Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.64
Liaison Beth Klein
Submission Date April 23, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

State University of New York at Cortland
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Matt Brubaker
Energy Manager
Facilites Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
100% Renewable Energy Credit purchased to offset electricity used from NON-renewable sources

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

In the Fall of 2013, SUNY Cortland became the first institution in the 64-campus SUNY system to operate all of its facilities - classrooms, residence halls, dining areas, sports facilities … everything - using 100 percent renewable electrical energy.

“As one of the original signers of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, SUNY Cortland’s goal has been to create one of the greenest campuses in the nation,” College President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “By taking this step, we’re showing that we’re willing to do more than just talk about energy sustainability.”

It’s part of a broader effort by SUNY to use the resources of its campus network to encourage clean energy innovation and cost-effective and sustainable energy use. SUNY Cortland’s commitment to energy sustainability is a demonstration of how SUNY is helping to foster a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future for New York state," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "Congratulations to President Bitterbaum and the faculty, staff and students at SUNY Cortland who have made this outstanding achievement possible. This is a terrific example of SUNY meeting its strategic planning goal of contributing to an energy-smart New York."

“If we say that we believe global warming is a real concern, and the technology is available today to help prevent it, then even if you have to spend a little more, you do what needs to be done,” said Timothy Slack, SUNY Cortland’s physical plant director (retired). “You have to walk the talk.”

Currently, about a third of the electricity provided by National Grid to the campus comes from renewable sources, Slack said. Since the initial costs for establishing alternative power sources like windmills or hydroelectric plants are high compared with existing fossil-fuel sources, a system of credits has been developed to allow power customers to pay more to encourage the establishment and use of renewable energy.

Although electricity from all sources is combined on the power grid, the program diverts the premium paid for renewable energy credits to help sustainable energy producers. Eventually, as technology improves and renewable energy becomes more common, the cost is expected to come down.

The cost of buying an estimated 16 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity every year will be offset largely by the new energy generated by the solar installations on campus and ongoing energy efficiency efforts, Slack said. Both initiatives are part of SUNY Cortland’s long-term commitment to sustainability.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently approved the ambitious, $3 million solar energy project for SUNY Cortland as part of a unique initiative designed to increase the number of solar installations throughout New York. The College is one of 79 project sites that will benefit from the latest round of awards by NY-Sun, a solar energy program run by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

Campus has reduced carbon footprint on electric usage to zero, helping to promote renewable power generation with the investment through Renewable Energy Credits. A portion of the RECs are within the northeast electricity grid, providing direct investment in the sustainability of the power grid for the northeast, and New York State specifically.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum ---
Research ---
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy Yes
Grounds ---
Purchasing Yes
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water ---
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment Yes

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
Promote inter agency coorporation, coordination and the creation of policies and procedures for the State of New York so that other campuses within SUNY can purchase RECs.

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

SUNY Cortland received an EPA Green Power Partnership award for 2013-2014 College & University Green Power Challenge, recognizing the largest green power user in the State University of New York Athletic Conference.

SUNY Cortland received an EPA Green Power Partnership award for 2013-2014 College & University Green Power Challenge, recognizing the largest green power user in the State University of New York Athletic Conference.

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