Using the Green Revolving Fund to invest in a sustainable future

Written by April Wright

Funding is always a top concern for schools across the states. Many public school systems rely on funding through their tax dollars with budgets, prioritization, and amounts always shifting. They have to balance their funds between providing an optimal education and experience to students as well as keeping buildings, resources, and systems operational.

Preparatory boarding and private schools face similar challenges, but their funding sources are a bit different. If you’re a preparatory boarding or private school your funding largely comes through student tuition, endowments, donations and grants; some of which—like tuition—cannot be applied to operating expenses.

In both cases, public and private schools get creative with how they fund their operations and Buddy Ohm is proving to be a unique tool in highlighting energy reduction.

Culver Academies
Culver Academies is a college preparatory boarding school located in Indiana that is committed to making systematic changes across their entire campus. They pride themselves in giving students roots in leadership, tradition and innovation, which is why it’s no shock that they are using Buddy Ohm to monitor their resource use.

They installed Buddy Ohm as part of their Green Revolving Fund (GRF), an internal capital pool that is dedicated to funding energy efficiency, renewable energy, and/or sustainability projects that generate cost savings. A portion of those savings are then used to replenish the fund allowing for reinvestment in future projects of similar value.

To start, they’re using Buddy Ohm to baseline their data in their Eugene C. Eppley Auditorium, where their students come together to participate in on-campus productions, among other things. After Culver Academies has created a baseline of the auditorium, their plans are to make a handful of energy-efficient improvements and upgrades—like switching lightbulbs to LEDs—to reduce the building’s energy use.

Future plans call for Culver to sub-meter student dorms and then to task their Green Life club with creating campus-friendly dormitory competitions to gamify energy-efficient actions and behavior change. Each of these changes made that have an impact on their bottom line roll back into their Green Revolving Fund so that they can continue to make even more changes.

We’re thrilled that schools like Culver Academies are using Buddy Ohm to prove savings and reduction in energy use has been met, and even more thrilled that the money they save can go into future energy-efficient projects. We hope that it’s a model that inspires our previously highlighted schools—Whitefish School District and Kenyon College—also choose to investigate.

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