Federal Incentives Called upon to Support Campus Sustainability

June 26, 2012

Two leading associations call for federal incentives to support campus sutainabilityLandmark policy paper outlines economic, social and environmental benefits.

Last week, two leading associations released a landmark policy paper that calls for federal financial incentives to support investment in sustainable technology for the country’s colleges and universities.

The year-long study outlines how the federal government should develop and enhance clean energy incentives and investments for the higher education sector to support sustainable practices on campuses, control institutional operating costs, spur economic development and prepare college graduates to integrate sustainability into their business and personal lives.

“Higher Education: Leading the Nation to a Safe and Secure Energy Future” was released during the fifth anniversary celebration of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an agreement between nearly 700 colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action. The report’s authors represent the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC.

The paper recommends a series of changes to the tax code that clears the way for colleges and universities to support green technology and sustainable investments. Some of the changes called for include:

-Allowing tax-exempt bond financing to prepay power purchase agreements that require no price escalation.
-Developing a loan guarantee program for energy-efficiency or renewable-energy projects.
-Enabling long-term charitable deductions and tax credits for biomass and biomethane fuel-source contributions.

“The federal governmental has both a moral and a practical obligation to support these changes. Transforming the ways that colleges and universities address sustainability is an important step in moving towards a fair and just society,” said Dr. Anthony Cortese, co-founder of Second Nature. “Many of our signatory institutions have already committed to achieving climate neutrality. This is encouraging, but federal policy changes can allow them to prioritize sustainability even further.”

“Many colleges and universities have already done the straightforward projects that drive a lower energy profile, such as lighting upgrades and building automation. Now, institutions are challenged to find the right ways to finance larger-scale sustainability projects,” said Liz Clark, Director of Congressional Affairs, Advocacy and Issues Analysis at NACUBO. “There isn’t a lot of low-hanging fruit left, and the federal policy changes our paper recommends would pay dividends over time.”

To access the full paper, click here.

Photo Credit: Flickr/cuttlefish