May 13, 2014

Johnson's green fund to help combat climate change

The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell announced the launch of a green revolving fund (GRF) to enhance energy conservation efforts in campus buildings. The GRF becomes part of a program that will help students gain experience leveraging technology and investment to combat climate change.

The launch of GRF stems from work by Energy Corps, a campuswide student organization established in 2012 dedicated to improving energy efficiency at Cornell. The fund will provide low-interest loans to colleges and departments across campus for investments in energy efficiency technology upgrades that yield significant financial returns.

“Energy Corps has done an amazing job catalyzing support for a GRF here at Cornell,” said Mark Milstein, director of the center and Johnson clinical professor of management. “By launching this program, we have the opportunity to provide students a unique educational opportunity that will have tremendous impact on campus and around the world.”

To date, Energy Corps has completed numerous projects across campus with estimated savings of more than $200,000 over the next seven years.

“Without the encouragement and support of a university dedicated to student learning and environmental sustainability, the GRF would simply not be happening,” said Jacob Reisch ’15, founder of Energy Corps. “We are excited to help launch a fund that offers educational and leadership opportunities to students, saves the university hundreds of thousands of dollars and helps the university achieve its 2050 carbon neutrality goal.”

John Alexander ’74, MBA ’76, gave the first gift of $100,000 to establish the GRF. “I love that this is valuable to students and the university,” said Alexander. “It exemplifies an approach to an important business opportunity that is sustainable – it won’t run out of money by its very design as a revolving fund.”

Milstein and KyuJung Whang, vice president for facilities services, said establishing the GRF and embedding it into academic programs at the university will have the potential for the biggest impact across campus.

A pilot course launched this spring will be expanded in the fall. The course not only allows students to manage the GRF, including the identification, evaluation and execution of specific energy efficiency projects across campus, but it also provides students the opportunity to develop key management, leadership and critical-thinking skills that will be valuable throughout their lives.