The Billion Dollar Green Challenge: Colleges Investing in a Sustainable Future

solar panels at worcester polytechnic institute
Solar panels on a building at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

With news reports covering everything from extreme heat to frigid freezes, there’s no denying our planet is going through some changes we’ve never before experienced in our lifetimes. That being said, it’s clear that it’s now more important than ever before to stay aware of how our actions are affecting the planet. We need to mindfully take steps to reduce the harm reverse the damage that’s been done.

In response to these needs, a number of colleges and universities across North America are now participating in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, an initiative that strives to make campuses greener, more efficient entities. Presently, there are over 40 participating organizations across the U.S. and Canada and range all the way from Harvard to Stanford to Green Mountain College.

The basis of the challenge is for colleges, universities and non-profits to invest a combined total of one billion dollars (hence the title) into green improvements. However, these aren’t just normal, everyday investments. The challenge wants the organizations to use self-managed “green revolving funds” as these will help create a cycle of energy efficiency for the entities.

The main idea is that the money in these funds goes toward improvements that improve energy efficiency and decrease resource use. Basically, as organizations continually do this, they will see a decrease in their harmful emissions and a savings in their operating expenses. In turn, they are to re-invest the savings into the GRF so that it has a continual flow of funds. From updating the water system, to changing the equipment that is used to maintain the campus grounds, there are numerous areas of improvement where GRFs can be applied.

Participating schools and organizations must complete an energy audit and form a team to guide the green efforts. Members of the challenge will begin to see a decrease in their emissions, and enjoy hefty financial savings, all in the name of Mother Earth.

Each individual organization’s contribution to the overall billion-dollar goal is proportional to their overall worth and value, so lower-income entities need not worry about meeting goals beyond their reach.

Led by a group of over 30 qualified professionals from organizations and companies such as the EPA, participants even have access to informative webinars and more to aid their efforts. Overall, this initiative is a great way to bring environmental awareness to the forefront of the educational scene. The students there, after all, will be the ones faced with making the life-changing decisions for the planet in the future.

Aniya Wells is a freelance blogger whose primary focus is writing about online degree programs. She also enjoys investigating trends in other niches, notably technology, traditional higher education, health, and small business. Aniya welcomes reader questions and comments at [email protected].

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