Category Archives: Green Campuses

New money: Green banks and green bonds are bringing billions to utilities for the energy transition

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Hundreds of billions of dollars in untapped new money can finance the U.S. power system’s transition away from legacy fossil assets to renewables and distributed generation. Utilities like Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have issued billions in green bonds to fund renewables development. Green banks in New York, Connecticut and other states are backing investments in distributed resources and energy efficiency. It appears much more institutional money wants in on the green opportunity. Congress is considering proposals for a National green bank, which can help propel the energy transition if it can win the acceptance that major utilities told Utility Dive it deserves. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MIDWEST SOLAR ADVOCACY STORIES

From green-minded business owners to political activists: an industry shift in the Midwest, Solar Power World. For many Midwest solar companies, taking on advocacy roles in an industry just getting off the ground has been a necessary responsibility. Here is a look at solar policy in three Midwest states and how local solar installers have taken matters into their own hands.

CLIMATE ACTION GOALS & PROGRESS

MORE EV NEWS

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

  • Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough, CNN
    Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
  • Old dog solar panel manufacturer, Panasonic, learning new home storage tricks, PV Magazine
    Panasonic recently launched their EverVolt home energy storage system, with an AC and DC coupled unit that easily can scale up to 34 kWh and, when coupled with their HIT solar modules, can power your home indefinitely if the grid goes down.
  • Target in energy milestone — ahead of schedule, Chain Store Age
    During the past five years, Target has installed more solar systems than any other company, according to data from SEIA’s Solar Means Business report. The chain is also a four-time Energy Star Partner of the Year. 
  • Wind output to jump 37% because of climate shift — study, E&E News

FEATURED GREEN CAMPUS

Award spotlights UI’s energy efforts, Champaign/Urbana News- Gazette
Five years after it opened, the $98 million Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at the University of Illinois has been awarded “platinum” certification under the LEED environmental rating system. Designed to someday be a “net zero” energy user, the building has a $3 million rooftop solar array with 950 panels that generate renewable electricity for the building and, on sunny days, contribute to the campus-wide power grid. The building also uses power from campus solar farms.

TRACKING THE SUN REPORT

US Solar Panel Prices Continue Dropping, Solar+Storage Increasing — Tracking The Sun Report, CleanTechnica. Tracking the Sun (PDF) is an annual report from Berkeley Lab on installed solar panel prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.

SOLINATOR VIDEO

Creighton University president rejects student recommendation to divest from fossil fuels

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Creighton University will not divest from fossil fuels, as the Jesuit school’s administration declined to act on a non-binding referendum supported by 86% of the student body. While declining to divest, [President Daniel] Hendrickson announced he has asked the investment subcommittee of the university’s board of trustees to evaluate and consider investments in companies developing alternative energy sources and technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. He added Creighton will continue to use its shareholder position to push for carbon-reduction resolutions, and will seek out partnerships with groups like the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the national Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility.
Read more here.

Links

Photo by Creighton University student Emily Burke: Hundreds of Creighton University students demonstrate outside St. John’s Church on the Omaha, Nebraska campus in April pressing the Jesuit school to take increased action on climate change, including divesting its endowment from fossil fuels.

Additional Resources

As You Sow
Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions. We make that happen.
Resources Include: 

As You Sow has six Invest Your Values online tools, including Fossil Free Funds, which provide a searchable database for each value.
Resources on Climate Change

Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (The Challenge) encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements. Participating institutions will achieve reductions in operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating regenerating funds for future projects. In 2011, The Sustainable Endowments Institute launched The Challenge in collaboration with 16 partner organizations to help nonprofit institutions achieve sizable energy savings through the use of green revolving funds. Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation & Management

CDP
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. We believe that improving corporate awareness through measurement and disclosure is essential to the effective management of carbon and climate change risk. We request information on climate risks and low carbon opportunities from the world’s largest companies on behalf of over 525 institutional investor signatories with a combined US$96 trillion in assets. 

Ceres
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Our mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Initiatives include: Commit to Climate, We Are Still In, Climate Action 100+ and Clean Trillion
Global Initiative: 
Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability

Coalition for Green Capital 
The Coalition for Green Capital’s mission is to drive greater clean energy investment into existing and new markets, in the United States and in developing countries with the goal of creating a 100% clean energy platform. To realize this opportunity, CGC incubates local clean energy finance organizations – often called Green Banks – and structures public, private and mission-driven capital for investment through those organizations. A large network of local clean energy finance organizations can access hard-to-reach projects, expand clean energy equity, and provide a scalable model for a thriving network for clean energy investment.

