UCLA officials announced today the creation of a $15 million “self-replenishing fund” to support energy efficiency projects, such as the installation of motion-sensor light switches to water-saving plumbing fixtures.
The announcement makes UCLA the 46th institution in the nation to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which was created by the Sustainable Endowments Institute to encourage universities to pursue energy-efficiency projects.
UCLA officials said the university has already invested $20 million in such projects.
“UCLA has a long history of energy efficiency projects, and we’ve seen that it’s a good investment with a good return, with some of our projects earning back their costs in less than a year,” according to Nurit Katz, UCLA’s chief sustainability officer. “Committing to energy efficiency is a big part of our strategy to combat climate change and meet the University of California’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.”
The fund will be created with bond financing and not involve any student tuition or fee money.
UCLA’s previous sustainability projects include the installation of occupancy sensors that turn off lights in empty rooms and hallways; retrofits of heating, ventilation and cooling systems; and replacements of old light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
The new fund will be self-replenishing, with savings realized by the energy-efficient upgrades injected back into the fund for future projects.
“Let’s say we did a project that cost $1 million, resulting in $250,000 in annual savings, which is pretty normal,” Katz said. “Half of the savings — $125,000 — would go back into the revolving loan fund until that million is paid back. People realize these projects aren’t just an expense, they’re an investment.”
The university will be conducting an annual energy audit of campus buildings to identify future projects to fund.