“We at the Center want to offer more than administrative support to the GRF,” says Dr. John Wear, Center executive director. “We are intentionally working to integrate the GRF into the academic life of the college and the research projects of our interns – both Catawba students and individuals from other institutions,” he says.
The Center is also connecting Sustainable Catawba – an organization that brings together student groups that are engaged in activities to lessen the college’s ecological footprint – to the Green Revolving Fund. “This provides a way to interface with the greater campus,” Wear says. “Sustainable Catawba Lunch-and-Learn sessions offer opportunities for students to provide input on projects they think would advance sustainability on the campus. The meetings also serve to educate students, faculty and staff on everything from energy audits to environmental research projects.”
Connecting the work of the GRF to the greater campus is second nature for the Center staff. “We are always looking for opportunities to offer value-added education for our students as we promote sustainable practices,” Wear says. “This is a perfect opportunity to do that.”
The college created the Green Revolving Fund (GRF) fall of 2012 to finance on-campus investments in clean energy and resource reduction. Catawba President Brien Lewis learned about GRFs at a Presidents’ Climate Commitment Conference in Washington, D.C., last summer. “It seemed to me to be the perfect mechanism in that it already had a structure that we could quickly adopt and build around and report to as part of the national effort,” he says, “so in no way did we feel we were operating alone.”
Catawba is one of 42 institutions, mainly colleges and universities, in the United States and Canada that are employing this method of funding sustainable projects. GRFs capture the savings from lower utility bills and other resource reduction programs, using that money to reinvest in more projects that reduce the college’s ecological footprint.