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Leader Among Green Power Buyers

Northwestern ranked fifth on EPA list of largest green power purchasers

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February 17, 2011 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that Northwestern University is number five on the federal agency’s most recent list of the largest green power purchasers among colleges and universities. 

Ronald Nayler, associate vice president for facilities management, proudly notes that Northwestern’s ranking moved up three places since autumn 2010, when the list was last published.   

The University supports green power by matching 74 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of its annual energy use with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates. This green power commitment represents 30 percent of the University’s total annual electricity use and places Northwestern in the EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club.   

“Sustainability is an issue that the University and our students care deeply about,” says Julie Cahillane, recycling and refuse manager. “This purchase demonstrates Northwestern’s strong commitment to the development of clean energy sources and a healthier planet.”

A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) represents one megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, low-impact hydropower or other renewable resources.   

Using calculations from the EPA, Northwestern’s green power purchase of 74 million kilowatt-hours will avoid approximately 53,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from more than 10,000 passenger vehicles each year or the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than 6,000 average American homes annually.      

The EPA’s Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program encouraging organizations nationwide to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. Green power refers to renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydropower.                      

 “EPA’s Green Power partners are tapping into America’s growing clean energy market and powering the economy of the future,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Investments like these are smart for business, foster growth in the green energy sector and help protect our health through cleaner air.”      

The University purchases RECs from 3Degrees, a green power and carbon balancing services company. The company’s mission is to mitigate the effects of climate change by accelerating the development of a low-carbon renewable energy economy.      

By matching their electricity use with RECs, organizations like Northwestern help channel funds to renewable energy projects. This, in turn, increases overall demand for renewable energy, spurs further construction of new projects and accelerates the development of a low-carbon renewable energy economy.
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