U ranks 8th with EPA

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The U purchased almost 37 million kilowatt-hours of renewable wind power last year, offsetting carbon emissions equal to 5,000 automobiles and earning eighth place in the Environmental Protection Agency’s College and University Green Power Challenge.
“(The) EPA applauds the University of Utah for their leadership in green power purchasing,” said EPA administrator Stephen Johnson in a statement. “By switching to green power resources the university is proving that doing what’s good for the environment is also good for education.”
Now in its third year, the challenge ranked 40 institutions according to both individual and regional achievement. The Ivy League placed first, largely due to the University of Pennsylvania’s purchase of almost 193 million kwh of renewable energy–87 percent of the conference’s total.
In similar fashion, the U purchased 91 percent of the Mountain West Conference’s renewable energy offsets. The conference’s only other participant, Colorado State University, purchased more than 3 million kwh. However, the U’s lead may quickly be followed.
“The university is our state’s flagship institution and we can’t help but set an example,” said Chris Hill, a biochemistry professor who has played an integral role in the development of the school’s wind power program.
The program allows students, faculty and local citizens to purchase wind power credits through Sterling Planet, a leading provider of energy offsets to colleges and universities. Individuals channel their donations through one of the U’s 37 participating departments and groups. In just its second year, the program has achieved complete climate neutrality for seven of its participants, including the Office of Sustainability and the Bioscience Graduate Program.
“It’s critical that we control our carbon emissions, and the wind power program provides a real hands-on way for us to do that,” said Office of Sustainability Coordinator Jen Colby. “The nature of the program serves as a great example.”
Last year, 82 percent of Utah’s electricity was derived from coal-fired plants, which have come under increasing amounts of criticism for producing two-thirds of the sulfur dioxide, one-third of the carbon dioxide and one-quarter of the nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States.
Wind power provided less than 1 percent of the state’s energy and some students feel that the U can lead the state toward a more sustainable future.
“We should look for every single possibility to stop global warming,” said Andrea Hoffman, a sophomore in psychology. “The U can inspire other Mountain West colleges and even local businesses.”
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