University of Rochester

Wind Energy Powers Residential Buildings on River Campus

August 25, 2008

University of Rochester Announces Initiative as Part of Sustainable Practices

This fall, when University of Rochester students switch on their lights or watch TV, they will contribute to a cleaner environment because 100 percent of the electricity used in residential life buildings on the River Campus is now offset with wind energy.

"Our students are environmentally conscious and we're making every effort to support and encourage their sustainable practices," said University President Joel Seligman. "Making a commitment to wind power is just one more way we can reduce our environmental footprint."

The University has purchased 11,600,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of renewable energy credits (RECs) for the next two years. New York State wind farms will supply 5 percent of the RECs while the remaining 95 percent will come from the wind energy nationwide.

Laney Widener, a senior and member of Grassroots, called the effort "a great initial step in moving toward more sustainable practices campuswide. The more green practices we adopt, the easier it will be to integrate more environmentally friendly actions into campus life," she said. Widener also works as a sustainability coordinator for the University's auxiliary operations office, promoting environmental awareness and actions.

As 1,140 freshmen move into campus residences today, they will receive free compact fluorescent light bulbs for desk lamps as reminders to conserve energy. Upperclass students will follow later this week and get the same incentives. This fall, students, faculty, and staff will gain more knowledge of wind power and its value with a tour to a wind farm south of Syracuse.

The wind power initiative is one example of the University's efforts to promote a sustainable society through academic, educational, patient care and health programs, as well as in the operation of its campuses and facilities, and in interactions with the larger community. Others include:

  • Creating a University Council on Sustainability by President Seligman in March 2008. Co-chaired by Provost Ralph Kuncl and Senior Vice President Ronald Paprocki, the council will provide an annual review of operational initiatives; describe University-wide faculty and student academic initiatives on these themes; establish a comprehensive catalogue of sustainability initiatives and communicate those; and recommend new initiatives in areas of environmental sustainability.
  • Upgrading the University's central utility plant in 2006 to allow for "cogeneration": simultaneously producing the electricity and steam used to heat and cool buildings on the River Campus and the University of Rochester Medical Center. Cogeneration uses no more fuel than it takes to produce steam only.
  • Opening Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics in 2007 as the first campus building that adheres to many of the standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Stepping forward as the first university in New York State to join the Pride of New York program in 2007 to promote locally produced foods. Campus Dining Services buys and serves items from area farms, bakeries, and other producers.
  • Offering access to Zipcars, the national car sharing and car club provider, with four vehicles available on the River Campus and one coming to the Eastman School of Music this fall.

For more information about the University's sustainability efforts, visit