Campus News

UB tops MAC in green power usage

UB students stand near solar panels at the Steel Sun solar power plant in Lackawanna

Steel Sun, a 4.5 megawatt solar power plant on the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna is among the installations from which UB is procuring renewable energy. Photo: Douglas Levere

By DAVID J. HILL

Published April 27, 2018

headshot of Laura Hubbard
“April is Sustainability Month at the university, but our commitment to making UB a more sustainable campus is a year-round effort that encompasses a variety of green power initiatives.”
Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration

UB has had a pretty dominant year in Mid-American Conference athletic competition. Turns out, the university also leads the MAC when it comes to power of another variety.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized UB as a conference champion in its 2017-18 College and University Green Power Challenge, the results of which were announced on April 25. UB currently uses more green power than any other school in the MAC, according to the EPA.

In addition to its Conference Champion Award, UB ranked No. 41 on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership National Top 100 list, announced the same day.

Since April 2006, EPA’s Green Power Partnership has tracked and recognized the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power use within the program. The Conference Champion Award recognizes the school that uses the most green power in a qualifying conference. In all, 38 conferences participated in the challenge this academic year.

UB beat its conference rivals by using more than 219 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 100 percent of the school’s annual electricity use. That’s equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 21,000 average American homes annually. Of the 38 Conference Champion Award recipients, UB had the second-highest kilowatt-hours usage, trailing only the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s 250 million kWh.

“UB is honored to be recognized by the EPA as a conference leader in using clean, renewable energy,” says Laura Hubbard, vice president for finance and administration. “April is Sustainability Month at the university, but our commitment to making UB a more sustainable campus is a year-round effort that encompasses a variety of green power initiatives.”

UB is procuring renewable energy certificates (RECs) from 3Degrees, and is also generating green power from on- and off-site solar energy systems. These include the 3,200-panel Solar Strand and a series of panels on the roof of Norton Hall, as well as Steel Sun, the 4.5-megawatt solar power plant on the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna. UB has an agreement in place with Poughkeepsie-based BQ Energy to purchase power from this solar plant.

In addition, UB is spearheading a plan to create 100 megawatts of new, locally produced solar energy to be used by several key regional anchor institutions, including the city of Buffalo and Erie County, as well as SUNY Buffalo State and Erie Community College. UB was awarded $1 million for the project through New York State’s Energy to Lead competition, part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative.

This commitment to green power demonstrates a sustainable choice that helps to reduce the negative health impacts of air emissions, including those related to ozone, fine particles, acid rain and regional haze, the EPA says.