serve to educate the campus community on the essential task of living sustainably. Higher education institutions have the responsibility of setting the example for the rest of society to follow. There are over fifty known campus sustainability funds and green fees, and the number is probably much higher. As a university that holds itself to an even higher standard of Vincentian values, DePaul must use the thrust of the student body to implement a green free and the DePaul Green Revolving Fund.
ENERGY AUDIT FINANCES
There is a common misconception that going green costs more money than maintaining the status quo. Over the past decade, this perception has changed notably among those that have taken the time to evaluate their environmental impacts and explore ways to reduce them. With energy prices reaching all time highs and costing organizations larger percentages of their overall income, families, corporations, academic institutions, and many other communities around the U.S. and the world have begun evaluating their energy and environmental practices, paying slightly hire upfront costs, and reaping greater short and long-term returns. With DePaul's Green Report Card rating at a D+, it will be proposed that DePaul University fund a Lincoln Park Campus Energy Audit to gain an overview how DePaul can lower its environmental impact without taking on expensive projects.
Energy costs represent a growing percentage of university budgets. Some studies peg energy costs at $2 per square foot on average (Kats 2009 5). With energy in buildings comprising 70% of the U.S. energy use, this is a very expensive and wasteful use of energy that can be reduced significantly (5). Energy efficient buildings use roughly 30% less energy (5), which would bring the bill per square foot down to $1.40. Up to 20% of the savings can be had without any major initial investment (U.S. 2009 5). In addition, according to Claire Barnett, the Director of the Healthy Schools Network, “Every dollar spent on maintenance and repair will save districts six to ten times that amount in the long run” (7). For university campuses, this is a clear way to save substantial amounts of money that can be used to reduce tuition, offer more scholarships, or establish a green revolving loan fund that could benefit the sustainability of the campus.
Energy audits vary depending on the company but they generally include an evaluation of energy practices in regards to: food and recycling, energy usage, green building, water usage and heating, lighting strategies, computer and office equipment, building envelope, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, kitchen appliances, swimming pools, wending machines, and transportation (51). According to the Energy Audit Institute, the current energy use of all buildings, facilities and structures are examined to determine their current energy usage. The typical audit firms will then make recommendations for improvement are evaluated on ease of implementation, cost, and payback period (Energy).
Generally, these audits are effective in determining areas to lower energy use and save money in the process. On average, energy audit help businesses reduce their energy costs by 30%(Kats 4). For example, an energy audit would most likely include an evaluation of the boiler system that is used for heating water. In addition to recommending a more efficient system to save up to 20%, the audit would give recommendations on no cost opportunities to save on energy costs of up to $2,000 per month (U.S. 7).
When energy audits are done and the organization works to implement the recommendations, they tend to have: reduced energy costs of up to 30%, lower energy use during peak consumption periods, more renewable energy produced on site, and are more likely to purchase renewable energy versus the conventional fossil fuel based energy (Kats 4). These changes lessen the environmental footprint of the university but also the larger community by reducing the amount of energy the local utilities company is required to produce.
In addition to energy savings, the healthier environments of sustainable campuses have led to increased savings by increasing the productivity of employees by 1%, 5 minutes per day, which is equal to $600 per employee per year (Kats 7). With this indirect savings alone, the cost of the energy audit and most likely any up front costs will be earned back within a reasonable period of time.
Energy audits have proven successful at universities and similarly sized businesses across the United States. Many universities also house hospitals, so the recent energy audit at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago is a good example. Hospitals generally use 2.7 times more energy per foot than office buildings, which is why Illinois Masonic, a 551 bed Level 1 trauma center and teaching hospital, chose to do an audit (Steady 2009 1). Using state-of-the-art data management and creativity helped this hospital lower its energy use by 27% and earn ENERGY STAR recognition (1). Their updates included: a building automation systems which makes sure their air and water systems are fine tuned, increased maintenance awareness and scheduling, and increased awareness among all staff of energy usage goals (1).
Danaher Corporation used a three day energy audit to cut energy by 28% and save $365,000 in the process (Danaher 2009 1). With Danaher being a $13 billion dollar corporation, meeting this expectations of a $250,000 in energy savings with a payback of 1 year was important (1). The audit of a single factory achieved $153,000 annualized return within 30 days of the implementation of their recommendations and an additional $212,000 once they invested $200,000 in certain projects (1). In addition, the audit found a $36,000 tax benefit to a retrofit lighting project. With hundreds of facilities worldwide, this energy audit has the potential to save up to $60 million annually for Danaher (3).
Tektronix, a $1 billion dollar global corporation, also did a three-day audit of one facility with two groups splitting the audit to focus on electrical usage and analyzing water, natural gas, waste, and “everything else”(Hot 2009 1). Three days later they found $378,000 in possible savings in 2009 alone and $510,000 annual savings with an initial investment of $233,000 (1). Their simple areas of savings include: shutting down the boiler in the summer, foregoing the watering of the lawn in the summer, turning off a fountain, resetting chilled water to 45F instead of 43, and powering down PC's during off hours (3).
