Oklahoma State University is being recognized as a national leader for its use of green power practices and technology with a Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award honors the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the nation’s voluntary green power market. EPA will present OSU with the award on Dec. 3 at the 2014 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento.
“As one of the nation’s leading land-grant universities, OSU is committed to sustainability in our practices, education, research and outreach,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “We are nurturing a culture of respect for, and commitment to, sustainable practices and environmental stewardship with our students that will extend beyond our campuses. We are honored to receive this distinction and will continue to expand the use of green power to improve our campuses and our world.”
OSU is one of only four organizations nationwide to be chosen as a Green Power Partner of the Year for leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market. OSU also is the only educational organization awardee this year across all categories. OSU’s Stillwater campus has documented that 72 percent of its total electrical need was provided by wind-generated power in 2013, making it one of the most energy efficient universities in the nation. OSU signed a wind power contract with Oklahoma Gas & Electric in 2011 for the construction and use of a wind power farm in nearby Blackwell that set a statewide precedent and currently represents 12 percent of all the OG&E power generation.
OSU also has saved more than $32 million since July 2007 through a behavior-based energy conservation program across all five of its campuses. The program partners the university with Cenergistic (formerly Energy Education Inc.), a Dallas-based company that was founded by OSU alumnus Dr. William Spears. The Stillwater campus alone has seen a total savings of $25.4 million.
Keeping pace with industry leadership, OSU-OKC now offers a wind turbine technology associate’s degree in applied science with an internship program option. The degree focus is training technicians to work on utility-scale wind turbines. Graduates are prepared to move directly into entry-level supervisory positions. The internship program allows qualified students to earn academic credit with on-the-job experience in professional environments, learning and working in fields directly related to their career goals.
A leader in geothermal technology, OSU is home to the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association - established in 1987 to promote geothermal technology worldwide, and the IGSHPA Training Program for accredited system installers. Geothermal pumps currently provide heating and cooling in two OSU Stillwater buildings – the Campus Recreation Annex and the Mechanical Engineering Petroleum Lab. Two more buildings undergoing renovation and construction – the Veterinary Medicine Administration and a Civil Engineering Lab – are also incorporating geothermal systems. The four buildings will provide 80,600 square feet of space on the Stillwater campus that is heated and cooled with geothermal technology. The Health Sciences Center at OSU-IT in Okmulgee and the Engineering Technology Building at OSU-OKC also utilize geothermal technology.
OSU began the process of transitioning its bus fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas in 2010 and now 20 of its 26 buses run on the cleaner-burning CNG with the rest expected to follow soon. The university’s motor pool fleet has also begun transitioning to cars that offer a CNG option with plans to lease additional vehicles as they become more competitively available from manufacturers. Regents recently approved the purchase of an existing CNG station that will offer considerable cost savings.