Harvard’s long-established $12 million Green Revolving Fund is included in a Billion Dollar Green Challenge announced today (October 11, 2011) in which universities throughout the United States have committed to cumulatively invest millions in energy efficiency measures on campus.

The revolving loan fund at Harvard has been in place since 1992 and has been expanded over time because of the successful payback, most recently to $12 million dollars in 2007. The revolving loan fund, which has a historical average 29.9% return on investment, provides up-front capital for cost-effective environmental projects including those that contribute to the University’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases 30% by 2016. Over 200 projects have been funded to date according to the Office for Sustainability which administers the fund. It has been a model for many other higher education institutions seeking creative and cost-effective ways to finance energy efficiency projects on campus.

The Green Challenge was inspired by the exceptional performance of existing green revolving funds like Harvard’s as documented by Greening The Bottom Line, a report published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

“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 partner organizations. “Harvard University should be commended for rising to The Challenge and investing in energy efficiency improvements on campus.”

“The Billion Dollar Green Challenge asks our higher education systems to invest in green revolving funds to support the campus sustainability movement. AASHE supports the Challenge in that these funds will help institutions become more sustainable and will help the higher education community understand the commitment they are making to a just and sustainable future” said Paul Rowland, Executive Director, of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

33 institutions, including Harvard University and its Green Loan Fund, 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.

Harvard’s Office for Sustainability Director Heather Henriksen said, “Since its inception, Harvard’s 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.

Visit www.GreenBillion.org for more information.