Campaign Launched to Repower Colleges with 100% Renewable Energy

Environment America and the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) showed their love of the planet on Valentine’s Day by launching a campaign to secure commitments from American colleges and universities to shift to 100 percent renewable energy.

The Student PIRGs are independent statewide student organizations that work on issues such as environmental protection, consumer protection, and hunger and homelessness.

“Colleges and universities can lead the nation’s efforts to transition to 100 percent renewable energy and address our largest environmental challenges,” said Environment America Clean Energy Associate Bronte Payne, in a press release. “Renewable energy makes our campus communities safer, healthier and helps end our reliance on dangerous fossil fuels.”

“With programs to slow climate change in trouble in Washington, other centers of national leadership need to step up. America’s colleges and universities are critically important in this regard,” said Gus Speth, former dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  

Hundreds of colleges and universities already pledged to achieve carbon neutrality as signatories of the Climate Leadership Commitment. Universities that eliminate use of fossil fuels will play an important role in transitioning the nation to 100 percent renewable energy. The campaign launched as hundreds of college administrators, sustainability directors, and clean energy experts met to collaborate on achieving their carbon emission reduction targets.

Since 2006, the Climate Leadership Network has been driving higher education campuses to meet aggressive renewable energy goals – with over 500,000,000 kWh being produced from renewable sources at signatory institutions every year,” said Second Nature Executive Director Tim Carter. “In the decade since the Network started, procuring renewable energy is simply a smart business decision in many areas of the country. Environment America’s 100 percent renewable energy campaign will bring awareness to the longstanding commitments these campuses have made and accelerate progress across the sector.”

“Colleges and universities are significant users of energy and can make a big difference by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Rob Sargent, Environment America’s Clean Energy Program Director. “As influential institutions in our communities they can set an example across America.”

“The shift to a sustainable campus requires the input and innovation of all members of the Cornell [University] community,” said Sarah Zemanick, Campus Sustainability Office director. “There will be challenges with transitioning from our current energy systems to new ways of producing, operating, and managing, but as a university we are uniquely positioned to embrace these challenges as educational and research opportunities, and share our progress and successes with the world.”

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