Committing $13M as part of Billion Dollar Green Challenge

In February 2012 the University of Vermont became the thirty-fourth college in the nation to commit to the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s Billion Dollar Green Challenge, agreeing to establish a revolving fund to finance on-campus energy efficiency improvements. Thanks to a resolution by the university’s Board of Trustees that passed on February 3rd, UVM earmarked $13 million for a new Energy Revolving Fund, making it the largest response to the challenge to date. 

Billion Dollar Green ChallengeThe Billion Dollar Green Challenge was launched in October 2011 by the Sustainable Endowments Institute and 15 partners. The program invites colleges to invest a total of one billion dollars in energy efficiency upgrades delivered through self-managed revolving funds. To date, 62 colleges have committed nearly $131 million in total. 

UVM Criteria

Monies in UVM’s fund come from cash on hand from tuition payments and other revenue sources, which is normally invested for short periods in low-risk financial instruments before it is spent on operating expenses such as wages, utilities, and supplies. The $13 million represents less than 10 percent of the total cash UVM typically has at its disposal.

The University has established two major criteria for projects to be eligible for financing. They must have a payback period of no more than seven years and cost $3 million or less. 

External Partners

UVM partners with both Efficiency Vermont, the statewide energy efficiency utility operated by the non-profit Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and the Burlington Electric Department (BED), UVM’s electricity provider. Between 1992 and 2012 UVM spent about $8.6 million on energy reduction projects in partnership with BED with paybacks of around seven years.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute 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. For a list of the partners in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, including Efficiency Vermont, see


University Financial Services - Controller's Office
333 Waterman Building
85 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05405
Phone: (802) 656-2903

Related Articles:


  1. A separate Clean Energy Fund of about $225,000 per year generated by a $10 per semester student fee addresses renewable energy and innovations relating to energy efficiency, with a focus on student engagement.
  2. Much of the above text was excerpted and adapted from an article on February 8, 2012 by Jeffrey Wakefield, UVM’s $13 Million Commitment to Green Challenge Is Country's Largest; Surpasses Harvard.