President Guiliano surveys the funding landscape today in America and uses specific NYIT examples of sustainability during his speech to a group of Long Island college presidents and administrators at an energy conference of the Long Island Regional Advisory Council on Higher Education (LIRACHE).
I want to begin by showing a short video. It is a basic NYIT video on sustainability that I show publicly occasionally to illustrate the range and history of our commitment to energy and sustainability.
So why did I show that essentially fast-paced slide show set to music?
The first is that it illustrates our role as educators when it comes to energy and sustainability, and more our role to teach, innovate, and model. We must show, tell, and engage others; create the newest technologies; and illustrate best practices.
Educators have to lead by example, looking at everything from how campus buildings are designed and operated to what students are being taught in classrooms and how innovation is being encouraged in laboratories.
In addition to teaching students, let’s remember we play a crucial role in teaching the general public about new technologies and their role in society, and about energy innovation and sustainability practices. The legitimacy affords educational institutions a special place in changing public perception about the need to accept new technologies as they become available and in some cases accept an initially higher cost.
What are some of the other things we as educators are or should do to address energy and sustainability?
The second reason I showed the video is to illustrate some of the funding sources available to us as part of what I was charged to speak about: the outlook for funding.
The current landscape and outlook for funding for energy and sustainability. Thank you very much whoever decided I was the one to speak on that depressing topic.
Right about now that landscape has potholes.
So what are the funding buckets we usually look toward to help fill those holes…or as the Inspector said in Casablanca, round up the usual suspects. In this case starting with two somewhat sad stories.
Let’s face it and not ignore it, the most reliable and sustainable funding for energy initiatives on campus and start-up research and development projects is our own money, unfortunately much of it derived from tuition. And most externally-funded projects require some internal match.
Two funding consolations are that we can often use the value of the projects we are going to fund anyway to count as our internal match.
And a slightly trickier move is to count the savings to be generated by an energy saving project as our matching contribution.
A number of colleges and universities are creating green capital funds that financially assist the introduction of new energy efficiency projects and renewable power sources.
The goal is to fund a separate body capable of initiating suitable projects, creating energy savings that can be reinvested into additional sustainable initiatives. A percentage of the electricity or fuel savings would provide annual deposits into the fund, thereby acting as seed money for future investments in energy projects.
On the national level, the federal government offers competitive funding opportunities through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and I would add that the Department of Labor provides funding for implementation and application of new technologies to develop a “green” work force. Although federal earmarks are apparently not going to be an avenue of funding for this session of Congress, President Obama assures us that funding will be available through the competitive process through different federal agencies. And we all know how much fund that is.
At NYIT, we sponsor energy conferences here and abroad, and for the conference we held in China last spring, the National Science Foundation kicked about 20% of the cost.
Again, President Obama, in his State of the Union address, called for more attention to energy independence. This, of course, opens opportunities for our colleges and universities.
The largest growth in the DOE Office of Science is projected for “basic energy sciences.” Most of that growth will fund the Energy Frontier Research Center competition ($40M), Single Investor Small Group competition ($24M), and an Innovation Hub on Batteries and Energy Storage ($34M):
Other significant growth:
The DOE Office of Science priorities:
Through the competitive process, NYIT picked up more than $100K from the DOE for the construction of a solar house that ultimately earned us some patents, publicity, and a house or two. One is sitting in Long Beach as the first solar-powered government building on Long Island.
Through the earmark process, we picked up a half million dollars from the DOE for an Energy Efficiency Demonstration Project that enabled us to design, build, and test two solar recharging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles, add some electric vehicles to our fleet, and support a number of projects to reduce our carbon footprint.
Competitive DOE grants are the most common type of financial assistance awarded by the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Division.
The U.S. Department of Energy does give out some very big awards, especially for collaborations such as the recent $129 million grant to Penn State for its "energy innovation hub,” where the university is leading research into energy-efficient building design and retrofitting. This project involves researchers from academia, the private sector, and two national laboratories who will study ways to save energy and cut carbon pollution.
State and local government is a long-shot funding source, of course, compared with bygone years.
As little said about New York State funding and appropriations the better…As you know, Governor Cuomo de-funded $85 million of the governor’s contribution to member items and favors a competitive economic-development program controlled by the executive and not through member items. So, it is reasonable to assume he will find some money to fund what he wants, perhaps not right away. The same can be said for the New York City mayor.
A good and relevant source of capital funding, however, is NYSERDA, New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority, which has funding available for energy efficiency improvements on college and university campuses for new construction, renovations, or equipment upgrades.
NYIT has been granted funding for two competitively bid projects worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars: an energy efficiency project to re-lamp over 3000 fixtures in three campus buildings, and a renewable energy project to install 20 kw solar panels on a campus facility building.
Foundations are one of the bright funding sources for colleges and universities as there are more than 100 foundations as having a stated interest in energy, making millions of philanthropic dollars available to support for research, public policy development, and conservation measures.
Half of the top ten private foundations have a stated interest in funding energy and sustainability related initiatives, this includes the likes of the Ford Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David & Lucille Packard Foundation. They fund programs locally and internationally. And an overarching focus for each of the top ten is education. So, we are well positioned to be recipients.
As some of you will know, NYIT’s Center for Metropolitan Sustainability has taken the leadership role of the Long Island Carbon Footprint Project, a first of its kind regional greenhouse gas emissions inventory in the U.S. We are gathering data on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from municipalities and different private sector industries. Data will be analyzed in comparison to the initial report released this year and used as an educational tool for further reductions in carbon footprints. And the project will continue to gather data from commercial, industrial, residential, transportation, and waste sectors. This work is funded by The Rauch Foundation.
Corporations & Contracts
Private investors are looking to partner with academic institutions and provide seed funding for research, startups, and innovative projects. Universities are the R&D arms of these investors, and we’ve contracted for all sorts of projects, including some fantasy ones like city motorcycles of the future.
Private industry is a good funding source in this sector.
Corporate funding from local, national, and international companies is focused on energy research and application. Car manufacturers to energy producers and companies that have an interest in the environment like Chrysler, Entergy, GE, etc. are dedicating dollars to energy-related projects. In the past few weeks, for example, one of our professors of mechanical engineering picked up a research grant from the GM foundation for $140K.
Who are the top R&D spenders in the US? Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.
The three largest U.S. oil and gas companies are making significant investments in renewable energy—most notably in the biofuels area where they can draw on investments related to traditional, “liquid” fuels.
GE, a newer player, has set a goal of doubling energy-related R&D to $2 billion per year over the next five years.
Time to mention that LIPA is committed to assisting not-for-profit organizations in our service territory with programs and services designed to meet the special needs of this important segment of Long Island.
In closing, I want to restate one of the obvious reasons we are here as Long Island’s colleges and universities. At LIRACHE, we recognize we do not compete on energy savings and climate change. With funding on state and federal levels reduced and highly competitive, collaborating with other schools, public organizations, or commercial companies to respond to grant solicitations may provide the diversity necessary to win the project. Each partner brings a complimentary skill set and makes the proposal more robust.
And I want to point out again that the U.S. Department of Energy does give out some pretty big awards, like the $125 million over five years awarded to the Bio Energy Institute, which is a partnership of three national labs and three research universities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Office of the President