Creating a Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund: A Guide for Students

For Immediate Release - Thursday, April 12, 2007
Contact: Julian Dautremont-Smith, AASHE Associate Director - (610) 349-5994

AASHE Releases Guide to Help Campuses Fund Sustainability Projects

 A Guide for Students

AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, has released a new guide intended to help campuses overcome a major barrier to implementing sustainability projects. The how-to manual, entitled

Creating a Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund: A Guide for Students, describes an innovative and powerful mechanism for financing sustainability projects, such as energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations, on campus.

The high initial cost of many sustainability projects can often deter campuses from implementing them, despite the fact that such projects often have long-term cost savings. A revolving loan fund helps overcome this challenge by providing zero or low interest loans to fund money-saving sustainability projects. A portion of the savings generated from these projects is then reinvested into the fund until the loan has been paid off. The guide provides step-by-step directions for establishing such a fund, based on the experiences of the authors in setting up a revolving loan fund at Macalester College.

The authors, both sophomores at Macalester, led the effort to create the College's Clean Energy Revolving Fund (CERF). CERF is distinct from most other campus sustainability revolving loan funds in that students sit on the board that administers the fund and evaluate project proposals.

"We wanted to ensure that, in addition to helping finance sustainability projects on campus, the fund would educate and empower students, said Timothy Den Herder-Thomas, one of the authors. "Our guide is specifically targeted to help students at other campuses establish revolving loan funds that include substantial student involvement."

The guide provides several examples of how institutions have used revolving loan funds to fund sustainability projects. Most notably, Harvard's Green Campus Loan Fund has invested almost $9 million in over 160 projects and achieved an average return on investment of over 30 percent.

"Despite the promise of revolving loan funds to advance sustainability on campus, only a handful of campuses have actually created such funds," said Tom Kimmerer, AASHE's Executive Director. "We hope this guide will enable many more campuses to establish campus sustainability revolving loan funds."

The guide is available for download at: 
http://www.aashe.org/documents/resources/pdf/CERF.pdf

About AASHE:
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada working to create a sustainable future. It was founded in 2006 with a mission to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education - from governance and operations to curriculum and outreach - through education, communication, research and professional development. AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations.