Multi-Campus Solar Project is a Global Sustainability Award Finalist

Muhlenberg College also received a top rating for campus sustainability and was recognized as a top performer in water conservation again this year.

By: Kristine Yahna Todaro  Thursday, November 19, 2020 04:49 PM

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Muhlenberg College in the fall. Photography by Shaun MacWilliams.

A collaborative renewable energy project between Muhlenberg College, Dickinson College, Lafayette College and Lehigh University has been named a finalist for the 2020 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Awards.

The four Pennsylvania institutions signed a 15-year virtual power-purchase agreement to buy renewable energy that will be generated by a newly constructed 200+ acre solar farm located in Texas. Combined with other carbon neutrality efforts, the partnership enabled all four institutions to mitigate 100 percent of their emissions associated with electricity usage while balancing cost, risk, environmental impact and other strategic benefits. 

Collectively, the group’s 45.9 megawatt share of the project is anticipated to help prevent over 70,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year, which is equivalent to removing over 15,000 cars from the road or the amount of carbon sequestered by nearly 85,000 acres of forest.      

The institutions began collaborating in pursuit of a renewable energy project in January 2019, aiming to advance sustainability interests among premier academic institutions in Pennsylvania and serve as an example of how a mix of mid-sized and small institutions can aggregate together to leverage greater purchasing power. 

The AASHE Sustainability Awards provide global recognition to the individuals and organizations leading the higher education sustainability movement. The awards program raises the visibility of high-impact sustainability projects, pioneering research and student leadership, helping to disseminate innovations and inspire continued progress toward environmental, social and economic health.

This year’s winners will be announced December 3, 2020, during a virtual AASHE Sustainability Awards Ceremony that begins at noon Eastern. The ceremony is free, and anyone can attend. 

In addition, for the second year in a row, Muhlenberg has received a STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability Achievements from AASHE, the highest level of recognition received by any Lehigh Valley higher education institution, for five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership. 

The College was also recognized as a top performer in AASHE’s 2020 Sustainable Campus Index for water conservation. Muhlenberg tied fourth in the nation, receiving a score of 100 percent for best practices in water conservation for the second year in a row.