Sustainable Investments Task Force
10/24/13 Meeting Minutes
Task force members in attendance were: Jim Chambers (Chair), Mara Donaldson, Michelle Fisher, Michael Fratantuono, Steve Hietsch, Will Kochtitzky, Adam Laird, Neil Leary
Absent were: Margaret Lindsay (Co-chair), Adam Laird
Others in attendance were: Bronte Jones (VP for Finance and Administration), Keith Gillespie (Assistant Treasurer)
Guests in attendance were: Connie McNamara - Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, Ken Shultes - Associate Vice President for Campus Operations
Chair Jim Chambers called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m.. He began the meeting with the topic of how we can initiate conversations on this topic with the campus community. We have an objective from students and trustees to coordinate a process of engagement with all Dickinson stakeholders. The website has been good, but does not seem to be working as well as we hoped. He and Steve consulted with Connie about what we can do to further communication with the community. An email was drafted to send to the entire community so questions can be asked of the committee regarding divestment.
Connie said we ran a story back in April on the panel discussion held at that time but since then there has been no further communication on what has transpired since then. This email is an attempt to frame the student raised issue and show we do take it seriously. We know there are questions about this very complicated issue and want to give people the opportunity to ask them. We will then share them in a broader format.
At this time Jim opened up the meeting for discussion of the email drafted for review by the committee.
Will said he feels when we mention the task force we should add the members names so people know who is on the committee and feel free to come up to us to discuss the issue. Jim agreed this is a good idea and added we should also have the link to our website on the email. Steve asked if we should have the list of names on the email or on the website. Jim deferred to Connie on that question. She said it is a very long email. Jim said maybe she can shorten the third paragraph in the interest of space. Mike F. added he has a comment relating to the last sentence of paragraph #4. If it turns out the recommendation is that it is not feasible to leave Investure we should emphasize the positives. He thinks the balance is missing. Jim agrees we should mention the strength of our sustainability programs. Let’s talk about the positives we can do without specifics. He asked Connie and Steve to do a new draft of the email incorporating these changes. Connie said with some additional information she can do it tomorrow (Friday). Jim said if that is possible board of trustee members Jennifer Reynolds and Tom Kalaris can review it since they are here on campus. They should see it before being sent out. Connie said it is better to send it as an all-campus on a Monday, not a Friday.
Jim turned the discussion toward having a panel discussion with members of the committee present to field questions from the campus community. He asked for the committee members thoughts. Will said he is all for it. However, they did not have a real good student turnout at the April panel discussion and wondered if it is the best way to engage the campus community. Steve said we need to make sure we fulfill the mission given to us by the board of trustees. We are reaching out to the community to let them know what is going on and giving them an opportunity to ask questions. Neil added we will be able to engage in dialogue which is not possible with email. Asking people to send their questions and responding by email feels sort of impersonal. We should do what we can to get as many people to attend as possible. He said it is important to make the effort even if the turnout is low.
Jim said we would like to have our recommendation to the board of trustees wrapped up by end of the year. As a result, we should try to have the panel discussion prior to Thanksgiving. The committee discussed the pros and cons to having the panel held on various dates and times of day.
After discussion the following decisions were made:
· A panel discussion for the campus community will be scheduled.
· The committee would like to have the panel before Thanksgiving. We will look at the dates of November 19 or 21. A Moodle poll will be sent to gather committee member’s availability.
· The panel will begin at noon. One hour for panel and ½ hour for any further questions.
· Location is Social Hall if available because of foot traffic in the HUB. This will hopefully bring in a larger group of participants. Alternate location is Allison Community Hall.
· Details of the panel discussion will be included in the email sent out by Connie to the campus community.
· The panel discussion will be recorded and posted on the website.
· Communicate with student groups and faculty/administrators to communicate information about the event.
Climate Action Plan: Ken Shultes (to be posted on website)
Ken made these points as he went through the presentation:
· In 2007 the college signed onto the President’s Climate Commitment. In 2008 we were required to do a greenhouse gas inventory that takes into account all of the different ways carbon is emitted on campus. In 2009 we put our first Climate Action Plan into place. It established 2020 as our target date. We have been making some progress over the years.
· 2008 is the first year we measured our carbon footprint and we have done an update each year since then. It has been reduced by almost 7% but the recent building of new spaces on campus will kick it back up to where we started. Our new CAP plan takes that into account.
· Almost half of our emissions come from electricity. About 25-30 percent of that is from lights. It is almost 50 percent if you include appliances. 26 percent of emissions are local and abroad travel. Heating, at 20 percent, is not as big as you would think. Our goal is to have a 25 percent reduction.
· Strategies to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions are: Conservation – change behavior, turn off lights; Efficiency – changes to mechanical systems, buy efficient lights; Renewables – solar, wind, geo-thermal.
· A Climate Action Task Force was called for last fall by the Presidents Commission on Environmental Sustainability (PCES). We are trying to finalize our plan for the second version of the CAP in 2013. Teams were formed and a kickoff meeting was held in January 2013. A summary of their recommendations will be posted on the website. The entire task force has not made broad recommendations, just the teams.
· PCES did endorse two recommendations to bring to P & B. One is to initiate a systematic program of annual spending on projects to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The other is to establish a Green Revolving Fund. The committee did not look at the specifics of how this would work but made a general recommendation.
· Facilities Management set aside $75K in their FY13 budget for climate action projects. They used it for an outside consultant to do an energy audit and an energy study.
