The Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized Rochester Institute of Technology as one of the largest green power users among colleges and universities nationally.
RIT’s utilization of nearly 71 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually represents more than 92% of its total power needs, ranking 21st on the EPA’s Top 30 College & University List of the largest green power-users among higher education institutions in the agency’s Green Power Partnership.
Enid Cardinal, senior adviser to the president for strategic planning and sustainability, attributed RIT’s decision — made by James Watters, senior vice president of finance and administration — to start purchasing renewable energy credits for all the electricity the university purchases for the main campus as a key factor behind RIT’s ranking.
In addition, the university’s second 2-megawatt solar array installed last year is helping move the campus closer to its commitment toward carbon neutrality by 2030, Cardinal said. The combined large-scale solar arrays are providing approximately 6.5% of the campus’ total annual electrical consumption.
The second array, installed by GreenSpark Solar, will provide additional electrical resiliency to the campus by providing emergency power during daylight hours in the event of a utility outage.
“We are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for our green power use,” Cardinal said. “We continue to make progress on our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and this is an important milestone on our journey.”
According to the EPA, RIT’s green power use is equivalent to the annual electricity use of nearly 6,500 average American homes. The university’s decision to use green power “helps advance the voluntary market for green power as well as the development of those sources.” Using green power helps reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use and supports the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide.
By moving the needle in the voluntary green power market, RIT and other GPPs are helping reduce the negative health impacts of air emissions, including those related to ozone, fine particles, acid rain and regional haze, according to the EPA.
“This list of the largest users of green power across the nation is proof that good business practices can also benefit the environment,” said James Critchfield, GPP program manager. “EPA applauds the leading organizations in the GPP’s top partner rankings for their notable commitment to expanding their use of green power and protecting the environment.”
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that helps increase green power use among U.S. organizations to advance the American market for green power and development of those sources as a way to reduce air pollution and other environmental impacts associated with electricity use.