Western Washington University is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s top 20 green energy purchasers in higher education.
Western, which is 20th on the EPA list, annually offsets 100 percent of its electrical consumption from green sources via purchases of renewable energy credits.
Western was the only college or university in the State of Washington on the recently released EPA list.
The genesis for Western’s renewable energy program began more than eight 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 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 finances 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 who will be tasked with working with student and faculty for development of projects.
Completed projects include a 5kw solar array, high-efficiency hand-dryers, LED conversion for parking lot lights, water-bottle refilling stations, and hand towel composting. Projects under review currently include a solar thermal array for Western’s recreation center, two cutting-edge “green” residence rooms, a sustainability information kiosk, and energy use dashboards for high-use buildings.
WWU began the list several years ago at number 1, and is now is at number 20 due to increases in green power purchases at colleges and universities nationally.
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 20 College and University Partners list.