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Oberlin College secures $80 million in Certified Climate Bonds for Sustainable Infrastructure Program

By District Energy posted 08-10-2021 15:05


The Morning Journal


Investors rallied around Oberlin College and Conservatory’s path-breaking geothermal infrastructure project last week, pouring $80 million into one of higher education’s first Certified Climate Bond offerings, according to a news release.

The certification by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) indicates that independent experts have verified the environmental benefit of Oberlin’s Sustainable Infrastructure Program (SIP), in alignment with the goals and targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, the release said.

This is only the second Certified Climate Bond offering among U.S. colleges and universities, and third in the world, the release said.

The bonds attracted bids totaling nearly three times the amount of the offering.

The $80 million in proceeds enable Oberlin to fully fund the first phases of its $140 million SIP, while realizing significant savings in borrowing costs, compared to both traditional financing and other green bonds on the market, according to the release.

“Both the CBI certification and the enthusiasm shown by some of the nation’s most prestigious investors serve as strong endorsements of Oberlin’s Sustainable Infrastructure Program,” said Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings, Oberlin’s vice president for finance and administration. “The market values our leadership in environmental sustainability and has confidence in our ability to align financial stewardship, environmental innovation and institutional mission.”

Vazquez-Skillings said that this issuance marks the lowest cost of long-term financing Oberlin has ever achieved.

The four-year Sustainable Infrastructure Program will convert buildings throughout Oberlin’s 440-acre campus to geothermal heating and cooling, drawing on 1,100 wells that harness the earth’s natural underground temperatures to replace traditional fuels such as coal and Oberlin’s current heat source, natural gas.

The project also will replace century-old steam pipes with an efficient, low-temperature distribution network that will save five million gallons of water a year and reduce operating costs by more than $1 million annually.

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