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Key Objective: 9.3 Identify and Increase Available Funding for Projects without Payback

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 9, objective 3 is, "By the end of FY16, identify the amount of funds that are available across campus for projects that do not offer a rapid financial payback, but which are nevertheless important for improving campus sustainability, and identify options to increase that amount annually."

Associated Metric

No metric specified for this objective

Potential Strategies

Certain sustainability-related activities need to be funded even though they may not offer clearly defined financial payback; examples might include stormwater management projects, electric vehicle charging stations, or projects to increase the biodiversity of our campus.  These are worthy and important projects, but may not be eligible for funding through the RLF.  Other projects will struggle to find funding because they have very long financial payback periods; examples might include the improvement of bicycle infrastructure.  This section describes funding mechanisms that can be utilized to support such projects.  Over the course of FY16, the campus could identify the total amount of funds of this type that are available, and identify ways to increase that amount annually.

Funding from Student Fees

Certain issues are important enough to the student body that they are willing to impose fees on themselves to address them.  Examples include the long-standing Sustainable Campus Environment Fee and the Cleaner Energy Technologies Fee, which are allocated by the Student Sustainability Committee, and the forthcoming bicycle fee that was recommended by the student body in a referendum in November 2014.  While the campus does not advocate for new fees, we must acknowledge that the funds from these fees are well-suited to supporting projects that are ineligible for RLF funding.

Central Campus Funding

We recognize that some projects and activities will require special commitments from campus, especially issues that are of great importance to students (e.g., bicycle infrastructure).  Ongoing administrative costs, such as those for the Active Transportation and Zero Waste staff members proposed in Chapters 4 and 6, may also fall into this category.  iSEE, Facilities & Services, and other impacted campus units will work with the Office of the Provost to identify funding for activities proposed in this iCAP or through the SWATeam process that do not have other funding avenues.

Private Donations and Corporate Partnerships

To date, there has not been a concerted effort to approach individual donors, private foundations, or corporate partners to fund campus sustainability projects.  This is clearly an area with great potential for our campus, especially considering our exceptional performance and visibility in the sustainability arena.  Donors, foundations, and corporate partners are likely to consider funding projects that have major impacts on campus sustainability, even if those projects do not offer clear payback.  iSEE could, in collaboration with the UI Foundation and the Office of Corporate Relations, lead an effort to explore and expand such external funding opportunities for campus sustainability projects.

Arbitrage of Carbon Offsets

Carbon emission reductions from college campuses are considered “boutique” and carry a premium on the voluntary carbon offset market.  We may be able to sell our campus’s emission reductions, perhaps to corporations or to alumni, and then turn around and purchase the same amount of carbon offsets from other entities at a lower price.  The proceeds from this arbitrage (which would not affect our campus emissions) could be used to fund sustainability projects, including those that do not fall under the purview of the RLF.