Chatham University announced today (Wednesday) that it was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the 2011-2012 Individual Conference Champion for using more green power than any other school in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation.
The Individual Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that has made the largest individual purchase of green power within a qualifying conference.
Chatham has three campuses—Eden Hall campus in Richland Township; the Shadyside campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum; and Chatham Eastside facility.
The 388-acre Eden Hall property is being transformed into a campus that teaches and lives sustainability.
Chatham University beat its conference rivals by using 12 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 100 percent of the school’s annual electricity usage. Chatham University purchases renewable energy certificates from Renewable Choice Energy, helping to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the campus’ electricity use.
According to the U.S. EPA, Chatham University’s green power use of 12 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1,000 average American homes annually, or the CO2 emissions of nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles per year.
“EPA applauds Chatham University as the Presidents' Athletic Conference Champion in this year’s College and University Green Power Challenge,” said Blaine Collison, director of EPA’s Green Power Partnership.
“By purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity, Chatham is reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions and showing that small schools can make a big difference for the environment.”
Thirty collegiate conferences and 73 schools competed in the 2011-2012 challenge, collectively purchasing more than 1.8 billion kWh of green power.
EPA will extend the College & University Green Power Challenge for a seventh year, to conclude in the spring of 2013.
EPA’s Green Power Challenge is open to all U.S. colleges, universities, and conferences. To qualify, a collegiate athletic conference must include at least one school that qualifies as a Green Power Partner, and the conference must collectively purchase at least 10 million kWh of green power.
Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydro.
Purchases of green power help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.
“We deeply appreciate the EPA recognizing Chatham for our commitment to the environment,” says Mary Whitney, sustainability coordinator at Chatham. “We are honored to receive this title in recognition of our efforts of reducing carbon emissions to zero by the year 2025.”
Chatham has purchased renewable power since 2002, and now purchases 100 percent of its total electricity usage from a Green-E Certified mix of renewable energy that is primarily wind power.
Two grants were recently awarded to Chatham, allowing the installation of solar thermal water heating that is designed to lessen dependence on fossil fuels, reduce the university’s carbon footprint, and insulate against fluctuating energy costs.
The largest installation of its kind in Pennsylvania and the eighth largest solar water heating installation in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Utility Solar Water Heating Initiative project database, the project incorporates advanced microchannel technology from Solar Tomorrow Inc.
Chatham’s green initiatives were recognized in 2011 by the Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future.
In addition to a successful school–wide single–stream recycling program, Chatham boasts a composting program and sends waste fat to a regional biodiesel plant.
Reflecting Chatham’s commitment to community involvement in its food, food service provider Parkhurst Dining Services purchases 20 percent of its food from local sources through its FarmSource program and coordinates a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program for the campus.
The dining hall provides vegan and vegetarian selections at all meals to accommodate the large population that prefers this low–carbon diet, as well as to reduce the campus footprint.
In addition, eliminating the use of trays in 2009 has resulted in at least a 25 percent reduction of energy and encourages less food waste, and the switch to reusable take-out containers in 2011 has led to additional dramatic waste reduction.
Chatham maintains a fleet of biodiesel shuttle busses, which transport students between its Shadyside and Eastside campuses, as well as to nearby local universities.
Chatham is one of the first Pennsylvania employers to offer a $20-a-month tax credit to workers who bike for a “substantial portion” of their commute. The Bicycle Commuter Act tax credit was part of 2008’s Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and Chatham was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its participation.
Chatham was also recently became the first university in Pennsylvania to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bike Friendly University, receiving the bronze-level designation. Chatham was previously awarded a Bicycle Friendly Business designation by the league.
—Submitted by Amanda Ritchie on behalf of Chatham University. If you have news to share, please send it to Editor Cindy Cusic Micco at email@example.com