First hospital system and four other institutions commit to $1 million revolving funds each

March 12, 2014

In the past month, five more institutions joined the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, including a healthcare system and a secondary school. Each committed to capitalizing a $1 million green revolving fund (GRF) at their institution, with several hoping to grow their fund even beyond that target. Bon Secours Hospital System, Northfield Mount Hermon School (MA), Sewanee: The University of the South (TN), the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Wyoming will all be launching self-managed GRFs and growing them over the next six years. These additions bring The Challenge’s total to over $80 million committed to green revolving funds. The institutions not only represent the wide geographic appeal of revolving funds, but also the funds’ ability to function across diverse sectors.

“We are very excited to welcome these five institutions to The Challenge,” said Mark Orlowski, Executive Director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute. “Not only do they provide educational and healthcare services collectively to tens of thousands of individuals each year, but through creating revolving funds and joining The Challenge they are advancing the goal of sharing energy efficiency project data across sectors.”

Bon Secours Hospital System is the first healthcare system to join The Challenge. The Maryland-based nonprofit administers 19 hospitals nationwide in addition to other healthcare facilities. Proponents of a revolving fund brought the idea before the organization’s energy council as well as other relevant stakeholders to make sure that a fund would complement and build on existing energy efficiency work. Hospitals operate some of the most energy-intensive buildings and GRFs provide a way to leverage funding over time to reduce energy use while protecting patient care. The Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS) is a powerful reason for healthcare institutions to join The Challenge and gain access to data on projects from across the higher education sector.

Northfield Mount Hermon School is the largest independent school to join The Challenge. Independent schools with significant campus facilities and operating budgets face similar energy and deferred maintenance issues as colleges and universities. Green revolving funds not only help mitigate environmental impact, but also distinguish institutions as environmental leaders at a time when independent schools are competing to attract students with an interest in sustainability. Access to the network and resources of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge helps independent schools learn from what is working in higher education to both save energy and attract a competitive applicant pool. Northfield Mount Hermon is also participating in the Leaders in Energy Efficiency Financing (LEEF) Program.

The University of Wyoming (UW) is first school in Wyoming to join The Challenge and UW is in the process of planning and capitalizing its Conservation and and Efficiency Revolving Fund (CERF). The CERF was developed to help finance cost-saving efficiency projects on campus while hedging against energy price increases and fulfilling targets under the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Funding from the CERF will serve as an investment, rather than an expense, in UW’s built environment by reducing demand on the utility budget.

Sewanee: The University of the South is the first school in Tennessee to join The Challenge. Their Sewanee Green Revolving Fund was partially seeded through a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. It will be managed by the Office of Sustainability and a GRF Board, with project loans being approved by the Sustainability Steering Committee. Sewanee has integrated the fund into the campus’ Sustainability Master Plan as part of their efforts to become carbon neutral. The fund will focus on energy, water, optimization, and deferred maintenance projects.

The University of Saskatchewan is the first institution in Canada, outside of British Columbia, to join The Challenge. Their Campus Sustainability Revolving Fund (CSRF) will focus on achieving utility savings and facilitating behavior change at the university. Through implementing projects, fund managers aim to use the campus as a “living laboratory” for experiential learning and academic research. The CSRF was proposed by the Office of Sustainability and is housed within Facilities Management. In the future, the university hopes to grow their fund even further to provide expanded financial support for sustainability initiatives.