Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2014-06-16 13:00:00
  • Article ID: 619056

Growing Demand for Climate-Proof Financial Products among Universities

In a move that reflects a growing demand among universities to make socially responsible, sustainable investment choices, Humboldt State University’s charitable foundation has already adopted a the policy to strictly limit its holdings in companies directly or indirectly involved in fossil fuels. Now, through its “Humboldt Investment Pledge,” The HSU Advancement Foundation is urging other universities to do more to clean up their investments.

The HSU Advancement Foundation’s Board unanimously adopted a new “Social and Environmentally Responsible Offset and Mitigation Policy” and took the Humboldt Investment Pledge at its most recent meeting on April 25.

For over a decade, Humboldt State’s Advancement Foundation has operated without any direct investments in fossil fuel-related industries, making it a leader in the more recent fossil fuel divestment movement.

Despite its socially responsible investment record, HSU’s Advancement Foundation Board adopted the stricter policy following extensive meetings with students and other parties who were intent on seeing the Foundation do even better.

The policy also builds on the university’s campus-wide commitment to sustainability. Its inclusion of a pledge was inspired by the university’s Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, which was created by HSU students almost three decades ago and is now used at nearly 100 universities worldwide.

“We could have recommended the status quo, continuing our investment practices that are already more socially responsible than most other institutions. But that isn’t enough for this Board, our students, or our community,” said Duncan Robins, a Board member on the Finance Committee who helped lead the development of the new policy and pledge. “We want to prove that it is possible, even for a relatively small endowment like ours, to do even better,” Robins said. “We won’t be perfect, but we will try to set a positive example for others to follow.”

The policy lays out a ten-point pledge with broad goals that will guide future investment activity. The policy reads:

The Humboldt State University Advancement Foundation will:

1. Define Socially or Environmentally Concerning Sectors (“Concerning Sectors”) in a broad, bold way so as to include:

a. Energy - extraction, distribution, refining and marketing (i.e. Oil, natural gas, coal and related/supporting industries);

b. Utilities - electricity generation (i.e. Utilities utilizing carbon-based fuels);

c. Aerospace/Defense, Alcohol, Tobacco, Gaming and Casino industries.

Revisit definition and revise as appropriate over time.

2. Continue to abstain from any direct investment in Concerning Sectors.

3. Monitor and report on the value of indirect investments in Concerning Sectors.

4. Make reasonable attempts to reduce the size of indirect investments in Concerning Sectors provided any divestments are consistent with the Foundation's fiduciary requirements.

5. Define Socially or environmentally Responsible (“SER”) organizations, projects or assets initially as ones which:

a. Are environmentally friendly (i.e. reduce the levels of atmospheric C02) or;

b. Improve the health and well-being of our community members.

Revisit definition and revise as appropriate over time.

6. Actively seek offsetting investment opportunities in SER organizations, projects or assets.

7. Invest directly in SER organizations, projects or assets provided that:

a. Investments meet the Foundation’s fiduciary requirements and policies.

b. Investments support the stated HSU mission, vision and values.

8. Monitor and report on the value of direct investments in SER assets and active investments in SER organizations or projects.

9. Monitor and report on the value of obvious indirect investments in SER organizations, projects or assets.

10. Create a SEROP Fund (with appropriate policies) and actively seek donations of funds and assets that could be used to support Humboldt’s SEROP Pledge.

Robins said the student voices and energy on the issue were vital. A student group first approached the Board about divesting from fossil fuels last fall, and since that time has continued to meet with the Board’s Finance Committee to work on details. The Board was inspired by their understanding of the issues and commitment to making a difference.

As discussions with the students and other parties progressed, a policy emerged that focused on much more than a small number of oil companies. It became a policy to discourage investment in all companies either directly or indirectly involved with extracting and using fossil fuel, and one aimed at challenging the Foundation to take more proactive steps going forward. In a stroke, the Foundation is now concerned with the social impact of many more companies in its mutual fund portfolios – nearly 10 percent as opposed to less than 1 percent under a more typical measure of social responsibility.

