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ENGIE x The Ohio State University – USA

How to transform one of the largest universities in the United States into a pioneer of energy efficiency?

By ENGIE - 08 September 2021 - 16:06


    As a prominent higher education institution—one of the top 20 public universities in the US—The Ohio State University has long been committed to excellence. With an ambitious goal to become an international pioneer in sustainability, Ohio State entered into a 50-year integrated solutions agreement with Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP), a public-private partnership between ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure in 2017.


    The ENGIE solution for the Ohio State University: action across all aspects of energy efficiency

    So, how are ENGIE and Axium planning to create a sustainable campus? By taking action on all fronts to optimise and improve energy efficiency throughout the campus: by addressing the university’s sustainability and energy operations goals, but also by funding and guiding academic initiatives, such as an energy innovation center and support for scholarships and internships in the realm of energy innovation.


    Ohio State’s Energy Goals: 

    • Improve energy efficiency by a minimum of 25% within 10 years
    • Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
    • Nurture the next generation of sustainable energy leaders.
    • Serve as an incubator for sustainable energy innovations.


    Leveraging the combined expertise of ENGIE, Axium Infrastructure, and Ohio State leaders, the OSEP agreement can be summarized by five areas:


    • Operations: As part of OSEP, ENGIE is tasked with operating the systems that power, heat, and cool Ohio State’s Columbus campus under a 50-year lease of the university’s energy assets. Through its performance guarantees, ENGIE assumes responsibility for the resiliency and reliability of these systems, including uptime commitments from 99.9% for steam to up to 99.996% for electricity.
    • Sustainability: In collaboration with Ohio State, OSEP develops and implements energy efficiency projects which contribute to the university’s ability to reduce its carbon footprint. Specifically, within the first 10 years of the partnership, OSEP has committed to improve energy efficiency by a minimum of 25% on the Columbus campus. The university reviews each capital project and approves those that are expected to provide appropriate environmental and financial benefits.
    • Supply: OSEP is working with Ohio State to enhance its effectiveness in the procurement process for electricity, natural gas, and other energy sources. 
    • Academic collaboration: In addition to a $1.015 billion upfront payment to the university, OSEP will fund and carry out a $150 million commitment to support various academic, research and community interests of Ohio State. Among these projects is an Energy Advancement and Innovation Center. The center will enable Ohio State faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE Buckeye Operations researchers, local entrepreneurs, and industry experts to work together on the next generation of smart energy systems, renewable energy, and green mobility solutions. OSEP has committed $50 million for the project, including $36.7 million in design and construction costs. In addition to this project, the partnership also supports grants, scholarships and internships at Ohio State.
    • Financing: In exchange for operating services and the implementation of energy efficiency measures, Ohio State pays OSEP an annual utility fee. This fee includes three elements: an operating fee to cover costs (starting at $9.2 million based on a three-year average of university costs with adjustments throughout the concession based on actual operating costs), a fixed fee that starts at $45 million and grows 1.5% a year, and a variable fee directly tied to the financial return of capital investments made by OSEP at the university.



    “This partnership positions us as an international leader in energy and sustainability and further strengthens Ohio State as a national flagship public research university,”
    said Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake.



    Key figures

    • 25% energy efficiency improvement within 10 years 
    • 676 GHW of electricity/year for 485 buildings, including the largest medical facility in central Ohio.
    • 50-year concession contract.
    • By 2050 the campus will be carbon neutral.