Higher education institutions spend billions on operations and maintenance each year as they work to maintain long-term institutional value through proper maintenance and upkeep. On average, 18% of a campus facility operations budget is spent on energy and the systems that provide comfort for campus living.
There is competition for capital, such as federal pressure on the availability of financial assistance and the need to attract and retain top student candidates through discounted tuition rates.
Remaining competitive not only means providing comfortable indoor environments, but doing so economically in sustainable fashion, particularly when it comes to energy use. There is a growing interest among leaders, faculty, students and alumni in sustainability and climate change issues, and the heightened focus of investment committees and endowment managers on ESG-related (Environmental, Social and Governance) challenges and priorities.
Best practices for energy management are being utilized by leading institutions across the country. This includes setting energy management and sustainability goals, such as purchasing clean energy from the grid or implementing onsite solar photovoltaic projects.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency systems, like solar installations and CHP, can now be utilized with little or no upfront capital. A third party invests capital and designs, builds, owns and operates an energy system, while the customer pays for the output (e.g, electricity generated from solar energy or natural gas) for the term of the agreement, typically 20–25 years. This model is called Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS). These deals are normally structured as off-balance sheet agreements to eliminate the need for the institution to take on more debt.
Higher education institutions can realize numerous benefits through this type of energy contract, including lower energy costs, less risk, a more resilient campus and modernized institution infrastructure.
For more information, download our white paper, “Turning Higher Education’s Energy Spend into Facility Investments.”