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Northwestern partners with clean technology leader to reduce its carbon footprint

Five-year partnership will contribute to University’s carbon reduction goals, support paid internships, create a student sustainability fellowship program

Sun shining on Northwestern University's Evanston campus

As part of its continuing climate leadership efforts, Northwestern University announced a five-year partnership with Ameresco, Inc., a leading clean technology integrator specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The initiative will help Northwestern significantly reduce its carbon footprint across both the Evanston and Chicago campuses while also providing learning opportunities for students.

The long-term Energy as a Service (EaaS) agreement will allow the University to tackle immediate energy infrastructure needs and address deferred maintenance without upfront capital investments. Instead, projects are funded over time through the program’s energy savings. Northwestern anticipates a reduction in its carbon footprint in connection with the program over the five-year term. Projects will involve smart building technology implementation, building automation, lighting upgrades, heating and cooling system optimization and alternative energy systems.

“This ambitious, multi-year partnership will make our campuses more environmentally sustainable through reduced energy demand, which will ultimately decrease utility costs,” said Northwestern’s Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Craig Johnson. “We will also now be able to draw upon Ameresco’s expertise to inform our continued pursuit of more sustainable practices.” 

In addition to providing energy management covering both campuses’ 200+ buildings, Ameresco will support Northwestern in developing a campus asset condition inventory and comprehensive asset planning framework as well as provide annual funding over the five-year period for a student sustainability fellowship and employ two paid interns each quarter.

The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and sustainNU will oversee the new fellowship program, which will create new opportunities for students to gain real-world experience in energy management and sustainability, furthering the University’s mission to support hands-on experiential learning and enabling students to engage with the physical environment and grow as leaders in sustainability.

“The sustainability fellowship program will help prepare our students for meaningful careers in the fields of energy management, renewable energy and sustainability. The topics addressed by fellowship teams will include leading-edge application of energy and sustainability concepts to real world problems,” said Holly Benz, director of the Master of Science in Energy and Sustainability.

“This is a tremendous blueprint for colleges and universities across the nation,” said Lou Maltezos ('96 MBA), executive vice president at Ameresco. “The energy infrastructure upgrades will not only provide efficiency and cost savings, but will also bolster the sustainability and carbon reduction goals of Northwestern’s campuses. As a long-time professional in the energy industry and an alumnus of Northwestern University, I am delighted to see this partnership help Northwestern reach its future goals.” 

Program rollout is set to begin this calendar year.

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