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Penn: #1 on EPA's College & University Green Power Challenge

April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31

With nearly 50 percent of electrical power purchased from a renewable energy source, the University of Pennsylvania remains the No. 1 individual school in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s College and University Green Power Challenge.

Penn derives more than 200 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy from wind, equivalent to the avoidance of CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 17,000 average American homes annually or the CO2 emissions of more than 27,000 passenger vehicles per year.  Penn recently made specific purchases of additional renewable energy dedicated to two new LEED certified buildings—the Morris Arboretum Horticulture Center, LEED Platinum, and Joe’s Café in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, LEED Gold—providing enough additional wind power to make the operation of both projects “carbon free” for 10 years. 

The University began using wind power in 2001 and became the nation’s biggest non-government purchaser in 2003, when it doubled its annual wind power purchases to 40 million kWh annually. Penn then tripled its purchase commitment in 2006 to 112 million kWh annually.  According to the EPA, the school was also first to invest in a 10-year renewable-energy-certificate contract for wind energy.

When it comes to renewable energy use in higher education, Penn goes a long way in helping to showcase the state nationally. Of the 69 schools participating in the challenge, four of the top five on the EPA list—Penn; Carnegie-Mellon at 86.8 million kWh; Penn State at 83.6 million kWh; and Drexel University at 84.3 million kWh—are in Pennsylvania. 

The EPA defines green power as anything generated by renewable sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydro. 

Additional information on Penn’s green initiatives is available on page 6 and at www.upenn.edu/sustainability/ and additional information on the EPA’s Green Power Challenge is at www.epa.gov/greenpower/initiatives/cu_challenge.htm

Almanac - April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31