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EPA: Big Ten whips Ivy League in green power purchases

EPA: Big Ten whips Ivy League in green power purchases

Posting in Education

Collectively speaking, participating EPA Green Power schools are using more than 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

If you've got sustainable behavior on the brain, here's another reason to consider sending your college-bound high-school senior to a Big Ten school rather than an Ivy League college: the former apparently is now being more innovative about its alternative energy choices. The other big story is location: the top three schools on the EPA list are all from Pennsylvania.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Environmental Agency, the Big Ten is now the conference to beat in the agency's College and University Green Power Challenge. Collectively speaking, the Big Ten is using more than 256 million kilowatt-hours of green power. That compares with just over 200 million kilowatt-hours for the Ivy League schools.

For those of you who love visual conversions, picture the Big Ten electricity usage associated as powering more than 21,000 homes for a year. The EPA defines green power as anything generated by renewable sources, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and low-impact hydro.

Here the top five Big Ten schools in terms of alternative energy power usage:

  • Pennsylvania State
  • Northwestern
  • Ohio State
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa

There now are 69 schools in all participating in the challenge.

The No. 1 individual school actually is an Ivy League institution, though: the University of Pennsylvania, which derives more than 47 percent of its power purchases from alternative energy sources, or more than 200 million kilowatt-hours. The university is a huge buyer of wind power: it became the nation's biggest non-government buyer of wind back in 2003, when it doubled its annual wind power purchases to 40 million kilowatt-hours annually. According to the EPA, the school also was first to invest in a 10-year renewable energy certificate contract for wind energy.

As I have already noted, the top Big Ten school as far as green power goes was another Pennsylvania institution: Pennsylvania State University, which also is a big wind energy buyer. Its green power purchases are worth about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity consumption.

The No. 2 school on the list, Carnegie Mellon University (yup, Pennsylvania again!) represents the University Athletic League. Its green power purchases represent almost 76 percent of the school's overall energy consumption, and wind again is the big source. The other thing worth noting is that Carnegie Mellon also is very involved in alternative energy research and development.

Personally speaking, I am more inclined to pay more attention to the schools on this list, now, because they obviously are taking an interest in running their operations more sustainably. Which means a higher percentage of your tuition money is potentially going toward education and not toward paying the power bills. Worth thinking about.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure