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The Path to Net Zero: Financing Solutions to Meet Environmental Challenges

April 1, 2022
Start thinking about energy-saving upgrades on your campus to show your support to the environment

In the continuing effort to reduce carbon emissions, many colleges and universities have adopted ambitious goals. Over 1,000 universities in 68 countries have pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050 through the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign. University leaders understand that adopting more climate-conscious policies is not only the right thing to do for the planet, but a smart way to cut costs and bolster the bottom line.

“Some universities are still struggling with their budgets due to increased costs and lower enrollment related to the pandemic,” said Carl Boccuti, Senior Vice President at TD Equipment Finance. “But they’re still looking to the long term, seeking to control emissions and eventually reach their net-zero goals.”

The power to make positive change

There are multiple paths to net zero for universities, from using carbon offsets to purchasing renewable energy. One of the most visible ways they can demonstrate their environmental commitment and conserve energy is by upgrading the infrastructure of existing buildings on campus.

“Colleges and universities often have huge environmental footprints, with older buildings that are leaky and inefficient,” said Boccuti. “By adopting green energy solutions in these structures, they can show students, parents and faculty that they’re engaged in environmental causes and leading by example.”

Numerous components in campus buildings are ripe for energy upgrades, including lighting, water fixtures, car ports/parking garages, HVAC equipment, furnaces, and compressed air systems. New technologies can also play a role, including sophisticated digital control systems that help optimize building performance by adapting to fluctuating occupancy levels.

Solar energy could help make a dent in the carbon footprint, too. “Installing solar panels on the rooftops of big buildings can help colleges and universities offset or totally replace what the buildings take from the energy grid,” Boccuti said.

To achieve their objectives, some universities are working closely with local utility companies and Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) to perform audits of their existing facilities and then help plan and implement the building upgrades.

Making the project cash flow neutral

Of course, ambitious energy-conserving projects require large capital investments. However, customized financing solutions can make these projects cash flow neutral or even positive.

“TD can build financing that’s a win-win for the institution and the environment,” said Boccuti. “In many cases, the costs to upgrade the facilities are completely offset by the savings.”

In addition, ESCOs may even guarantee a certain amount of energy savings over a defined time period and will cover the difference if those savings aren’t realized.  

“These intuitions can also take advantage of tax-exempt financing,” Boccuti said. “And low interest rates are another big incentive to do it now.”

Finding a lender that leads by example

The right lender can be integral to the success of an energy-saving upgrade. Securing financing from a bank with energy financing expertise and knowledge of the environmental landscape can provide real advantages over the life of the loan.

“TD was the first major North American-based financial institution to become carbon neutral, and we’ve financed more than $700 million in energy-savings projects,” Boccuti said. “We’ve also underwritten over $11.5 billion in green bonds. We’re proud to play a role in helping organizations reach their goals while improving the environment.”

As more colleges and universities make sustained efforts to achieve net zero, they can light the way to a brighter future for everyone.

TD Equipment Financing offers specialized financing options to support green energy projects. For more information, reach out to Carl Boccuti ([email protected]) or visit

All credit facilities are subject to credit review and approval.  Before accepting any credit facility you are advised to consult with your accountant, tax and legal experts. 

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