American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program Description and FAQs



The ACUPCC has partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative to exponentially increase the number of large-scale energy saving retrofits for campus buildings. Buildings account for 30-40% of CO2 emissions in the U.S.,1 more than either the transportation or industrial sectors,2 and contribute a major proportion of a campus' carbon footprint. No attempt at carbon neutrality can succeed without addressing and maximizing the energy efficiency of campus buildings.

ACUPCC signatories are able to take advantage of the benefits of CCI's Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program (EEBRP), including project support and CCI's established relationships with private sector financial institutions, energy services companies (ESCOs), and product manufacturers. These benefits can lead to lower project costs and greater GHG reductions.

Project Components

CCI's EEBRP's mission is to facilitate GHG emissions reduction in existing buildings through the widespread uptake of energy efficiency retrofit projects. To achieve this mission, CCI works with building owners around the world who are ready to implement projects.

Energy Performance Contracting

CCI's EEBRP utilizes Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) as one vehicle for implementation of energy efficiency building retrofits. EPC is a contractual and financing mechanism through which building owners can undertake comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits with minimal risk and financial exposure. EPC has been used for upgrading a variety of building types, including college and university facilities for decades. It allows the building owner to pay or secure financing for the installation of efficiency upgrades through the savings in utility bills generated by the retrofits, rather than through upfront payments from capital budgets or increases in operating budgets.

CCI has agreements with a number of major energy services companies (ESCOs) that offer energy performance contracting. The agreements outline best practices project development processes and terms and conditions created to accelerate project development and minimize risks for higher educations institutions.


CCI does not provide funding for projects directly, but works with financial institutions to increase building owners' access to capital for energy efficiency projects. Leading financial institutions working with CCI are committing expertise and capital to funding well-designed retrofit projects undertaken by credit-worthy building owners. CCI is also working with lenders and other institutions to develop innovative finance structures for owners with unusual needs or objectives.

Purchasing Alliance

The CCI Purchasing Alliance accelerates the adoption of the best and latest energy efficient products and technologies by CCI's city, college and university, and ESCO partners worldwide. The Purchasing Alliance negotiates forward pricing agreements with suppliers of energy efficient building technologies to reduce the cost of energy saving technologies in the global marketplace. ACUPCC institutions have access to these product discounts either through direct procurement or via an EPC project.

ACUPCC Energy Performance Contracting Best Practices Toolkit

The ACUPCC and CCI, with the assistance of many industry experts, have created a best practices toolkit as a resource for signatories interested in learning about and conducting an EPC. It provides an EPC overview, highlights critical issues, provides in-depth financing information, contains sample documents, and details industry and state resources. This toolkit is intended to support a project team throughout the EPC process, from early stage opportunity assessment to contract negotiation, implementation, and beyond.

If an institution is ready to consider a large-scale building retrofit project to reduce energy use and costs, it can use the toolkit to prepare for a project. For example:

Research: The project team can educate itself with the EPC project development process by reading the ACUPCC toolkit and the 'Additional Resources' document.

Develop project strategy: Once a school has familiarized itself with EPC in general and any applicable state requirements, it can set the stage for a project. Key stages include building the optimal project team, defining goals for the project, and assessing the opportunity for energy efficiency retrofit. The 'Critical Issues in Developing and Undertaking an EPC' section discusses these stages in detail and provides guidance on moving the project to the next phase.

Consider CCI's ESCO terms and conditions: ACUPCC signatories have access to the terms and conditions in CCI's agreements with ESCOs. However, it is important to note that these terms and conditions are not legally binding unless written into the contracts for a specific project. This section prepares an institution to discuss the terms and conditions with ESCOs during project development.

Determine state procurement requirements: Public institutions may be subject to states' procurement and contracting statutes requirements that may shape their EPCs. The 'State EPC Resources' document contains guidance and links to the relevant resources in each state.

For questions about the toolkit's material or if an institution is ready, but unsure how to proceed with a project, please contact:

Second Nature

Clinton Climate Initiative EEBRP Team

1 United Nations Environment Programme, Sustainable Construction and Building Initiative
2 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

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