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University of LaVerne (Calif.)
Climate change is worldwide and very prevalent in Southern California where we face constant electrical shortages and drought. Because the mission statement for the University of La Verne contains the following verbiage, “The University affirms a philosophy of life that actively supports peace with justice, the health of the planet and its people.” Therefore, in light of this affirmation, it encourages students to become reflective about personal, professional, and societal values. It also encourages values-based ethical behavior, the decision was made to take a holistic approach toward sustainability.
University of La Verne was one of the first campuses to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. Through its participation in the program, the University committed to spend $400,000 on sustainable initiatives within five years. To date, the University has already spent more than $630,000 in just three and a half years. The University has converted total 125,000 square feet of grass into more sustainable areas by adding drought tolerant plants and changing the irrigation from spray heads to drip irrigation, converted both interior and exterior lighting to LED, changed out several air conditioning units and upgraded automation. We recently completed a project with an outside contractor to perform retrocommissioning of campus buildings. Three buildings were studied in 2015 which led to seven significant energy saving projects costing over $350,000.
The enrollment in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge allows tracking of each sustainable project. Through this tracking, the University of La Verne is building a Green Revolving Fund. Sustainable projects are funded through operational budgets and tracked through the Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS). This program shows the annual payback and ROI on each project. An annual report is generated that shows exactly how much energy is saved from each project with the costs saved. The cumulative annual savings is then transferred from the utilities budget into the Green Revolving Fund. (The 2016 annual report showing all savings from 2015 is attached to this submission.) The Green Revolving Fund is dedicated to only sustainable projects. The energy savings for each project will be calculated through GRITS and money saved will be placed back into the Green Revolving Fund every year. This will allow for study growth of the Green Revolving Fund and ensure future sustainable projects.
The challenge of taking a holistic approach is that it so encompassing. Funding is obviously an issue, but the Facilities Management Department has been able to combine projects that include deferred maintenance with sustainable initiatives. Another area that is paramount is inclusivity. It is vital that the sustainable message permeate through all areas of campus. To address this issue, the University of La Verne created the Sustainable Campus Consortium. It is co-chaired by the Vice President of Facilities and Technology and the Chair of the Natural Sciences Department. Members include faculty, staff and students. The consortium meets monthly and is responsible for several areas including oversight and management of the Green Revolving Fund.
As a major part of the holistic approach, the University of La Verne has addressed sustainability in academic programming in two ways. First, as part of the Life Science General Education requirement, all students must take BIOL 101. A central component of the course is sustainability and environmental problem-solving. Our ongoing curricular efforts most recently resulted in the development of a new academic minor in sustainability to complement our existing programs. The Sustainability minor is intended to broaden the scope of our sustainability curriculum beyond science majors to include students in any major. The minor will allow students on any career track to apply sustainability principles to their own career arenas and advocate for sustainability in ways that benefit the planet and their career endeavors. The minor was rolled out just recently, in fall 2015.
During this current semester, the Sustainable Campus Consortium introduced and implemented a program/challenge for our residence halls to reduce their power consumption and educated our students how they can achieve that goal. The result was a 14% reduction in the electricity consumption in our residence halls. This program has not only helped save energy for today, it has also educated our residence students on ways to save energy which will help them in the future.
Robert Beebe, Senior Director of Physical Plant Operations and Services
Clive Houston-Brown, Vice President of Facilities and Technology
Raymond West, Assistant Vice President of Facilities & Space Management
Mehran Mohtasham, Assistant Director of Off Campus Assets, Energy & Space Management
Garth Jones, Assistant Director of Physical Plant Operations & Systems
Christine Broussard, Professor of Biology