WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked Oregon State University the fourth-largest college or university purchaser of renewable energy or "green power" through the agency's "Green Power Challenge," which concludes today. The competition included 40 schools and 18 conferences nationwide.

EPA also recognized OSU as the PAC-10 Conference Champion, purchasing more renewable energy than any other school in the Conference.

"By switching to green power resources, Oregon State is proving that doing what's good for the environment is also good for education," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

EPA estimates OSU's purchase of nearly 67 million kilowatt-hours of green power is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power more than 7,000 average U.S. homes each year. This purchase will have the impact of reducing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 7,000 passenger cars annually.

"This is a well-deserved honor for OSU, and the majority of credit goes to students," said Brandon Trelstad, OSU Sustainability Coordinator. In spring 2007, OSU students voted to approve an $8.50 per student, per term green energy fee following an Associated Students of OSU campaign. Funds raised by the fee purchase renewable energy -- primarily wind, biogas and biomass. The current amount of renewable energy purchased equals about 75 percent of total campus electrical consumption.

"Students should be commended for this accomplishment and for highlighting how important it is for all people to reduce their use of fossil fuels," said Andrea Norris, an OSU student and director of the Green Energy Campaign. "We have set an example for other universities as well as the greater community."

Organizers also pointed out that the new green energy fee is part of a university increasingly known for its faculty members' climate research, as well as for its participation in the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, Trelstad added.

For the Climate Commitment, OSU is completing a greenhouse gas inventory, to be released later this spring. The Commitment also requires planning for climate neutrality and interim measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, such as transit use, green building and purchasing renewable energy.

Coupled with the renewable energy purchase, OSU has plans for onsite renewable energy production as well, both photovoltaic and solar thermal. And in addition to renewable energy, projects to improve energy efficiency - like the co-generating Energy Center - are also underway.

"In order to reach 100 percent renewable energy, we hope to combine energy efficiency upgrades and on-site renewable energy production with financial contributions from OSU faculty, alumni and community members," said Norris. "Students have taken the lead, and now we need this effort to become more collaborative, with all stakeholders working together."

Instructions for contributing to the renewable energy fund can be found at http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/donate.html, and donors can match a student's contribution with an annual donation of $25. For more information about energy efficiency and renewable energy at OSU, visit http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/.

According to EPA, green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Green power is considered cleaner than conventional sources of electricity and has lower carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change. Purchases of green power help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide.

For more information about EPA's College and University Green Power Challenge, visit the Challenge Web site at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/initiatives/cu_challenge.htm.

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Brandon Trelstad,