· The energy audit was done on the HUB, the Library, and Rector Hall because they are the three highest energy consuming buildings on campus. They also used Adams Hall to have a residence hall included in the study. It identified 72 projects with $1.2M in costs with an average annual savings is $400K. In total they have a 3 year payback.
· The energy study identified 40 projects with a variety of costs and cost savings.
· The CAP costs $3.3M. There are a lot of savings that come out of this plan. They come from a reduction in energy consumption that results in reduced energy costs. Facilities will continue to use $75K annually from its budget over the seven year period which totals $450K of the total. By assigning savings to the projects they can fund the plan without any extra money being added to the budget.
· The funding strategy is based on establishing a Green Revolving Loan Fund with the annual allocation of $75K and energy savings realized from completed projects. This would continue by using the energy savings until all the additional projects have been completed and the goal reached. This is based on utility rates staying the same. If utility rates go up that would be a problem in this plan because there would not be enough savings. Rate increases would need to be funded to maintain the savings in the plan.
· The Green Revolving Loan Fund program means over the seven years the college would be recycling $3.1M in utilities savings back into the program.
· Challenges to the plan are the capital projects coming online, a possible new residence hall, possible rising costs in the renewable energy credit market and the assumed risk in projections. Any new project that adds a new energy demand is a challenge. We are currently offsetting all of our electricity emissions which costs the college $17K annually. The contract for that has another two years then will need to be renegotiated.
· The net 1 year payback savings keep going forward and grow each year. If the plan is allowed to grow in FY18 we can start to do solar projects, etc. This is how a Green Revolving Loan Fund works if you do the best return on investment projects early in the plan.
The following discussion took place:
Mara asked why our GHG Emissions dipped in 2010. Ken said he is not sure but it could have been for any number of reasons. There may have been fewer students on campus, there may have been less students traveling abroad or they may have gone to different locations (not as many to Australia that year), etc. Jim asked how the math is done on the GHG Emissions chart. Ken said the sponsoring agency put together the standards and everyone uses the same standards. The standards we use are calculated regionally. Mara asked if we are we in contact with other schools that have made this commitment.
Neil said yes and we share information with each other. Ken explained we set the date of 2020 to meet our goal. This is a very aggressive undertaking. All of the schools set their own date and some have set their goals much further out.
Mike asked if any of the 72 projects identified by the energy audit have been approved by the board of trustees. Ken said not yet. They talked about it recently with the board of trustees Facilities Committee and will talk about it again the next day at a joint meeting of the Facilities Committee and the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee. This information has also been given to the Planning &Budget Committee and PCES.
Ken explained how the funding strategy works for projects with a one year payback or better. By doing these projects right away you will be getting the money back in the budget. Some seed money will be needed to get this going. They are working on how that might work.
Ken said we need to isolate the results from the projects vs. new demands from new space, property acquisitions and rates and account for them all separately. We need to identify what the impact of the new demands is so we can assess properly. It is a big part of our action plan and our funding strategy. We know that. Jim said if the Green Revolving Loan Fund is working well all of the savings are going back in to achieving the 25% goal.
Ken made another point saying we spend a lot of time to get the best rates we can for utilities. At the end of the day if we do not do anything to move to renewables we are at their mercy. We have to do this for financial reasons. This is also a financial plan and we need to make sure we are thinking of it in that way.
Neil wondered if this falls within our charge. Does our recommendation fall into this area? Jim said we are taking liberty with this. He would like us to be able to make a strong statement on certain things beyond just saying no. Mara said she thought the charter said we were to “advance the sustainability mission” of the college. Jim said that is the way we drafted part two of the work plan. That is the way we crafted the work plan but it is not in the charter because of our desire to do more. He would like to make strong recommendations based on the things we have discussed in our committee. Mara said she would support that. Charter or no charter.
Jim said the other thing he is struggling with is the shorter term projects. He wondered how you go from incremental steps in the four buildings and spending money on those that might be covered by a comprehensive solution for the whole campus later on. Do we need to do the incremental ones to fund the comprehensive ones? Neil said some of those projects with short paybacks may be things that their benefit or necessity may be obsolete. Ken displayed the one year list and said there is a methodology to it. There will be a report from the Stone House Group in December that will show this. They know some of the projects they do in one building can also be done in multiple buildings.
Jim asked what about the timeline to present the plan to the board of trustees. Bronte said they are presenting it to the board at tomorrow’s joint trustee meeting. They will present it now and bring it back in January for their blessing. Some seed money is needed so we can realize a full year of savings. We need to work through this model. There will be more costs for higher consumption because of more online spaces.
Will asked Ken to explain about LUCID and what the plans are for it at the college. Ken explained
LUCID is a software package that allows real time monitoring of utility consumption so you can make adjustments immediately where needed. Without a program like LUCID you have to use your month old utility bills (electricity, gas and water) to know your consumption. You can do comparisons within residence halls and also with other schools who use the program. It can be set-up to have facilities staff receive emails when there are spikes in usage so the issue can be addressed immediately. We have the money in this year’s budget to start it in the first year residence halls. This will hopefully motivate the students to change behaviors. We are hoping it will be online for next semester. It is usually online 3-5 months from the time the contract is signed.
Jim thanked Ken for his excellent presentation.
Jim said the next meeting will be on November 12. We will talk about recommendations to put forth to the board of trustees. We will also talk about the plans for the panel discussion.
There being no further business before the task force, the meeting was adjourned at 4:51 p.m..