Revolving Funds Offer Sustainable Financing for Campus Energy-efficiency Improvements

A new Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Funds database released by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with support from the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) reveals higher education as a leading sector for energy-efficiency investments.

With revolving loan-funded energy-efficiency improvements totaling more than $118 million at 80 institutions in the database, higher education is paving the way toward President Obama’s recent State of the Union appeal to cut energy consumption in half in the next two decades.

The Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Funds database also reveals that:

  • The number of campus revolving loan financing has grown three-fold since 2009.
  • The top 10 largest funds have more than $76 million invested for on-campus efficiency improvements.
  • A diverse array of colleges and universities are creating revolving loan funds, operating in 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces on campuses with student populations ranging from 700 students to more than 60,000.

“Financing higher education sustainability efforts is a key issue in advancing sustainability,” says AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland. “The revolving funds captured in this database provide great examples of a sustainable technique for funding sustainability projects.”

Reinforcing higher education’s emphasis on energy-efficiency investments, 39 institutions have committed a total of $68 million to date as part of SEI’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The challenge encourages colleges, universities and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of $1 billion in self-managed revolving funds for financing energy-efficiency improvements.

“Green revolving funds help transform energy-efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high-return investment opportunities,” says Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which coordinates the Billion Dollar Green Challenge along with 17 partners, including AASHE.

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