June 17, 2005 — The University of Utah recently earned national recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Sterling Planet for its effort to minimize use of fossil fuels. The EPA made the University a Green Power Partner, while Sterling Planet presented the school with a Certificate of Environmental Stewardship.
This recognition was the direct result of efforts by the U to purchase a “block” of wind power, to offset its reliance on fossil-fuel generated electricity. Motivated by a grant offered by the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU), Plant Operations staff initiated an analysis of possible options for the acquisition of “green power.”
During this period, the number of marketers for this commodity increased to the point where inviting their participation in a bidding competition became a desirable option. An early plan to buy wind power directly routed to the U proved to be technically impossible and simply not yet available in this part of the country. “This was a somewhat unique experience for individuals involved in procurement processes at the University, since this was the first time the U was not actually purchasing a ‘tangible’ service or product. We agreed that the best option would be to purchase wind power certificates, which in essence represents seed-money for the future development of wind power,” said Pete van der Have, assistant vice president for Plant Operations.
As a result of this collaborative effort among the various players, the U has contributed tremendously to the future of our nation’s air quality and environment, by reducing the amount of coal that has to be burned in order to satisfy our country’s electrical appetites.
This effort, in conjunction with the University’s purchase of hydro-generated power through the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), has made the U one of the top three institutions of higher learning in the United States in terms of reducing its reliance on fossil-fuel generated electricity.
The University is always looking to become more proactive in creating a healthier environment. One example is its ongoing effort to reduce the amount of water the school uses each year. The area of campus the U has converted to drought tolerant landscaping continues to increase. Currently, the University has converted over 8% of its total landscaped area to drought tolerant terrain. At the same time the U has reduced its consumption of water attributable to irrigation by over 30%, compared to its base line established several years ago.
The University continues to study the latest technology available to preserve resources. Besides reduced water consumption and its purchase of “green power,” the U is studying opportunities associated with cogeneration (combined heat and power production), constructing buildings that have the potential to be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and studying ways to enhance recycling programs on campus.