Ramping Up Renewables: 3 Reasons to Make the Switch

by Chris O’Brien, Director of Higher Education Programs, Altenex
Altenex is a corporate partner of Second Nature

The time has never been better for colleges and universities to make the switch to renewable energy, for three reasons:


First, the costs of renewable energy have plummeted, making them financially attractive on a wide-scale for the first time ever. For example, between 1977 and 2014, the price per watt of silicon photovoltaic cells has dropped from $76.67 to a mere thirty-six cents. Meanwhile, the cost of wind energy in the U.S. has dropped, on average, from 55 cents per kWh in 1980 to five cents per kWh at the end of 2012, resulting in unprecedented growth in both industries.


Climate Goals

Second, as so many campuses work to achieve the goals in their climate plans, many are eager to find solutions for mitigating the emissions from their purchased electricity, often the largest single source of emissions in their greenhouse gas inventories. A small but growing number of colleges and universities have discovered that, in part because of the falling costs, replacing polluting power with clean, renewable energy is now possible on a large-scale through power purchase agreements.

Education & Leadership

Third, and perhaps most importantly, higher education has the unique responsibility of educating students and communities about climate change and sustainability. What better way to educate and demonstrate leadership than by setting an example?

Chris O’Brien is the Director of Higher Education Programs at Altenex. Previously, he was Director of Sustainability from 2009 to 2015 at American University where he was responsible for all sustainability functions, including the university’s commitment to achieving climate-neutrality by the year 2020. Chris continues to teach about energy, climate, carbon markets and sustainable purchasing in the Sustainability Management program at AU’s Kogod School of Business.

Altenex helps universities, companies and localities identify, analyze and execute economically- and environmentally-valuable renewable energy supply. Second Nature and Altenex are partnering to bring exclusive pilot opportunities to signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), including upcoming events for institutions in New England and New York, taking place on July 7 in Ithaca, NY and July 9 in Boston, MA. For more information on these events, or to participate, please contact Janna Cohen-Rosenthal, Director of Membership Programs.