With student effort aiming to increase green power and sustainability on campus Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked the U as the top institution in the Pac-12 for the “largest individual green power purchase.”
The U purchased more than 93 million kilowatt-hours of green power during the academic school year of 2012-2013. These purchases beat the No. 2 Pac-12 institution University of Washington by more than 78 million kilowatt-hours. All green power purchases from the U were wind power, said Ayriel Clark-Proffitt, education and outreach coordinator for the Office of Sustainability.
According to the EPA rankings’ website, 31 percent of the U’s electricity is made of green power. ASUU Sustainability Board director Allison Boyer, a junior in environmental and sustainability studies, said the president’s Sustainability Advisory Board made a resolution this year to become a carbon-neutral campus by 2050.
Boyer said the ranking was no surprise, as the U has often been in the top schools in the nation for green power purchasing as well as within the Pac-12.
“It’s extremely important that we let people know that this is what we’re doing to solve this problem that we have created,” Boyer said.
She said if the U keeps up sustainability efforts, it will stay an example for the Pac-12 as well as the nation and other countries.
Clark-Proffitt said the reason the U has high rankings is because of a campaign by students in 2004 who pushed the U to purchase more green power. Since then, $1 from each student’s tuition goes toward the fund for purchasing green power each semester.
“It’s great that the U is [making] these efforts to change power,” Clark-Proffitt said. “It really sends a message that the U cares about sustainability, and that’s something incoming students look at when they’re choosing schools.”
Boyer said one of her main goals during the 2012-2013 academic year was to focus on advocacy for student groups and encourage them to speak to the Utah Legislature and Board of Trustees. She said students are caring more and more about energy and sustainable initiatives.
“It’s at the forefront of people’s minds with the climate change issues going on,” Boyer said. “The U is just following the pattern. That’s why [sustainability has] been such a big place in our school, because that’s what the public wants.”
Clark-Proffitt said 40 percent of all U.S. energy comes from coal. This is a huge problem and polluter, she said.