PA Treasurer Rob McCord announces the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund at Drexel
State Treasurer Rob McCord
visited Drexel University today to unveil an innovative financing opportunity that will help Pennsylvania colleges and universities cut utility costs through job-creating energy efficiency improvements that will also contribute to a cleaner environment.
The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund is a first-of-its-kind investment that can generate as much as $45 million in improvements at as many as 12 schools through projects creating more than 700 new jobs. Over the 20-year useful life of these projects, schools are expected to save $150 million in utility costs and reduce their carbon dioxide footprint by 1.4 million tons – or the equivalent annual emissions of 250,000 cars.
Drexel University is the inaugural participant in the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund, which Treasury developed in partnership with Philadelphia-based Blue Hill Partners.
“The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund is exactly the type of investment I look for as State Treasurer. It generates positive returns for the people of Pennsylvania and helps cut costs at schools while also cutting carbon emissions,” McCord said. “Offering colleges and universities a financing model for energy efficiency projects is a winner on all fronts – the Commonwealth receives a market-based rate of return, colleges cut costs that can ultimately help to keep tuition down, and we increase energy conservation and independence.”
Blue Hill Partners will manage the innovative fund. Treasury and Blue Hill expect to leverage investment of up to $45 million in funding, including as much as $10 million from Treasury, to qualifying businesses that can provide verifiable energy savings at Pennsylvania private colleges and universities. The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund will invest in projects at 10 – 12 schools over the next two years that meet certain energy savings criteria such as high efficiency lighting, energy efficient windows, heating/cooling systems, and advanced control systems.
“We recognized the need for intelligent capital to fund next-generation business models to enable property owners to improve their buildings, and we’ve been lucky to have a smart, innovative investment partner in Treasurer McCord to work with us in developing this fund,” said Joyce M. Ferris, Managing Partner of Philadelphia-based Blue Hill Partners LLC. “The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund is receiving national recognition from the higher education and institutional investor communities as an innovative model for helping colleges achieve their energy and sustainability goals while providing strong returns to investors. Drexel should be commended for building on its renowned sustainability mission by being the first Pennsylvania university to move forward with a project.”
Drexel University – working with the project engineering team from Transcend Equity Development Corporation – will undertake upgrades at six buildings on campus. The improvements are expected to reduce Drexel’s annual energy consumption more than 7 percent, which will save it between $500,000 and $600,000 annually – all with no negative impact to the institution’s balance sheet.
“I am very proud that Drexel is the first university to participate in the Commonwealth’s Campus Energy Efficiency Fund,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “The Campus Energy Efficiency Fund will help put Pennsylvania in the forefront of the effort to retrofit the nation’s colleges and universities for energy efficiency. The program will probably save Drexel at least a half million dollars a year in utility costs and is a perfect fit for our commitment to sustainable operations.”
Drexel Senior Vice President for Student Life and Administrative Services James Tucker, University Facilities Vice President Robert Francis and Senior Associate Vice President for Administrative Operations Joseph Campbell, who have been leading Drexel’s green initiatives, were instrumental in bringing the innovative program to the University.
Treasury previously received $1 million from the Department of Environmental Protection to defray the costs of developing the fund and providing initial capital to identify opportunities at potential schools. In addition, Treasury was awarded $211,000 in grant funds from the Rockefeller Foundation for Treasury to work with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania to develop a peer auditing course. The course will provide training to staff and students in campus energy master planning and then allow them to conduct initial campus evaluations under the oversight of professional energy auditors. Any projects identified through the evaluations may be eligible for Campus Energy Efficiency Fund financing.
“The Rockefeller Foundation is pleased to provide support to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department as it works to expand the reach of its innovative programs to conserve energy and lower costs to universities, all while simultaneously creating quality jobs when they are needed most,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin. “As the former President of the University of Pennsylvania, I know firsthand how effective it can be when government engages the university community. This grant will provide the students and teachers within their own universities the tools to identify how their school can become more energy efficient, locate projects that may be eligible for Campus Energy Efficiency Fund financing, and more importantly educate students for a future in green jobs.”
Drexel’s participation in the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund program continues years of environmental leadership. The University recently signed the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, validating Drexel's pledge to eliminate its carbon footprint, promote research and educational efforts, and equip the University to contribute in stabilizing the earth's climate. Drexel is included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Top 50 list of the largest green power purchasers. The University was also recognized by PennFuture, a leading Pennsylvania environmental advocacy organization, for becoming the first institution in the country to deploy Viridity Energy's VPower System™, an energy monitoring system at its University City Main Campus.
For more information on the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund, visit www.patreasury.org or contact ELizabeth Foose of the Pennsylvania Treasury at 717-787-2991, firstname.lastname@example.org or Walter King of Blue Hill Partners at 215-247-2400, ext. 103 or email@example.com