Western Washington University 100% Green Power

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2004

Source Files: http://www.wwu.edu/sustain/initiatives/energy/ and http://www.westernsre.org/history/


As a result of the student-led Green Power initiative, Western Washington University is powered 100% by alternative energy sources. Puget Sound Energy's Green Power program annually provides WWU with 33 million kilowatt hours of domestically-produced, alternative energy via Renewable Energy Credits. Through this program, WWU is the nation's fourth-largest buyer of green energy among academic institutions.

Students for Renewable Energy (SRE) began with a group of students in Scott Brennan’s Environmental Studies 202 class in the Spring of 2003. Overwhelmed by what we were learning about human impacts on the earth, we wanted to do something about it. After much research and discussion, we decided renewable energy was the place to focus our efforts. We wanted our university’s energy to come from environmentally responsible sources. After summer break, 15 dedicated students reconvened, and began working toward our goal of becoming a more sustainable campus.

Originally, SRE set a goal of buying 15% renewable energy for Western Washington University (WWU). After more research, including a panel discussion with faculty and community, it became apparent that the WWU community would support 100% renewable energy. We began researching the logistics of putting the plan into action.

Our research found that for under $19 per student per quarter, we could offset WWU’s yearly 33 million kilowatt-hour electricity use. (While the upper limit of the fee is $19, currently the Renewable Energy Fee is only $10.50 per student, per quarter.) In order to pitch this idea to the student body, we compared the fee to purchasing three lattes. Students were behind the idea and willing to give up their coffee for renewable energy.

SRE members and supporters began a strong campaign, visiting classes, displaying banners, tabling in Red Square, and held a celebration concert. By winter quarter of that year, we had 600 signatures on our petition, guaranteeing that the Renewable Energy Fee proposal would be on the Associated Students ballot.

The initiative was approved during the spring by an 84.7% student vote, before school adjourned for the summer. SRE members returned to action when the new school year began, presenting our proposal to the Board of Trustees in the Fall of 2004. That winter, the Board unanimously approved the Renewable Energy Fee. In the spring of 2005, Facilities Management negotiated an annually renewed Green Tag contract with Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Since then, WWU has been powered by 100% renewable energy!