green power

Do You Know…About Green Power?

By Mollie Lemon

You probably know that carbon pollution is the biggest driver of climate change. But, did you know that one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from power plants? Power plants generate electricity for our homes, businesses, and workplaces. Did you know that green power, sourced from renewable resources including the sun and wind, produces electricity with little or no fossil-fuel based greenhouse gas emissions? And, did you know that green power is available to every single business, institution, and residential electricity consumer in the U.S.?

I’ve been working for EPA’s Green Power Partnership program since 2011, and buy green power for my own electricity use at home. I have many reasons for using green power – because I’m concerned about extreme weather events that are exacerbated by climate change, because I want my young cousins to be able to play outside in the summer, and because some of my favorite places I’ve visited in my travels over the years are under serious threat from climate change. Working at the EPA has shown me that changing the source of my electricity is one of the easiest and most impactful things I can do in the face of such threats.

The more than 1,500 organizations that participate in our Green Power Partnership also know about the benefits of using green power. Today, our Green Power Partners are collectively using more than 29 billion kilowatt-hours of green power every year. That’s equal to avoiding the annual carbon pollution from the electricity use of more than three million average American homes.

I continue to be impressed by the commitment of our partners to using green power, which helps keep our air clean and healthy. We recently released the first quarterly update of our Top Partner Rankings for 2014, which highlights the annual green power use of leading partners nationwide. Close to two-thirds of these organizations are using 100 percent green power, and nearly half are small businesses. And, every single one of them is helping to grow the market for clean energy resources in the U.S. and contributing to a healthier environment for all of us – including my cousins.

Check out our partner list to see if your local government, school, or favorite retailer is a Green Power Partner. If not, let them know how to become a partner and join us in taking action on climate change.

About the author:  Mollie Lemon joined EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in Washington, DC in 2009, and is the communications director for the Green Power Partnership. She enjoys hiking, especially in the cool, clean mountain air of the nearby Shenandoah range.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Black History: Craig Hooks

As an African American scientist managing the administrative arm of the agency, I am keenly aware of my unusual background, professional journey and the successes of African Americans who have contributed to environmental protection and energy efficiencies and EPA’s progress in sustainability. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Florida and a Masters degree in Oceanography from the Texas A&M University. I worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a physical scientist prior to joining EPA in the mid 1980s.

At EPA, I worked in a variety of organizations including the enforcement and the water offices. In 2009, then-Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asked me to serve as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management. I was honored and excited about this opportunity. OARM provides national leadership, policy, and management of many essential support functions for the agency, including human resources management, acquisition activities, grants management, and management and protection of EPA’s facilities and other critical assets nationwide. I also serve as the agency’s Senior Sustainability Officer, providing leadership in implementing Executive Order 13514 which is aimed at improving Federal environmental, energy and economic performance.

It is EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive. African Americans with noteworthy accomplishments in environmental protection helped pave the way for EPA’s progress. For example, George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet camera/spectrograph in 1969. It was plated in gold and carried aboard the Apollo 16 mission, where it was placed on the moon’s surface. The camera used ultraviolet light, invisible to the naked eye, to capture high-quality images of Earth. Carruthers’ invention helped scientists see how air pollution forms, allowing them to develop new ways to control air pollution. Clarence L. Elder, head of his own research and development firm in Baltimore, was awarded a patent in 1976 for a monitoring and control energy conservation system. His “Occustat” is designed to reduce energy waste in temporarily vacant homes and other buildings, and especially useful for hotels and school rooms.

I am especially proud to share the many successes EPA has achieved in the sustainability area. EPA scored green in every category for the 2011 and 2012 OMB Sustainability/Energy scorecards, demonstrating the success of the agency’s long-term, comprehensive approach to sustainability. EPA is a leading agency in sustainability in the federal government and only one of two (GSA being the other) agency to achieve green in all categories for two years in a row. Additionally, EPA is again leading the government by being green in 2013.

Through increased video conferencing, EPA was able to reduce green house gas emissions associated with air travel by 46 percent in FY 2012 compared to FY 2008. And employees increased their average telework hours per pay period by 35.3 percent compared to the previous year and by 136.4 percent compared to FY 2009. Due to several major energy projects and mechanical system upgrades, EPA reduced its FY 2012 energy intensity by 23.7 percent compared to its FY 2003 baseline. In FY 2012, EPA achieved a non-hazardous solid waste diversion rate of 63 percent, far exceeding the EO 13514 target of a 50 percent diversion rate by FY 2015.

And EPA continues lead federal agencies by purchasing green power and renewable energy certificates equal to 100 percent of its annual electricity use.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Winning the College and University Green Power Challenge

About the Author: Dan Garofalo is the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator and a Senior Facilities Planner at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a founding member of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and has served as the Chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors since 2008.The University of Pennsylvania led the Ivy League’s victory in this year’s Green Power Partnership College and University Green Power Challenge.

The University of Pennsylvania finds itself in an interesting position when it comes to energy consumption and management. Since Penn is currently unable to produce its own electricity, like the many colleges and universities that own steam and co-generation plants, purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) is one way for Penn to directly contribute to the development of clean energy sources while reducing its own carbon footprint.

Penn’s commitment to purchasing wind power RECs represents an investment in the future of renewable energy in America. More specifically, Penn’s initial commitment to purchase ten years of 40,000 megawatt hours of wind RECs from the Bear Creek Wind Farm near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, allowed the renewable energy developer, Community Energy (community Energy has since been purchased by Iberdrola), to finance the entire wind farm operation and expansion. We’re proud to be recognized by EPA’s Green Power Partnership as a role model in alternative energy consumption and hope other institutions will follow our lead.

Earlier last year, I had a chance to visit a nearby wind farm, and I was able to examine first hand the type of operation that Penn was helping to fund. Staring up at the graceful swinging blades above me, it was immediately apparent that the money invested by the University was going towards an important component of our country’s renewable energy strategy. Clean power is a very real and pressing need in our environment.
The University is currently focused on connecting its external sustainability efforts, such as support of wind power, to the implementation of several campus-wide conservation and education initiatives. Penn’s Green Campus Partnership serves as the umbrella organization for Penn’s environmental efforts and includes the University’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee , which will produce Penn’s Climate Action Plan in September 2009.

The Climate Action Plan will include many recommendations from student, staff, and faculty committees on sustainable academics, energy, recycling, waste reduction, and our campus buildings and landscape. As these recommendations are implemented over the next several years, Penn will be making a bigger and better impact on our environment, and on our future. Check out our website (www.upenn.edu/sustainability) for more information about Penn’s current sustainability initiatives, and stay tuned for the release of our Climate Action Plan in September!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: Why are you or aren’t you buying green power?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Do you, your community, or your business purchase “green power“? If so, are you doing so voluntarily and how did you choose your electricity or gas provider? Are you happy with the results and the price you pay? Good return on investment? If you’re not, why not? Too much trouble? Not enough info available?

Why are you or aren’t you buying green power?

En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

¿Acaso usted, su comunidad o su negocio compra “energía verde”? De ser así, ¿lo hace de manera voluntaria y cómo escogió su proveedor de servicio eléctrico/gas? ¿Está contento con los resultados del precio que usted paga? ¿Buenos réditos por la inversión? Si no está contento, ¿por qué no? ¿Es demasiado oneroso? ¿No hay demasiada información disponible?

¿Por qué está o no está comprando energía verde?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.