Colleges & Universities Urged to Shift to Generating 100 Percent of Their Energy From Renewable Sources

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Campaigns Underway at More than 65 Campuses

Thursday, February 8, 2018

BOSTON, MA -- Today, Environment America and the Student PIRGs released a letter urging the higher education community to lead America’s transition to using clean, renewable energy sources. Thousands of students from across the country have also voiced their support for their campus to make a commitment to a clean energy transition. Environment America and the Student PIRGs are working with students on more than 65 campuses in 19 states, from coast to coast, to show broad support for 100 percent clean, renewable energy generation. More than 800 students have already participated in the campaign this semester.

Students are movement makers. From fighting for civil rights to fighting against climate change, students have organized and mobilized for decades to create the world we want to live in,” said Bronte Payne, 100 Percent Renewable Campuses Campaign Director with Environment America. “By shifting to 100 percent renewable energy, colleges and universities can play a leadership role by speeding up the clean energy transition that all Americans want and need - and the cleaner, healthier future that it will bring.”

The 100 Percent Renewable Campuses campaign has been building momentum over the past year. Last spring, Cornell University announced plans to go 100 percent renewable. And, in December, Boston University, which has the largest student body of any university in Massachusetts, announced it will buy all of its electricity from renewable sources in the near future. The overwhelming support from the Board of Trustees echoed the broad-based support from the campus community at Boston University. DivestBU, with the help of Environment America, organized faculty to voice their support to President Robert A. Brown while student groups voiced their support to the Board of Trustees.

"The climate science is clear: we need to get to 100 percent renewable energy and this can be achieved in a just way for all of our communities,” said Lydia Avila, Executive Director of The Power Shift Network. “Campuses are poised to lead this transition given that their communities are filled with young leaders with a stake in changing the future."

In response to the enthusiasm and commitment from campus communities, Environment America and the Student PIRGs have launched a new website designed to engage and mobilize students across the country by providing the resources to run campaigns for 100 percent renewable energy on campus.

“As sources of employment, scientific research and intellectual development, universities tend to have a significant positive impact on surrounding communities,” said Tyler Stotland, student campaign coordinator at Tufts University. “If these influential institutions step up and commit to 100 percent renewable energy, the concern for sustainability will likely reverberate far beyond campus bounds. Essentially, future-thinking universities can inspire nearby towns and cities to commit to 100 percent”

More and more communities, business and institutions are making commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. In addition to Cornell and Boston University, Colorado State University, the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and Hampshire College have made commitments to using 100 percent renewable sources.

“Now more than ever, it is clear that we need to make progress anywhere and everywhere we can, said Samantha Gibb, Organizing Director with the Student PIRGs. “Since they use so much energy, colleges and universities can eliminate a lot of pollution by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy generation and at the same time, as influential institutions, their actions can set an example in hundreds of communities across America.”

“By joining forces with motivated and active students, we can emphasize the importance and urgency of using 100 percent renewable energy,” said Payne. “Once we get college administrations on board, we can repower our campuses with 100 percent renewable energy, then with those shining examples, move on to communities across the country.”

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