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NCAA Schools Big On Environmental Initiatives

ncaa.jpgWith March Madness upon us, Juice Energy has put together a list of what the leading conferences are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The ACC is a perennial powerhouse in March, but is also recognized for its environmental initiatives. Duke, a number 2 seed, is the 5th largest university purchaser of green power, buying renewables equal to 31% of total consumption. Duke’s cross-town rival, UNC, has committed to making its new campus, Carolina North, carbon neutral through the use of alternative energy and LEED building guidelines. Clemson received high marks in the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s 2008 Sustainability Report Card for its green building policy that requires all new facilities over 5,000 square feet to achieve LEED Silver certification. The University of Miami is doing its part by conducting a university-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventory and launching a program to use soy-based biodiesel to fuel half of its campus buses.

The Big East is represented by the most teams – seven – all with significant environmental commitments. Georgetown has a 300 kilowatt solar installation that represents the longest running project of its scale in the country. UConn is home to the first LEED-certified NCAA athletic facility, the football complex and training center. Both Louisville and Marquette have reduced GHG emissions by improving energy efficiency, saving $150,000 and $350,000 per year, respectively. Notre Dame reduced GHG emissions by 69,000 tons through efficiency improvements at its power plant. Pitt is commissioning a new steam plant expected to reduce related annual emissions by 46%. West Virginia is focused on both efficiency initiatives and an educational campaign to engage students in energy conservation.

The Big Ten is a leader on the basketball court and the environment. According to the EPA, the Big Ten is ranked 2nd among green power purchases by conference, totaling 134,000,000 kWh per year. Michigan State joined the Chicago Climate Exchange and committed to a 6% reduction of carbon emissions by 2010, while Wisconsin’s “We Conserve” campaign is seeking to reduce per square foot energy consumption 20% by 2010. Indiana has focused on student involvement using its “Volunteers in Sustainability” program to engage students on sustainability issues. Purdue also encourages student involvement and uses student designed solar panels to heat water in one of its buildings.

The PAC-10, another basketball powerhouse, is also making strides in sustainability. Oregonis a campus sustainability leader for its commitment to achieve climate neutrality and use of 22% of its energy consumption from carbon neutral sources. USC is investing in renewables as well with 7% of its electricity coming from biomass, geothermal and hydro generation. UCLA has set targets to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and Stanford is working to build a “Green Dorm” that will emit no net carbon and generate more electricity than it uses. Washington Statehas a student-led initiative to use waste-fryer oil to produce approximately 3,800 gallons of biofuel. Arizona has focused on design and the new campus Recreation Center will be LEED-certified.

The SEC’s participating schools have also made notable commitments to reduce emissions. At Tennessee, student fees have facilitated the purchase of green power equal to 2.6% of the campus’s energy consumption and Kentucky’s student government similarly voted for a fee increase to fund renewable energy purchases. Vanderbilt’s “Free Ride to Work” program, which pays for faculty and staff to take public transportation, received the 2006 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award in Pollution Prevention. Mississippi State hosts a 15-kilowatt solar array that supplies 25,000 kWh of electricity per year. Arkansas is implementing efficiency projects to reduce carbon emissions by over 3,500 tons annually and Georgia is currently investigating the use of renewable fuels in campus vehicles and the central steam plant.

The Big 12 is represented by 5 schools this year, each working to minimize their environmental impact. Baylor is helping to develop a new wind generation in Texas and Oklahoma has partnered with their utility to purchase 100% wind power. Kansasrecently created a Center for Sustainability and installed a geothermal heating and cooling system in one student residence. Texas has developed its EcoReps program to help dorm residents reduce their environmental impact while its rival Texas A&M has focused efforts on improving energy efficiency and boasts a 33% reduction in energy consumption per square foot.

Conference USA’s sole participant—Memphis—has made impressive student-initiated efforts to purchase green power. The largest voter turn-out in school history approved a referendum to purchase green power, which, if implemented, would make Memphis the largest user of green power in the Southeast.

The Atlantic-10 conference is represented by Xavier, Temple and St. Joseph’s University. Temple has recently established a Sustainability Task Force and an Office of Sustainability to apply holistic sustainability measures, and is at the forefront of green roof technology research. Xavier has taken initial steps to minimize its overall impact on the environment by simply replacing light fixtures and lamps with more energy efficient units. St. Joseph’s is beginning to take action by participating in the EPA sponsored recycling contest, RecycleMania, a ten-week friendly competition between colleges and universities.

The Patriot League through its single participant, American University, has made a significant commitment to renewable energy. American purchases renewable energy credits equal to 5% of the University’s 2005 energy consumption. Building on this, students at American proposed a student fee to fund the purchase of renewable energy and establish a goal of having 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2012.

The Ivy League is also represented by a single school that has achieved a reduction in emissions. According to the EPA, the Ivy League has purchased more green power than any other division 1 athletic conference, in addition to receiving the highest grade in the College Sustainability 2008 report card. This year’s representative on the court, Cornell, is recognized as a climate change leader with a 10% reduction in energy use through the use of cold lake water to air condition campus buildings. And, 16% of Cornell’s electricity is sustainably produced and plans are in place to cut GHG emissions by 20% through energy efficiency projects.

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