One of the possible tangible actions listed in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is, “Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.” In May 2008, nine months after signing the ACUPCC, UMBC began getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily Maryland’s Conowingo Hydroelectric Plant. Since then, UMBC has remained committed to getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. UMBC now gets most of its renewable energy from regional wind and solar projects.
UMBC was involved in the State’s collaborative process for “Generating Clean Horizons,” a first-of-its-kind initiative to spur large-scale renewable projects in/near Maryland. As a result of a competitive bid, the awarded projects include land-based wind and solar PV. Additional projects, such as energy from poultry litter and off-shore wind are under consideration. Renewable energy production from Clean Horizons began in 2011 and is ramping toward full production. Ultimately, 20% of all electricity used by Maryland agencies and universities will come from the Clean Horizons projects.
UMBC is buying Clean Horizons renewable energy via Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which include the electricity commodity and the associated Renewable Energy Credits (REC). By making a long-term commitment to buy Clean Horizons renewable energy, UMBC essentially co-sponsored the development of several large-scale projects. UMBC’s renewable energy is being produced where it is most physically suitable (e.g., there is far more wind in the mountains of Western Maryland than on campus) and on a magnitude that makes it economically viable. The Clean Horizons approach supports the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and economic responsibility) for true sustainability.
Onsite, UMBC has solar bus stops on the main campus and a 9 kW solar array on the roof of the Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) building at bwtech @ UMBC South. Other solar projects are being considered for the main campus (such as the Warehouse roof or Library roof) for practical benefits and/or demonstration purposes.