The Billion Dollar Green Challenge

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The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (The Challenge) encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest in self-managed green revolving funds, with the goal of creating a combined total of one billion dollars in funding on hundreds of campuses. Participating institutions will achieve reductions in operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating regenerating funds for future projects.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute, in collaboration with 16 partner organizations, launched The Challenge to help nonprofit institutions achieve sizable energy savings through the use of green revolving funds. The Challenge was launched at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on October 11, 2011. Green revolving funds (GRFs) invest in energy efficiency and conservation projects on campus and reinvest the cost savings in future projects. They are “revolving” because GRFs loan or allocate money for efficiency, track the savings in utility bills, and “revolve” them back into the fund. This process allows the institution to direct these savings into future sustainability efforts or elsewhere on campus.

Research on GRFs by SEI found them to be a successful mechanism for funding energy efficiency. In 2012, SEI found a 28 percent median annual return on investment on GRF projects from reporting institutions inside the report, Greening the Bottom Line 2012.

The Challenge has 57 institutions that have committed a total of $117 million to energy efficiency upgrades by developing a green revolving fund. Benefits to being part of The Challenge include access to project-specific data from other schools with GRFs, sharing of revolving fund best practices between institutions, access to the Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS) web tool for managing and tracking GRF energy and cost savings data, and technical assistance from SEI for launching their fund.In addition, joining The Challenge is a way for institutions to have their sustainability efforts recognized and receive positive media attention. To find out more about The Challenge, please visit www.GreenBillion.org.