Boston, Massachusetts - America’s colleges and universities lead the world in scientific breakthroughs. So, it’s only natural for them to lead America’s transition to clean energy. Today, Environment America Research and Policy Center unveiled a 10 point plan to help guide them: Renewable Energy 101: Ten Tools for Moving Your Campus to 100% Clean Energy. The guide includes a series of fact sheets highlighting 10 key tools to help colleges and universities build a 100 percent clean, renewable energy system.
“Colleges and universities across the country are well-situated to lead the charge in the transition to a 100 percent clean energy future,” said Bronte Payne, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment America. “Higher education has the ability and the know-how to lead by taking bold steps to shift to clean energy and eliminate pollution from energy use. We hope that the ten-point plan laid out in these fact sheets can help.”
"Colleges and universities must provide the next generation with the skills to confront the challenges of a changing climate, so it is only fitting that they lead by example and decarbonize their facilities and operations,” said, Vincent Martinez, Chief Operating Officer at Architecture 2030. “The campus provides an ideal testing ground for achieving zero net carbon at scale, and the shift to 100% renewable energy will only enhance the resiliency of these academic institutions."
According to a recent report by Environment America, colleges and universities serve more than 20 million students and spend more than $15 billion per year on energy, so bold commitments to 100 percent renewable energy can drive big investments in solutions. At the same time, influential higher education institutions can lead by example for communities across America, while training the scientists, engineers, policy makers and civic leaders we need to move the nation toward sustainability.
"The world stands on the brink of the mother of all disruptions: we face climate catastrophes but also the advent of a world that runs on 100 percent renewable energy, likely far sooner than we even imagine. The challenges are both grave and exciting," said Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions. "The voices we raise up in the next few years will determine whether we have a future, and may unleash the greatest prosperity and wellbeing humanity has ever known."
Environment America, in collaboration with its national network and the Student Public Interest Research Groups, is campaigning for 100 percent renewable energy on dozens of campuses in 10 states across the country. Renewable Energy 101 will be used to educate the campus community about key steps that colleges and universities can take to shift off fossil fuels to clean renewable energy.
“It is inspiring to learn about the creative energy and enthusiasm for using clean energy on our college and university campuses,” said Janna Cohen-Rosenthal, Climate Programs Director at Second Nature. “These fact sheets highlight many of the higher education institutions I work with through the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitment. Students, staff, and presidents are meeting and exceeding their carbon neutrality goals through renewable energy and as a bonus, the institutions are also saving money and educating students in real-world business applications.”
Clean energy and energy-efficient technologies are growing fast and getting cheaper, making them more accessible. In the past 10 years, the United States has seen a 43-fold increase in solar power and a seven-fold increase in wind power, while the average American now uses 10 percent less energy.
"Students are a critical voice in moving campuses to be more sustainable and transition towards 100 percent renewable energy," said Emily Parish, Co-President of Greeks Go Green at Cornell University. "As natural leaders, students are passionate and driven about making changes on campus to tackle climate change and to promote a culture of collective action."
And working to achieve 100 percent renewable energy on colleges and universities has an added benefit.
“It allows us to train young activists, future leaders and researchers to advocate for clean energy off-campus and in their communities,” said Payne.