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New building to be completely supported by renewable energy

New building to be completely supported by renewable energy

All of the new student center’s electrical energy will be 100 percent supported by renewable energy after the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate passed an allocation of student segregated fees at their meeting Monday.

The allocation of around $13,600 of student segregated fees controlled by the Student Office of Sustainability will go toward purchasing renewable energy credits from Xcel Energy.

According to the bill, Xcel Energy offers a voluntary Renewable Energy Credit purchasing program called Windsource which purchases renewable energy resources. The money goes directly to renewable energy projects within Xcel Energy’s service territory and Xcel Energy receives no profit on their Windsource Program.

Director of the Student Office of Sustainability Brittany Whited said that by purchasing the renewable energy credits, it allows the university to support renewable energy in a more feasible way.

“We can’t feasibly, right now, build a wind turbine on campus,” she said. “Right now solar panels wouldn’t work because that’s too big of a project for us to fund … In the meantime, $13,000 to fund renewable energy credits for one building is something totally feasible.”

The allocation will allow the university to further its goal toward carbon neutrality, Whited said.

Freshman Brittany Scheel said she thinks the campus should support measures like this.

“It’s a detrimental part of becoming a greener campus,” Scheel said. “Something has to happen, otherwise there’s not going to be an environment if we’re not doing something to save it.”

However, Scheel said she thinks the money would be better spent on the new Davies building being run on renewable energy rather than for purchasing credits.

“It should stay on campus,” she said. “We’re paying for it to be on our campus, not to send it elsewhere.”

Whited explained the UW System currently purchases renewable energy credits for just under 10 percent of the energy Eau Claire uses.

That number was supposed to increase to 20 percent in 2011. This is because of a Wisconsin act that required the Department of Agriculture to set goals for the use of renewable energy by the six state agencies that consume the great majority of electricity purchased by the state, the UW system included in those agencies, Whited said.

But Whited said neither the DOA nor the UW System have released reports that indicate it has happened.

Whited said the just over $13,600 allocation will cover the other 90 percent of energy to be used by the new Davies Student Center.

Whited said the Student Office of Sustainability came up with the dollar estimate by looking at the amount of kilowatt hours of energy the building will use each year.

Adjusting the price may be necessary as the real usage numbers are recorded in the new Davies Student Center, according to the bill. The program has a one year contract with Xcel Energy and will be reviewed each year by the SOS and Student Senate.

*UPDATE (May 13, 2012): This article originally said that all of the new building’s energy will be renewable. That was incorrect and has been changed to read that all the new building’s electrical energy will be renewable. It will still be heated using steam and cooled using chilled water.
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1 Comment

One Response to “New building to be completely supported by renewable energy”

  1. Jim Boulter on May 11th, 2012 3:55 pm

    Nice story, but needs a correction/clarification. The building’s ELECTRICAL, not TOTAL ENERGY supply will be sourced sustainably. The building is still heated by steam (made using coal, oil and natural gas) and cooled by water chilled near the library. So this is a GREAT accomplishment, and the students should be congratulated for it. And we all benefit from highlighting it. But please be aware of the limitation here: plenty (my best guess is half) of its energy remains fossil fuel-based. Only the electricity is GREEN!

    It’s a lot to ask, but maybe you could correct the online version (headline and first paragraph)? Thanks!

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