St. Thomas ranked No. 19 in EPA’s top 30 college and university list

Infographic by designer Kelly Olson
Infographic by designer Kelly Olson

St. Thomas was ranked No. 19 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnerships top 30 list among colleges and universities nationwide, released Jan. 26.

The list is based on the total amount of energy used each year from sustainable sources. St. Thomas currently uses 34,134,560 kilowatts per hour, while the No. 1-ranked University of Pennsylvania uses 200,183,000 kilowatts per hour.

Bob Douglas, coordinator of Recycling and Central Receiving, said he believes the school sets an example for other colleges and universities.

“I’m happy that (St. Thomas) is getting recognized nationally for its commitment to reduce the use of carbon-based energy,” Douglas said. “Our position in the EPA Green Power listings shows that we are leading the way among state colleges and universities in our use of alternative energy.”

Douglas also said the ranking will give the university more recognition as a whole and increase students’ awareness of St. Thomas’ environmental priorities.

The decision to use Xcel Windsource energy on campus plays a bigger role in the St. Thomas community than most students and faculty are aware of, according to Douglas.

“We know that the continued dependence on carbon-based fuel not only heats up the environment, but the resulting warming cascades into an increase of disease, invasive species, catastrophic weather episodes … while reducing the clean air necessary to enjoy a healthy and vital lifestyle,” Douglas said. “Our present energy choices help determine the kind of future students of St. Thomas will live in.”

According to EcoWatch.com, Minnesota is one most environmentally friendly states in the country, with both Minneapolis and St. Paul earning a top 10 spot in the nation’s greenest cities. St. Paul is ranked eighth, and Minneapolis is ranked 10th.

Sophomore Melanie Bussan said she is proud of the contributions St. Thomas has made.

“I think it says a lot about us as a community that we really strive to lessen the impact that we have on the environment and to be more conscious of the world around us,” Bussan said.

St. Thomas recently added new solar energy panels to the Anderson Student Center that could eventually boost its overall ranking. The panels went online one month ago, and their contribution will be seen on the EPA colleges and universities list in January of 2016.

“The decision to invest in alternative fuels illustrates our desire to make the future environment a better place for all of our students and communities,” Douglas said. “Our environment is the platform on which the future will rest.”

Travis Swan can be reached at swan9954@stthomas.edu.

EPA grants Green Power award to St. Thomas

The Environmental Protection Agency presented St. Thomas last week with its third consecutive annual award for using the most green power of any college or university in the MIAC.

The Green Power Award not only recognizes St. Thomas as the MIAC’s largest green power user, but the EPA provides incentives to help the university continue toward energy efficiency.

“It’s part of an EPA challenge called the EPA Partnership,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Jim Brummer said. “We submit energy usage that we use through Xcel’s Windsource program.”

The physical plant, which is in charge of electrical work for St. Thomas as well as other services vital to the maintenance of the university, gets 82 percent of St. Thomas' electricity from wind. (Grace Pastoor/TommieMedia)
The physical plant, which is in charge of electrical work for St. Thomas as well as other services vital to the maintenance of the university, gets 82 percent of St. Thomas’ electricity from wind. (Grace Pastoor/TommieMedia)
St. Thomas was presented with the 2012-2013 Green Power award last April. This is the third consecutive year St. Thomas has received the award. (Whitney Abrahamson/TommieMedia)
St. Thomas was presented with the 2012-2013 Green Power award last April. This is the third consecutive year St. Thomas has received the award. (Whitney Abrahamson/TommieMedia)

Brummer said the university purchases 82 percent of its total electrical consumption through the Xcel Windsource program.

The 2013-14 challenge involved 33 collegiate conferences and 79 schools. According to the EPA, St. Thomas uses nearly 33 million kilowatt hours of wind-generated power which can be compared to taking more than 5,000 cars off the road.

“When it comes to sustainability, we’re assisting making things happen by volunteering in the Windsource program,” Brummer said.

Junior Kelly Geraghty said she is excited about the award.

“I think it’s great that we’re being recognized for such an impactful award,” Geraghty said. “It’s not something that people often about when they think of St. Thomas.”

Junior Riley Reinhart said St. Thomas’ updated campus is a step forward in sustainability.

“It’s nice that the new buildings are contributing to energy efficiency,” Reinhart said.

While it is not possible to determine which buildings consume the most energy, Brummer said the buildings with the most activity are top candidates.

“When you think about energy consumption, you have to think about the buildings with the most activity, resources and occupants,” Brummer said. “Those are the ones that probably use the most energy.”

Sophomore Emily Peters is also enthusiastic about the award.

“The fact that we’re saving enough energy equivalent to taking over 5,000 cars off the road is awesome,” Peters said.

Michelle Doeden can be reached at doed1842@stthomas.edu.