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New state fund to provide money for college energy-saving projects

Pennsylvania colleges that are looking for ways to use less energy could get financial help from a new pot of money just for that purpose.

Earlier this month the state treasury and Blue Hill Partners, a Philadelphia investment firm that focuses on green technology, announced their partnership on the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund. The fund is expected to give up to $45 million, with up to $10 million of that coming from the state, to between 10 and 12 schools. In turn, estimates say that over the next two decades, the funded projects will save $150 million in energy costs. Public and private colleges all over the state are eligible for money for projects like upgrades to lights and heating and cooling systems. Drexel University is the first college to participate as part of energy-saving upgrades to six buildings on its Philadelphia campus.

Blue Hill already works for the treasury, managing a state venture fund. Joyce Ferris, managing partner for Blue Hill, said the state asked it to manage the Campus Energy Efficiency Fund. It was a natural fit, since Ferris says cost is one obstacle she's seen to energy-saving technologies taking off. "Building owners didn't have the money, especially for retrofits," she says.

Colleges that take part in the program will receive assistance from experts who will help them design specific energy-saving projects. Those professionals will be paid through the fund. "We think that this is really going to prove to be a national model," Ferris says.

Source: Joyce Ferris, Blue Hill Partners
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen
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