UW Launches Fund to Support Efficiency and Conservation
With the launch of a new Conservation and Efficiency Revolving Fund (CERF), the University of Wyoming now has an innovative mechanism to reduce on-campus energy, water, and waste use and expenditures.
Emerging from a student project in the spring 2013 campus sustainability course, the UW Campus Sustainability Committee (CSC) designed the CERF to finance projects that emphasize good stewardship of state resources.
“Cost savings from projects funded through the CERF will be tracked and revolved to continually fund additional cost-effective projects that provide a high return on our institutional investment,” says Jim Scott, director of the UW Physical Plant and CSC co-chair.
He says the CERF will help address UW’s obligations under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The CERF is based in the Physical Plant, which provided the initial $250,000 in seed capital for the fund. Additionally, academic stakeholders, including the School of Energy Resources, the College of Business, the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, played a key role in developing the fund.
“This project has been a real team effort between administrative and academic units on campus with coordination from the CSC,” Scott says.
UW facilities staff and CSC members will continue to manage the CERF, with the goal of raising at least an additional $750,000 for the fund. Scott adds, “Future projects will be selected based on their potential to reduce energy consumption, preserve environmental resources, and decrease UW’s carbon footprint.”
Projects will be tracked and evaluated with internal metrics as well as through the Green Revolving Investment Tracking Systems (GRITS), which UW gained access to with membership in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The challenge provides informational resources for universities to create and manage revolving funds.
CERF benefits extend beyond brick and mortar improvements to campus learning opportunities. In addition to saving resources, the ability to engage students is a key requirement for future project selection and overall fund management.
“The CERF is an exciting opportunity for student learning at the University of Wyoming. Academic stakeholders can now collaborate with the Physical Plant and the Campus Sustainability Committee to provide a living laboratory that promotes graduate student research, course projects and student engagement geared toward the best use of state resources,” says John Mittelstaedt, interim dean of the College of Business.
The fund also will support UW’s land-grant university mission. Mittelstaedt emphasizes that “What we learn from the CERF process will provide best practices for efficiency and conservation that can be applied across the state.”
Students, staff and faculty will be able to propose projects for funding through the CERF, once it is fully implemented. Current plans are to solicit project proposals during the fall 2014 semester.
To learn more about the CERF and to get involved with the CSC, visit www.uwyo.edu/sustainability/cerf/.