April 17, 2013—The University of Utah’s (the U) commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is being recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which announced today that the U is the Pac-12 conference champion for the 2012-2013 College & University Green Power Challenge.
The U beat its conference rivals by using more than 93 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 31 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage. The U purchases a combination of renewable energy certificates and utility green power products from 3Degrees and Rocky Mountain Power, which helps to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use on campus. In addition, the school generates green power from an on-site renewable energy system.
The green power purchases were motivated by a student-led campaign to create a fund for clean energy purchases on behalf of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU). The fee went into effect in 2004 and now, every semester, each student contributes $1 toward the fund.
“The U is a leader in green power as a result of students who truly care about their future,” said Allison Boyer, director of the ASUU Sustainability Board. “They worked hard to initiate a fund for clean energy, and I want to thank the students and faculty who continue to support the fund.”
The EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation since 2006. The U consistently ranks in one of the top spots in the Pac-12 conference and is often recognized as one of the top 10 schools nationally for total green power purchases.
Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydropower.
“For many years and over multiple administrations the Department of Energy has estimated that the United States could generate more than 100 percent of our electricity from just wind,” said Christopher P. Hill, distinguished professor in biochemistry and chairman of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Board at the U. “If the costs of negative impacts from fossil fuel use were included, wind and other renewable sources would be hands-down the cheapest approach to large-scale energy production.
According to the EPA, the U’s green power use of more than 93 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of nearly 10,000 American homes annually, or the CO2 emissions of nearly 14,000 vehicles per year. The 76 schools competing in the 2012-2013 challenge collectively purchased more than 2.2 billion kWh of green power.
For more information on the challenge, visit: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/initiatives/cu_challenge.htm.