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!