Proxy Preview
The annual Proxy Preview report is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values with their investments. Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on hundreds of shareholder resolutions – including environmental, corporate political spending, human rights, diversity, sustainable governance issues, and much more. Shareholder resolutions are a key form of engagement for U.S. investors interested in changing the environmental and social impacts of companies. Register for a free account to view the 2019 Proxy Preview report and watch a webinar at the website link above.
Shareholder Resources
Proxy Voting 101

Responsible Endowments Coalition
The Responsible Endowments Coalition works to build and unify the college and university-based responsible investment movement, both by educating and empowering a diverse network of individuals to act on their campuses, and by fostering a national network for collective action. We empower people to defend human rights and the environment while making both corporations and universities accountable to global stakeholders. Our goal is to foster social and environmental change by making responsible investment common practice amongst colleges and universities, and to support the next generation of activists for the endowment movement. Resources are available for: Students / Alumni / Committees, Administrators and Trustees. 

Second Nature
Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education. In late 2006, twelve visionary college and university presidents initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.
See: The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments
Additional Initiatives Include:
Carbon Offset Resources for Colleges and Universities
University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)
Resource Library

Sustainable Endowments Institute
The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) conducts research, education, and outreach to advance resilient institutional responses to climate change. Initiatives Include:

  • The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (See above).
  • GRITS, an online platform designed to streamline the tracking and calculation of project-level energy, financial, and carbon savings data for all sustainability projects and efficiency improvements.
  • The Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign: Since June of 2011, SEI has acted as a campus and endowment consultant for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, working with student groups and partner organizations to advocate for colleges and universities to divest their endowment funds from fossil fuel companies. For more information on the campaign, visit: Power Shift Network and GoFossilFree.org.

Additional Recommended Reading

Morgan Stanley Institute For Sustainable Investing’s Recent Study & Survey
Sustainable Reality: Analyzing Risk and Returns of Sustainable Funds
Morgan Stanley Survey Finds Investor Enthusiasm for Sustainable Investing at an All-Time High

New campaign launched on 30 campuses urges colleges and universities to shift to 100 percent clean renewable power

Environment America News Release

As national campus sustainability month kicks off, Environment America Research & Policy Center is launching 30 campaigns in 11 states, pressing colleges and universities to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources. The initiative aims to get 150 schools to commit by 2021 to exclusively using renewable energy.

The nationwide effort includes targeted weeks of action, petition drives and direct engagement with administration officials to reach this goal. Thousands of students and faculty from every region of the country are expected to mobilize for this cause. Read more here.

The University of California system is ending its investment in fossil fuels

By Umair Irfan, Vox

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

The University of California system, which educates more than 280,000 students and employs 227,000 faculty and staff, announced late Tuesday it is divesting from fossil fuels. It’s the single largest action to date in the growing movement of institutions withdrawing their financial stakes in the industry that’s the principal driver of climate change. “We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk,” wrote Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the UC’s chief investment officer, and Richard Sherman, chair of the UC Board of Regents’ Investments Committee, in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. By the end of September, the UC’s $70 billion pension fund and $13.4 billion endowment will no longer hold any stakes in companies involved with extracting fossil fuels. Read more here.

Related 

  • Study Warns that Gas Plants Could become Stranded Assets, Microgrid Knowledge
    Utilities, investors and regulators should stop the rush to natural gas and choose clean energy portfolios (CEP) made up of combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response, warns a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). If they don’t, many gas plants will become stranded assets, raising the specter that ratepayers will have to pay for them, said Chaz Teplin, a manager in RMI’s electricity practice. “We’re hoping that regulators, utilities and investors think really hard about whether new gas plants are wise investments,” said Teplin.
  • Previously Posted: The growing concern over stranded assets, GreenBiz

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MORE ON CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT

THE TERRATON PROJECT

Mission: Remove a trillion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, GreenBiz
The Terraton Initiative embodies one specific goal — to remove 1 trillion metric tons of carbon from Earth’s atmosphere. Indigo Agriculture, an agricultural technology company based in Massachusetts, founded and runs the project.

