The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has achieved a new milestone in sustainability: It is the first university in the state to have 100 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources.
30 colleges and universities in the country are at this point, according to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership.
Point attained the 100 percent renewable mark through energy conservation,
reduced consumption and purchasing renewable energy credits through Renewable
Choice Energy. These credits represent the environmental benefits
associated with generating electricity from renewable energy sources, such as
solar, wind, geothermal and biogas.
purchasing renewable energy credits, we are taking responsibility for the
environmental impact of our electricity use and promoting the development of
clean energy sources,” said Shelly Janowski, sustainability program and policy
analyst at UW-Stevens Point.
energy conservation measures are under way in academic and administrative
buildings on campus, part of an overall plan to reduce energy use and minimize
energy costs. The resulting energy savings will pay for system and equipment
upgrades, including lighting, mechanical, steam trap and building envelope improvements.
The state of Wisconsin and UW System collaborated on several energy
conservation projects for state facilities.
energy conservation measures on campus will result
in anticipated annual energy cost savings of $607,000. Nearly two-thirds of the
estimated savings – $397,600 – will be in reduced electricity consumption. The
balance is from reduced water use and steam production.
Point’s total energy consumption includes purchased electricity plus on-campus
sources consumed at the heating plant, which provides steam to university
buildings. Natural gas is the primary fuel source, but coal, oil and wood
pellets are used as backup fuels and to maintain equipment. Solar panels used
to preheat domestic hot water in the residence halls reduce the need for steam
students are interested in sustainability and reducing their footprint on the
Earth’s resources, noted Dave Barbier, sustainability coordinator at UW-Stevens
Point. “Having 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources is a
sustainability benchmark that sets UW-Stevens Point apart from other campuses.”
university’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050. UW-Stevens Point has
committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a net of zero by then,
attaining 25 percent of the goal each decade. Achieving 100 percent
renewable electricity helps the university surpass the first target date of
2020 and be well on its way to achieving the goals set for 2030, he said.
energy use through improved efficiency and reduced consumption are keys to
meeting these goals. Purchasing renewable energy credits, managing forests at
several UW-Stevens Point locations and composting are considered carbon offsets
and help reduce the total emissions from campus operations.
long-term goal is to reduce our emissions through conservation, efficiency and
using renewable energy sources that do not produce carbon emissions, so we don’t
have to rely as much on carbon offsets. For the time being, offsets help meet
the carbon reduction goals,” Barbier said.