$1 Billion Green Challenge Launches - Affiliates Participate

October 13, 2011



Harvard, Stanford, Arizona State, and other leading universities commit $65 million to innovative energy efficiency financing initiative




BOSTON, MA -- 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 13 partners. Partner organizations include the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). 


"The Billion Dollar Green Challenge will help institutions meet their short and long-term sustainability goals.  For signatories of the ACUPCC, that includes pursuing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from specified sources in campus operations. A green revolving fund is an excellent mechanism for realizing big energy and cost savings immediately, while ensuring those saving can be reinvested in future projects." said Georges Dyer, Vice President of Programs at Second Nature.


The Billion Dollar Green Challenge launches 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 (see complete list below).


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. 


Please visit www.GreenBillion.org for more information.