August 6, 2010–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the University of Utah is ranked fourth in the nation on its list of college and university “green power partners.” That’s a jump of six spots in just one year.
The U is being recognized for its voluntary purchase of 62 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of wind-generated electricity and a small-but-growing solar photovoltaic energy program. The EPA list of the nation’s top 20 college and university green power purchasers is available at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top20ed.htm
This list highlights institutions of higher education within EPA’s Green Power Partnership that have made purchases that help reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use and support the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide. Schools can meet EPA purchase requirements using any combination of three different product options: renewable energy certificates, on-site generation, and utility green power products.
The University of Utah is purchasing more than 62 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of renewable energy credits to help mitigate its use of fossil fuels. The EPA estimates that the University of Utah’s green power usage is equivalent to 23 percent of the school’s total electricity consumption.
“Under President Michael K. Young’s leadership, the U is working hard to invest directly in conservation and energy efficiency. Green power purchases allow us to reduce our footprint even further in a cost-effective way. It’s an honor to be in the top 5 nationally,” says Sustainability Coordinator Jen Colby.
The U’s green electricity purchases were motivated by a student campaign that led to the creation of a small student fee to pay for clean energy purchases on behalf of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU). Biochemistry Professor Chris Hill then expanded the campaign to allow voluntary contributions from faculty, staff, alumni and the public. The private donations collected from these groups are used to purchase additional green energy credits. More information is available at www.windpower.utah.edu at the Make a Difference link.
“Green power” is defined by the EPA partnership as electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydro resources. University facilities management employees analyze possible options for the acquisition of green power and competitively bid contracts for green power every few years.
These renewable energy sources are cleaner than conventional sources of electricity that produce air pollution and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change. Green power purchases support the expansion and development of new renewable energy capacity. Utilization of green power follows the university’s philosophy of conserving resources, promoting innovation and doing its part to create a healthy environment for current and future generations.