Report: Colleges and Universities, Including Rutgers, Can Lead America’s Shift to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

by Environment New Jersey | 03/08/2017

New Brunswick – America’s colleges and universities are positioned to lead the transition to 100 percent renewable energy according to a report released today by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center and NJPIRG Student Chapters. The report stresses that a complete shift to clean, renewable energy is the best way for colleges and universities to achieve their carbon reduction goals and highlights schools across the country that are taking measures to make the transition to renewable energy.

“Colleges and universities across the country are situated to lead the charge in the transition to a 100 percent clean energy future”, said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “In making a bold and necessary commitment to 100 percent renewable energy, Rutgers can continue its climate leadership here in New Jersey.”

The amount of energy we use pales in comparison to America’s renewable energy potential. According to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we could power the nation 100 times over with existing solar potential and 10 times over with available wind resources. At the same time, there is a tremendous opportunity to reduce energy consumption through energy conservation and efficiency measures.

According to the report, Renewable Energy 100: The Course to a Carbon-Free Campus, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is the best way for the hundreds of universities that have made commitments to carbon neutrality by 2050 to achieve their goals. The report cites a number of factors that make institutions of higher education well-suited to lead America’s efforts:

They are significant energy consumers, serving more than 20 million students. College and university campuses often have physical attributes that make them good locations for hosting clean energy projects. Many have space on rooftops, in parking lots, and on marginal land for hosting solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies.
They can save money and hedge against volatile fossil fuel costs by investing in clean energy. They are leaders of innovation and training. Adopting clean energy appeals to prospective students and meets the desires of current students and faculty.

“Rutgers—New Brunswick has made an impressive first step with their 32-acre, 8 megawatt solar canopy on the Livingston campus. Students have been calling for the bold next step—a commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2050,” said Amy Wang, freshman intern with NJPIRG Student Chapters.

By setting ambitious clean energy goals, colleges and universities can bolster learning and research, drive innovation, attract new students, and save money – all while setting an example for the nation and reducing their own environmental impact.

“A shift to 100 percent renewable energy is completely necessary,” said Lucas Gutterman, campus organizer with NJPIRG Student Chapters. “Working with Rutgers to achieve 100 percent renewable energy allows us to train young activists as well as future leaders and researchers to continue advocacy of clean energy off-campus and in their communities.”

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