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Assessing the Higher Education Sector’s Use of Renewable Energy

University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute and Edison Energy logos

This article explores the extent to which U.S.-based institutions of higher education have engaged in voluntary purchases and production of renewable energy. Understanding these efforts is important in order to understand the progress made by the higher education sector toward the lofty goals it has set forth for renewable energy use. This study utilized self-reported, publicly available data for a 10-year period from the nearly 500 colleges and universities participating in different national programs that collect information about campus energy use from participants. The authors found that the higher education sector vastly increased its voluntary use of green power, with unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs) historically being the most common way for campuses to source renewables. The results of this study are useful to renewable energy advocates, particularly those working to further understand and scale up campus-based renewable energy use.

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