A student-backed sustainability initiative has made the Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver the top Colorado college campus purchasing renewable energy as ranked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Boulder, CO-based Renewable Choice Energy is providing the Auraria Campus with approximately 40 million kilowatt hours per year of nationally sourced renewable energy credits (RECs) from wind farms over the next three years. Auraria is ranked seventh nationally among colleges and universities purchasing clean energy.
Since fall 2004, students have paid an additional $1 to $4 fee per semester to fund sustainability programs. The Auraria Campus had been offsetting 45 percent of their electricity use with RECs for wind farms since July of 2006 until last month’s increase. This new purchase represents 100 percent of annual electricity use on the campus. However, supporting wind energy is only part of Auraria’s sustainability story.
Over 90 percent of Auraria Campus students voted in April 2007 to renew and expand the new sustainable campus program that funds: 1) the new three-year purchase of renewable energy, 2) a robust single-stream recycling program launched in January of this year which has reduced campus landfill waste by 25%, 3) water efficiency projects including one approved this month that will save over 1 million gallons of water per year, and 4) energy efficacy projects that the campus will begin building this school year, as well as related educational programs on campus.
“We voted overwhelmingly in favor of making our campus more sustainable, and our student fees have gone a long way toward advancing the cause,” said Andy Pattison, a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs and the chair of the Student Advisor Committee to the Auraria Board’s Sustainable Campus Program Committee. “Our student funds have been leveraged with those of campus Facilities Management and have become a national example of how campus-level sustainable development can be good for people, planet, and pocketbooks.”
“With this commitment, Auraria Campus students have clearly demonstrated their steadfast support of sustainability and the mission of Greenprint Denver,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “We applaud the University of Colorado Denver, the Community College of Denver, and the Metropolitan State College of Denver for pursuing renewable energy opportunities to help our community save energy, improve air quality and protect the environment. These students are setting a positive example for others in our community to follow.”
Auraria’s total three-year purchase of 122 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits represents enough electricity to power over 8,200 average U.S. homes for a year and has significant environmental benefits. Generating the same amount of electricity using conventional energy sources such as burning coal would result in more than 136 million pounds of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. Avoiding the release of this greenhouse gas is about as beneficial as taking 11,300 cars of the road for a year or saving thousands of acres of trees.
Renewable energy credits, which are sold separately from the electrical output of renewable energy projects, are available to residential and commercial customers nationwide through Renewable Choice Energy. “The students and administrators on the Auraria Campus are leading by example to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and educate their campus on the importance of moving our nation toward a more sustainable energy future,” said Quayle Hodek, CEO of Renewable Choice Energy. “We are proud to be a partner in their long-term strategy and commitment to supporting renewable energy development in this country.”
About the Auraria Campus
The Auraria Campus, located in downtown Denver, is home to the Community College of Denver, the Metropolitan State College of Denver, and the University of Colorado Denver Downtown Campus. Approximately 43,000 students share classroom space and general services on the campus, which is the largest in Colorado and a significant economic engine, both in Denver and statewide.
About Renewable Choice Energy
Renewable Choice Energy is a leading national provider of renewable energy credits (RECs) and verified emission reductions (VERs) (carbon offsets) to hundreds of Fortune 500 Companies and small businesses, thousands of residential customers, and nearly 1,000 LEED green building projects in the U.S. Founded in 2001, Boulder-Colo.-based Renewable Choice and its clients have received prestigious awards from the EPA and DOE for supporting and expanding the renewable energy market and have been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, USA TODAY, and more. (http://www.renewablechoice.com/business)