UD SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS
INVESTMENTS AND PURCHASING
In our 2020 AASHE STARS Report, we reported for three out of four ‘Purchasing’ subcategories, and zero out of three ‘Investment & Finance’ subcategories. Finances are one of our seven E.C.O. Wheel categories and an important part of our Sustainability Plan. In AASHE STARS, the University of Delaware scored the following for the Purchasing, and Investment & Finance subcategories:
- OP-11: Sustainable Procurement: 1.25 / 3.00.
- OP-12: Electronics Purchasing: 0.00 / 1.00.
- OP-13: Cleaning and Janitorial Purchasing: 0.00 / 1.00.
- OP-14: Office Paper Purchasing: 0.00 / 1.00.
Investment & Finance:
- PA-8: Committee on Investor Responsibility: 0.00 / 2.00.
- PA-9: Sustainable Investment: 0.00 / 4.00.
- PA-10: Investment Disclosure: 0.00 / 1.00.
Not only are there enrollment and public relations benefits to operating sustainably, but there are also financial benefits that the University of Delaware is failing to capture. One of the main tenets of sustainability is efficiency, which leads to financial savings through reduced energy consumption, water usage, and material waste.
The financial benefits of a sustainable campus are compounding and complex in nature, so it is difficult for any university to truly capture all of the revenue and savings generated from sustainability initiatives and entities. However, an examination of case studies of sustainability projects at other universities makes it clear that an Office of Sustainability would be a significant financial asset to UD through ensuring operational efficiency and coordination of all UD-wide sustainability projects and plans. As an example, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported saving $200,000 in one year just from installing data-driven sensors in their HVAC system to detect breakdowns; Boston College generated energy savings of $650,000 after improving energy performance and operational practices; The University of California-Berkeley established stronger waste initiatives after they realized that recycling saved them $151.47 per ton of trash.
About Investment & Finance: It is essential that Endowment funding and Alumni fund-raising targets be set to enable the proper infrastructure investments for a sustainable University of Delaware future. The University should be a model for the community in which it is situated.
Current State of Investment & Finance: As of Summer of 2021, the University of Delaware does not commit any of its annual budget to sustainability initiatives. Instead, most initiatives and projects are either funded at random or by a small budget Green Grants program (a sustainability grant program run by the Sustainability Council). A Blue Hen Sustainability Fund has been established and has an aspirational goal of raising millions of dollars from individuals and corporations by 2025 for sustainability infrastructure improvements.
About Divestment and Sustainable Investment: Comparator institutions are recognizing the long and well-established fact that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary driver of human-caused climate change. Maintaining institutional investments in the fossil fuel industry runs counter to every other effort the University is making to reduce the dangers associated with rising global temperatures. Beyond this, maintaining a portfolio with fossil fuels investments also presents the inescapable public impression that a University is fundamentally and unwilling to commit to real solutions to one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Current State of Divestment and Sustainable Investment: The University of Delaware has not committed to fossil fuel divestment, a choice that has put UD’s financial strategy behind comparator institutions. Becoming a sustainability-driven institution will not only entail carbon and waste reduction, but it will also require the university to divest from environmentally harmful ventures and reallocate these resources to green innovation.
- Identify and invest in a higher number of positive return sustainability projects.
- Proactively fundraise for Office of Sustainability led initiatives.
- Promote sustainability fundraising by creating the Blue Hen Sustainability Fund with a goal of raising millions of dollars for sustainability infrastructure by 2025.
- Establish a committee of investor responsibility by the end of 2023 and publicize the list of investments that make up the endowment.
- 100% divestment from fossil fuels in the UD Endowment by 2030.
- Increase the purchase of local foods.
- Make commitment to purchasing 100% electric vehicles by 2030.