Report: Colleges and Universities Can Lead America’s Shift to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Environment Massachusetts

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Lindsey Mendelson, [email protected], 847-691-2186

Medford, MA—America’s colleges and universities are positioned to lead the transition to 100 percent renewable energy, according to a report released today by Environment Massachusetts  Research & Policy Center. The report stresses that a complete shift to clean, renewable energy is the best way for colleges and universities to achieve their carbon reduction goals and highlights schools across the country that are taking measures to make the transition to renewable energy.

“Colleges and universities across the country are situated to lead the charge in the transition to a 100 percent clean energy future”, said Lindsey Mendelson with Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“Massachusetts needs to establish a clear path to help us get to 100% renewable energy generation in the future, and I think it’s important for colleges and universities, which contribute significantly to Massachusetts’ economy, to help develop this road map. If academic institutions in the Commonwealth start to lay out these goals, in conjunction with legislators working to adopt new benchmarks for renewable energy, then we’ll see progress toward meeting goals set in the Global Warming Solutions Act,” said Medford/Somerville state Rep. Christine Barber.

The amount of energy we use pales in comparison to America’s renewable energy potential. According to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we could power the nation 100 times over with existing solar potential and 10 times over with available wind resources.  At the same time, there is a tremendous opportunity to reduce energy consumption through energy conservation and efficiency measures.  

According to the report, Renewable Energy 100: The Course to a Carbon-Free Campus, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is the best way for the hundreds of universities that have made commitments to carbon neutrality by 2050 to achieve their goals.  The report cites a number of factors that make institutions of higher education well-suited to lead America’s efforts:

  • They are significant energy consumers, serving more than 20 million students;

  • College and university campuses often have physical attributes that make them good locations for hosting clean energy projects. Many have space on rooftops, in parking lots, and on marginal land for hosting solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies;

  • They can save money and hedge against volatile fossil fuel costs by investing in clean energy;

  • They are leaders of innovation and training;

Adopting clean energy appeals to prospective students and meets the desires of current students and faculty.

President Tony Monaco signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment last spring, aiming to lead the nation in carbon neutrality efforts. The campus currently has solar projects at Sophia Gordon Hall, Fairmount House, Schmalz House, and Dowling Hall. Additionally, 70% of buildings at the university have had energy retrofits to make them more energy efficient.

“In making a bold and necessary commitment to 100 percent renewable energy, Tufts University can continue its climate leadership here in Massachusetts,” said Shai Slotky, Vice President of the Tufts Community Union Senate.

By setting ambitious clean energy goals, colleges and universities can bolster learning and research, drive innovation, attract new students, and save money – all while setting an example for the nation and reducing their own environmental impact.

“A shift to 100 percent renewable energy is completely necessary,” said Mendelson.  “We look forward to supporting Tufts as the university works to achieve its carbon reduction goals and inspire young activists, future leaders and researchers to continue advocacy on clean energy off campus and in their communities.”


About Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.