Students call on colleges, universities to switch to 100% renewable energy

Media Contacts

Environment Massachusetts

Boston – With Boston University on track to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2018, students, faculty, and environmental advocates announced a statewide campaign today calling on other colleges and universities to make similar commitments.

“Massachusetts’ colleges and universities prepare students from around the world to be the leaders of tomorrow,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “These institutions can show the way toward a healthy, sustainable future by committing to power their campuses with 100 percent renewable energy.”

“Dirty energy is putting our future at risk,” said Theresa Soldan, a student at Salem State University and the Campaign Co-Coordinator for the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign with MASSPIRG Students. “We can’t waste any time in repowering Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. That’s why we are calling on our campuses to lead the way.”

Students working with MASSPIRG Students and Environment Massachusetts are campaigning to win 100 percent renewable energy commitments at 20 colleges and universities across Massachusetts — part of a national campaign reaching more than 65 campuses in 19 states.

“The question no longer is can we or should we be operating on 100 percent renewable energy,” said State Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge). “It’s now a political question of when will we commit to renewables. That’s why I’ve filed a bill calling for the state of Massachusetts to go 100 percent renewable by 2050. The time to promote and protect a safe and sustainable planet for our children and grandchildren is here.”

“Massachusetts has yet to fully embrace renewable energy that we can generate locally,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “But — with the support of our leading institutions — we have a real opportunity to commit to 100 percent renewable power. That’s why I am proud to sponsor the 100% Renewable Energy Act which will put our state on track for a cleaner and healthier future.”

“The Trump administration is moving backwards on clean energy, and we have a moral obligation to lead the nation on this issue,” said State Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). “It is absolutely critical that Massachusetts universities and colleges commit to transitioning to 100 percent renewables. Today we launch this campaign to unite college campuses across the Commonwealth on this most important path towards 100 percent renewable energy.”

In December, the Boston University Board of Trustees voted to pass the BU Bold Climate Action Plan, which commits the university to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of 2018 and net zero carbon emissions by 2040. The plan also calls for the university to quickly scale up energy efficiency and the conversion of heating systems to run on electricity, and improve the campus’s resilience to climate change.

Boston University is Massachusetts’ largest higher education institution by number of students.

Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., recently became the first residential college in the United States powered with 100 percent solar electricity from on-campus solar installations.

“Renewable energy is safer and healthier than fossil fuels, and the transformation to renewables can make our society more resilient, more just, and more democratic,” said Jennie Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy at Northeastern University. “Colleges and universities have a critical role to play in the transition to renewable energy.”

Seven cities and towns in Massachusetts — Salem, Amherst, Cambridge, Leverett, Framingham, Lowell, and Northampton — have adopted resolutions committing to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

In 2017, Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington), and Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge) introduced the 100% Renewable Energy Act, which would source 100 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity from renewable resources by 2035, and repower heating and transportation with renewable energy by 2050. So far, 56 legislators have signed on in support of the bill.

A key deadline for the bill is coming up this week. Under the Legislature’s Joint Rule 10, committees must decide whether to act on legislation by the end of the day on Wednesday. The 100% Renewable Energy Act is currently under consideration by the Joint Committee on Telecommuncations, Utilities and Energy.

Regardless of the Committee’s decision, advocates said that they planned to continue pushing for a statewide commitment to 100 percent renewable energy for the remainder of the legislative session.

“Our colleges and universities can lead the global transition to clean, renewable energy,” said Hellerstein. “In Massachusetts, we have the resources, the know-how, and the determination to make 100 percent renewable energy a reality.”


Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.