The College of William and Mary has signed on to the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge, pledging to grow its green revolving fund for environmental efforts from $200,000 to $1 million by 2025.
Henry Broaddus, the college’s vice president for strategic initiatives and public affairs, announced the adoption of the college’s first long-term Sustainability Plan.
William and Mary is the first public institution in Virginia to join the billion dollar green challenge.
“Today we are affirming green is more than just a school color,” Broaddus said. “We are affirming that sustainability in its broadest sense, beyond environmental conservation alone, is a core institutional value.”
With a combination of cost-reducing elements and efforts that will cost money, a statement from the college said it plans to invest in sustainability because of its overarching importance for the future of the university and the world.
William and Mary’s green revolving fund, the Green to Gold Fund, provides loans to William and Mary departments and offices for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or resource use. Some of the savings are paid back into the fund to be used for other projects.
The pilot project for the Green to Gold Fund was an LED lighting retrofit for the parking deck on Ukrop Way in 2016 that initially cost $80,000, but saves $17,000 a year in utility expenses and bulb replacements.
The college started the Green to Gold Fund in 2016 with $200,000 from student Green Fee revenue. The student Green Fee funds a variety of research, initiatives and projects. Broaddus said that 80 percent of the student population voted to create a student fee of $15 a semester, later increased to $20 a semester, which is now the Green Fee.
“This is such a William and Mary story because it's about students as the drivers of change,” Broaddus said.
He said the William and Mary went from receiving a D- in sustainability from the Sustainable Endowments Institute in 2007, to earning a silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2016.
“Let’s treat this not as a finishing line but as a new starting line, and let's all do even more to meet the ambitious goals of this plan,” Broddaus said. “Any organization that has lasted more than 325 years knows a thing or two about sustainability but our best work in that domain lies ahead of us.”