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Duquesne University ranks 30th on green power user list

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By Megan Harris
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 8:53 p.m.

Duquesne University joined the Environmental Protection Agency's list of the largest alternative-energy users in its update to the 2013 Green Power Challenge.

Ranked at No. 30 in the nation, the school uses more than 18 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually — enough to meet 49 percent of the university's electricity use and avoid carbon dioxide emissions comparable to nearly 3,000 passenger vehicles per year.

Four Western Pennsylvania colleges and universities — Allegheny College, Carnegie Mellon, Mercyhurst and Chatham —‑ use green energy to support 100 percent of their campus needs, according to the EPA report.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass and low-impact hydro.

The EPA's challenge encourages colleges and universities to adopt environmentally sustainable programs by providing publicity and federal recognition.

“The university is proud to be recognized by the (EPA) for purchase of green power,” said Rod Dobish, executive director of facilities management. “We continue to be committed to reducing our carbon footprint, and the purchase of green power is one of our strategies to assist with protecting the environment.”

CMU was the first school to sign long-term energy contracts with Community Energy Inc. of Radnor more than a decade ago. Those contributions allowed Community Energy to build the Somerset Wind Farm and later the Bear Creek Wind Farm in central Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, where only 4 percent of the power that electric companies sell comes from renewable energy sources, participation in an EPA challenge requires colleges to purchase renewable energy credits to offset their consumption of more typical sources like coal, gas and nuclear energy.

Rod Dobish, executive director of facilities management at Duquesne, said purchasing the credits is a matter of doing “the environmentally responsible thing for the next generation.”

Chatham produces a portion of its energy through rooftop thermal panels to heat water at its Shadyside campus and plans to use geothermal wells at its new Eden Hall Campus. University sustainability coordinator Mary Whitney estimated it costs the school about $2,000 to maintain those features.

EPA's Green Power Partnership will track the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest overall green power usage through the spring of 2014.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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