New report ranks higher ed on renewable energy

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Abilene Christian and Austin Community College join Southwestern and Austin College in powering campuses with 100% renewable energy

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN – Environment Texas Research & Policy Center released a new report today that ranks small liberal arts colleges, large public universities and community colleges across the country in key energy sustainability metrics. The report shows that more than 40 colleges and universities currently obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, including Abilene Christian University, Southwestern University, and Austin College. In addition, this spring, Austin Community College signed a contract to power its Elgin and Round Rock campuses with 100% renewable energy. 

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020: Who’s Leading the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy on Campus? ranks campuses in three categories: shifting to renewable electricity; repowering buildings with clean energy; and adopting electric vehicles. 

“College campuses are natural leaders when it comes to transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Luke Metzger, executive director at Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. “As innovators and educators, institutions of higher learning can show the way toward a cleaner, healthier future. As our new report goes to show, many are already doing just that.”

“ACU is committed to finding innovative ways to better manage our resources through lower energy consumption. I’m proud of how we have developed a university culture prioritizing more efficient facility operations while creating utility cost savings to increase funding for student programs,” said Dr. Phil Schubert, Abilene Christian University president. “Obtaining 100 percent renewable energy and our involvement with the EPA’s Green Power Partnership are important markers in the progress we’ve made toward placing a high value on stewardship and sustainability.”

“ACC is committed to becoming a leader in sustainability. That means using less energy and fewer resources while minimizing waste,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “Our goal is to shrink the college’s ecological footprint and increase environmental awareness. Austin Community College District has set the goal of becoming a Zero Waste by 2040 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050 while continuing to grow to meet the demand for ACC programs and services.”

“At Austin College, we seek to take any affordable measures to help safeguard the environment,” said President Steven P. O’Day of Austin College. “Indeed, converting to wind-generated electricity has cost the college less than 5% of the savings from simultaneous energy conservation. We have discovered that buying wind power is among the easiest and most economical ways to achieve a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The report also finds that leading colleges are switching their campus fleets to electric vehicles. 

Rice University has the third highest percentage of electric vehicles among colleges in the nation (76%). In total, eleven Texas colleges have at least some electric vehicles, including UT Dallas (39.9%), the University of Houston (27.4%), and Texas Tech (5.4%). In the fall of 2019, UT Rio Grande Valley launched VOLT, an all-electric intra-campus public transit route system, in order to save money, improve safety and reduce emissions.


Environment Texas Research and Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.