Campus announcement from Provost McPheron

MARCH 30, 2017

Students, Faculty and Staff:

Next week, the university will present an innovative public-private partnership to the Board of Trustees and the University Senate. This partnership would launch an unprecedented energy efficiency program. The Comprehensive Energy Management Project would modernize our 485-building Columbus campus and create substantial academic benefits for our students, faculty and staff.

This is a unique opportunity to become an international leader in sustainability while providing substantial new resources for the university’s academic mission. The total value of $1.165 billion includes a $1.015 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. This would be the largest single investment in our academic mission.

ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure (ENGIE-Axium) are world leaders in energy services and sustainability. The two companies formed a new consortium to combine their expertise for this project and provided the strongest proposal. Initially, the proceeds of the upfront payment would be invested into Ohio State’s endowment, dedicated to priorities being finalized in the university’s strategic plan. These areas of investment include the following:

  • Student financial aid to support access, affordability and excellence
  • Compensation enhancements for faculty and staff to support competitiveness with academic peers; a portion of this will be tied to improvements in teaching effectiveness
  • Classrooms, research labs and performance and arts spaces across disciplines (in combination with other sources of funding)
  • A fund to enhance sustainability efforts
  • Other strategic initiatives

The proposal includes the establishment of a $50 million Energy Advancement and Innovation Center for energy research and technology commercialization. The center would create a hub where faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts 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 applied research on energy and sustainability.

Within 10 years, conservation measures would improve our energy efficiency by 25 percent, reducing our carbon footprint. ENGIE-Axium would provide additional and significant capital funding to accomplish this goal.

Detailed reviews and scoring of the finalists were conducted by groups composed of students, faculty and staff from the university. Representative groups evaluated either the academic collaboration, technical, or Human Resources components of the final bids. A fourth group of senior staff evaluated the financial components separately. The groups worked in parallel. Each concluded independently that ENGIE-Axium was the strongest bidder. We appreciate the diligent and focused efforts of the Faculty Advisory Group, the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability and the Council on the Physical Environment.

We also thank our utilities employees for their professionalism during this evaluation. ENGIE-Axium would offer employment to all eligible Ohio State utility workers. Those who prefer instead to remain employees of the university would be offered alternative positions at Ohio State at their current compensation levels. University administrators are meeting with employees and their union representatives today.

This partnership advances Ohio State as a national flagship public research university. Students, faculty and staff benefit from new opportunities to learn alongside leading experts. Solutions developed at Ohio State help sustainability in communities across the globe.

We encourage you to read more about the benefits of the project at We will present details of this program to the University Senate on Tuesday prior to seeking Board of Trustees approval on April 7. 

Bruce A. McPheron, PhD
Executive Vice President and Provost