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Olin College Establishes Revolving Green Fund to Support Sustainability Projects

 Olin College has established the Olin College Revolving Green Fund (ORGF) to provide a continuous source of funding and support for sustainability projects. The Fund will begin accepting proposals September 1, 2017, and, if approved, projects will be funded from $40,000 in initial seed funding provided by Olin College and Aramark Corporation, Facilities Services.

The mission of the Fund is to reduce Olin’s impact on the environment while engaging and educating the community. Claire Rodgers, Olin’s energy manager, and the Sustainability Steering Committee including: Professor of Design and Mechanical Engineering Benjamin Linder, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Entrepreneurship Alison Wood, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Scott Hersey, and Director of Facilities Services Russell Zacharias; and students Meg Lidrbauch, Anisha Nakagawa and Alisha Pegan brought the idea of a revolving green fund to Olin administration in early 2017. Executive Vice President Stephen Hannabury; Vice President for Financial Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Patricia Gallagher and Provost and Dean of Faculty Vincent Manno welcomed the idea with enthusiasm.

The Fund will help promote Olin’s commitment to sustainability and encourage community members to pursue creative ideas and explore emerging technologies in the sustainability realm. As the fund grows in size, it will provide a financial mechanism for Olin College to explore sustainability projects with higher capital costs and a longer payback timeframe than is currently possible within existing budgets.

In order to keep the Fund financially viable, three levels of projects will be considered: projects with a capital cost of $2,500 or less and no payback period, projects with a payback period of less than five years and projects with a payback period of greater than or equal to five years. All projects must also:

  • Reduce environmental impact, such as lowered energy or water usage, reduced waste, or reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Have educational aspects, such as signage or programming to educate the larger community on environmental concerns

As an example, a proposed project could include changing the current lighting to LED technology for increased efficiency. If a project is approved, a certain percentage of the calculated savings will go back into the Fund and a certain portion will go into the operating budget. The return of a portion of the savings to the Fund will allow the balance of the fund to grow over time.

 “We are delighted this idea came together so quickly. Olin College has a deep commitment to continuing to find ways to reduce the college’s impact on the environment by promoting more sustainable ways of working,” said Gallagher. “The Olin College Revolving Green Fund will help us do that.”

Anyone in the Olin community, including students, faculty and staff can submit a proposal for a project by filling out an application and emailing it to: mailto:olingreenfund.olin.edu. The community member will work with Facilities or a member of the ORGF Committee to determine the cost of the project, the energy savings, and the payback period. And when appropriate to develop an implementation plan.

All of the ongoing projects and their savings will be tracked so that a public report can be distributed annually for the community.