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Portland State Creates Revolving Fund for Energy Efficiency Projects

Portland State University (PSU) launched a $500,000 Green Revolving Fund to support projects on campus that lower PSU’s utility bills and advance the goals of the University’s Climate Action Plan.

A spokeswoman for PSU said “The $500,000 is a newly set aside portion of an already allotted deferred maintenance budget at PSU. The Green Revolving Fund prioritizes energy and water efficiency projects that are already on the deferred maintenance list but that wouldn’t necessarily have been put on the top of an implementation list before the fund was established.”

A committee of PSU staff and faculty will select projects that improve the condition of campus buildings and reduce their environmental impact. The projects must result in measurable savings to utility bills, enough to pay back the cost of each project within 10 years. Once the project is implemented, the savings from utility bills will be circulated back into the Green Revolving Fund and reinvested in future sustainability projects that create a similar savings-payback loop.

Potential projects include upgrading lighting fixtures, installing motion sensing controls and replacing aging boilers with high efficiency models. Funds can also be used to implement water efficiency projects, such as self-monitoring irrigation systems.

The campus has an older inventory of buildings and a sizable backlog of maintenance needs on campus, and the Green Revolving Fund will allow it to improve campus infrastructure while prioritizing projects that help it meet its climate action goals.

With the $500,000 fund, PSU joins 40 other institutions participating in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, a program of the Sustainable Endowments Institute that calls on colleges and universities to invest a combined total of $1 billion into self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency projects. A total of $75 million has been committed to date. Two other Oregon institutions, Oregon State University and Lane Community College, are also participating in the challenge.

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.

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