bikeshare bikes

Photo by Brian Jenkins

The Bike Share infrastructure proposal was presented by Abby Bleything and Jim Barr in Fall 2017, and was awarded full funding. Read more below . . .

Spring 2019 Funded Proposals

Executive Summary

As part of the call for proposals for the Spring 2019 Clean Energy Fund Forum, the members of the SRI Advisory Council received four proposals and invited all of the proposers to present at the Clean Energy Fund Forum on March 6. Two proposals were vetted by the Infrastructure Committee and the other two came directly from community members under the "Academics and Co-curricular Education" heading. The group used the same metrics to vote on proposals as in the past and particularly emphases the potential for impact on university community and the alignment with CEF goals.

The SRI Advisory Council voted to fund $15,910 of the $38,520 requested by proposers at the CEF Forum in Spring. The group recommends funding three proposals at close to full funding requests (Carbon Offset Resource, Signage for Solar Panels, Storytelling Proposal) and not funding one proposal at this time (Wind Turbine Repairs). The Graduate College also released a call for proposals this spring and funded one proposal submitted by Materials Masters student Robin Rice at $17,046.45 for the development of organic semiconductors for Organic Photovoltaics in cutting edge clean energy research.

Though the number of proposals received was lower than previous semesters, the SRI Advisory Council feels that in general, they were of higher quality. Outreach efforts like adding more information to the Clean Energy Fund website, specifically the Active Transportation Plan, the STARS Technical Manual and the Climate Action Plan, encouraged proposers to align their ideas with existing initiatives on campus. In addition, a new student group (CALL), facilitated by SRI Advisory Council faculty representative, Amy Seidl, has actively developed proposals and continues to take an interest in the CEF.

This academic year also marked the beginning of the SRI Advisory Council’s partnership with the Grossman School of Business’ SIMBA Graduate Program. Thirteen graduate students presented to the SRI Advisory Council during the fall semester and presented their analyses and approach for impact investments for the $10 million operating funds. This spring, this same group won the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge, an inter-collegiate impact investing competition, beating schools like Yale, Columbia and Boston University. They attribute some of their success to their work with the SRI Advisory Council and Dana Investments, the firm guiding the impact investing efforts at the university.

Carbon Offset Resource Internship – Academics & Co-Curricular Education
Awarded: $1,650
Presented by undergraduate student SRIAC member Will Corcoran

Proposal summary: This concept was developed to address the largest source of carbon emissions for most students during their time at UVM, which is international air travel. This proposal aims to develop an online resource for students that describes options and methods for offsetting air travel. This proposal will occur in two phases. Phase 1 funding is designed to support an internship to conduct initial research on what a carbon offset resource might include. Students will return to the CEF to request funding for Phase 2 following the internship research.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: Members expressed strong support for the project and passed the motion to fully fund the Phase 1

Updated interpretive signage for existing renewable energy installations - Infrastructure
Awarded: 3,100
Presented by Erica Spiegel, Physical Plant Department

Proposal summary: This proposal requested funding for signage near the central heating plant to describe the solar panels on the building and signage near the Bergey wind turbine. The sign near the central heating plant is old and weathered and in need of repair.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: The group voted unanimously to fund the sign near the central heating plant. They request that students be involved in the design of the graphics.

Clean energy storytelling and data collection project – Academics & Co-Curricular Education
Awarded: $11,160
Presented by Professor Richard Watts and undergraduate student Sophie Smith

Proposal summary: This proposal attempts to celebrate and communicate the work of the CEF by engaging students to develop digital materials that capture and market the CEF projects on campus. This proposal included funding for a professional photographer, student interns to support data collection and design of materials, and print brochures for visiting students.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: The group deliberated on this proposal over the course of the spring semester and requested a modified proposal that cut funding for the photographer and reduced some of the paper use. Ultimately, the group decided that the opportunity to gain exposure and recognition for the CEF was of utmost importance and voted to partially fund this proposal with several key caveats.

The group requests that the final deliverable be a Powerpoint instead of a brochure, to reduce the use of paper and likelihood of dozens of unused brochures. The SRI Advisory Council will have the rights to the final photographs, established by a contract with the photographer and will have editorial oversight of the final product. Richard and Sophie (the proposers) are encouraged to think about a second proposal to develop mapping and other content that may eventually be developed and integrated at strategic locations around campus. Two examples the SRIAC members discussed are 1) a map of CEF projects and a short history of the new bike storage kiosks that will begin construction this summer or 2) a storyboard in Waterman Hall.The final recommendation from the SRI Advisory Council is to partially fund this proposal at $11,160, with the parameters stated above.

Wind turbine repairs - Infrastructure
Presented by Energy Manager Rich Wolbach

Proposal summary: The 10kW Bergey demonstration wind turbine near Jeffords Hall is not currently functional and in need of repair. This proposal originally came through the Infrastructure Committee to fund new components on the turbine. 

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Funding request: $15,000 was requested to buy a new inverter and hire a consultant to the work.

Recommendation: The Advisory Council members deliberated on this at length, over several meetings. The recommendation is to deny funding for the turbine repairs for several reasons. This is very old technology now (installed in 2006) and is not producing significant amounts of electricity – approximately enough to run the lights over the parking lot near Jeffords Hall. Several of the turbines that were installed around the state of Vermont during this time are no longer running, another indication of how technology has evolved and this model is obsolete. This turbine site is not appropriate for generating optimal power and can (and sometimes is) considered a misleading model for renewable energy by members of the university community. The group voted to deny funding and requests that Rich Wolbach conduct research on the feasibility of a 25kW turbine at the Miller Farm or another location that receives optimal wind to power a new turbine. The SRI Advisory Council recommends not funding this proposal and requesting new ideas from the Physical Plant and Infrastructure Committee to develop renewable energy on or near campus that uses current technology and optimal siting. This was a unanimous vote to deny funding.

 

Fall 2018 Funded Proposals

Executive Summary

As part of the call for proposals for the fall 2018 Clean Energy Fund Forum, the members of the SRI Advisory Council (SRIAC) received 13 proposals (compared to 11 proposals in spring 2018) and invited 7 of these proposals to present at the Clean Energy Fund Forum on October 22. Two proposals were vetted by the Infrastructure Committee (see the Organizational Chart (PDF) for more details) and five proposals came directly from community members under the ‘Academics and Co-curricular Education’ heading. 

The SRIAC voted to fund $101,548 of the $274,162 requested by proposers at the CEF Forum in October. The group recommends funding one proposal at full funding (Solar Garden Shed) two proposals at close to full funding requests (Covered Bike Parking, Energy Action Seminar), not funding three of the proposals at this time (EcoPower Fitness, Sustainable Transportation Initiative, Energy Competition in Resident Halls), and requesting more information to move forward on one final proposal (Green Labs) – to be decided upon in 2019.

Other issues discussed during the review of CEF proposals include adding more information to the Clean Energy Fund website, specifically the Active Transportation Plan, the STARS Technical Manual and the Climate Action Plan, to encourage proposers to align their ideas with existing initiatives on campus. Overall, the SRIAC was pleased to see 13 proposals brought forward from an initial call for ideas and has also discussed ways to strengthen the proposals brought forward, including workshops with proposers to further develop concepts before moving to a formal proposal and directing people to the website for more information on the goals of the CEF.

Green Labs - Refrigerator & Freezer Maintenance - Infrastructure
Awarded: $38,798
Presented by Michael Lane, Director of Instrumentation and Technical Services

Proposed summary: Built from an earlier proposal funded by the CEF, this proposal requests funding for a pilot program establishing maintenance schedules and educational material to increase the efficiency of 996 refrigerators and freezers in labs across campus. Research indicates that routine maintenance can reduce energy use by at least 10%. Funding is largely for the staff labor associated with the initiative.

In a meeting on February 7, the SRIAC voted to recommend funding for the Green Labs proposal at $38,798. This decision came after a discussion requested by the SRI Advisory Council between Elizabeth Palchak, Sustainable Funds Coordinator; Rich Wolbach, Energy Manager; and Dr. Gordon Jensen, Assistant Dean of the College of Medicine. Dr. Jensen agreed to support the outcomes of the Green Labs pilot by training his staff to conduct routine maintenance if the pilot shows the expected increase in energy efficiency of these appliances. Most of the freezers and refrigerators on campus are housed within the College of Medicine. Moving forward, Dr. Jensen has also agreed to purchase high efficiency freezers and refrigerators, based on Rich Wolbach’s recommendations. The next step of this effort will involve Vice President for Research Dr. Richard Galbraith, and will work toward a campus-wide policy related to the routine maintenance and efficiency of these appliances. Dr. Jensen has expressed his support for this campus-wide initiative. Mr. Lane’s research suggests that savings of “at least´10%” are achievable and expected through the implementation of this pilot program.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: Members passed a unanimous motion to fund the project fully.

Garden Solar Shed - Infrastructure
Awarded: $14,050
Presented by Mark Starrett, CALS professor

Proposal summary: Funding is requested to buy materials and build a demonstration garden shed with solar panels on campus. The solar panels would charge electrical lawn and garden equipment and be located near the greenhouse near Jeffords Hall. Mark has already gained the support of the UVM Landscape Advisory Committee and asked for input on the exact location and impacts of the shed. The proposal includes the purchasing of the rechargeable tools. Student interns would help care for the shed, already part of the educational garden and could be used by other courses on campus. Campus Planning had not been consulted, but Mark emphasized a thorough stakeholder engagement process to generate support and build collaboration.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: Members passed a unanimous motion to fund the shed fully.

Covered Bike Parking – Infrastructure
Awarded: $18,700
Presented by Jim Barr and Abby Bleything, both from Transportation & Parking Services, and several students

Proposal summary: This concept of covered bike parking at several strategic locations on campus was originally proposed Spring 2018 by Richard Watts. The CEF Infrastructure Committee asked Abby to move this forward and present a more comprehensive plan. Abby and Jim presented a two-phase plan 1) commissioning a firm to investigate feasibility and 2) construction of parking facilities. The proposal emphasized an inclusive and thoughtful process, involving stakeholder groups across campus (especially students) to determine the best locations.

Alignment to existing University initiative: Active Transportation Plan (PDF)

Recommendation: Members expressed strong support for the project, but decided to fund only Phase 1. They recommend that Abby and Jim move forward and return to the group after conducting the initial feasibility study. Recommendation for full funding of Phase 1 of the project at $18,700.

Energy Action Seminar – Academics & Co-Curricular Education
Awarded: $30,000
Presented by Mark Usher, other faculty

Proposal summary: This proposal is very similar to the Energy Action Seminar funded twice in the past (and proposed by Richard Watts). This new proposal extends responsibility for the seminar across seven new departments at the university and extends the reach to eight faculty members. The proposal requests the funding to host 10 speakers on energy issues each year with one “high impact” speaker per year, who would be higher profile and more expensive.

Alignment to existing University initiative: None

Recommendation: After raising questions for Mark regarding the person responsible for the seminar and encouraging the hiring of graduate interns, the group moved to fund the seminar at $30,000 and voted and passed the motion unanimously.

 

Spring 2018 Funded Proposals

Executive Summary

As part of the call for proposals for the spring 2018 Clean Energy Fund Forum, the members of the SRI Advisory Council (SRIAC) received 11 proposals (compared to seven proposals in fall 2017) and invited seven of these proposals to present at the Clean Energy Fund Forum on March 22. One presentation was vetted by the Infrastructure Committee (see the Organizational Chart for more details) and five proposals came directly from community members under the Academics and Co-curricular Education heading. One proposal, SunShares, was an infrastructure project proposed by a member of the Infrastructure Committee but without the approval of the entire group. Evaluation of the proposals occurred using metrics developed by the SRIAC, including alignment with CEF goals, potential for impact and the quality of the overall proposal.
The SRI Advisory Council voted to fund three of the proposals from the spring forum. The SRIAC recommended fully funding one proposal, a student-led Sustainable Transportation Education Initiative, and partially funding two proposals, the Waste to Clean Energy Lecture Series and the RSENR Net-Zero Ready proposal.
The SRI Advisory Council recommends no funding for the student-led AERO Club. The three remaining proposals show potential and SRIAC recommends sending its suggestions, (collected during the deliberation) for strengthening each application, with encouragement to resubmit for the fall 2018 forum.

Sustainable Transportation Education Initiative – Academics & Co-Curricular Education
Awarded: $3,000
Presented by Thomas Maron, Morgan Dreibelbis, Devin Spindel, Deirdre Gill, students

Proposal summary: This proposal is an education initiative to increase awareness of sustainable transportation options on campus. Through Facebook posts (including “boosting”, using a specific software strategy available for purchase), flyers, banners and ads across campus, the proposers aim to increase students understanding of the bike share, CarShare Vermont, bus options and rideshare options.

