EPA recognizes Union as top green power user among colleges and universities

Publication Date

For the second straight year, the College has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a conference champion of the College and University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Liberty League.

The College beat its conference rivals by using more than 20 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 93 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage. Union buys renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Community Energy. The College also generates green power from an on-site renewable energy system using solar and wind resources.

Union’s green power use of more than 20 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of nearly 2,000 average American homes annually or the CO2 emissions of nearly 3,000 passenger vehicles per year, according to the EPA.

The agency’s Green Power Partnership tracks and recognizes the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use in the nation. The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that has the largest individual use of green power within a qualifying conference.

"We are very proud to once again be the largest single green power user in the Liberty League,” said Meghan Haley-Quigley, Union's sustainability coordinator. “This recognition from the EPA is an important achievement and an accurate reflection of our commitment to green power here at Union.”

Thirty-three collegiate conferences and 79 schools competed in the 2013-2014 challenge, collectively using nearly 2.3 billion kWh of green power. Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, eligible biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro.

In other environmental news, Union is again ranked among the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review’s 2014 “Guide to Green Colleges.” The guide, produced in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, includes schools that have “demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.”

Schools were selected based on a survey conducted of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges to measure the schools' commitment to the environment and to sustainability. The institutional survey included questions on the schools' course offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.

“U Sustain is a mantra and a mission at Union,” the guide’s profile states and includes a list of initiatives the College has undertaken to be carbon neutral by 2060.

In 2007, President Stephen C. Ainlay was among the first to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging to formally work on reducing, and eventually eliminating, campus global warming emissions.