Southwestern University has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a 2014-2015 Individual Conference Champion of the College & University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. This is the fifth year in a row that the university has been awarded the championship.

“The EPA applauds Southwestern University as the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Champion for the fifth consecutive year in the College and University Green Power Challenge,” said James Critchfield, Director of THE EPA’s Green Power Partnership. “By using 100 percent green power annually, Southwestern University is reducing harmful air pollution and taking a leadership position on the environment.”

Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use in the nation. The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that has the largest individual use of green power within a qualifying conference.

Southwestern University beat its conference rivals by using more than 16 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 100 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage. Southwestern University is buying a utility green power product from City of Georgetown.  This demonstrates a proactive choice to switch away from traditional sources of electricity generation and support cleaner renewable energy alternatives.

According to the U.S. EPA, Southwestern University’s green power use of more than 16 million kWh is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 2,000 average American homes annually. Green power is zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, eligible biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints.

Thirty-nine collegiate conferences and 90 schools competed in the 2014-2015 challenge, collectively using nearly 2.4 billion kWh of green power. In order to qualify, a collegiate athletic conference must include at least one school that qualifies as a Green Power Partner, and the conference must collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power.

Upon learning about the award, Bob Mathis, associate vice President for facilities and campus services, said, “Southwestern University and its students have taken a leadership role in promoting sustainability at all levels – local, regional and national.  An excellent example of this is the Green (wind) Power agreement. Southwestern students were the first to approach the City of Georgetown to explore green power options, and thanks to them the university was able to work out a long-term agreement with the city that is beneficial to all.” The city of Georgetown recently followed suit and announced that its municipal electric utility will move to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2017.

Additional sustainability efforts can be found across campus. Most recently, a student initiative lead to the creation of the Green Fund. Beginning in the fall of 2015, all students will pay an annual $30 fee that will provide a fund to support projects that promote the environmental, social and financial sustainability of the Southwestern community. These projects can be proposed by students, faculty and staff, with priority given to student proposals. Ideas range from renewable energy or water conservation programs to initiatives that support social justice, diversity and the health/well-being of the campus community.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use. The Partnership currently has nearly 1,300 Partner organizations voluntarily using billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. For more information about EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge, visit the Challenge website.