Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spotlight: Sustainable Endowments Institute

This week's Green Business Spotlight was inspired by last night's Sustainability UnConference, hosted by EcoMotion. One of the evening's keynote speakers was Mark Orlowski, founder and directer of the Sustainable Endowments Institute - an incredible organization striving to make green revolving loan funds the norm at universities, hospitals, and municipalities. Full disclosure, I interned at the Sustainable Endowments Institute in 2009, where I helped develop the College Sustainability Report Card. Since The Princeton Review and AASHE now also rate colleges on their green initiatives, SEI refocused and directed its energy helping universities create green revolving loan funds with a project called the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.

So, what is a green revolving loan fund?
If an organization has a certain amount of capital they want to invest in energy efficiency upgrades - such as LED lighting retrofits, they will quickly see the money they invested in the bulbs return to them in the form of savings on their utility bills. SEI helps organizations track these savings so that they can then use the savings for more energy efficiency projects. Since green technology is always improving, it is increasingly difficult to reach a point of diminishing returns. Tracking return on investments for green projects is now easier than ever with SEI's new GRITS project management program

Locally, Harvard and BU have green revolving loan funds. And more large institutions are becoming interesting in implementing similar programs!

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