Originally published in The Oklahoman Online | Oklahoma State University was recently presented with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partner of the Year for its leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market.
OSU is one of only four organizations nationwide — and the only university — to be recognized for its commitment and contribution to helping advance the nation’s voluntary green power market.
The university received the award at the 2014 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento, California.
“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.”
“We are honored to receive the award as it truly reflects how much Oklahoma State University cares about sustainable energy solutions now and for the future,” said James Rosner, director of Utilities and Energy Management at OSU. “To be named an EPA Green Power Partner of the Year recognizes the efforts of the Utilities and Energy Management department to exemplify stewardship of the environment and fiscal responsibility for the State and students.”
“It was great to be recognized by the U.S. EPA for all the hard work everyone at OSU has done,” said Richard Krysiak, director of the Physical Plant and chief facilities officer at OSU. “Being recognized with great companies such as Apple, Google and Becton Dickinson just shows that we are truly a leader in the green power and sustainability areas.”
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, Oklahoma, that set a statewide precedent and currently represents 12 percent of all 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 founded by OSU alumnus William Spears. The Stillwater campus alone has seen a total savings of $25.4 million.
Keeping pace with industry leadership, OSU-OKC offers a wind turbine technology associate degree in applied science with an internship program option. The degree trains technicians to work on utility-scale wind turbines and prepares graduates 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 the Campus Recreation Annex and the Mechanical Engineering Petroleum Lab on the Stillwater campus. The new Veterinary Medicine Administration Building and a civil engineering lab are 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 transitioning its bus fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas in 2010; today, 20 of its 26 buses run on the cleaner-burning CNG, and the rest are expected to follow soon. The university’s motor pool fleet has also begun adding cars that offer a CNG option. Regents recently approved the purchase of an existing CNG station that will offer considerable cost savings.