October 13, 2011
CNN’s new program with Erin Burnett is a fresh approach to headline news. She’s “OutFront” with the leading news and really flies below the radar screen.
Through our lens, we look at the environment and a national energy policy and see that our leaders have done nothing. Zip! A lot of conversation, debate, and failed attempts in the last several years that could not achieve majority approval probably best summarizes the discussions.
In the meantime, global populations keep growing while more power is needed for iPads, iPhones, and more cars on the highways. What have we done? Since the gas lines of the 1970’s, Washington has provided little direction.
But, there is a shining star (or stars). It looks like 52 colleges and universities are outfront. Energy costs are rising and many innovative colleges are using green revolving funds (GRF’s) to invest in cost saving initiatives in energy efficiency upgrades and projects to reduce college overhead. The cost savings flow to the bottom line of the college and then back to the GRF for reinvestment in additional projects.
Foundations and endowments often speak about “impact investments.” Results from the different colleges show returns ranging from 20% to 47% with a median return of 32%. Not bad! The schools reported payback periods from 1 to 10 years with a median of 4 years.
By the way, the schools can now track energy consumption and have data that is helpful for class room instruction and additional research for sustainability.
Look at the report, www.greeningthebottomline.com and see all of the participants. Colleges and universities that are outfront include Harvard, Stanford, and Yale as well as Lane Community College, Kalamazoo College, and Seattle University.
As viewers may note, Erin Burnett’s initial countdown since the August Treasury ratings downgrade has not witnessed any constructive results yet in the nation’s capital. I have an energy policy countdown that is even a bit longer: at least 40 years and still rising. It’s been long overdue for Congress to establish and embrace an energy policy for the U.S.
Look beyond these 52 schools, and there are many others who get the joke. They understand the issues of sustainability, and they’re doing something. Better yet, there’s no cost and a positive ROI. Clearly, our kids are getting the education. Maybe Capitol Hill should go to class as well!