Thursday, November 10, 2011

$1 Billion Green Challenge Launches - Harvard, Stanford, Arizona State, and other leading universities commit $65 million to new energy efficiency financing initiative
To “Save Energy, Grow Money,” the Billion Dollar Green Challenge invites colleges, universities and other nonprofits to invest a total of one billion dollars in self-managed green revolving funds that finance energy efficiency upgrades.

The Challenge is inspired by the exceptional performance of existing green revolving funds, which have a median annual return on investment of 32%, as documented by Greening The Bottom Line, a report published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

A bright spot in a rocky economy, these profitable investments are helping create green jobs in campus communities, while lowering operating costs on college and university campuses.

“We’re transforming energy efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high-return investment opportunities,” said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which is coordinating The Challenge along with 15 partners.

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge launched publicly on October 11 at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in Pittsburgh. With more than 2,500 participants, the conference is the largest gathering to date on higher education sustainability.
In advance of the launch, 32 institutions have already joined The Challenge’s Founding Circle by committing to invest a cumulative total of more than $65 million in green revolving funds. In addition to Harvard, Stanford and ASU, other Founding Circle institutions include Caltech, Dartmouth, George Washington, Middlebury, the University of British Columbia, and Weber State University.

Several Founding Circle schools have already established funds and are enthusiastic about the benefits. Harvard’s Office for Sustainability Director Heather Henriksen said, “The Green Loan Fund has generated high returns on investment, while improving Harvard’s environmental impact and our bottom line.” Endowment investments, operating funds and alumni donations have all been used to establish green revolving funds at institutions across the country.

Guided by a 34-member expert advisory council, The Billion Dollar Green Challenge offers technical assistance, best practices sharing, access to an advanced web-based tool for managing green revolving funds, peer institutions’ project-specific data and invitations to specialized webinars and conferences.
At Stanford, Office of Sustainability Associate Director Fahmida Ahmed said, “Our fund has already financed over 200 small and large efficiency projects on campus, with an average simple payback period of just four years.”

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge has received financial support from the David Rockefeller Fund, HOK, John Merck Fund, Kresge Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Roy A. Hunt Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, and the Wallace Global Fund.

Fifteen partner organizations have played a pivotal role in developing and launching The Challenge: American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Clean Air-Cool Planet, Clinton Climate Initiative, Earth Day Network, National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology, Net Impact National Association of Environmental Law Societies, New England Board of Higher Education, Rocky Mountain Institute, Second Nature, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Building Green Initiative, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
On April 20, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership hosted a webinar on Greening the Bottom Line: How Campus Green Revolving Funds are Saving Energy and Money. This webinar explored the innovative approaches that some colleges and universities are taking to finance energy upgrades, demonstrated the trends uncovered in Greening the Bottom Line- a survey on active green revolving funds in the 2009-2010 year in North America, and delved first-hand into one college’s experience operating a green revolving fund. You can download the PDF and podcast here:
EPA Webinar on Greening the Bottom Line

Visit for more information. Press Release dated October 11, 2011
via/hat tip Susan Axelrod CPA

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