SEA, Univ. to develop sustainability fund

February 8, 2008

Following the implementation of the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment signed by President Reinharz last September, a sustainability fund is now in the development phase.

The fund is intended to provide financial support in an effort to improve the university’s environmental performance as well as decrease the university’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

The sustainability fund would accrue monies from the Brandeis community in order to increase environmental sustainability. Students for Environmental Action has partnered with the university to develop the fund.

Stephanie Sofer ’09, SEA President, said, “The fund would help the university save money…and it would provide financial support to things like water conservation, energy conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, hazard waste reduction, to name a few examples.”

A revolving loan fund would be the basis for the fund. The fund would allocate money to sustainable projects with the idea that the money saved would be directed back into the fund over time. Funds such as these have been implemented across the country in colleges and universities such as Harvard.

Sofer illustrated the significance behind a replenishing fund. “A replenishing fund ensures its longevity and growth and increases the viability, scope and scale of environmental initiatives,” she said.

With the implementation of the university’s sustainability fund, demonstrating leadership on prominent environmental issues would be encouraged, which supports connections outside the university’s community.

“We want the fund to promote culture,” Sofer commented. “The notion of culture is so pivotal because it relies upon the daily practices of students and all the members of our community.”

The fund would be accessible to anyone in the Brandeis community as a reimbursement for costs acquired through environmental or behavioral improvements that decrease the university’s environmental impact.

“If the science department wants energy efficient light-bulbs, or hypothetically having solar panels on the admissions building, depending on how much the fund grows, it can be used for rudimentary things such as light-bulbs to larger things such as solar panels,” said Sofer.

The Brandeis Environmental Sustainability Team subcommittee comprised of a group of faculty, staff, and students would oversee the fund in order to ensure that its projects increase environmental sustainability.

The team would review possible projects intended to decrease the university’s ecological impact.

While the fund is still in a development phase, Sofer encouraged community members, to conserve “energy through switching lights to compact florescent light-bulbs, being conscious of our water, and just being aware can impact environmental sustainability.”

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