Green Grits: Colleges Cut Energy Consumption to Fund Endowments

Rebates can bring otherwise unattainable projects into reach


The Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS)  encourages colleges and universities to grow their endowment funds by investing in campus-based energy efficiency projects.

The Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS) encourages colleges and universities to grow their endowment funds by investing in campus-based energy efficiency projects.

Unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day in the South, green and grits aren’t two words you’re likely to hear in the same sentence – at least not in a positive way.

The Sustainable Endowments Institute, founded in 2005 as a special project of Rockefeller Financial Advisors, has managed, though, to put those two words and concepts together with its Green Revolving Investment Tracking System and the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The idea is to get colleges, universities and other institutions to grow their endowment funds by investing in campus-based energy efficiency projects and then banking or reinvesting the savings from reduced energy consumption. According to the institute, energy efficiency efforts can generate bigger returns than the stock market.

For more than five years, TXU Energy has empowered commercial customers, including universities and colleges, to invest in energy efficiency through its Brighten® GreenBack program. In fact, the program helped participating companies cut electricity usage by 682 million kilowatt-hours from 2009 to 2013. Based on a conservative price estimate, those participating companies saved about $51 million.

Combined with money from a college’s operating budget, a special fund or endowment, rebates from the Brighten GreenBack program can bring otherwise unattainable projects into reach. At the same time, TXU Energy brings energy efficiency experts and market relationships to drive more value and secure additional rebates from other market players.

That can add up to enough green to butter any grits.

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