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Northwestern a Leading Green Power Purchaser

Big Ten Conference wins EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge

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April 17, 2013 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University is one of four schools in the Big Ten Conference recognized today (April 17) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as 2012-2013 Collective Conference Champions for using green power.

The EPA’s Green Power Partnership annually tracks and recognizes the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation.

Northwestern, together with the University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa and The Ohio State University, contributed to making the Big Ten this year’s champion in the College and University Green Power Challenge.

Northwestern also ranks No. 7 in the EPA’s Top 20 list of Green Power partners among higher education institutions.

“Northwestern is a national leader in energy and sustainability, and purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) from clean, wind energy projects reflects that commitment,” said Rob Whittier, director of sustainability at Northwestern.

The University’s voluntary purchase of more than 96 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 37 percent of the University’s annual electricity usage, helped contribute to the winning conference effort.

According to the U.S. EPA, Northwestern’s green power use is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 10,000 average American homes annually or the CO2 emissions of more than 14,000 passenger vehicles per year.

The Big Ten’s collective green power purchase of 317 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of 33,000 average American homes or the annual CO2 emissions of 47,000 passenger vehicles.

In order to qualify, a collegiate athletic conference must include at least one school that qualifies as a Green Power Partner of the EPA, and the conference must collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. Northwestern has been a Green Power Partner since 2006.

Thirty-two collegiate conferences and 76 schools competed in the 2012-2013 challenge, collectively using more than 2.2 billion kWh of green power.

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydropower. Purchases of green power help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

Northwestern purchases renewable energy certificates from 3Degrees, which helps to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the University’s electricity use. In addition, Northwestern is generating green power from an onsite renewable energy system, a solar photovoltaic array covering nearly the entire available roof of the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The partnership currently has more than 1,400 partner organizations voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

For more information about EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge, visit their website.

Topics: University