Iowa State University developed an energy savings plan once it recognized its annual spending for general buildings was $16,267,237 (Iowa State 2009 1). Despite already energy efficient operation facilities and low energy rates, Iowa State did an energy audit and is now implementing five steps to save a projected $750,000 annually (1). These steps include: publishing operational hours of buildings across campus, adjusting building summer daytime temperatures to 78 degrees, adjusting building day time temperatures to 68 degrees, shutting off systems at night when the buildings are not operated, consolidating night classes and meetings into “activity areas to minimize open buildings” (1).
Washington State University found substantial long-term savings through its energy audit of its lighting systems when it examined installing dimmable compact fluorescent lamps in 2003 (Washington 2003 1). Their audit found that the upfront cost of dimmable lamp would cost $25-35 while a more energy efficient lamp and ballast would cost $45 (1). However, the savings would come over 4.3 years as the cheaper lamp would have to be replaced with a $5 bulb 15 times before the more expensive lamp bulb would need replacing.
DePaul University has already been active in energy efficiency projects across the campus. DePaul has adjusted its landscape irrigation schedules and is now using 50% less water for irrigation (Standing Up 2009 1). Low flow showerheads have been installed in all student residence halls. Non-toxic organic pesticides are used when possible by the landscape contractors (1). DePaul has also installed an additional 1,500 compact florescent light bulbs to replace incandescent light bulbs that have shorter life spans and use more energy (1). There are many other things DePaul has done to have a positive environmental impact on the campus, which suggests that DePaul has possibly hosted an energy audit of some variety. However, there is no published information about a campus energy audit nor has any of the faculty interviewed become aware of one. In addition, there is considerably more to be done to make DePaul a sustainable campus.
DePaul University should hire an outside energy auditing team to do a full energy audit of the Lincoln Park Campus. Their audit should include an extensive evaluation of the energy checklist items mentioned above. The U.S. Department of Energy has set up energy audit task forces at 26 universities across the United States including one at the University of Illinois in Chicago (Industrial 2009.) As mentioned above, the audit team will “identify opportunities to improve productivity, reduce waste, and save energy” (1).
To make the audit more financially feasible for the university, the DePaul Green Revolving Fund will pay 50% of the cost of the audit with the condition that after the upfront costs of any administratively funded projects are repaid, 50% of the savings in energy costs are returned to the DGRF over a 5 year period. This compromise limits the universities risk in funding the audit while also supporting the development of the student initiated fund that will bring DePaul to a greater level of sustainability.
Once the audit is finished, DePaul must establish a task force in conjunction with the Environmental Concerns Committee and the Sustainability Initiatives Committee to begin addressing the recommendations of the audit. The task force must have the administrative authority to begin implementing these projects on campus. The task force must also separate large-scale long-term projects that are less likely to be taken on by students and faculty with loans from the DGRF. By generating a list of less complex projects that the administration will support, the task force will indirectly encourage students to begin taking on sustainability projects. Between the increased number student led initiatives and administratively led planning, DePaul should reduce its environmental impact significantly and saved millions of dollars over the next few years.
Additionally, as the internally published energy audit creates awareness about which areas of the university need attention, students and faculty will cultivate a greater understanding of the Vincentian values of service to others. This will also give these students life experience in the field of sustainability, which indirectly impacts their educational experience.
An energy audit is a low cost means to educate the administration, faculty, and student body about the many inefficiencies of DePaul University. However, it will also lay the groundwork for sustainability on the campus, which benefits DePaul in many ways. Financially, DePaul will experience vast cost savings in the short term. The university will appeal to the greater number of green focused prospective students in the long term. The earth will have reduced waste, and in the process, DePaul will receive the A on the Green Report Card that the university should have as a global leader. Most importantly, DePaul will deepen the integrity with which it lives out its mission.
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- “Why our campus needs a revolving loan fund,” Student Life. 2009. http://www.studlife.com/forum/2009/11/02/why-our-campus-needs-a-revolving-loan-fund/
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- Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence through EPA funding. “Building Sustainable Programs: Dedicated Revolving Loan Fund for Environmental Projects,” Jan 2007.
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- U.S. Department of Energy. “School Operations and Maintenance: Best Practices for Controlling Energy Costs,” Washington DC. Aug 2004.
- “Energy Audit FAQs,” Energy Audit Institute. 3 Dec 2009. http://energyauditinstitute.com/faq.html
- “Steady Steps = Serious Savings: Energy Efficiency Pays Off for 100-Year-Old Illinois Hospital,” Action Eco. 3 Dec 2009. http://cache.actioneco.org/html/leadership_AdvocateIllinois.html
- “Danaher Corporation,” Action Eco. 3 Dec 2009. http://cache.actioneco.org/html/leadership.html
- “Hot and Cold Running Savings: How Tektronix Discovered $510k in Utility Savings in 3 Days,” Action Eco. 3 Dec 2009. http://cache.actioneco.org/html/leadership_tektronix.html
- “Iowa State University: Energy Savings Plan,” FPM Iowa State University. 3 Dec 2009. http://www.fpm.iastate.edu/utilities/energyefficiency/energy_goals.asp
- Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program. “Dimmable Compact Fluorescent Lamps,” Washington. 2003.
- “DePaul University,” Standing Up For Illinois. 3 Dec 2009. http://www.standingupforillinois.org/green/sus_uni_detail.php?school_name=DePaul%20University
- “Industrial Assessment Center,” U.S. Department of Energy. 3 Dec 2009. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/bestpractices/iacs.html