Recommendation: This request for funding passed unanimously. Members were strongly in support of this proposal. It’s not costly, has clean energy benefits across campus and involves all students.

RSENR Net-Zero - Infrastructure
Awarded: Amount not to exceed $50,000 with a cost-share agreement with the Rubenstein School
Presented by Gary Hawley, Jon Erickson, professors

Proposal summary: This proposal is part of a broad effort to achieve Net-Zero energy at the Rubenstein School, which is defined by creating as much renewable energy as is consumed.

Recommendation: The project proposed is part of a much larger effort to make RSENR competitive among its peers for its sustainability efforts. However, the funding request is large, will benefit only one school with UVM that has already made significant gains toward energy use reductions, and the need from Physical Plant staff is a concern. Members propose funding half of the request and suggest the Rubenstein School commit more funds to the effort. Members passed a motion to fund the project at an amount not to exceed $50,000 and request that the Rubenstein School contribute half of the necessary funds to move forward as part of a cost-share model.

Waste to Clean Energy Lecture Series – Academics & Co-Curricular Education
Awarded: $17,500
Presented by Anju Krivov, lecturer

Proposal summary: This course focuses on opportunities to turn waste into usable clean energy. Prof. Krivov proposes to invite multiple speakers over the course of a semester to discuss relevant topics and allow course credit for class attendance. This model mirrors the Clean Energy Lecture series, which has received CEF funds several times.

Recommendation: Members passed a motion to fund the course at $17,500, minus the cost of the instructor ($7,500). This is the same approach used for funding the Clean Energy Lecture Series. Members also propose stipulating that the lecture series must be open to the university community and broadly marketed.

 

Fall 2017 Funded Proposals

Executive Summary

At the fall 2017 Clean Energy Fund Forum, members of the SRI Advisory Council received 7proposals and invited 5of these proposals to present at the Clean Energy Fund Forum. One presentation was vetted by the Infrastructure Committee (see the Organizational Chart for more details) and three proposals came directly from community members under the ‘Academics and Co-curricular Education’ heading. Evaluation of the proposals centered on metrics developed by the SRI Advisory Council, including alignment with CEF goals, potential for impact and the quality of the overall proposal.

The SRI Advisory Council voted to fund three of the proposals from the fall forum on October 25th, 2017. The SRIAC recommends partial funding of the Bailey Howe Lighting Project and the Renewable Energy Network and full funding of the Bike Share proposal.

The SRI Advisory Council also heard from Zach Borst on the No-Idling proposal from Spring 2017. In the spring, the group requested more information on the No-Idling proposal from Abby Bleything and the Transportation Department. After hearing more details from Zach during a meeting, the group voted to recommend fully funding the project at $10,000.

Bailey-Howe Lighting Project - Infrastructure
Awarded: $38,000
Presented by Aidan Doherty

Proposal summary: The renovation of the Bailey Howe library can include an energy efficiency upgrade of the lighting system. The lighting this project is referring to is the stack lighting above the book shelves on the second and third floors. They are outdated, non-LED/CFL bulbs and are constantly running at the highest wattage. Renovating the lights would allow the school to save up to 80,000 kWh per year. UVM's Energy Manager Rich Wolbach has been involved in advising this project

Recommendation: Initial points highlighted the motivation of the first-year proposer and general support for the effort. Ongoing discussion focused on the details of the project, “this is probably not as easy as it seems”. One member proposed a pilot project of sorts and potentially funding half of the project – 1 floor of retrofits instead of 2. The proposal did not discuss the carbon impact of the change, but moving forward, would be a useful metric. Energy reductions are around 80,000 kWh per year.
After further discussion, the group passed a motion to fund one floor of the project at $38,000. The group agreed that if successful, the CEF would consider funding the second floor.

