CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has become the second-largest purchaser of green power of any university in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 20 College & University list of green power purchasers.
The university purchased about $430,000 in renewable energy certificates for 2011 from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. By purchasing the certificates, the environmental benefits created by the facility directly offset the environmental impact of the university’s conventional energy use.
OSU’s purchase offsets nearly 100 percent of campus energy use in Corvallis and Bend – the equivalent of taking 9,302 passenger vehicles off the road this year. OSU also generates a minor amount of its renewable power with several small on-site solar electric systems.
“This purchase includes everything on the Corvallis campus, and most of the Corvallis-area facilities, including farms and out buildings,” said Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator. “Last year we offset about 56 percent of our electrical use with Renewable Energy Certificates. I’m glad to see that number approach 100 percent this year. And thanks to continued commitment from our Bend campus, they continue to offset 100 percent of their electricity use as they have for the past several years.”
Blaine Collison, director of the U.S. EPA Green Power Partnership, said OSU is a regional and national leader.
“Oregon State’s green power commitment should serve as an example of leadership that I hope will be emulated by every other school in the Pac-12 and across the NCAA,” Collison said.
Renewable Energy Certificates purchased from Bonneville Environmental Foundation ensure that 100 percent of the electricity usage of Corvallis and Bend OSU campuses comes from wind energy sources in 2011. The purchase delivered 95,409 megawatt hours of clean wind energy to the North American power grid, thereby reducing 47,440 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that would have otherwise been emitted from fossil fuel sources
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation reinvests profits from the sale of carbon offsets, water and energy certificates into their nationally recognized watershed restoration and renewable energy education programs. BEF will set aside five percent of the sale price of OSU’s purchase to support the development of a new, onsite photovoltaic solar energy project in collaboration with OSU, with a maximum per-year contribution of $25,000.
”OSU’s commitment to renewable energy is an outstanding statement from an institution that serves as a role model for the next generation of energy consumers,” said Margie Gardner, BEF chief executive officer. “They are helping set the stage for future leaders to transform our relationship to the planet.”
OSU also generates some of its power from a cogeneration facility that combines heating and electricity generation. The OSU Energy Center is the first platinum-rated power facility in the nation, the first Platinum LEED building on campus, and one of only two in the Oregon University System. The Energy Center is capable of burning renewable fuels in the future to further reduce the impact of campus energy use.
OSU is the single largest purchaser of green power in Corvallis. The university has been purchasing certificates since 2003 to offset its electricity use. The cost was previously covered by student fees, but when students voted in 2010 to spend their fee money for on-campus renewable energy systems, the OSU administration, under the direction of Provost and Vice President Sabah Randhawa, agreed to pay for the purchase for this year.
OSU is now eligible for EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club, a distinction given to organizations that have significantly exceeded EPA’s minimum purchase requirements. Green Power Leadership Club members must purchase ten times the partnership’s minimum requirement organization-wide.
For the fourth year in a row, OSU has been named the Pacific-10 Conference champion in the EPA Green Power Partnership’s 2010-11 College and University Green Power Challenge. OSU purchased more renewable energy than any other school in the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12). Additionally, Corvallis was named an EPA Green Power Community of the Year for 2010, largely due to OSU’s green power usage.