ESG Considerations for Higher Education 

Oct 12, 2022

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have become a focus for many colleges and universities across the United States.

Many aspects of ESG are deciding factors for prospective students as well as philanthropic donors looking to expand green initiatives in higher education. There are several ways colleges or universities focus on ESG initiatives. Here are some key ways:

Environmental Considerations:

Energy Efficiency Improvements

One way that universities can focus on environmental considerations of ESG is to retrofit existing buildings and systems with new, more energy efficient systems. Replace lighting in dorms, academic buildings, and outdoor areas with LED and more energy efficient lighting components. Additional opportunities include improvements to MEP and HVAC systems. Pursuing green certifications for university buildings is another excellent way to improve energy efficiency on campuses. Did you know the Inflation Reduction Act can help with the cost of improvements? Learn more here.

Green Transportation

While the traditional university opts for students walking everywhere, there are other ways universities can encourage green transportation. Universities can encourage students to bring and use bicycles on campus, or universities can provide bicycles for students.

Universities can also invest in fleets of green vehicles. The Inflation Reduction Act  has credits available to assist universities in affording electric or green vehicles as well as installing EV charging stations. University buses, university police, and university grounds and maintenance crews could transition to electric or green vehicles and help in improving environmental ESG considerations.

Saving Green Spaces

Preserving green spaces on campuses enhances the environment for students, staff, and wildlife on campus. It all provides other opportunities for learning outside of the classroom like having an ecology lecture in the nature surrounding a university.

Climate Risk and Resiliency: Building with climate risk and resiliency in mind can help preserve the buildings of a campus by standing the test of climate risk. Coastal universities more prone to hurricanes, and earthquakes could benefit from services like:

  • Physical climate risk analysis & mitigation report
  • Professional engineering review & recommendations
  • Property resilience assessment & mitigation plan reports
  • Mitigation measure design & capital planning

Social Considerations:

Health and Safety Assessments: The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff should always remain a top priority for universities. Consider the state of the buildings on campus. Do they pose a health and safety risk? Regular monitoring of hazardous materials like asbestos, PCBs, mold, lead-based paint, water intrusion, and radon as well as indoor air quality assessment are crucial for health and safety of university patrons. Learn more about our hazmat testing and abatement services (link to building sciences page).

Governance Considerations:

Regulatory Compliance: Regulatory compliance is critical and EBI’s experts can help universities navigate complex regulatory environments. EBI can help universities with:

  • Preparation for the proposed SEC climate-related disclosures
  • Building Performance Standards (carbon emissions limits, energy use intensity limits, etc.)
  • Energy & Water Use Benchmarking
  • Energy & Water Audits
  • Retro-Commissioning
  • Building Tune-Ups

Wondering how efficient your university’s systems are? Wonder how they can be improved? EBI can perform energy audits as well as provide ESG policy and strategy development to help your university increase sustainability.

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