Harvard Green Loan Fund
The Green Loan Fund at Harvard University has been an active source of capital for energy efficiency and waste reduction projects for almost a decade. This case study examines the revolving fund’s history from its inception as a pilot project in the 1990s to its regeneration in the early 2000s to its current operations today. The green revolving fund has been a successful self-replenishing tool for encouraging Harvard’s schools and units to invest in projects that generate cost savings and reduce their environmental impacts. Originally funded by the President’s Office at $1.5 million, the now $12 million revolving loan fund provides capital to Harvard for high performance campus design, operations, and maintenance projects. The fund’s low-interest loans have successfully financed projects which save the university electricity, natural gas, water, waste disposal fees, along with other operating costs.
Challenges faced by the fund’s administrators have included promoting the fund across a decentralized campus, soliciting project proposals, and ensuring that projects are successfully implemented and documented. Despite these challenges, the fund has experienced average annual returns of 30 percent, saved the university $4.8 million dollars annually, and reduced Harvard’s environmental footprint.