Hollins University is joining Emory & Henry College, Lynchburg College, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College to become the first institutions of higher learning in Virginia to provide 100 percent renewable electricity to their respective campuses.
As a result, the independent colleges are offsetting between 50 and 70 percent of their total carbon footprints and establishing a new standard for sustainability at colleges and universities in the Commonwealth. The colleges estimate a combined savings of between $3.2 million and $6.4 million over the next 12 years.
The five schools have entered into agreements with Collegiate Clean Energy (CCE), which provides colleges, universities, and businesses with renewable energy products, and is an affiliate of Ingenco, Virginia’s largest landfill gas (LFG) to energy operator. Landfills account for 35 percent of all manmade methane emissions in the United States, and by capturing those emissions, LFG to energy projects preserve the environment while reducing the need for fossil fuel.
“LFG is 21 times more destructive to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,” explained Thomas Loehr, president of CCE. “By converting LFG, we all enjoy a dual benefit of reducing greenhouse gases and at the same time producing renewable energy.
“Emory & Henry, Hollins, Lynchburg, Randolph, and Sweet Briar are showing they are leaders in environmental sustainability by taking action to make a real difference.”
Electricity generated from LFG will be delivered to each college through the distribution system owned by Appalachian Power Company.
The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) coordinated the sustainability initiative. Robert Perrow, a partner with the Richmond law firm of Williams Mullen, represented CICV in negotiating and preparing the agreements.
“Virginia’s private colleges have always been interested in being at the forefront of sustainability and protection of the environment,” said CICV President Robert Lambeth. “Our members were open to investigating the opportunity to purchase 100 percent renewable energy produced in Virginia, and CICV was happy to provide the help needed to make these agreements a reality.”