As the focus on “going green” increases, many people and organizations alike are focusing on sustainability and how to reduce their carbon footprint.
Ohio State University is a large proponent of sustainability and has an ongoing mission to make the university a global model of sustainable operations.
As part of this mission to meet sustainability goals, the Board of Trustees at Ohio State will consider a public-private partnership to support OSU’s sustainability and academic mission this Friday.
The Comprehensive Energy Management Project promises to modernize the university’s 485-building campus, create substantial academic benefits and establish a major center for energy research and technology commercialization, according to a release by the university.
This project would make the university an international leader in sustainability and provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research.
If the project is accepted, it would be the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission.
The proposal includes a $1 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. It’s the last step in the university’s process for comprehensive energy management that began in 2014 to manage the university’s energy systems and improve sustainability.
There were three phases to the project — request for qualifications, request for information and request for proposals.
Three bidders came forward with a promise to meet the university’s goal of a 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency within 10 years, to meet the high performance standards for energy operations, and to provide at least $150 million in support for internships, scholarships, research and other collaboration opportunities, according to the university.
Of the three, ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure formed ENGIE-Axium to combine their expertise for the project and provided the strongest proposal.
Detailed reviews and scoring of the finalists were conducted by students, faculty and staff from the university.
In addition, representative groups evaluated either the academic collaboration, technical, or human resources components of the final bids, and a fourth group of senior staff evaluated the financial components separately. The groups worked in parallel and each concluded independently that ENGIE-Axium was the strongest bidder.
“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 OSU President Michael Drake.
Initially, the proceeds of the upfront payment would be dedicated to the following areas: student financial aid to support access, affordability and excellence; compensation enhancements for faculty and staff to support competitiveness with academic peers; classrooms, research labs and performance and arts spaces across disciplines; and a fund to enhance sustainability efforts, according to the release.
The proposal also includes a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization, creating a space for faculty, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts to 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 subtainability,” said Bruce McPheron, OSU provost and executive vice president. “Within 10 years, conservation measures would improve our energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing our carbon footprint.”
ENGIE-Axium would also offer employment to all eligible OSU utility workers; however, those who prefer to remain employees of the university would be offered alternative positions at OSU at their current compensation levels.
If approved by the board, the university will enter into a transition period to ensure a smooth transfer of operating responsibilities to ENGIE-Axium.