Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group
America’s colleges and universities are leading the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy system. Small liberal arts colleges, large public universities and community colleges alike, from every corner of the U.S., are taking the lead in reducing energy consumption, deploying renewable energy technologies, and switching to electric vehicles (EVs).
The nation’s leading campuses for clean energy – from Georgetown University to the University of Idaho – are setting a strong example for other colleges and the nation as a whole to follow. More than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources.
Campuses are also leading in cleaning up America’s transportation system. Each of the top 10 schools for electric vehicles in this ranking has switched over 60 percent of its campus-owned vehicles to EVs. Of the schools that reported their campus fleet details to STARS, 82 percent have at least one EV.
College campuses are ideal places to lead the renewable energy transition. Colleges are large energy users and are well suited to employ microgrids and district heating and cooling systems that expand the potential uses for renewable energy. Organizations such as Second Nature, with more than 400 active participants in its Climate Leadership Network, have helped get hundreds of campuses to make commitments to act on climate by pursuing carbon neutrality and climate resilience. Schools that seize these opportunities also draw the attention of potential students. A 2020 Princeton Review survey of more than 10,000 college applicants found that two-thirds of them would factor in schools’ environmental commitments – including commitments related to energy use – when deciding where to attend.