St. Mark's recently established a $100,000 Green Revolving Fund (GRF) designated for energy efficiency and sustainability projects with an attractive return on investment (ROI). The savings accrued from carefully selected projects are then returned to the GRF and used to fund future projects. The establishment of the GRF is a testament to St. Mark's vision and commitment to environmental and social sustainability, reflected in the School's Sustainability Strategic Plan.
St. Mark's has invested in sustainability projects for many years. Examples include the installation of energy-efficient window replacements, LED lighting, motion-activated light switches, and low-flow water fixtures, among many other updates throughout the campus. The Green Revolving Fund will enhance community learning around smart energy efficiency investments and will showcase sustainability efforts as an investment. Community and staff members will play an integral role in identifying, analyzing, and implementing meaningful campus investments that pay for themselves.
"The establishment of the GRF strengthens St. Mark's commitment to our core mission to educate students and to protect the environment we depend on," says Rob Kuklewicz, St. Mark's chief financial and operations officer. "We are continually looking for ways to serve our community while simultaneously reducing operating costs," he adds. "This is the way the world is moving, and we are proud to do our part in working toward a healthy and sustainable future."
This fund is a cross-campus, multi-stakeholder initiative. Current Science Department Chair Lindsey Lohwater is St. Mark's sustainability coordinator, and she will work closely with colleagues in the Business and Facilities offices, as well as student leaders, to propose, evaluate, and analyze projects in coordination with the Sustainability Steering Committee.
Almost 100 schools across the U.S. have adopted Green Revolving Funds through a trend that has been largely driven by Boston-based nonprofit the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI). St. Mark's will use a software developed by SEI called the Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (or GRITS), which will allow St. Mark's to measure financial and environmental costs and payback of the fund and compare project libraries to other members of GRITS.
"Through our Students for Sustainability program [see logo above], St. Markers have been eager to get real-time experience with campus sustainability efforts," says Lohwater, "and I am confident that this project will bridge the gap between facilities and academics in the years to come."