HMC Considers Green Fund

To promote sustainability at Harvey Mudd College, members of Engineers for a Sustainable World/Mudders Organizing for Sustainability Solutions (ESW/MOSS) are planning to propose the establishment of a green fund at the May meeting of the Board of Trustees, and are working to revive HMC’s
Sustainability Committee.

The green fund would put money toward approved sustainability projects that expect a high return on investment. A high investment return would allow the fund to replenish itself, creating a model that would continue to fund projects focused on sustainability.

“Whether it’s cutting electricity, water, or gas costs on the colleges, those savings are monitored and put back into the pot of money, so it’s a cycle that’s a good one to be in,” ESW/MOSS Co-president Jake Dittes HM ’15 said. 

The green fund idea has been gaining
national momentum, and ESW/MOSS hopes to amass support before it presents its proposal to the Board of
Trustees at the end of the semester. 

“I think that Harvey Mudd, especially
as a technical leader, should instill values of environmental stewardship in
its students,” ESW/MOSS Co-president Priya Donti HM ’15 said. “But before it can do that it has to demonstrate
that it values those things as well. The green fund is a really good way to do

In 2007, HMC President Maria Klawe signed the Presidents’
Climate Commitment, a national pact meant to steer colleges toward carbon

“Forming this Green Fund would demonstrate Harvey Mudd’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship,” Donti wrote in a email she sent Jan. 31 to an HMC listserv dedicated to sustainability. 

The green fund was conceived with Troy Hansgen, senior director of facilities at HMC. Hansgen said that he likes to work with students on sustainability projects, such as the renovation of the lawn in front of HMC’s
F.W. Olin Science Center.

“Students have studied the feasibility
of turning Olin lawn into a xeriscape, an irrigation-free lawn, but [Hansgen] has no
budget to do these kinds of projects,” Dittes said.

Despite this lack of budget, Hansgen is still pursuing multiple options.

“We are considering several projects to improve sustainability on campus, including: composting, waste compaction, ultra-high efficiency boilers, and alternative energy,” Hansgen wrote in an email to TSL.

goal of ESW/MOSS is to revamp the Sustainability Committee at HMC, which has an
established charter but is not active.

Dittes believes that the Sustainability
Committee fell flat due to far-off deadlines and a lack of purpose to drive it. The green fund proposed by ESW/MOSS would make the Sustainability
Committee’s role on campus more concrete, he said.

Should HMC’s Sustainability Committee
be resurrected, it would consist of students, faculty and staff members, facilities and
maintenance representatives, and trustees. The committee would approve green fund projects and work to incorporate sustainability into the daily lives of

“We’re hoping to rekindle it as a governing body for the green fund, among
other functions,” Donti said.

ESW/MOSS has been compiling a list of
possible green fund projects, including the installation of lighting control
sensors and rain sensors for sprinklers, as well as recycling and composting initiatives. 

approved for funding would have to show potential for a high return on investment.

her email, Donti cited green fund initiatives created by Boston University, whose fund has seen a 57 percent yearly investment return, and the California Institute of Technology, whose fund has seen a 33 percent return.

The members of ESW/MOSS hope to have a tangible impact on campus through
proposals such as the green fund. 

“It is too early to tell,” Hangsen wrote. However, he added that “there are some trustees that are very excited about this.”

Students are also excited about the new organization and the opportunities it presents.

“I have an interest in environmental
sustainability, I think it’s a cause worth working for, and I saw [ESW/MOSS] as a place where I thought I might be able to make somewhat of a difference at
Mudd,” ESW/MOSS member Nathan Miller HM ’17 said.

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