This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 08, 2002

Colleges, Universities Buy Wind Power, Cut Greenhouse Gases

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced in late April that eight more colleges and universities in the state will buy a portion of their electricity from wind power projects. Allegheny College, Bucknell University, Dickinson College, Franklin & Marshall College, Gannon University, Gettysburg College, Juniata College and Swarthmore College join 17 other Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning that are buying wind power. The first institution to make that commitment, Carnegie Mellon University, also announced it will expand its commitment to wind power. And Penn State University, which is already buying the output of more than three wind turbines, announced it will purchase the output of an additional wind turbine this year. See the DEP press release.

A number of colleges and universities have committed to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Cornell University, for instance, instituted an energy-saving program as an attempt to meet the emission goals of the Kyoto Protocol. The university has retrofitted the lighting system for its hockey rink and is considering solar power installations. But just encouraging students to turn off lights and equipment over the December holidays saved more than 360,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. See the Cornell press release.

Tufts University is also attempting to meet the Kyoto Protocol goals through its Tufts Climate Initiative (TCI). The initiative is investigating green power options and encouraging the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Tufts has installed solar panels on one building and installed energy efficiency improvements, a geothermal heat pump, and a solar hot water system in another building. TCI also added a hybrid-electric Toyota Prius to the university's fleet of vehicles. See the TCI Web site.

Of course, colleges and universities pursue these technologies for a number of reasons, including economics. Southern California's Antelope Valley College, for instance, found that a low-interest loan from the California Energy Commission would allow it to pay off $1.7 million in energy efficiency improvements in just seven years, saving $362,000 a year. Among the projects is a solar water heating system for the school's indoor pool. See the college's press release.