WSW: Renewable Energy, Good For Campus Budgets And Enrollment

Feb 27, 2017

Solar chargers on WMU campus - file photo
Credit WMUK

Bronte Payne says she was planning to be a doctor, but while she was a Kalamazoo College student the Enbridge oil spill in Kalamazoo River inspired her to work on environmental issues.

After graduating from K-College, Payne went to work for Environment America, a coalition of state-based organizations that work to protect clean air and water. Payne says she works primarily on off shore wind energy and encouraging college campuses to move to all renewable energy.

Environment America encourages universities to reduce their carbon footprint, and to set a goal of getting their power from 100% renewable energy for campus by 2050. Payne says “It’s a big, bold goal, but also a completely necessary vision.”

Payne says there are plenty of studies which show the long-term savings that universities can gain by investing in renewable energy. But she says it’s also a way to attract student. Payne says many students consider how “green” a campus is when deciding where to go to school.

Asked about the variation of campus sustainability, Payne says there is a wide range across the country. She says Western Michigan University is a leader on energy efficiency and renewable energy. But she says regardless of where there now, Environment America believes all campuses can reach the goals by committing to renewable energy.