A new database populated with revolving loans for higher education campuses shows energy efficiency improvements totaling more than $118 million at 80 institutions.
The 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.
The high initial cost of many energy-efficiency projects can deter campuses from implementing them, despite the fact that such projects often have long-term cost savings. A campus revolving loan fund helps overcome this challenge by providing zero or low interest loans to fund sustainability projects. A portion of the savings generated from these projects is then reinvested into the fund until the loan has been paid off, enabling the fund to help finance additional sustainability projects.
The Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Funds database also reveals that:
- The number of campus revolving loan funds 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 US states and two Canadian provinces, and on campuses with student populations ranging from 700 students to more than 60,000
Additionally, 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 one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements. SEI’s goal is to use revolving funds to transform energy efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high-return investment opportunities.