On April 21, Mercyhurst announced that it was recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a 2013-2014 Individual Conference Champion of the College & University Green Power Challenge for using more green power than any other school in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
“[This] is a big piece,” Brittany Prischak, Sustainability Officer for Mercyhurst, said, “especially in Pennsylvania, because if you look at the schools in Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst was one of the first school to start buying renewable energy credits or using renewable energy.”
The award honors Mercyhurst’s extensive use of renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset 100% of the university’s electricity and support renewable energy. “It’s still traditional electricity [but] we pay an additional fee to companies that are doing renewable energy projects,” Brittany Prischak, the Sustainability Officer for Mercyhurst, said. “In return [for that support], we get this offset.”
Other colleges have done actual renewable energy installations, such as solar panels or wind turbines, but Mercyhurst, according to Prischak, currently lacks the space to do such projects. However, Prischak definitely foresees “solar panels on campus, hopefully in the coming years.”
The award is potentially a large recruitment tool for the university. “When you’re looking at schools in Pennsylvania, and students are really interested in sustainability, it could be a big piece to promote Mercyhurst to incoming freshmen.”
The trend of colleges supporting renewable energy is also on the upswing, which in turn results for added benefits to the
renewable energy industry due to the colleges’ support, which Prischak says “needs to be done.”
She talked about the combination of both the progressive nature of higher education and its willingness to be forward-thinking and the involvement of the student body as the reasons for the outpouring of support for renewable energy.
“I think students are expecting a lot more from their universities,” she said. “But also with a renewable energy installation, that helps save the university money in the long run, and that helps bring prospective students.”
Any students who wish to get involved in sustainability efforts on campus, contact Brittany Prischak (email@example.com).