“The policy provides a great framework to make investment decisions and it’s a huge step forward from what I've seen of previous socially responsible investment policies,” said Eric Recchia ('13, Economics), an HSU alumnus involved in the effort. “This creates both the framework and the internal motivation for the foundation to take further action and start making a difference."

While students did not see immediate action on everything they had wanted—such as dedicating a percentage of the Foundation’s investments to green funds, or including prisons as industry investments to avoid—Board members and Executive Director Craig Wruck said that all those ideas, and many others, could be explored now that the new investment policy was in place.

“We needed the framework of this broader policy first in order to allow us to do the detailed work,” Wruck said. “It was tempting to add specific actions, to set new ambitious timelines, and decide on certain types of investments at the same time. But we need to do this right. We are committed to leading the way on this, but where there are tradeoffs such as possibly reducing the amount of scholarship dollars available, we have to really spend time thinking it through.”

Ultimately, the policy with the Humboldt Investment Pledge was something that Board members said they were proud to adopt, and they did so unanimously. The Board’s Finance Committee will now utilize the framework to make adjustments and changes to its investment strategy, and to make further recommendations to the full Board.

Humboldt State University has a longstanding commitment to environmental and social responsibility. The Princeton Review regularly lists HSU as a top “green college,” and the university’s Graduation Pledge has been adopted by campuses worldwide. HSU houses one of the nation’s oldest eco-demonstration houses, students pay an extra fee for campus energy projects, and classes throughout the curriculum feature topics related to sustainability. The university also recently banned the use of plastic shopping bags and the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. More information is at http://www.humboldt.edu/green.

X
X
X
  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

The Challenge of Estimating Alaska's Soil Carbon Stocks

A geospatial analysis determined the optimal distribution of sites needed to reliably estimate Alaska's vast soil carbon.

Strain-Free Epitaxy of Germanium Film on Mica

Germanium was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, and due to its high charge carrier mobility, it's making a comeback. It's generally grown on expensive single-crystal substrates, adding another challenge to making it sustainably viable for most applications. To address this aspect, researchers demonstrate an epitaxy method that incorporates van der Waals' forces to grow germanium on mica. They discuss their work in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

Detailed View of Immune Proteins Could Lead to New Pathogen-Defense Strategies

Biologists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley used cryo-EM to resolve the structure of a ring of proteins used by the immune system to summon support when under attack, providing new insight into potential strategies for protection from pathogens. The researchers captured the high-resolution image of a protein ring, called an inflammasome, as it was bound to flagellin, a protein from the whiplike tail used by bacteria to propel themselves forward.

Unlocking the Secrets of Ebola

Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease. The results come from one of the most in-depth studies ever of blood samples from patients with Ebola.

Scientists Make First Observations of How a Meteor-Like Shock Turns Silica Into Glass

Studies at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first real-time observations of how silica - an abundant material in the Earth's crust - easily transforms into a dense glass when hit with a massive shock wave like one generated from a meteor impact.

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls

Lignocellulose-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production.

Stretching to Perfection of 2-D Semiconductors

Scientists use heat and mismatched surfaces to stretch films that can potentially improve the efficient operation of devices.

Simple is Beautiful in Quantum Computing

Defect spins in diamond were controlled with a simpler, geometric method, leading to faster computing.

Replace or Wait? Study Says Swap All Incandescent Bulbs Now, but Hold on to CFLs, older LEDs

LED light bulbs are getting cheaper and more energy efficient every year. So, does it make sense to replace less-efficient bulbs with the latest light-emitting diodes now, or should you wait for future improvements and even lower costs?


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Argonne to Install Comanche System to Explore ARM Technology for High-Performance Computing

Argonne National Laboratory is collaborating with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide system software expertise and a development ecosystem for a future high-performance computing (HPC) system based on 64-bit ARM processors.

