09:30 AM

Energy partnership to support Ohio State’s sustainability and academic mission

COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the April 7 Board of Trustees meeting, The Ohio State University will consider a public-private partnership to become an international leader in sustainability and provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research.

The Comprehensive Energy Management Project promises to modernize the university’s 485-building Columbus campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization.

The total value of $1.165 billion includes a $1.015 billion upfront payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process. This would be the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission.

ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure (ENGIE-Axium) are world leaders in energy services and sustainability. The two companies formed a new consortium to combine their expertise for this project and provided the strongest proposal. Detailed reviews and scoring of the finalists were conducted by groups composed of students, faculty and staff from the university.

“This partnership would position us as an international leader in energy and sustainability and further strengthen Ohio State as a national flagship public research university,” said President Michael V. Drake.

Initially, the proceeds of the upfront payment would be invested in Ohio State’s endowment, dedicated to priorities being finalized in the university’s strategic plan. These areas of investment include the following:

  • Student financial aid to support access, affordability and excellence
  • Compensation enhancements for faculty and staff to support competitiveness with academic peers; a portion of this will be tied to improvements in teaching effectiveness
  • Classrooms, research labs and performance and arts spaces across disciplines (in combination with other sources of funding)
  • A fund to enhance sustainability efforts
  • Other strategic initiatives

The proposal includes a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization. The center would create a hub where faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts work together on the next generation of smart energy systems, renewable energy and green mobility solutions.

“In total these enhancements would position Ohio State to take immediate and substantial steps forward in faculty excellence, quality of our physical space and as a hub of research on energy and sustainability,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Bruce A. McPheron.

“Within 10 years, conservation measures would improve our energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing our carbon footprint.”

ENGIE-Axium would provide additional and significant capital funding to accomplish this energy efficiency goal.

Representative groups from the university community evaluated either the academic collaboration, technical or human resources components of the final bids. A fourth group of senior staff evaluated the financial components separately. The groups worked in parallel. Each concluded independently that ENGIE-Axium was the strongest bidder.

ENGIE-Axium would offer employment to all eligible Ohio State utility workers. Those who prefer instead to remain employees of the university would be offered alternative positions at Ohio State at their current compensation levels.

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