The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation have partnered to finance a three-part energy efficiency retrofit of five different buildings on the campus of Drexel University in West Philadelphia. One of the 15 largest private universities in the United States, Drexel has approximately 25,000 students in a range of undergraduate and graduate disciplines. This is a new financing model for TRF­: the borrower is an energy services company, SCIenergy, rather than the university itself, and SCIenergy’s revenue will come from the energy savings of the measures it installs. This lending model is increasingly common for energy projects.

The project’s three modules are:

1. Upgrading the heating, ventilation and air cooling system in the Peck Research Center. Planned upgrades will reduce energy use in the facility by 35% while increasing occupancy comfort and lowering ongoing mainenance costs. Constructed in 1926, the facility’s original chilled water plant is outdated, deterioriating and inefficient. In summer months, Drexel must rent supplemental cooling equipment that is installed on the exterior of the building, which is an unsightly, inefficient and expensive solution.

2. Reducing energy consumption while maintaining a safe lab environment in the Science Pod. Consisting of three buildings and 62 lab rooms, ventilation in the Science Pod is extremely energy intensive. The new system will reduce energy use in Science Pod lab rooms by 46% by reducing ventilation rates when fume hoods are not in use and adjusting air flow based on detected hazardous gases and particulates, as well as temperature and relative humidity.

3. Whole building energy retrofit of Nesbitt Hall. Built in 1970, Nesbitt Hall is being converted from a classroom building to office space. Energy retrofits, including a new HVAC system and LED lighting throughout, will reduce energy use in the building by 40%.

The Drexel project is the first in a series of projects spearheaded by Blue Hill Partners, as manager of the Pennsylvania Campus Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF); a program created in partnership with Pennsylvania Treasury Department designed to help universities lower their operating expenses through innovative energy projects. Blue Hill expects to lead investment in up to $45 million of projects at multiple colleges and universities in the commonwealth. When fully invested, the fund will save Pennsylvania schools over $150 million in energy costs over 20 years. TRF structured this unique transaction with SCIenergy, the developer of the Drexel project, which utilizes SCIenergy’s Managed Energy Services Agreement.

Source: TRF