ALLIANCE — The University of Mount Union’s Green Revolving Fund (GRF) continues to make a commitment to sustainability efforts on campus. The GRF was approved in 2016 by the University’s Board of Trustees and has been used to cycle back savings from energy efficiency improvements to fund future sustainability projects on campus.
The focus of the Green Revolving Fund is to develop projects in water conservation, energy consumption, and renewable energy. The projects must have a measurable Return on Investment (ROI) of five years or less to reinvest for projects in the future. The concept is to view these projects as an investment in energy efficiency and to engage the campus community to get involved by proposing their own energy efficiency projects.
“The Green Revolving Fund is an internal investment strategy that provides financing for implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy and other sustainability projects that generate cost-savings,” said Jamie Greiner, sustainability and campus outreach manager at Mount Union. “The GRF reframes energy efficiency projects as investments as opposed to costs, which is how they’re usually viewed. Utilizing savings from past projects turns the initial monetary allocation into a targeted program of investment. The cost savings and emissions reductions continually accumulate with each round of projects. The GRF just makes sense.”
Based on past completed projects, the University is making considerable efforts towards a more sustainable campus while keeping the goal of climate neutrality by the year 2046 in mind.
In 2016, 100 motion sensors, which turn off the lights when areas are not being used, were installed throughout campus. In addition, the Physical Plant staff retrofitted a chemistry lab fume hood and replaced all of the lightbulbs in Bracy Hall with LED bulbs.
In the summer of 2017, an effort was made to reduce energy consumption through resident housing lighting renovations. The GRF was utilized to replace regular lightbulbs with LED bulbs in more than 100 apartments, seven traditional and three suite-style residence halls.
In 2018, campus lighting renovations involved replacing 220 outdoor light poles with LED bulbs, continued upgrade of buildings, and installing programmable thermostats in some of the campus apartments, with the hopes of continuing. To date, 912,874 square feet of building space has been converted to LED lighting and rebates have totaled $130,000. Of the 35 buildings updated, 33 have been completed solely by Mount Union’s Physical Plant staff. With labor coming primarily from these University employees, along with help from Scott Electric and rebates through First Energy, the payback for most of these projects has been under one year and results in direct energy savings year after year.
The University intends to continue utilizing the GRF towards improving sustainability on campus in the coming years. The next set of projects includes upgrade of Bracy Fume Hoods and installation of additional programmable thermostats.
New project ideas are welcomed and are encouraged. Project ideas can be submitted through the online form at mountunion.edu/green-revolving-fund. The GRF is also an option for donors. Therefore, anyone with a passion for renewable energy and sustainability can make a direct donation to support campus projects.