Hiram College has joined a nationwide group of institutions of higher learning, the Sustainable Endowments Institute and a number of other environmental organizations in the “The Billion Dollar Green Challenge,” an effort that encourages colleges, universities and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements.
The Challenge is aimed at helping each institution achieve sizable energy savings, tracking the savings they achieve through the program and creating a revolving fund that will make funds available for further energy saving projects.
“We already have made major steps in reducing our energy use, with the solar panel arrays we have installed on campus,” said Hiram President Thomas V. Chema. “And we are anticipating making many more in the future in order to lower the College’s carbon footprint. The challenge will help focus and measure our efforts.”
Participating institutions will create revolving funds, which will provide money for projects like solar and wind power generation, updating lighting, and heating and air conditioning systems. Once the energy saving measures are in place, the savings are plowed back into the fund from utility budgets to provide resources for future projects. Hiram has set $600,000 as its goal for savings in the initial funding for the Challenge.
The challenge is the latest in several efforts by Hiram to achieve energy efficiency and sustainability.
About 1,200 new solar panels, installed on a two-acre site at the north end of campus, are expected to be operational this fall, providing electricity for the school’s central services and art buildings. Solar panels already provide part of the electricity necessary to power the Les and Cathy Coleman Sports Center, and sweeping updates of lighting and HVAC systems across the campus are also planned.
Over the next two years Hiram’s Environmental Studies department and students will be converting a college-owned former faculty residence near campus into an energy-efficient learning center for Teaching, Research, and Environmental Engagement — or what they’re calling the TREE House.
The project aims to show how energy efficiency and sustainability can are possible, even on a tight family budget.