CANDLE Shines in 2017 HPCwire Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards

Argonne National Laboratory has been recognized in the annual <em>HPCwire</em> Readers' and Editors' Choice Awards, presented at the 2017 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC17), in Denver, Colorado.

SLAC's Helen Quinn Honored with 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics

Helen Quinn, a professor emerita at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, will receive the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics - one of eight prestigious Franklin Institute Awards that will be handed out in Philadelphia next April.

PPPL Honors Grierson and Greenough for Distinguished Research and Engineering Achievements

Article describes PPPL's presentation of 2017 Kaul Prize and Distinguished Engineering Fellow awards.

INCITE Grants of 5.95 Billion Hours Awarded to 55 Computational Research Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science announced 55 projects with high potential for accelerating discovery through its Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. The projects will share 5.95 billion core-hours on three of America's most powerful supercomputers dedicated to capability-limited open science and support a broad range of large-scale research campaigns from infectious disease treatment to next-generation materials development.

Former SLAC Director Jonathan Dorfan Awarded Japan's Order of the Rising Sun

Former SLAC Director and Stanford University Professor Emeritus Jonathan Dorfan has been awarded Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his contributions as founding president of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST). It is the highest award Japan bestows on university presidents.

Jefferson Lab Staff Scientist Honored with APS Fellowship

Fulvia Pilat, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society. The honor is bestowed by members of APS on their peers for exceptional contributions to their fields.

First Northwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference Is a Hit!

The first Northwest Theoretical Chemistry Conference was a success. The event offered ~50 early career theorists and students opportunities to present talks in a nurturing environment that developed and advanced collaborations.

Argonne Forms New Divisions to Focus on Computation and Data Science Strengths

Argonne has formed two new research divisions to focus its lab-wide foundational expertise on computational science and data science activities.

Hermann Grunder Recognized by IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society

Dr. Hermann Grunder, Founding Director of Jefferson Lab, has been selected as one of two recipients of the 2018 IEEE NPSS Particle Accelerator Science and Technology (PAST) Award.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

The Challenge of Estimating Alaska's Soil Carbon Stocks

A geospatial analysis determined the optimal distribution of sites needed to reliably estimate Alaska's vast soil carbon.

Unplugging the Cellulose Biofuel Bottleneck

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

How Fungal Enzymes Break Down Plant Cell Walls

Lignocellulose-degrading enzyme complexes could improve biofuel production.

Stretching to Perfection of 2-D Semiconductors

Scientists use heat and mismatched surfaces to stretch films that can potentially improve the efficient operation of devices.

Simple is Beautiful in Quantum Computing

Defect spins in diamond were controlled with a simpler, geometric method, leading to faster computing.

The Effect of Hurricanes on Puerto Rico's Dry Forests

More frequent storms turn forests from carbon source to sink.

A Chemical Thermometer for Tropical Forests

Monoterpene measures how certain forests respond to heat stress.

Where a Leaf Lands and Lies Influences Carbon Levels in Soil for Years to Come

Whether carbon comes from leaves or needles affects how fast it decomposes, but where it ends up determines how long it's available.

Twisting Molecule Wrings More Power from Solar Cells

Readily rotating molecules let electrons last, resulting in higher solar cell efficiency.

Rules Are Only Suggestions in Heavy Elements

The arrangement of electrons in an exotic human-made element shows that certain properties of heavy elements cannot be predicted using lighter ones.


Spotlight

Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

Stairway to Science

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

After-School Energy Rush

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

Binghamton University, State University of New York

Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

Argonne National Laboratory

Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University

Thursday September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM

Could Sorghum Become a Significant Alternative Fuel Source?

Salisbury University

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 11:15 AM

Students Navigating the Hudson River With Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 10:00 AM

College Presidents Flock to D.C., Urge Senate to Pass Clean Energy Bill

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Wednesday July 01, 2009, 04:15 PM

Northeastern Announces New Professional Master's in Energy Systems

Northeastern University

Friday October 12, 2007, 09:35 AM

Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

Kansas State University

Thursday August 17, 2006, 05:30 PM

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Rowan University





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215