By Van H. Du, on behalf of Second Nature team
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the winners of the Green Power Challenge for the 2010-11 academic year. The Challenge is part of the EPA Green Power Partnership Initiative, which as a requirement each conference has to have at least one institution that is an EPA Green Power Partner. These partner institutions must meet EPA energy purchase requirements using any combination of three options: renewable energy certificates (RECs), on-site generation and utility green power products.
Each year, the EPA hosts the Green Power Challenge as an opportunity for all collegiate athletic conferences to track their power sources and compete for the title of having the “highest combined green power purchases in the nation.” In addition, contributing colleges and universities within each participating conference also partake in the Individual Conference Champions category and compete to become the “largest single green power purchasers.”
This year, with over 256 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), the Big 10 conference topped the Collective Conference category for having the largest total green energy purchase among all conferences. Other notable runner-up conferences included the Ivy League with the total of 200 million kWh purchase (achieved single-handedly by University of Pennsylvania), and the University Athletic Association with the total of 92.5 million kWh of green power purchase. For the complete list of EPA Green Power Champions, please click here.
While smaller conferences (such as Cascade Collegiate Conference, New England Small College Athletic Conference, Northwest Conference, etc.) have accumulated lower total amount of green power purchase, they are as equally impressive and noteworthy given that many of these institutions actually have 100% or more of their energy purchased from green power sources. For example, the amount of green power purchased at Southern Oregon University is actually an equivalent to 287% of the total electricity usage on campus.
Another notable practice aside from buying green energy is simply saving energy. For example, at Pennsylvania State University, being green and energy efficient simultaneously is nothing more than just “business as usual.” PSU purchases approximately 83,600 kilowatt-hours of green power, which is about 20% of the institution’s total energy sources. At the same time, according to GreenBiz, the campus has also recently employed a new computer power management technology that is reported to save the school about $80,000 annually on its total energy bills.
Through competitions such as the Green Power Challenge, participating colleges and universities receive recognition not only for their immense efforts in greening their campuses, but also for taking the leadership role to address sustainability issues in the higher education community. It must also be noted that the majority of institutions awarded in the Individual Conference Champions category are, in fact, signatories of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. It shows that although signing the ACUPCC may be a voluntary commitment, being part of the network with guidelines and opportunities for exchanging ideas can indeed help these institutions commit, plan and implement their campus sustainability and climate action plans.
By Vanessa Santos, on behalf of Second Nature team
Thanks to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), over 670 colleges and universities from around the United States are working to institutionalize the goal of creating a sustainable society as a core part of their mission. But transforming the way our society works and lives to be more sustainable in the long-term, requires collaborative global efforts that are still able to address the specific sustainability challenges of each individual country or region. Peru provides a good example of how one country can use the ACUPCC framework, yet adapt it to suit their specific national issues.
Peru has recently developed their own version of the ACUPCC referred to as el Compromiso de Neutralidad Climatica para el Peru, of which 13 national colleges and universities have signed as a pledge to pursue improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy on campus. The commitment is supported by the Ministerio de Energia y Minas (MEM), the department of Energy and Mining in Peru, and is recognized by international energy companies. Though the Peruvian commitment is based on the ACUPCC commitment text, it has been modified to address a Peruvian reality. In Peru, for example, water availability is a crucial concern because of the country’s geographical region and because of the rapid melting of its Andean glaciers, which provide most of the country’s water supply. Additionally, because of Peru’s vast amount of exploitable natural resources – especially in the Amazon region – deforestation as a result of farming, commercial logging, mining, petroleum drilling and road development is a major sustainability concern. To tackle these issues, the Peruvian Commitment has a special focus on committing colleges and universities to increase their renewable energy sources, decontaminate water sources and restore national forests.
With the support of MEM, the founding colleges and universities of the commitment are currently drafting an Implementation Guide to the commitment, which will again be an appropriately modified version of the ACUPCC Implementation Guide. In the middle of April, two representatives from each signatory school will come together to discuss and approve a final version of the guide to the Peruvian commitment.
Though Peru’s geographic location and social and economic factors make it vulnerable to specific effects of climate change, using the framework of the ACUPCC has allowed them to take an already proven successful initiative and modify it to address their specific concerns. In this way, countries like Peru can save a lot of time and resources – and most likely be more effective – if they can reach out to international models as guides when working to address their sustainability challenges.
To read more about Peru’s sustainability efforts, click here.