UNT named one of the top green power users by the EPA

UNT named one of the top green power users by the EPA

UNT named one of the top green power users by the EPA
September 14
09:00 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named UNT No. 11 on its Green Power Partnership Top 30 College and University list.

UNT participates in green programming through the Student Sustainability Office’s We Mean Green Fund (WMGF), a fund every student pays into with a $5 environmental service fee during the spring and fall semesters. WMGF is dedicated to limiting UNT’s effect on the environment.

Earlier this year, UNT enrolled in Denton Municipal Electric’s GreenSense Renewable Electricity Program. This allowed the university to purchase one year of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to cover UNT’s electricity use on the main campus and at Discovery Park. RECs are a non-tangible energy good that is issued when one megawatt-hour of electricity is created from a renewable energy resource.

UNT used 107,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, which 100 percent of was renewable during the last annualized partner contract amounts (kilowatt-hours), according to a report released by the EPA in July.

UNT’s off-site energy is produced by wind turbines and solar arrays from other areas in Texas.

Comparatively, the list’s No. 1 ranked institution, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, used 250,070,000 kWh, of which 94 percent was renewable. At No. 11, UNT was the third school on the list to have reached 100 percent.

“We’re getting ‘beat’ by institutions that just have a larger energy need than us,” said Gary Cocke, Coordinator at the Student Sustainability Office. “We’re really just limited by the fact that we don’t use as much energy as some of those people that are ranked more highly than we are. So, we’re ranked about as high as we can be.”

Cocke said UNT should be a leader in the community of renewable energy.

“If we are able to influence and inspire other schools to pursue similar strategies and if they make it to 100 percent renewable as well, I would be happy to see more schools on this list,” Cocke said. “And if our ranking actually ends up falling because of that, but we’re leading the way, I’m happy to have that.”

UNT President Neal Smatresk stated in an email he was proud of the programs UNT has implemented.

“UNT was going green and reducing our carbon footprint long before it was the trendy thing to do,” Smatresk said. “UNT will continue leading the way in green initiatives and do all we can to ensure a better tomorrow for our environment and our communities.”

According to the EPA, UNT’s green power use is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 10,000 average American homes annually. The university also ranks No. 72 on the agency’s National Top 100 list of green power users.

While Cocke acknowledged being near the top of the list is great, there is still room to grow, with the next step being efficiency.

“There are two sides to the coin when it comes to renewable energy,” Cocke said. “We want it to be renewable, but we want it to be as efficient as we can get. So we can start looking at things like smart lighting [which shuts off automatically when you leave the room]. Maybe working on the outside lighting.”

Psychology freshman Baylee Knodel is glad to call such an environmentally conscious school her home.

“Attending UNT gives me peace of mind that we’re doing our part to help the planet,” Knodel said. “I’m proud to attend a university that’s so environmentally friendly.”

To find out more information about UNT’s Green Power efforts and GreenSense, go to http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/sustainable/greensense. There you will also have access to a survey. The results will be presented to the WMGF in order to determine if GreenSense will be renewed for four more years at UNT.

Featured Image: UNT has three wind turbines outside of Victory Hall that power the university’s off site locations. Madison Gore

About Author

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel

Sean Riedel has been a staff writer for the North Texas Daily since September 2017.

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