GLOBAL ENERGY STORAGE REPORTS

Nothing standing in the way of energy storage’s ‘explosive growth’: Navigant, Utility Dive
“Nothing really does seem to be standing in the way of its explosive growth,” Ricardo Rodriguez, research analyst for distributed energy storage at Navigant Research, told Utility Dive. The market research company in its latest report identified close to 2,100 energy storage projects globally. And international storage markets are anticipated to grow exponentially over the next decade, a second report from Rethink Technology Research found.

What Is the Climate Strike? An Adult’s Guide to What, Why, and How to Help

By Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Senior Analyst, Climate & Energy,
Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

On Friday, September 20, a rare moment will take place in the long and bruising climate fight: a youth-led, global demonstration of power, solidarity, and determination—and if history is any guide, real beauty, too. On this day, in thousands of locations around the world, young people—perhaps millions—will strike against a status quo of complacency, inaction, and injustice on climate change, and join voices to demand a livable future. Here are some things you need to know to about the upcoming climate strike, including why this moment is so vital, and how you can show your support as an ally to youth around the globe and right here at home.

When I was around [16-year old Swedish climate activist and original climate striker, Greta Thunberg’s] age, climate change was already in the news and on my mind. But unlike today, we had time then to arrest the problem, bend the upward curve our emissions were on, and avert really dangerous changes and impacts. And unlike Greta and today’s young climate activists, I had great confidence that we would do it. Anything else would be insane, disastrous, unthinkable. But here we are, several decades later. Read more here.

Nebraska Events

Omaha Climate Strike
Friday, September 20, 2019 – 8 AM to 12 PM
Omaha City Hall steps, 1819 Farnam Street
Click here for details.

Nebraska Climate Strike – Lincoln
Friday, September 20, 2019
Meet at Nebraska Union’s Green Space at 2:30 PM on UNL’s campus.
March begins at 3 PM to Nebraska State Capitol Building, 1445 K Street.
Join this event on Facebook. 

Previously Posted News, Opinion & Resources

We Are Still In Coalition

Almost 4,000 states, cities, counties, companies, universities, colleges and other institutions are now members of the We Are Still In coalition, which is committed to meeting the U.S. emissions goals under the Paris Agreement. Coalition leaders currently represent over 150 million people and nearly $9.5 trillion in GDP.

Environment America Resources

CSU makes sustainable practices a focal point

By Jackie Laughlin, The Creightonian

Among many events and initiatives that Creighton Students Union worked on this summer, the implementation of sustainability on campus were the most abundant. The plans for sustainability initiatives did not stop with the beginning of school. CSU is also planning their first Farmer’s Market to take place over Family Weekend on Sept. 20 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. in Anderson Plaza.

According to Donna Shahbazi, president of CSU, the market is a sustainability initiative from the Board of Representatives in which fresh and organic food from local vendors will be brought to campus. Shahbazi said that the organization is also continuing to push forward the asks of the Creighton Climate Justice movement. “One of those asks is that the University divest their endowment from the fossil fuel industry. Members on our Board of Representatives are writing a Divestment Referendum that will be up for an internal CSU vote this month,” she said.
Read more here.

Photo: Creighton University’s 85-kilowatt parking lot solar canopy off Cuming Street.

Previously Posted

Opinion: Renewable electricity is the solution to the climate crisis, by Zach Renshaw, Chair of Doane University’s Climate Reality Campus Corps, The Doane Line

International News

  • Majors urged to lead energy transition, Petroleum Economist
    International oil companies (IOCs) face a major challenge from investors pulling out of fossil fuel-related businesses but are also in a unique position to reshape public perceptions and become trusted custodians of the world’s energy resources, a leading force behind the COP 21 Paris Agreement told the SPE Offshore Europe 2019 conference. In the past four years over 1,000 institutions have together pledged to divest more than $6tn from fossil fuels, an 11,200pc increase over the previous period, says Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016.
  • MP Pension blacklists oil companies including Shell, BP and Exxon, IPE.Com

We Are Still In Coalition Update

Here in the United States, almost 4,000 states, cities, counties, companies, and other institutions are now members of the We Are Still In coalition, which is committed to meeting the U.S. emissions goals under the Paris Agreement.

Save the Date! October 8, 2019: Our speaker will be Tyler Mainquist, CFP®, ChFC®, CAP®, CLTC Financial Advisor, Central Financial Services, Lincoln.

