BOSTON — The Student PIRGs and Environment America, along with students across the country, will launch 50 campaigns in 15 states this year, imploring colleges and universities to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources.
The nationwide initiative will include educational forums, petition drives and direct engagement with administration officials to press for 100 percent renewable energy on campuses. In support of these efforts, more than 950 faculty and campus leaders have signed a statement calling for higher education administrators to make a clear commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for all operations.
“Students are movement makers. From fighting for civil rights to fighting against climate change, students have organized and mobilized for decades to create the world we want to live in,” said Bronte Payne, Environment America’s 100 Percent Renewable Campuses Campaign Director with Environment America. “By shifting to 100 percent renewable energy, colleges and universities can play a leadership role by speeding up the clean energy transition that all Americans want and need – and the cleaner, healthier future that it will bring.”
This nationwide initiative comes on the heels of significant momentum for the 100 Percent Renewable Campuses campaign during the past year. This fall, the University of California system announced a shift to using only renewable sources for its electricity by 2025. Starting in June, its 10 campuses will also require all new buildings to run on non-fossil fuel power.
Elsewhere, Boston University, which has the largest student body of any university in Massachusetts, announced plans to purchase wind energy to meet 100 percent of the campus’ electricity consumption. Earlier this month, Brown University finalized agreements to purchase enough solar and wind energy to meet all of its electricity needs. In addition, Middlebury College, the University of Richmond, Cornell University and Colorado State University have all made commitments to using 100 percent renewable sources.
Numerous student leaders on campuses across the country are voicing support for this initiative.
“The Vanderbilt Student Body is composed of passionate individuals who have the capacity to harness their energy and make a real change in this community,” said Keegan Campanelli, a junior at Vanderbilt University and President of Student Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR). “We believe that educating them on the perils of climate change, presenting available corrective measures, and calling for action will result in a real, meaningful change on this campus. This is a special opportunity for all of us to come together to become a university that values sustainability.”
“Scientific reports have undoubtedly revealed the need for climate action at all levels of society, including from private institutions like Barnard College, which can certainly model sustainability,” said Naomi Zimmermann, a freshman at Barnard College and a member of Barnard for 100% Renewable Energy. “As an institution focused on empowering women, Barnard is particularly vested in contributing to a future of reduced environmental degradation, as studies have shown women to be disproportionately affected by the repercussions of climate change.”
“University of Wisconsin-Madison has been a leader in conservation for decades by embracing innovative solutions that address the most pressing environmental issues,” said Marina Minic, a sophomore at UW-Madison a member of the CLEAN Student Coalition for 100% Renewable Energy. “With climate change as the most serious environmental threat of our generation, UW-Madison can lead the way to a 100 percent renewable energy future for Wisconsin.”
“Student enthusiasm, coupled with faculty expertise, can be a potent force to make the case to campus decision-makers,” said Samantha Gibb, Organizing Director with the Student PIRGs. “Colleges and universities use so much energy, and, as a result, can play a pivotal role in eliminating substantial amounts of pollution by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy generation. Equally as important, these influential institutions can be leaders in this important cause as their actions will set an example in hundreds of communities across America.”
The Student PIRGs are a federation of independent statewide student-directed and student-funded organizations working towards a greener, healthier, and more meaningful future.