Leading universities from around the country have come together to fund the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which invites and encourages colleges and nonprofit organizations to invest a total of $1 billion in self-managed green revolving funds to finance energy efficient upgrades. Inspired by the successful performances of existing green revolving funds, whose return on investment averages 32 percent, the creators of the Challenge hope these investments will create green jobs in college towns and help lower operating costs of colleges. The Challenge’s 34-member advisory council provides colleges with technical assistance, tools for managing their funding and access to conferences.
The Challenge launched publicly on October 11 at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference in Pittsburgh, Penn. Prior to the public launch, 32 institutions had already become part of the Challenge’s Founding Circle by investing a total of over $65 million in green revolving funds. Some of these contributing institutions included Middlebury, Stanford, Dartmouth and Harvard.
The Challenge has also received financial support from various organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, which was also one of the 15 organizations that helped create and launch the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.
Paul Rowland, AASHE executive director, said that the Challenge “asks our higher education systems to invest in green revolving funds to support the campus sustainability movement. [We support] 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.”