Southwestern University has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an Individual Conference Champion of the 2016–17 College & University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. SU beat its conference rivals by using nearly 17 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 100 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage.

36 collegiate conferences and 98 schools competed in the 2016–17 challenge, collectively using nearly 3.2 billion kWh of green power. In its winning effort, Southwestern, working with the City of Georgetown, Texas, as its utility provider, used an amount of green power equivalent to the electricity use of more than 1,500 average American homes annually.

Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the use of green power by schools in the collegiate athletic conferences. 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.

Professor of Biology and co-chair of the Environmental Studies Program Romi Burks acknowledges the significance of the EPA’s recognition.

“The Environmental Studies Program itself continues to attract students,” said Burks, “but national recognition of our institution, such as the winning the Green Power Challenge, provides further evidence to students of our commitment to confronting issues of climate change through a focus on sustainability, community partnerships and environmental justice.”

That commitment is deeply ingrained in Southwestern’s academic and campus life. The Environmental Studies Program challenges students to investigate complex natural systems and answer provocative and urgent questions about humankind’s relationship to the environment. The Program provides multiple avenues for student engagement, including capstone projects, multiple organizations like SEAK (Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge), the Community Garden, the student-driven field studies program, Ecolab, as well as Southwestern’s implementation of STARS, a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

EPA’s Green Power Challenge is open to any collegiate athletic conference in the United States. In order to qualify, a collegiate athletic conference must include at least two schools that qualify as Green Power Partners, and the conference must collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. The 12th season of the College & University Green Power Challenge begins in the fall of 2017 and concludes in spring 2018.

Southwestern University is one of many prestigious schools to make the list, including Georgetown University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University. To see a full list of all Green Power conference champions, visit: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/college-and-university-challenge.

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