The Billion Dollar Green Challenge still has a long way to go, but it made a little progress this week. The latest university to join the effort – which consists of forming a revolving fund to finance energy efficiency improvements – is Portland State University. The 30,000-student university in downtown Portland is committing $500,000 toward projects that will pay back their own cost in utility-bill savings within ten years.
The Challenge was launched publicly in October 2011 with 32 Founding Circle members – the likes of Middlebury, Stanford, Dartmouth and Harvard – putting up $65 miillion. Another backer was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, one of the 15 organizations that helped create and launch the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.
Portland State’s neighbor down the road, Oregon State, had already joined the Challenge, as had Lane Community College in Eugene. Apparently Phil Knight hasn’t authorized participation yet at the University of Oregon.
“Given our older inventory of buildings, we have a sizable backlog of maintenance needs on campus,” Jennifer McNamara, Portland State’s sustainability manager, said in a statement. “The Green Revolving Fund allows us to improve campus infrastructure while prioritizing projects that help us meet our climate action goals.”
The university, which has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2040, pointed to potential projects like “upgrading lighting fixtures, installing motion sensing controls and replacing aging boilers with high efficiency models,” and said “funds can also be used to implement water efficiency projects, such as self-monitoring irrigation systems.”
According to the Portland State release, the Challenge is up to 41 participants and the total money committed has climbed to $75 million. Still a long way to go to a billion.