Crown family provides support for University’s sustainability solutionsBy Steve Koppes
The University has developed an energy consumption reduction program with the first installment of a $2.5 million donation from James and Paula Crown of Chicago. The University’s sustainability program also has attracted its first foundation grant, of $78,000, from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
The Crown gift will support the University’s environmental sustainability program for five years, with an objective to maximize both environmental and economic return on investment. The objectives of the Crown gift highlight an important element of the sustainability movement, according to Ilsa Flanagan, Director of Sustainability at the University.
“Solving increasingly urgent environmental problems, such as global warming, requires companies and nonprofit institutions to embrace our common obligations to integrate sustainability into planning and operations,” Crown said. “This requires diligent application of science and technology to find the most cost-effective sustainability solutions. The University of Chicago is in an ideal position to demonstrate how well-conceived sustainability initiatives can improve the bottom line while simultaneously protecting our fragile planet.”
The University expects to reap dividends from the Crown gift for years to come by investing in efficiency upgrades, which will accrue savings. “Those savings can then pay for additional upgrades down the road,” Flanagan said.
A portion of the Crown gift will be dedicated to the establishment of baseline measurements on the University’s greenhouse-gas emissions and its total energy use in various buildings. “We really want to figure that out so we can come up with a larger climate plan,” Flanagan said.
Facilities Services will use the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation grant to install energy-efficient lighting in the Ratner Athletics Center and the Henry Crown Fieldhouse.
The University applied for the grant as part of its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint. Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability plan to reinvest savings from these upgrades into other energy-efficient projects.
Public and non-profit colleges and universities in Illinois with campuses serving at least 400 full-time undergraduates were eligible to apply for the program. The foundation invests in clean energy development and land preservation efforts, working with communities and residents to improve environmental quality.