Smart Investing for the Future

The Green Revolving Fund (GRF) is a $12 million revolving fund that provides capital for high-performance campus design, operations, maintenance, and occupant behavior projects. Harvard first launched the Green Revolving Fund in 2002. Basic project eligibility guidelines state that projects must reduce the University’s environmental impacts and have a payback period of five to ten years or less. Since its inception, the GRF has supported nearly 200 projects that have yielded over $4 million in energy savings annually.

The model is simple:

  • GRF provides the up-front capital
  • Applicant departments agree to repay the fund via savings achieved by project-related reductions in utility consumption, waste removal, or operating costs.
  • The payback formula allows departments to upgrade the efficiency, comfort, and functionality of their facilities without incurring any capital costs.

Project criteria

GRF projects are classified as either greenhouse gas emissions or utility reduction and/or innovation.  Eligible projects include ones that:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce energy use
  • Reduce water use
  • Reduce sewage or stormwater
  • Reduce pollutants
  • Improve operations
  • Educate occupants
  • Install renewable energy


  • Applicants must use Harvard’s Life Cycle Costing Calculator for greenhouse gas emissions or utility reduction projects (see application).
  • Applicants must submit supporting documentation such as; contractor documents, additional calculations and rebate/incentive documentation.
  • Disbursed funds are repaid based on estimated annual savings.
  • Applicants must pursue rebates/incentives.
  • Projects must have a SIR of 1 or greater and be NPV+ (savings to University).
  • There is no administrative fee.
  • Disbursed funds up to $1 Million will be considered.
  • Disbursed funds must be paid back within 11 years.
  • Funds must be drawn within one year of the approval of the application.
  • Applicants need to provide revised application if there is a change of scope requiring additional funds.
  • Multiple conservation measures can be combined in one application.
  • Funds can cover the full cost or the incremental cost of a conservation measure.
  • Applicants are required to provide data verifying performance of implemented projects.

How to apply

Download application

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Office for Sustainability when starting the process of applying to address any questions. 

Phone: 617-495-3822

Once any questions have been addressed, fill out the application form and email it and any supporting materials to Rachel Martinez to begin the approval process. Upon approval, the applicant will receive an award letter with the project identification number.   

Payment Process

Payback schedules are generally based on the estimated annual savings calculated during the application process. Once part or all of your expenses for a particular project are incurred, email a copy of the paid invoice(s) to Rachel Martinez (, who will initiate the disbursement of the funds to the applicant. In order for funds to be disbursed, the applicant must provide the account coding for both the account(s) to which the funds will be disbursed as well as the account(s) from which the fund will be repaid. Repayments to the GRF begin the fiscal year after the funds were disbursed and will be drawn quarterly.

Typical Projects

The most commonly funded categories (in order) include:

  • Lighting
  • HVAC
  • Kitchen
    All types of commissioning 
  • Behavior change
  • Controls
  • Insulation
  • Renewable energy
  • Metering
  • Cogeneration

Not from Harvard? Want to start a Green Revolving Fund at your institution?

Harvard is an active member of the founding circle for the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The Challenge's website provides a wide variety of tools and resources to Schools and other institutions interested in implementing a Green Revolving Fund.



The Green Billion Dollar Challenge was featured in a 2/6/15 NY Times article:

Read more