Partnering with Sustainable Endowments Institute to Promote Green Revolving Funds in New England

EcoMotion, Inc. has forged a partnership with The Sustainable Endowments Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts to promote Green Revolving Funds (GRFs) to New England universities, schools, and health institutions. Working in collaboration on the “Leaders in Energy Efficiency Financing, or “LEEF” Project, EcoMotion will join the SEI team in reaching out to institutions in a five-state region to explain the benefits of GRFs.

“It’s an honor to support the Sustainable Endowments Institute in promoting the LEEF project,” said Sierra Flanigan, Director of EcoMotion Campus Services. “Mark Orlowski and his colleagues at SEI continue to be at the cutting-edge of campus sustainability, in this case providing an invaluable tool and service for interested institutions.”

Mark Orlowski, Founder and Executive Director of SEI said, “We’re excited to collaborate with EcoMotion and to tap into its network in New England. EcoMotion brings fresh contacts and enthusiasm to this five-state region project. Thanks to foundation support, LEEF brings a number of benefits to participating universities at no cost, including education about GRFs, presentations on campus, consulting to tailor the GRF best to the institution, and a sophisticated tracking tool called GRITS to measure savings.”

Already, the Sustainable Endowments Institute has had great success with its promotion of GRFs. Its Billion Dollar Challenge, an initiative to reach a billion dollars in aggregated GRFs, stands at $111 million. University of Vermont has established the nation’s largest at $13 million, topping Harvard’s fund of $12.9 million. The UVM fund borrows from the University’s reserve, and repays the reserve with 5% interest… more than it would be making otherwise.

According to EcoMotion Executive Director Ted Flanigan, “Revolving funds are an innovative way of leveraging funds. A half million of investment can turn into $2.5 million in savings over five years, which in turn can be leveraged into $10 – 15 million in savings through the reinvestment mechanism. The fund turns a plan to reinvest savings into a reality with dedicated revenue stream and restricted uses. We have yet to see a case where energy efficiency is not these institutions’ best investments and returns.”

Green Revolving Funds can be established in many ways: They can be seeded with operating budgets or capital campaigns. They can draw from endowment funds or reserves. Alumni giving can be the source of seed funding, as can utility incentives and rebates. GRFs can be built organically from project savings. Mark Orlowski believes that getting started is often the most important step… and that the size of the fund will grow as its effect is realized.

The LEEF project is supported by the Barr Foundation and the John Merck Fund. Interested universities, schools, and health institutions are encouraged to call EcoMotion Campus Services at (949) 303-8433 for more information, presentations, and consultation on shaping the fund and its guidelines best for each campus.

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The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) was founded in 2005 as a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The Cambridge-based nonprofit organization has pioneered research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. SEI is well-known for its College Sustainability Report Card, and more recently the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. Visit its website to request, “Greening the Bottom Line: The Trend toward Green Revolving Funds on Campus.”

EcoMotion’s mission is the cost-effective greening of cities, corporations, and campuses. EcoMotion is a sustainability consultancy based in California and Massachusetts with tools to help cities, corporations, and campuses go green and cut costs while mitigating climate change. For cities, EcoMotion prepares greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans. For corporations, EcoMotion specializes in solar financial analysis and project management. For campuses, EcoMotion galvanizes student actions; develops policies and curriculum; and focuses on facility operations to cut costs and campus footprints.

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