Starting in October, Stevens Institute of Technology will source 100 percent of its electricity from a local renewable energy source formalizing a three-year agreement with ENGIE North America, facilitated by energy consultant Gotham 360.
“The fact that it’s physical power, local to our grid, and 100 percent renewable energy – that’s pretty unusual for a university,” said Robert Maffia, vice president for facilities and campus operations at Stevens.
Many universities burn fossil fuels to power their campuses and offset that consumption by buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) to help support efforts to generate more clean energy.
For years, Stevens did the same. However, RECs do not remove greenhouse gases from the environment and instead represent a commitment to adopt clean energy in the future.
“By sourcing 100 percent of our electricity from wind, hydropower, or solar energy sources in our region, we will not be relying on fossil fuels to power our campus,” said Maffia. “This is significant because we are not adding carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to our atmosphere. This is a huge step forward in not only reducing our carbon footprint and creating a greener, healthier campus, but also supporting renewable energy facilities in our region.”
Stevens’s annual electricity consumption is equivalent to that of approximately 6,984 homes over three years, according to the university.
Let there be light
In recent years the university has taken steps to reduce its environmental impact, including by installing solar panels wherever possible across the campus.
But the energy produced from those panels amounts to only a fraction of what is needed to power campus operations given its size.
“This investment will allow us to make an impact far greater than limiting our renewable energy to the constraints of what we could produce on campus,” said Maffia.
Stevens has launched other initiatives to improve the campus’s sustainability including the installation of all LED lighting at nine academic buildings; committing to LEED Silver or higher standards for all new construction, and installing eight electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that provide free charging to faculty, staff, and students.
Stevens has a campus recycling program, bioswale, bioretention planters, and several rain gardens to collect stormwater runoff and prevent flooding.
Stevens’s commitment to sustainability has recently garnered other national recognition, including being featured in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and on The Sierra Club’s Cool Schools ranking.
The university offers a master’s program in sustainability management, a graduate certificate in sustainable energy systems, and has integrated sustainability throughout the curriculum for many other graduate and undergraduate programs.
“Our commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with our commitment to students and the campus community,” said Maffia. “A greener campus isn’t just better for the environment—it is healthier, more productive and more enjoyable for those who live, study and work here.”