Augsburg was recently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the 2010-11 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Green Power Champion, for being the largest purchaser of green power in the conference. “Green” power includes solar, geothermal, biomass, low impact hydro, and wind, for which Augsburg received the recognition. The College and University Green Power Challenge is an initiative for colleges and universities who participate in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership is comprised of more than 1,300 corporations, retailers, educational institutions, government entities, restaurants, and other partners across the country who must qualify by purchasing a minimum percentage of green power proportionate to their power use. Collectively, the partner organizations buy the equivalent of the environmental impact of avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the annual electricity use of nearly 1.6 million average American homes.
At the end of May, Augsburg will complete its second year of wind power purchase through the Xcel Windsource program to offset 100% of the electricity used on the main campus. This program was initiated by Augsburg students at the Focus the Nation program in January 2008 who aimed to offset the electricity used in the residence halls. They succeeded in passing a referendum to add a new student activity fee to pay for sufficient wind power. The College later expanded the program to offset electricity use on the entire campus.
Augsburg is one of only three Minnesota colleges and universities, along with University of St. Thomas and Bemidji State University, that have joined the Green Power Partnership. Only Augsburg has exceeded the required purchase of green power and met other criteria to qualify for the partnership’s Leadership Club.
“Joining the Green Power Partnership is one of many ways Augsburg College can participate in the national effort to reduce the negative impacts of our energy use on climate change,” says Tom Ruffaner, chair of Augsburg’s Environmental Stewardship Committee. “Our participation sets an example of how a small college in a large city can still take positive action to combat global warming when green power generation on campus is not possible. Hopefully our efforts will encourage other urban colleges to examine their path to more environmentally friendly energy use.”
Benefits to association with national or international organizations that promote green power and other sustainable practices include up-to-date information, helpful suggestions, technical support, opportunities for leadership, and benefits of best practices learned from others’ experiences.
Augsburg’s energy initiatives are part of the College’s commitment to urban sustainability that are detailed in the College’s Climate Action Plan, a requirement of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The Climate Action Plan moves the College toward “Being Green in 2019,” its sesquicentennial year, when it aims to totally offset its carbon footprint through green power purchase and conservation.