The fund aims to get colleges, universities and other nonprofits to invest a total of $1 billion in self-managed “green revolving funds.” Such funds are used to finance energy efficiency upgrades that offer a quantifiable monetary saving or return. A portion of the returns from these projects are then reinvested in the fund and used for future green projects.
Such funds have a median annual return on investment of 32 percent, according to Greening The Bottom Line, a report published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, one of the 16 partners coordinating the Challenge.
SEI’s partners include Clinton Climate Initiative, the New England Board of Higher Education and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Bodies supplying financial support for the project include the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, the David Rockefeller Fund and the John Merck Fund.
Full lists of participating universities, coordinating partners and financial backers can be found at the Billion Dollar Green Challenge web site.
Harvard and Stanford were both among the “Overall College Sustainability Leaders” named in SEI’s 2011 College Sustainability Report Card. Interestingly, neither college was named an “Endowment Sustainability Leader” in the 2011 report.