BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has been named the
2009-2010 Individual Conference Champion by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for using more green power than any other
school in the Mid-American Conference.
UB earned the honor by purchasing more than 16 million
kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 8 percent of the
university's annual electricity usage for 2009-2010. The EPA
estimates that UB's purchase of green power is equivalent to carbon
dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than 1,000
average American homes each year or has the equivalent impact of
reducing the CO2 emissions of more than 2,000 passenger cars
Since April 2006, the 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
The EPA award underscores UB's commitment to green initiatives
and campus sustainability, says Robert G. Shibley, professor of
architecture and planning, UB campus architect and senior point
person for the development of UB's Comprehensive Physical Plan.
The push to achieve carbon neutrality -- reducing or offsetting
all of the university's greenhouse gas emissions -- was made an
institutional priority when UB President John B. Simpson in March
2007 signed the American College and University Presidents Climate
This pact, now signed by leaders at 685 institutions of higher
education, required the signatories to make an inventory of current
carbon emissions and, within two years, to create a plan for making
each of the campuses carbon neutral.
Since 2007, UB has decreased overall energy consumption by 11
percent and increased its consumption of renewable energy from 6
percent to 20 percent. UB also is the largest purchaser of wind
power of any New York State agency and was the first campus in the
SUNY system to buy a portion of its electrical power from a
commercial supplier of wind, an in-state wind farm.
Today, environmental stewardship is a primary tenet of "Building
UB," the university's master physical plan, Shibley notes. The plan
to make UB a model 21st century university proposes the creation of
7 million square feet of space to be constructed over a minimum of
20 years on UB's three campuses. This requires making
environmentally responsible structural and operational choices when
building, Shibley says.
To meet the formidable goals of the ACUPCC, UB created the Environmental
Stewardship Committee (ESC), which Shibley chairs, to address
all facets of UB's energy purchasing and consumption, including
transportation, procurement, campus operations and capital
construction. Six subcommittees were developed to provide support
for these specific areas.
Michael F. Dupre, assistant vice president for University
Facilities and chair of the ESC Energy subcommittee, said his
division's efforts to reduce energy consumption at UB date back to
the late 1970s.
Through the efforts of UB Facilities, energy consumption at UB
was less in 1987 than it was in 1982 -- even though the North
Campus grew by 20 percent or 775,000 square feet with the
construction of Alumni Arena, Bonner Hall, Computing Center, Jacobs
Hall, Park Hall and the first phase of the Student Union. In 1996,
University Facilities delivered a historic log of UB energy
conservation -- kept since the late 1970s -- to the IRT Results
Center, an independent research organization funded by a consortium
of utility companies, to document successful demand-side energy
The IRT calculated that UB in 1996 had a cumulative energy
savings of $65 million and an annual savings of $9 million.
According to Dupre, UB's participation in ACUPCC raised the
importance of campus-wide environmental sustainability to the level
of institutional concern and brought UB's senior leadership to the
planning table to address environmental issues on UB's three
Shibley said one of the keys to achieving the 11 percent
decrease in UB's energy consumption is making adjustments unit by
unit and increasing the amount of renewable energy the university
has been purchasing. But the single biggest factor is the ACUPCC
endorsement, Shibley says.
"You make a commitment and work that commitment," he
Green may also be the "new black" in recruiting and engaging
students. The Princeton Review has recently added a sustainability
component to its College Hopes and Worries Survey. In the survey
for 2008, almost two thirds of respondents indicated they would
value having information about a college's commitment to the
environment and that it might impact their decision about whether
to attend that school.
Sustainability, reduced energy consumption, reduction in costs
and student recruitment are all good reasons to continue our
environmental initiatives, Shibley notes.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.