Bike Share - Infrastructure
Awarded: $83,000
Presented by Abby Bleything and Jim Barr

Proposal summary: A bike share system was one of the signature project recommendations in the Active Transportation Plan, a feasibility study funded by the CEF in 2015. As part of this effort, UVM and Champlain College, in partnership with CATMA are planning to launch a pilot bike share system with the intent that it will expand into a regional system throughout Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski communities. Gotcha Bike was chosen to operate the system after an RFP in November 2016. The goal is to transform our region by providing a high quality, convenient and affordable bike share system that will connect people to more places where they live, work, and play in Chittenden County. Students will pay $25 to be enrolled in the bike share system. The plan is to install 5 hubs with 35 bikes across the spine of the campus at the following locations:

  • Redstone Lofts
  • Gutterson Garage
  • Davis Center
  • Waterman
  • Trinity Campus

Recommendation: This proposal was first vetted through the Infrastructure Committee and moved onto the broader SRI Advisory Council. The group deliberated on this proposal extensively and invited Abby and Jim to a meeting to inquire about details. There was concern expressed about the cost to students about the plan to install the infrastructure associated with the bikes. The group recommends funding this proposal at $83,000 to cover the cost of bikes, infrastructure on campus to park bikes and the associated tracking system for data collection.

Renewable Energy Network (REN) - Academics and Co-curricular
Awarded: $1,000
Presented by Jane Stromberg and Holly St. Jean, Co-Presidents of Renewable Energy Network

Proposal summary: The proposal was to bring in 2 honorarium speakers to UVM in the Spring of 2018 as part of our Spring speaker series. The third part of the proposal suggested sending students to conferences focusing on topics of climate change and renewable energy technology, such as the World Energy Forum in New York City, or the GreenBuild Expo in Boston this November.

Recommendation: The group did not feel comfortable funding travel or certification for a small group of students. The Advisory Council did like the idea of funding speakers to come to campus, however. The group voted in favor of funding two speakers at the cost of $1,000.

No-Idling Proposal - Infrastructure
Awarded: $10,000
Presented by Abby Bleything and Zach Borst, Transportation Department

Proposal summary: Given the successful pilot of the idle reduction system, IdleRight, with the Burlington Police Department, we propose the purchase and installation of 8 systems for 6 police cruisers (Ford Explorers), 1 Police Service Unit, and 1 Mobile Command Vehicle (Chevy Tahoe). Idling vehicles burn fuel unnecessarily, contribute to tailpipe emissions, and increase a vehicle’s wear and tear.
If the IdleRight system reduces idling of each vehicle by two hours a day, the UVM police department will annually save:

  • 2,760 gallons of fuel
  • 32 tons of CO2
  • $6,488 of fuel savings plus additional for reduced maintenance costs**

Given the results of the pilot the payback period for this equipment would be 6 months based on gas savings alone, if the installed equipment costs $500.

Recommendation: The group recommends funding this proposal at $10,000 to ensure that a comprehensive tracking system is included to capture the benefits of these devices on campus.

 

Spring 2017 Funded Proposals

Executive Summary

After a short hiatus and reorganization, the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) was made available to the University community again in March 2017. The fund is now managed out of the University Controller’s Office. The Socially Responsible Investing Advisory Council (SRI Advisory Council), comprises representatives from across the University, and makes recommendations to the Vice President for Finance following proposal submissions and presentations at a Clean Energy Fund Forum each semester.

At the spring 2017 Clean Energy Fund Forum, members of the SRI Advisory Council saw four presentations. Two presentations were vetted by the Infrastructure Committee (see the Organizational Chart for more details) and two proposals came directly from community members under the ‘Academics and Co-curricular Education’ heading. Both of the latter proposals received funding.

Headwaters Magazine – Academics and Co-curricular
Awarded: $2,000
Presented by Dan Kopin

Proposal summary: Headwaters is the University’s first environmental student-run publication. Headwaters includes 30 core student members serving on its staff from across the University’s schools and majors and covers a range of environmental issues. This magazine has been very successful in its first year, securing funding from the Student Government Association, earning an award from the Environmental Studies Department and fundraising through other avenues, like advertising. Headwaters made four specific funding requests.

Recommendation: The recommendation is to fund this proposal at $2,000. These funds will support an award for a journalism competition that focuses on clean energy development in New England.

Energy Action Seminar – Academics and Co-curricular
Awarded: $23,700
Presented by Richard Watts

Proposal summary: The Energy Action Seminar has been funded for three years by the CEF and has been, a very successful program. Richard Watts again requested funding for this course to bring in a total of 14 speakers on renewable energy for the academic year 2017-2018.

Recommendation: This course has reached hundreds of students, broadening the impact of clean energy co-curricular education on campus. Total awarded: $23,700.