SIUE ranks No. 1 in Illinois and No. 22 nationally among colleges and universities within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. By using one hundred percent renewable electricity, SIUE secured these high rankings.
According to Edward Matecki, Assistant Director for Utilities in Facilities Management, the EPA started the Green Power Partnership in 2001. SIUE voluntarily joined the partnership under the previous director of Facilities Management.
“[The Green Power Partnership] is an agreement that all or partial of our power sources will be of green power,” Matecki said.
Data from 2017 secured SIUE’s high marks, as this was the first year that SIUE sourced 100 percent of its electricity from green power sources. SIUE surpassed many larger schools, including the University of Minnesota and the University of Vermont.
“[A lot of schools on the list] are big campuses and here we are with a little campus,” Director of Facilities Management Craig Holan said. “So, we are pretty proud that we can be a leader and support green energy.”
The university first started buying renewable energy credits through MidAmerican Energy in 2014, the majority being wind power.
“We knew that SIUE has always wanted to be a sustainable university and we [found that] it was a minimal price to pay for the [renewable energy] credits,” Matecki said.
Over the past couple of years, Facilities Management has seen the economic benefits of using green power and expects to see many more.
“By supporting it now, as the industry is just now gaining a foothold and increasing its market share … Future renewables should be even less expensive,” Holan said. “Solar and wind continue to become even more economical.”
In addition to purchasing energy from green sources, SIUE produces solar energy by using panels on the Science West Building and the Environmental Resources Training Center. SIUE also has a windmill, although it is currently not in operation.
“In the short run, we will continue to do [solar] projects the size of the Science [West] Building, which will incrementally build our own production capacity,” Holan said.
Through the 21st Century Building Plan, which encompasses the rehabilitation of all of campus core buildings, Facilities Management has been looking for ways to incorporate green design. For now, Facilities Management is looking for ways to help the environment by conserving energy.
“In addition to the energy that we use and buying green, we also have been working pretty hard on reducing the amount of energy because if you don’t use it in the first place, that’s the greatest of all,” Holan said.
Such initiatives include the campus-wide conversion to LED lights, which use less energy and last longer than other light sources, and searching for ways to make the heat, ventilation and air conditioning systems more efficient.
“We’ve studied all of these buildings and how we use energy,” Matecki said. “We schedule [energy use] around when the students are here and we try to make everything as efficient as we can.”
The EPA launched the College and University Green Power Challenge, which will determine the nation’s collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power usage throughout this academic year.
Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker sees this as an opportunity for SIUE to positively influence other schools.
“The Environmental Protection Agency is pretty good about getting the word out about this [competition] and it goes out to all schools, even those that didn’t make the list,” Walker said. “I’m hoping that by seeing SIUE can do it, that it would encourage others to do the same.”