The University of Rochester is strengthening its commitment to sustainability by extending its purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs), using wind energy to power 100 percent of the electricity used in residential life buildings on the River Campus. The University purchased 10,000,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of RECs for the next two years.
First announced in 2008, the University's decision to purchase wind energy is part of a larger effort to support sustainable practices.
"The issue of sustainability is becoming more and more important to students and parents," said Laurel Contomanolis, director of residential life for the College. "Residential Life is pleased to be a part of the University's commitment to green practices because we believe it's the right thing to do."
The wind power initiative is one example of the University's efforts to promote a sustainable society through academic and educational programs, as well as in the operation of its campuses and facilities.
One program also organized through residential life, EcoReps, has just completed its inaugural year. EcoReps are freshmen who work to educate students in their halls about environmental issues. EcoReps go through training sessions, then take the knowledge they've learned to create programs, plan events, and work day-to-day to raise awareness on how students can reduce their carbon footprint.
This April, the University was given an Environmental Leadership Award by the Rochester Business Journal for its recycling programs. Amy Kadrie, the University's recycling coordinator, has led several initiatives on campus, including Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. As a result of the University's efforts, recycling on campus has increased more than 15 percent from 2007 to 2009. Kadrie credits this in part to the additional recycling bins across campus as well as a better educated community.
In addition, UR Biodiesel, a project designed by Rochester undergraduates to convert excess fryer oil from dining service centers into biodiesel to fuel shuttle buses, was given the Excellence in Innovations for Sustainability Award by the Association of College Unions International (ACUI).
Since its launch in 2009, the fully functioning lab produces about 30 gallons of biodiesel each week. The biodiesel is blended with diesel, at a ration of 80 percent diesel, 20 percent biodiesel. In addition to being used in the campus shuttle, two University contractors, AEY and P&J construction companies, use biodiesel in on-site equipment such as backhoes.
For more information about the University's sustainability efforts, visit www.rochester.edu/sustainability.