Kresge Announces New Higher Green Building Standards for Challenge-grant Applicants in Higher Education

The Kresge Foundation announced today that it is raising the bar on green building requirements for challenge grants awarded to applicants in the higher-education sector.

Effective June 2010, the foundation will only consider proposals for facilities-capital grants from colleges and universities that plan to use the funding for building projects – new construction, renovations, and expansions – that meet the Silver or higher level certification standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) program or an equivalent rating agency.

Kresge is giving one-year advance notice to colleges and universities to allow them sufficient preparation time to meet the new, higher green-building standards. The decision complements broader national trends in the environment and education that are emerging from the Obama Administration.

The Kresge Foundation is very concerned about the long-term impact of global climate change and deeply committed to environmental conservation, which is one of our nine core values,” says education Program Director William F.L. Moses. “We believe it is important that the nation’s colleges and universities, which have been among the leaders in building green facilities, attain high environmental standards in their building projects.

Investing in high-performance buildings will enable schools to become more energy-efficient over the long run, Moses says. “In these days of belt-tightening, the adoption of LEED Silver-rated standards will help colleges and universities reduce their energy costs,” he explains. “These schools also play an important role in educating our future leaders, which positions them to convey the importance of resource conservation and environmental sustainability.

The LEED Green Building Rating System offers tools and performance criteria that are intended to speed the adoption of sustainable green building and development practices. As a third-party certification program, LEED provides architects, engineers, construction managers, lenders, government officials, and grantmakers with a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance facilities.

Financially strapped and under-resourced institutions will receive special assistance to enhance their knowledge of green building practices. Kresge has partnered with the nonprofit organization Second Nature to launch a new program called Advancing Green Building in Higher education. With a three-year, $1.2 million Kresge grant, Second Nature will help Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III and V institutions develop green building projects for their campuses.

green-building-certificationThrough fellowship awards administered by Second Nature, 40 senior managers will learn about the resources available for LEED-certified facilities as well as their potential for saving money, reducing negative health impacts, and creating models of environmental sustainability. Second Nature is also collaborating with the United Negro College Fund, which received a $60,000 Kresge planning grant to enhance its current Capacity Building Institute to include a program to help minority-serving institutions build green.

Moses says the new challenge-grant requirements for higher education represent a natural “next step” in addressing environmental issues more broadly.  In 2003, Kresge announced its original Green Building Initiative, a grantmaking effort that encouraged nonprofit organizations to build environmentally responsible facilities by funding the additional costs associated with constructing or renovating a green building. The initiative, which is being retired at the end of this month, succeeded in raising awareness in the nonprofit sector, in the design and construction professions, and in the physical communities where the projects were located.

Since March 2004, the foundation has made 199 awards of green planning grants to public and private institutions. In the higher-education sector, these grants have assisted 51 schools in 27 states, plus the District of Columbia, and have totaled nearly $3.8 million.

Moses says the new green building requirements for the higher-education sector represent the foundation’s deepening commitment to the advancement of environmental stewardship in the built environment, which accounts for an estimated 40 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. 

We are excited about the commitment Kresge and our grantees have made – and will continue to make – to environmental sustainability,” he concludes.

For information on Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building Program, visit

For more information, contact Cynthia Shaw,
or call 248-643-9630.

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