Universities and colleges can play a crucial role in the transition to power the U.S. with 100% renewable energy, according to a report published by the Environment America Research & Policy Center.
Hundreds of schools nationwide have adopted campus sustainability plans with carbon neutrality targets. The best way to enact those plans is by setting renewable energy goals, according to the report Renewable Energy 100: The Course to a Carbon-Free Campus.
From the report:
Colleges and universities have long played a leading role in bringing technological changes to society. Colleges and universities across the country should commit to getting 100 percent of their energy – including for transportation and heating – from clean, renewable sources.
The report cites several reasons institutions of higher learning can move to the head of the class when it comes to the potential of their clean energy investments. Universities are significant energy consumers, serving more than 20 million students, or 6% of the U.S. population. These institutions spend more than $14 billion per year on energy, making them good candidates to save money with renewable energy. And their campuses often have buildings and land that make good locations for hosting clean energy projects.
The report also highlights several campuses that have already taken steps toward carbon neutrality with renewable and clean energy investments, including Cornell University, Indiana’s Ball State University and California’s Butte College, which became the first campus to be grid-positive in 2011.
America could generate all of its energy from renewable sources, according to the report:
Studies conducted by multiple academic and governmental institutions have determined America can use clean energy to affordably and reliably provide all of the nation’s energy needs, largely using technologies that already exist including wind power, solar power, energy efficiency and energy storage.