Photo courtesy of Paradise International Foundation.
Protecting the environment has been one of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s most enduring commitments. For generations, a deep love for nature has shaped the Rockefeller family’s philanthropic efforts, beginning with the 1909 land conservation campaign in the Palisades on the west bank of the Hudson River. The RBF launched its own Environmental Program in 1974 to expand on the family's park and other preservation efforts to address complex ecosystem issues at the intersection of population, food, capital, pollution, and values.
Since establishing its Sustainable Development program in 2003, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has been vocal about our commitment to combating global warming. Both the China and Democratic Practice–Global Challenges programs have elevated climate change as a grantmaking priority.
Climate change is happening now: Already the seas are rising, forest fires are devastating homes and natural landscapes, and wildlife is suffering. The scientific imperative to dramatically cut emissions that cause climate change compels the RBF to thoughtfully examine and mitigate its own carbon footprint.
Citing the moral tension arising from its Sustainable Development grantmaking on one hand and its fossil fuel investments on the other, the RBF pledged in 2014 to divest its endowment from oil, gas, and coal. Today, our investment portfolio is more than 99 percent fossil fuel-free and financial returns are outperforming market benchmarks. In addition to divestment, the RBF also proactively invests in fund managers that integrate environmental priorities in their strategies.
The RBF is committed to providing staff with cost-effective, healthy, and productive workplaces that align with its environmental values. Our Manhattan office earned LEED Platinum certification for meeting the highest standards of energy efficiency, water usage, indoor environment quality, and more. The new David Rockefeller Center for Creative Arts at Pocantico, a net-zero energy building that incorporates a solar array and rain garden, also aims to achieve LEED certification.
The RBF incorporates sustainable practices in ongoing operations and new capital improvement projects. RBF green initiatives include purchasing 100 percent wind-generated electricity, using sustainable cleaning products and energy-star rated appliances, eliminating single-use service wares like plastic cups and coffee stirrers, and a recycling program. The Pocantico Center also offers guests the option for towel and linen reuse, provides reusable water bottles, and strives to use locally-grown produce and sustainably-harvested seafood.
Despite our best efforts, it is almost impossible for the RBF to reduce our own climate impact to zero. Since 2005, we have partnered annually with NativeEnergy to measure our carbon emissions from electricity usage, staff commutes, employee business travel, and Pocantico conference participant travel and then purchase credits to support projects that will reduce equivalent emissions elsewhere, like wind farms. Learn more about our approach to carbon offsets.