• Southwestern's decision to use only electricity generated by wind power earned it top honors among schools in the SCAC in ...
    Southwestern's decision to use only electricity generated by wind power earned it top honors among schools in the SCAC in the EPA's 2010-2011 College and University Green Power Challenge.

While Southwestern athletic teams compete in the SCAC championships this month, the university has already won the conference championship in another area – green power.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced April 18 that Southwestern topped the SCAC in the agency’s 2010-2011 College & University Green Power Challenge. The yearly contest determines which schools in each NCAA conference use the most green power.

Southwestern beat its conference rivals by purchasing 17 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 100 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage. Southwestern has been using 100 percent green energy since January 2010, when it signed an 18-year contract with the city of Georgetown to receive only electricity generated from wind power.

According to the EPA, Southwestern’s green power use of 17 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1,000 average American homes annually or the CO2 emissions of more than 2,000 passenger vehicles per year.

“Our students were the ones who pushed the university to partner with the city − they are the real heroes here,” said Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies. “They have a vision for a sustainable future that the rest of us need to embrace.”

Thirty-one collegiate conferences and 69 schools competed in the 2010-2011 challenge, collectively purchasing nearly 1.6 billion kWh of green power. Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Purchases of green power help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,300 Partner organizations, including Fortune 500® companies; small and medium sized businesses; local, state, and federal governments; and colleges and universities. For more information on the program, visit www.epa.gov/greenpower.