Align Your Principal with Your Principles – Investing in a Clean Energy Economy

This presentation will provide practical methods for implementing sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing — including how to avoid carbon-intensive and other polluting industries, and instead support companies that are working to reduce, mitigate, and/or adapt to our changing global climate. Additional material will cover recent updates re: comparisons against traditional investing, as well as the use of companies’ ESG (environmental, social, governance) data to reduce financial risk by avoiding bad corporate behavior.

Co-sponsored by Green Bellevue, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, Conservation Nebraska, Nebraska Sierra Club, OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team

Click here for additional details.

Opinion: Renewable electricity is the solution to the climate crisis

By Zach Renshaw, The Doane Line

This year at Doane, the Climate Reality Project Campus Corps of Doane University are working to help Doane commit to 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030. There are a number of benefits to pursuing this: lower costs, lower environmental impact, first in the state, etc. Doane was not only the first school in Nebraska to divest from fossil fuels last spring but [also] to commit to be the first school in the state to become carbon neutral through 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Continue reading here.

Photo: Zach Renshaw, Chair of Doane University’s Climate Reality Campus Corps

Previously Posted

More About The Climate Reality Project

100% Committed
Climate Reality Project’s 100% Committed Toolkit offers a step-by-step guide to building a 100% campaign, as well as all the tips and resources needed to organize your community and work with your school, city or town, or local businesses to shift to 100-percent renewable electricity.

Climate Reality Campus Corps
With help from National Climate Reality staff, students at participating campuses receive guidance in designing campaigns and organizing fellow students to convince their schools to embrace clean energy and sustainability.

Jonathan Scott Answers Climate Reality’s Solar Energy Questions
The following conversation is excerpted from Knowledge is Power, a new collaborative e-book from solar energy advocate and Property Brothers co-host Jonathan Scott and Climate Reality. Download a free copy of the e-book.

Video: Climate 101 With Bill Nye 
Take Climate 101 with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and learn the scientific fundamentals of climate change in under five minutes.

Solar as a crop? Penn State to install state’s largest solar array on 500 acres of farmland.

By Ellie Rushing, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Glenn and Catherine Dice have been farmers all their lives, owning 60 cows at one point and growing corn, wheat, alfalfa, and barley on what has become 700 acres in Franklin County, southwest of Harrisburg. But in the last year, the Dices added a new crop to their fields: solar panels. In a growing trend across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country, the Dices have agreed to a 25-year contract to rent 134 acres to Lightsource BP, a London-based solar company with an office in Philadelphia. Lightsource is renting a total of 500 acres of land from seven Franklin County farm owners to install a utility-scale solar array with 150,000 panels, in what will be the largest solar installation in the state. It will sell the power generated to Pennsylvania State University, providing 25% of the university’s electrical needs for all its campuses. As a nonprofit, Penn State is not eligible for the 30% tax incentive that comes with installing solar. Since Lightsource is eligible, purchasing the electricity through that company significantly reduces the university’s entry cost and liability. Read more here.

Doane university divests from fossil fuels

KLKN TV News

Doane University students and staff are working together to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.  They will be switching to sustainable technologies through investing in renewable resources as the source of their power. Doane currently has two investments in the oil and gas industries that are set to expire in the next 10 years. Through the influence of the student movement, the university has agreed to no longer renew these partnerships. Doane University’s agreement is the first in Nebraska. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Doane Commits Divestment of Fossil Fuels, Doane Line
Doane University has committed to no longer investing in fossil fuels, according to a press release on Monday May 21st. “On May 3, 2019, Doane University’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to stop and end all future investments in fossil fuel companies,” the press release stated.

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy

A report by Environment America Research & Policy Center
Environment America News Release

America’s colleges and universities are leading the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy system. Small liberal arts colleges, large public universities and community colleges  alike, from every corner of the U.S., are taking the lead in reducing energy consumption,  deploying renewable energy technologies, and switching to electric vehicles.

The nation’s leading campuses for clean energy — from the University of Minnesota, Morris to  Southwestern University in Texas — are setting a strong example for other colleges and the  nation as a whole to follow. More than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources.  And, of the 180 schools that  have reported their renewable energy data to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), 91 percent are using some amount of renewable energy.

Campuses are also leading in cleaning up our transportation system. Each of the top 10 schools for electric vehicles (EVs) in this ranking have switched over 60 percent of their campus-owned vehicles to EVs. Of the 261 campuses reporting their campus fleet details to STARS, 88 percent have at least one EV. Continue reading here.

Download the full report.
Learn about Environment America’s 100% Renewable campaign.