Five Virginia private liberal arts colleges have joined together to reduce their energy costs.
Hollins University along with Emory & Henry, Lynchburg, Randolph, and Sweet Briar Colleges are the first such institutions of higher education in Virginia to provide 100 percent renewable electricity to their campuses.
The energy is coming from landfills located around the Commonwealth. Ingenco captures landfill gas emissions and sends it to the schools. Emory & Henry spokesman Jesse Freedman says this will enable them to cut their carbon footprint by half.
“It’s kind of like an accounting deal where they generate the electricity and put it into the grid and then we measure how much we use at each school and we kind of true up at the end of each month. But it’s all Virginia-generated electricity.”
He expects Emory & Henry to save anywhere between half a million and one million dollars over the next dozen years.
“We’re hoping to reinvest that back into the school and into programs and maybe some energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives as well.”
Scott Shank with Sweet Briar College expects his school could save as much as a million-and-a-half dollars.
“This was an opportunity when you are looking at your significant sources of carbon that electricity, being purchased by APCO was primarily coal driven. Yes, they have nuclear and they have a couple of other things that feed into it but predominately it’s a coal-driven production process.”
Shank says the switchover was hardly noticeable as there was no infrastructure to install. He says the schools still pay APCO for the use of the transmission lines but the energy now comes from the landfill gas emissions.