Green Revolving Fund invites students to develop smart sustainability measures on campus

Unplugged Ridgeview Hall_22_ALTSUNY New Paltz is announcing the chartering of a new Green Revolving Fund, a student-driven investment fund that will be used to implement energy efficiency and sustainability projects on campus.

The plan to establish a Green Revolving Fund at New Paltz comes from the Strategic Corporate Sustainability course led by Michael Sheridan, assistant professor in the School of Business. The course introduces ideas for how sustainable practices can generate a competitive business advantage, making the concept of sustainability investment at the College a natural fit for this group of graduate students.

“I came to my students last semester with this idea, and basically said ‘I want you to figure out how to make this work,’” Sheridan said. “They did an incredible job rising to the challenge. It was their enthusiasm and their ability to define this project that I believe led to the fund’s approval and launch.”

The students took ownership of the development of an official proposal, from the research documenting the funding and performance of similar investments at other institutions, to the presentation before College administration and the Student Senate that led to its approval.

“This project was student-implemented, and going forward it’s going to remain in their hands, because the projects that will be funded will be researched and developed by students,” said Christopher Mosco ’15 (Journalism) ’16g (Business Administration). “To me that’s the most exciting part, and I’m very optimistic that this fund will feed into sustainability at the College for years to come.”

The fund requires that all approved projects generate measurable cost-savings that can be repaid into the fund, ensuring that it is self-perpetuating (with opportunities for growth over time), while providing for continuous reinvestment in the greening of the campus community. The plan follows a model that has been increasing in popularity at college campuses in recent years.

“This concept is proven to work,” Sheridan said. “There are about 100 or so campuses that have some sort of investment like this, and they experience an average return on investment of about 30 percent.”

The initial financing of the Green Revolving Fund will come from multiple sources, including a one-time seed donation from the School of Business, and a new, optional Green Investment of $3 that students may choose to contribute beginning in fall 2016.

The fund will be overseen by a board of faculty, staff, alumni and students chosen through an open application process. The board will evaluate and select proposals for investment. The proposal process will be open to all SUNY New Paltz community members, though proposals from students will be given priority.

Successful proposals will need to define the purpose, financial outlook, execution and evaluation measures for each project. Funded proposals will be expected to return investment within a maximum payback period of six years; after 100% of the funds have been paid back, the Green Revolving Fund will continue to accrue 90% of the savings, with 10% going to the College, until six years have passed, after which time all cost savings will accrue to the College.