Western Washington University is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s top 30 green energy purchasers in higher education.
Western, which is 19th on the EPA list, annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs).
Western is the only college or university in the state of Washington on the EPA list, updated on Jan. 8.
The genesis for Western’s renewable energy program began more than nine years ago when a small group of Western students set a goal of having Western offset all of its electrical energy from a 100-percent renewable source. To meet that goal they proposed a student initiative to implement a fee that would offset the cost of purchasing renewable energy.
As a result of their visionary efforts and significant research into renewable energy, Western moved to the forefront of the renewable energy field, becoming the first university in the country to implement a student fee for the purchase of green energy.
The student initiative passed in a spring 2004 election with 84.7 percent approval. The WWU Board of Trustees approved the student fee, which went into effect in 2005 and which allows the university to offset all of its electricity use with purchases from renewable energy sources.
In spring 2010, the WWU student body voted overwhelmingly – more than 80 percent in favor – to renew the Green Energy Fee. In addition to funding the purchase of the renewable energy credits from the Endeavor Wind Farm in Iowa, the new fee on students also has financed projects devoted to piloting measures in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and greenhouse-gas and solid waste reduction on WWU’s campus, as well as allowing for the creation of permanent and student staff tasked with working with student and faculty for development of projects through the Green Energy Fee Grant Program.
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary EPA program that seeks to increase the use of green power among leading U.S. organizations. Green power is defined by the partnership as electricity products that are partially or entirely generated from environmentally preferable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact biomass and hydro resources. For more information see EPA’s website on the Top 30 College and University Partners list.