Revolving Fund

Supported by Plant Operations and the Sustainability Office, the Revolving Fund is a new tool to catalyze projects across campus that generate competitive cost savings and help Waterloo improve its energy and water efficiency.  

How it Works

The Spring 2024 applications will be focused on direct consultations and project identification with the faculties. The Sustainability Office will be reaching out directly to help identify project opportunities that could be a suitable fit for the Revolving Fund. Projects that have the potential to meet core fund requirements will be encouraged to submit an application.

Decisions to approve funding will be made based on the number and nature of submissions received.


The following schedule will be utilized for Spring 2024 applications. 

Table of timelines and dates for Spring 2024
Opportunity identification with faculties June - July
Review of opportunities and formal applications August 
Application approvals September
Funding agreements & project initiation October onward

It is expected that there will be future calls for applications, depending on the number of initial applications received and as the revolving fund realizes project savings. Dates and timelines will be announced for future funding after the initial call for applications concludes and there can be a review of what worked and what should be adjusted.

Applicant Eligibility

  • The Revolving Fund is open to any staff or faculty from the University of Waterloo 

  • Applicants must be the lead on the proposed project and have authority and all required approvals to undertake the project 

  • Currently, we are not accepting applications from Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo  

Project Criteria

Projects funded through the Revolving Fund must meet the following requirements: 

  • Take place within a University of Waterloo campus  

  • Generate savings to electricity, gas, or water usage 

  • Have a measurable financial savings associated with the utility savings 

  • Have a clear department or unit lead who will take responsibility throughout the project’s implementation 

  • Not already be fully funded by another internal or external funding source 

  • Not already be completed or underway at the time of application 

  • Have a minimum Revolving Fund contribution of at least $10,000; while there is no stipulated maximum within the available funding, ideally projects would draw up to $250,000 (see the first FAQ below for what is meant by “Revolving Fund Contribution”) 

In addition to the core requirements, the review team will evaluate proposals based on the following key criteria: 

  • Utility cost savings generated from the project, with a targeted payback of 5 years overall 

  • Other co-benefits and/or efficiencies created from the project 

  • Project timing, with a preference to projects that can be completed quickly 

  • Likelihood of project success and ability to manage implementation risks/variability 

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 

  • Visibility, profile, and other general importance of the project 

During the initial calls for proposals, strong preference will be given to project submissions from the Faculties, however all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit EOIs and applications. These criteria will be refined over time as the review committee gains experience reviewing projects and becomes more familiar with the type of project opportunities brought forward. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Revolving Fund cover all project costs?  
It will depend on the project, but likely not. The Revolving Fund is best suited to complement projects that are already being considered for different reasons, with the Revolving Fund contribution supporting additional utility-savings measures within the project. For example, there may be “standard” equipment or “more efficient” equipment that could be purchased, and the Revolving Fund would cover the difference in price, if applicable, between those options. Some projects, however, may have an exclusive utility reduction focus/priority, in which case the Revolving Fund may cover most costs. The Revolving Fund should not be a substitute for other sources of funding. 

I have a new idea for technology that will reduce utility costs—will the Revolving Fund support this? 
Although many projects may require design, the Revolving Fund intends to implement commercially available and ready technologies. While it will encourage innovative approaches to reducing energy and generating savings, it is not positioned to fund research and development projects or pre-commercial deployment.

What are examples of projects that could meet the Revolving Fund criteria?
While each project would need to be evaluated on its own merits and the context may shift the viability and level of utility savings, some project examples that would likely be worth exploring include:

  • Lighting upgrades or controls
  • Recommissioning of major equipment or buildings
  • Changes to building scheduling or setpoints
  • Transition to more efficient equipment or major appliances
  • Demand control ventilation for lab spaces
  • Heat recovery systems

How are project paybacks calculated?  
For ease of implementation, project paybacks are calculated using a simple payback formula, with the Revolving Fund contribution divided by the expected annualized cost savings. Plant Operations and the Sustainability Office can work with applicants to determine appropriate factors for utility costs, depending on the nature of the project. 

How will funds be distributed? 
Specific details of how funding will be allocated/transferred are being discussed with Finance. The type of distribution will be discussed and confirmed as part of the funding agreement. 

What types of measurement and verification are required? 
Projects can use nameplate efficiency (for example, a 20w bulb versus a 100w bulb), an energy model, or pre-post temporary utility metering or other method of tracking consumption, depending on the type of project. The approval agreement will establish a timeline for pre- and post-project check-ins and any required data collection. 

Does funding approval streamline other necessary approvals? 
No. Applicants are still required to follow all other relevant processes and procedures and meet any other institutional requirements, including but not limited to procurement, use of space, building changes, accessibility, health and safety, and other system integration. Applicants will be required to demonstrate their due diligence for all relevant requirements, and strong preference given to projects which have received necessary approvals. 

Can the Revolving Fund be stacked with other grants or incentives? 
Yes. Plant Operations and the Sustainability Office will consider incentive opportunities in the application process. Generally, energy or utility-related incentives will be returned back into the Revolving Fund and considered as part of the project’s overall financial performance. The intent is to provide funding for projects that would not otherwise proceed, therefore we ask that applicants be transparent in the nature of their current funding to ensure that the use of funds is maximized. 

Can I apply for more than one project? 
Yes. Each project submission will be evaluated on its own merits.  

Can I combine multiple initiatives into a single application? 
Yes, it is possible to combine several related projects into a single application, provided that the elements of the project are connected. For example, a lab retrofit may have several related energy-saving measures that can be looked at holistically. Projects that have multiple phases should be separated into distinct applications to assist with the transparency and simplicity of savings estimates. 

My project generates savings that aren’t from utilities. Can the Revolving Fund still be utilized? 
At this time, the priority for the Revolving Fund will be on utility reductions. However, we would encourage submission of EOIs that may generate other savings and reduce environmental impact, so we can consider opportunities to expand the fund criteria over time.