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WKU among 6 schools selected for Green Campus Network program

WKU is one of six college and university campuses in four states that can expect dropping energy bills and increased energy-efficiency education, thanks to a pilot program by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Alliance to Save Energy.

The Green Campus Network (GCN) is a classroom-to-workplace program that involves students, faculty, administrators and campus support staff in cutting energy use on college campuses, incorporating energy efficiency into curricula, encouraging students to pursue careers in sustainability after graduation and generally increasing awareness of energy efficiency.

“We are very pleased to have been selected to serve in the pilot program for the TVA/Alliance to Save Energy Green Campus Network, and feel that our selection was due to our demonstrated commitment and successes in energy conservation,” said Christian Ryan-Downing, WKU’s Sustainability coordinator.

A competition in the TVA service area resulted in selection of five universities and one community college for the pilot program during the 2011-12 academic year. In addition to WKU, campuses chosen are Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Ala.; University of Alabama in Huntsville; University of Memphis; University of Mississippi; and University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

“The program allows us to engage students in implementation of several exciting projects,” Ryan-Downing said.

The two proposed in WKU’s application were: education and awareness programming for energy and water conservation (much of which will focus on the annual residence hall “Reduce Your Use!” competition conducted each October), and the expansion of rainwater collection systems for campus garden irrigation.

“Certainly the program will result in increased sustainability for WKU but also it allows the Green Campus Interns the opportunity to gain experience in initiatives that will prepare them for careers in sustainability fields. The interns must demonstrate quantifiable results of their projects, but there will also be qualitative benefits not so easily measured,” Ryan-Downing said. (Additional information about the program and student opportunities will be available on the WKU Sustainability website.)

Bob Balzar, TVA vice president, Energy Efficiency and Demand Response, said that TVA chose the Alliance to Save Energy for this partnership after looking for a program that had a track record of success.

“This partnership among the schools, the Alliance, TVA and distributors of TVA power will provide benefits – economic, educational and environmental – to the region for years to come,” Balzar said. “Energy efficiency is part of TVA’s vision for clean, low-cost power for the future. The Green Campus initiative will help TVA make that vision a reality.”

Alliance President Kateri Callahan hailed TVA’s long association with the Alliance and its significant and growing portfolio of energy-efficiency programs, saying, “TVA is a major force in driving energy efficiency as a means of saving its customers money while also ensuring reliable service and reducing its environmental impact in the region.”

“We are confident that the new GCN program in the Tennessee Valley will be successful at saving energy, training new sustainability leaders and raising the profile of energy efficiency and its many benefits,” said Alliance Vice President for Education Merrilee Harrigan.

TVA funding will cover program implementation and wages for paid student interns, who will develop and execute on-campus energy efficiency projects and campaigns, with support and guidance from the Alliance.

Each campus team of four interns will work closely with a “lead stakeholder” – a member of the college staff or faculty – and with a “stakeholder committee” comprised of individuals such as campus energy managers, members of campus sustainability committees and housing, facilities and dining operations staff, as well as with students, professors and other academic officials. They will all work together to help identify projects and areas where energy-efficiency education can be incorporated into college curricula across different subject areas and majors.

GCN builds upon the seven-year success of the Alliance’s Green Campus Program in California, which involves 16 universities and colleges and employs more than 75 interns each academic year. They spearhead campuswide educational campaigns and engage faculty, staff, administrators and fellow students in energy-efficiency projects.

“We are excited about expanding our Green Campus program beyond California, thanks to TVA’s generous support,” said Harrigan. “Green Campus has been successful at achieving immediate savings of energy and money on campuses while inspiring many of our program interns to pursue ‘green’ careers after graduation.”

Green Campus projects have ranged from energy audits and assessments, energy competitions in residence halls and laboratories and intern-led, faculty-sponsored academic courses to green career fairs and energy efficiency retrofits in campus buildings. The TVA-supported GCN will use similar initiatives to empower and encourage college students to become tomorrow’s energy efficiency leaders.

About ASE and TVA: The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.

Contact: Christian Ryan-Downing, (270) 745-2508.

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