Colgate launches new support for green projects on campus

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Colgate’s Green Revolving Loan Fund is a newly-launched  initiative geared toward reducing the university’s carbon footprint, and staff in the Buildings and Grounds Department are already leading the way with the fund’s first energy-saving project.

The loan fund, which is seeded with $230,000, is designed to support significant physical upgrades that have a clear, measurable change in the university’s ecological impact.

“The requirements for each project is that they reduce our ecological or carbon footprint, and it has to have a return on investment,” said John Pumilio, director of the Office of Sustainability. “It has to save money and reduce our resource use, with an extra attention on carbon to help meet our carbon neutrality goal of 2019.”

Individuals with project ideas need to complete and submit a proposal to the Sustainability Council for review, and if the suggestion is approved, the fund finances the cost of the upgrades, and the savings from implementation go to pay back the loan, plus 20 percent, to grow the overall pool of money to fund future projects.

The first identified green loan went to the replacement of 88 light bulbs in Little Hall. That $1,300 project will cut about 33,000 kilowatts of energy use each year, take less than a year to repay, and will save the university nearly $20,000 during the expected lifespan of the new energy-efficient bulbs.

“We’re starting small so we can understand how to best measure the effort. Because of the size of the fund and the abundance of projects that we could potentially take on, we are focused only on buildings and grounds projects right now, Pumilio said. “But in the future, I think we’ll be reviewing a lot of proposals from outside B+G.”

Colgate has committed to becoming carbon neutral in time for the university’s bicentennial. The revolving loan fund contributes to a concerted effort to improve building standards, increase recycling, reduce waste, and new programmatic offerings that enhances teaching and learning for long-term sustainability on campus.