Reducing Carbon Wins Green

A team of MBA students from Duke University and the University North Carolina beat out teams from nine other schools to win the second annual Yale Responsible Investing Conference & Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition — and the $10,000 prize that goes with it.

Competitors were asked to development investment management strategies around developing a product focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors for clients of Commonfund, which sponsored the contest. In the inaugural competition last year, participants developed strategies to respond to fossil fuel divestment campaigns at universities around the country.

The winning proposal by the mixed team from Duke’s Fuqua and North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Schools of Business recommended developing a growth fund focused in natural resource-based real assets as a way to hedge financial and climate risk. As a result of their win, the team also earned automatic entry into the finalist round of the Business for a Better World Case Competition in Davis in January.

The Nov. 13 competition included teams from Columbia Business School (second place, $3,000) and Cornell Johnson School of Management (third place, $1,000), in addition to University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, University of Connecticut School of Business, Yale School of Management, Boston College Carroll School of Management and Mexico’s EGADE Business School.

Among the issues that teams grappled with were how to identify good ESG managers across asset classes and how to measure ESG metrics reliably fro clients, especially those aiming to align their “endowments with mission and achieve real impact.”

Commonfund President/CEO Catherine Keating, Commonfund Chairman Bob Litterman judged the finalist round of the competition. Other judges included Deborah Spalding, CIO for the State of Connecticut; Charley Ellis, founder of Greenwich Associates; Bruce Kahn, portfolio manager at Sustainable Insight Capital; R. Paul Herman, founder and CEO of the HIP Investor; and Anadi Jauhari, senior managing director at Emerging Energy & Environment Investment Group.