Green Power Champ

Image of Solar Panels at Dickinson
Dickinson was named the 2012-13 champion of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) College and University Green Power Challenge, marking the fourth consecutive year that the college has topped the Centennial Conference (CC) in the challenge.

Open to all U.S. colleges, universities and conferences, the Green Power Challenge is an initiative of the EPA's Green Power Partnership, which tracks collegiate-athletic conferences across the nation and recognizes those with the highest combined green-power purchases of renewable energy certificates (REC). This year, Dickinson—which topped Swarthmore, Haverford, Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg colleges among others in the challenge—purchased 18 million kilowatt hours of renewably sourced electricity, offsetting 98.2 percent of the climate-changing greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere by the electricity used on campus.

“It's about offsetting nearly all of the emissions that we realize through the purchase of electricity,” said Ken Shultes ’89, associate vice president for campus operations and director of facilities. “Initiatives that are in place to reduce our consumption—and therefore emissions, through conservation, efficiency or renewables—are a different matter. In addition to our REC purchases, there also are renewable-energy sources that we do use on campus—waste vegetable oil in the central energy plant and solar photovoltaic arrays, for instance.”

Neil Leary, director of the Center for Sustainability Education, further explained the idea behind buying RECs. “Our purchases of wind RECs provide financial resources that allow for greater wind-generated electricity in the Midwest,” said Leary. “The electric power generated as a result of our REC purchases does not come to our campus. But it does enable people in Midwestern states to have a cleaner source of energy. The benefit for them is improved local air quality. The benefit for all of us is less greenhouse gases and less climate change.” 

Of the 31 colleges and university athletic conferences in the nationwide competition, the CC was tied for the second-highest participation rate, making Dickinson's fourth championship in four years all the more significant.

The EPA sustainability honor comes on the heels of many others. Among them, Dickinson received a Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature in 2010, was named to the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll in 2011, was ranked number 2 on Sierra magazine’s “coolest schools” list in 2010 and has earned top marks from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card.

Published April 17, 2013