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Go Green: $1 Billion Dollar Challenge to Universities

Did you grow up in the 90s? If you did, you probably remember Captain Planet, he of the green-skin and compatibly green mission: to save the earth! The brainchild of mogul Ted Turner, Captain Planet and the Planeteers featured the titular hero and his band of multicultural adolescents set to save the planet from the scourge of pollution as well as from those who would do the polluting. Twenty years later, you may be aware that the seeds sown by Ted Turner and Captain Planet are being reaped by contemporary concerned citizens with a desire to “go green.” And if you’re a mom today, you probably have a vested interest in the state of the planet as well as the universities that populate it, centers of higher learning your child will someday attend.

Well then fantastic news for you (and your future college-bound student)! On October 11, the good people at the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) at their Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference launched the $1 Billion Dollar University Green Challenge. This Challenge encourages universities and non-profits to invest money into a revolving fund that would ten provide necessary campus-based upgrades that would increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs on campus. Leading universities such as Harvard and Stanford are participating in the Challenge. They are also part of thirty-three institutions of higher learning that have joined the Challenge’s Founding Circle.

Sounds good so far. But there are other benefits to consider, especially where your child is concerned. Because the U.S. economy remains unstable, one of the benefits of engaging in the Challenge is the opportunity for university communities to offer green jobs, as well as lowering the operating costs on their campuses … which means job opportunities for your little freshmen and the possibility of lower tuition costs (or for tuition that doesn’t spike quite so high). Harvard’s Office for Sustainability already reports that the Green Loan Fund has generated high returns on the investment. The Challenge also provides schools with troubleshooting and problem-solving guidance, including technological solutions, sharing of “best practices,” an advanced web-based tool to help manage green revolving funds, and invitations to web-seminars (or “webinars”) and conferences. If you or your family members are part of one of the communities who are, faster and faster, accepting the Challenge, the opportunities to go green are also steadily increasing.

Will your child become a grammar checker who thinks that grammar rules? Only time will tell. But as they study idiom and hyperbole and figure out the real meaning of going green, they will also learn that it isn’t just a figure of speech: the measures posed will generate revenue for the whole university. And as Stanford reports, the Billion Dollar Challenge provides methods for each participating school to ensure sustainability with an average payback period of four years.

Of course the biggest advantage to joining the Challenge for institutions of higher learning is what concerns you and your child as well: the ways in which the environment will benefit. Captain Planet would be proud.