09:32 AM

​Trustees to consider energy conservation projects, endowment funds

Note: The board, on recommendation of the finance committee, tabled proposals to create endowments from funding received through the Comprehensive Energy Management transaction.

Proposed energy conservation measures would improve lighting at dozens of campus buildings and create a more efficient heating and cooling system for a campus laboratory building. Meanwhile, four proposed endowments would be created to support Ohio State’s core academic mission.

These proposals, which represent core initiatives of the Comprehensive Energy Management Project, will be presented to the Board of Trustees this week.

In July, Ohio State entered a 50-year partnership with Ohio State Energy Partners to manage the university’s energy system and improve the sustainability of the Columbus campus. The $1.165 billion agreement represents the largest investment in the university’s academic mission.

As part of this innovative public-private partnership, Ohio State Energy Partners has committed to improve the energy efficiency of the Columbus campus by at least 25 percent within 10 years. That target is one of the university’s sustainability goals.

The two proposals before the Board of Trustees represent the first major energy conservation measures under the new relationship:

  • The $3.4 million lighting project would upgrade the interior lighting in 51 campus buildings, including Fisher Hall, Independence Hall, Jesse Owens Recreation Center, Ohio Stadium, University Hall, Dreese Laboratory, to LED technology.
  • Dreese would also receive a $2.3 million upgrade of its heating and cooling systems, a project that would reduce energy consumption in the building by 37 percent. The project includes supplementing existing chillers and cooling towers with a new heat recovery chiller, pumps and hydronic system modifications, HVAC control upgrades, and insulation of steam valves and fittings.

Under the university’s energy partnership, Ohio State Energy Partners would provide the capital funding for these projects.

The university’s Energy Advisory Committee is reviewing a 5-year plan that will be presented to the board at a future meeting. This plan will include Ohio State Energy Partners’ proposals for operations, energy conservation projects and other capital improvements needed to upgrade and maintain the university’s energy system.


Also on the February board agenda are four endowments that the university would create from proceeds of the energy management partnership.

  • The $280 million Access, Affordability and Excellence Student Scholarship Endowment Fund would provide support for student financial aid. The university has already announced that this endowment will support an unprecedented expansion of our affordability efforts by ensuring that all Pell-eligible students in Ohio receive an aid package that covers the full cost of tuition.
  • A $210 million development fund would support programs that aid faculty and staff, including support for financial compensation.
  • The $210 million Strategic Initiatives Endowment Fund would support priorities in the university’s new strategic plan.
  • A $75 million Energy Stabilization Fund would help pay for unexpected fluctuations in energy prices and other issues related to energy procurement, utilization and optimization. This endowment would include $43 million in proceeds from the Comprehensive Energy Management Project; the rest comes from university reserves.

Endowments are invested in the Long-Term Investment Pool to provide ongoing, stable support for university priorities. Each year, Ohio State distributes 4.5 percent of a rolling 7-year average of the LTIP’s market value.

Beyond the endowments, the energy partnership proceeds include $150 million for academic collaboration in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process and a nearly $250 million fund for investments in classrooms, labs and arts spaces.

Beyond the energy conservation projects and endowments on next week’s agenda, the Board of Trustees will also consider four other capital projects to maintain Ohio State’s energy system. They involve upgrading the university’s natural gas system, modernizing the controls and safety systems at McCracken Power Plant, utility improvements at the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza and design of infrastructure upgrades along College Avenue. Collectively, these four projects would cost Ohio State Energy Partners $8.7 million.