Bethany College Accepts $1 Billion Green Challenge as a Founding Institution

LINDSBORG, KAN., October 11, 2011—Bethany College and 32 other leading institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, and Arizona State, have launched the Billion Dollar Green Challenge by committing $65 million to green revolving funds. The Challenge’s goal is to invest a cumulative total of one billion dollars in self-managed green revolving funds that finance energy efficiency upgrades on campuses.

The Green Challenge is coordinated by the Sustainable Endowments Institute and 13 other partner institutions. An expert advisory council of 34 members will offer technical assistance, best practices sharing, access to an advanced web-based tool for managing green revolving funds, peer institutions’ project-specific data and invitations to specialized webinars and conferences.

Bethany College is the only institution in the Great Plains region to be part of the Founding Circle. “This is a great opportunity for the Green Team to expand its efforts and connect with other institutions’ green initiatives,” said Noni Strand, campus pastor and Bethany Green Team leader. “A recent campaign has been to reduce disposable water bottles, which included installing water fountains that can fill up reusable containers.”

Bethany’s Green Team, an established group of faculty, staff, students, and local Lindsborg community members, will review and evaluate potential projects that reduce energy and water consumption, lower carbon emissions, and provide a return on investment. Tracking and evaluation of projects will be conducted by the Green Team, Facilities Department, and Business Office to involve constituencies across campus and the community.

“The Green Challenge supports Bethany’s core value of sustainability through environmental and financial methods,” said Bob Schmoll, vice president of operations. “Each year for four years, $25,000 from the capital expenditure budget will be dedicated, totaling $100,000 for green projects. The resulting savings will be reinvested to perpetuate the fund.”

Green revolving funds earn a median annual return on investment of 32% according to the Sustainable Endowments Institution’s report, Greening the Bottom Line, available at www.GreeningTheBottomLine.org. With the Challenge, the Sustainable Endowments Institute hopes to change the perception that energy efficiency measures are expensive into the realization that such measures are good investments.

“We’re transforming energy efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high-return investment opportunities,” said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. “Bethany College should be commended for rising to the Challenge and investing in energy efficiency improvements on campus.”

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge launched publicly today at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in Pittsburgh. With more than 2,500 participants, the conference is the largest gathering to date on higher education sustainability. The appendix includes a complete list of Founding Circle Institutions.  Visit www.GreenBillion.org for more information about the Challenge.

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge has received financial support from the David Rockefeller Fund, HOK, John Merck Fund, Kresge Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Roy A. Hunt Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, and the Wallace Global Fund.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute was founded in 2005 as a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The Cambridge-based nonprofit organization has pioneered research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.

APPENDIX: Billion Dollar Green Challenge – Founding Circle institutions

Agnes Scott College
Arizona State University
Bellevue College
Berkshire School
Bethany College
Boston University
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
Burlington College
California Institute of Technology
Daemen College
Dartmouth College
Denison University
Edgewood College
George Washington University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Green Mountain College
Hampshire College
Harvard University
Mars Hill College
Middlebury College
Northland College
Oregon State University
St. Lawrence University
Stanford University
Thompson Rivers University
Unity College
University of Arizona
University of British Columbia
University of Minnesota
University of New Hampshire
University of Oregon
Weber State University
Western Michigan University