Through a partnership with the environmental nonprofit Center for EcoTechnology (CET), Williams College is piloting an innovative approach to investing in local carbon reduction projects. The Community Climate Fund is a portfolio of projects sourced and implemented by CET that yield measurable carbon reduction, significant social and financial benefits in the local community, and curricular and research opportunities for students and faculty.
The Fund was born out of an initiative seeded by Williams, Smith, Hampshire, and Amherst Colleges that explored mechanisms for institutions of higher education to invest in local carbon mitigation projects. Williams’ initial $100,000 investment is being used toward building materials recovery, a Solar Wall for a local childcare center, and energy efficient heating system upgrades for low-income homes, among other projects.
Student engagement is a core element of the Fund, with each project offering cross-disciplinary opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience, study new technologies, put economic theories to the test, or answer questions about human psychology and behavior change. “Williams is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making a positive impact on the community,” said Mike Evans Interim Director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College. “This project enables us to do both and it also offers a rich opportunity for students to critically engage with important issues that live at the intersection of multiple disciplines.”
Williams sees this investment in innovative local carbon reduction projects as having a number of co-benefits beyond emissions reduction. Some of the co-benefits of this year’s projects include a decrease in energy costs for low-income households, enhanced indoor air-quality for high-risk individuals identified by the local healthcare system, and an increase in materials recovery and reuse from construction projects across New England. Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the Zilkha Center and CET met with faculty members to brainstorm ways to use these projects in courses and for student research starting in the 2020-2021 academic year. Faculty from across campus – from Environmental Studies and Geosciences, to Computer Science and Economics – identified exciting opportunities for all levels of coursework. As a regular participant in AASHE STARS, Williams sees the Community Climate Fund investment aligning with a number of credits including Academic Courses, Research & Scholarship, and Community Partnerships.
“We’re excited to leverage our expertise and programs to bring local, tangible carbon reduction projects to colleges and universities that help meet their sustainability goals and engage students and faculty in real-world projects in their community,” said John Majercak, CET President.
About CET, the Community Climate Fund, and the Zilkha Center
The Center for EcoTechnology works in the Northeast U.S. and beyond, and is actively seeking engagement with colleges across New England and New York. The Community Climate Fund is a natural extension of CET’s four decades of work as a leader in designing and implementing carbon reduction projects for homes and businesses – spanning energy efficiency, renewable energy, and solid waste recycling and reuse. As implementer and portfolio manager, CET leverages its vast network, expert knowledge of gaps in state-sponsored carbon reduction incentives, and large deployable team of technical experts to maximize the triple-bottom-line returns on investments. Contact CET’s Client Service Manager for more information visit CET’s website or contact [email protected].
The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives works to reduce the environmental impact of and increase sustainability at Williams College. Follow these links to learn more about the Community Climate Fund, Williams’ emissions reduction goals, and about sustainability at the college.