Virginia private colleges announce sustainability initiative

| January 23, 2014

Sweet Briar College is one of five private Virginia colleges partnering with Collegiate Clean Energy to convert methane emissions from landfills into environmentally friendly energy for their institutions.

Emory & Henry College, Hollins University, Lynchburg College, Randolph College and Sweet Briar have become the first institutions of higher learning in the state 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 footprint and establishing a new standard for sustainability at colleges and universities in the commonwealth. The combined savings is estimated between $3.2 million and $6.4 million over the next 12 years.

The schools have entered into agreements with Collegiate Clean Energy, which provides colleges, universities and businesses with renewable energy products, and is an affiliate of Ingenco, Virginia’s largest landfill-gas-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 twenty-one times more destructive to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,” Thomas Loehr, president of CCE, said. “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.

The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia coordinated the sustainability initiative. Robert Perrow, a partner with the Richmond law firm 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,” CICV president Robert Lambeth said. “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.”

For additional information, contact Sweet Briar media, marketing and communications director Christy Jackson at (434) 381-6326 or cjackson@sbc.edu.  

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