Eastern Michigan University, CenTrio close on financing for innovative 50-year infrastructure partnership

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YPSILANTI, MI – June 22, 2023 -  Eastern Michigan University (“EMU”) achieved financial close today on a 50-year infrastructure partnership with CenTrio. The financing included a $115 million upfront payment to the University and $50 million for energy conservation measures and immediate infrastructure improvements. This partnership is set to deliver significant and lasting enhancements for facilities, students, faculty, staff, and the broader Ypsilanti community. 

Eastern Michigan has entered the partnership with Eagle Energy Partners (“EEP”) as the Concessionaire, owned by CenTrio, which will bring deep energy-sector expertise to modernize utility systems and improve sustainability efforts. Eagle Energy Partners was engaged for the partnership by Gilbane, EMU’s master development partner. Gilbane is the development and construction firm leading the University’s new $212 million residential housing transformation, “Welcome Home 2025.”

Under the terms of the partnership, the University will receive considerable revenue and resources to improve sustainability, implement new energy conservation measures and reduce energy usage, modernize its energy grid, accelerate decarbonization, and address critical deferred maintenance while also receiving significant funds to directly assist students and support faculty, retention, recruitment, satisfaction, and a positive campus experience among other strategic initiatives. 

EMU and Eagle Energy Partners have identified a series of projects that will reduce energy use and operating costs while enhancing the redundancy and reliability of the University’s electrical grid and its capacity.

Under the agreement, certain infrastructure improvements will begin immediately. The demolition of the shuttered Jones and Goddard residence halls is among the first and most significant and visible projects, scheduled to take place later this year. Other potential projects, short-and long-term, include the addition of smart meters; an energy use dashboard with live web display of on-campus energy consumption; building automation system upgrades (improved zone/room lighting, space conditioning, and automated sensors); water conservation; a new central chilled water plant for improved efficiency; and potential conversion of the campus steam system; and LED lighting upgrades.

CenTrio’s efforts will support President Smith’s Sustainability Commission to drive progress toward lower carbon emissions, improving the health of the campus and local community. Energy conservation measures are scheduled to reduce natural gas and electric consumption by up to 35% due to the operating expertise of the consortium and investment in various capital projects. The University will be able to generate a continuous income stream through the $115 million upfront consideration and operational savings to support academic programs and staff, strategic enrollment, and retention initiatives, and provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to provide input on projects to better the campus and the community.

“This is a significant milestone for Eastern’s future,” said Eastern Michigan University President James Smith. “I’m proud Eastern is leading the way in a partnership that supports environmental sustainability, academic programs, strategic enrollment and retention initiatives while including a remarkable opportunity for the EMU community to participate in sustainability research and to develop projects to support enrollment and retention objectives. This partnership will help Eastern develop future leaders for green jobs while reducing our resource consumption.” 

“CenTrio is excited to have completed this final step in solidifying the 50-year partnership aimed at modernizing and managing the University’s infrastructure and delivering reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy,” said Santanu Khan, Senior VP of Corporate Development of CenTrio. “Ultimately, our investment empowers the University to focus on its core business of academics and research, while enabling us to provide significant value from enhanced safety measures through operational excellence, as well as reduction in energy consumption, GHG, and water usage across the entire system.

“The RJA team has enjoyed working alongside Eastern Michigan to establish this exciting partnership,” said Kurt Meadows, a lead advisor on the project at Rieth Jones Advisors. “EMU is the first of its peers to execute such an innovative initiative that not only improves campus infrastructure but drives investment into the academic mission.”

“As Master Developer, Gilbane is pleased to continue to work with our partners at EMU to think strategically about their assets and the best way to leverage those assets to create value for the University and provide the much needed capital to upgrade and improve the physical campus for the singular purpose of supporting its student and making education more accessible,” said Geoff Eisenacher, Senior Development Director, Gilbane Development Company.

Through optimizing utility and housing infrastructure, addressing deferred maintenance, and collaborating on the academic mission of the University, EMU leadership, Gilbane, and CenTrio are setting a new standard for higher education partnerships where students benefit from cost savings, increased campus sustainability and partners that are committed to student success now and far into the future.

Learn more about the energy partnership:  https://www.emich.edu/energy/index.php

The University was advised by Dickinson Wright (legal counsel), Commonwealth Associates Inc. (technical), and Rieth Jones Advisors (overall project and strategic advisor). 

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences, and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities, and announcements, visit EMU Today.

About Gilbane
Gilbane, Inc., a private holding company marking its 150th year in business, is one of the oldest and largest family-owned construction, investment, and real estate development firms in the world. Gilbane Development Company is the project development, financing, and ownership arm of Gilbane, providing a full slate of real estate development and property management services. Gilbane Building Company is a full-service construction services firm providing preconstruction, general contracting, construction management, and design-build services on some of the nation’s most complex projects. Gilbane’s Public Private Partnership Group has delivered or has underway more than $4 billion in P3 projects for healthcare, higher education, K-12 schools, and federal/state/municipal clients. Visit www.gilbaneco.com for more information. 

About CenTrio
CenTrio is an industry leading utility public-private partnership (P3) developer, investor, and managing operator of critical energy infrastructures. With strong commitment in reliability, operational efficiency, and environmental sustainability, CenTrio serves more than 400 buildings in urban centers, and university and health campuses across the U.S. In March 2022, CenTrio established a similar partnership with Louisiana State University to modernize its utility system infrastructure under a long-term public-private partnership.

To learn more, please visit CenTrio at centrioenergy.com.

About Rieth Jones Advisors
Rieth Jones Advisors (RJA) is an advisory firm that provides project evaluation, development advisory, and implementation services across multiple asset types.  Using a tailored approach customized to each project, the firm specializes in serving higher education institutions and municipalities on their infrastructure, housing, and auxiliary needs.  RJA has advised 100+ institutional partners on more than $13 billion worth of projects, including $1.5+ billion in public-private partnerships (P3).

Media contacts:

Melissa Thrasher
Director of Media Relations
Eastern Michigan University
mthrashe@emich.edu | +1 734 487 4401

Stephanie Handfield
Vice President of Marketing
Gilbane Development Company
shandfield@gilbaneco.com | +1 401 456 5456

Richard Rieth
Rieth Jones Advisors
richard@riethjones.com | +1 614 795 7424

Rini Assad
Director of Marketing
rini.assad@centrioenergy.com  |  713 408 9998

June 22, 2023

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher