NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt University added to the Earth Day festivities today by announcing it will power its campus entirely with renewable energy and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Vanderbilt University is leading the charge among campuses in the southeast to a 100 percent renewable energy,” said Bronte Payne, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s 100% Renewable Campuses campaign director. “Students at Vanderbilt have been instrumental in building and demonstrating support for 100 percent renewable energy. Now, other colleges and universities need to follow in their footsteps towards a clean energy future.”
This wide-ranging commitment includes developing more clean energy on campus, investing in large-scale off campus renewable energy sources, decreasing the carbon footprint from on-campus vehicles and creating more sustainable infrastructure.
“Investing in our shared future matters,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “These efforts will ensure a vibrant, healthy and welcoming campus for years to come. It is our responsibility to do our part to preserve the environment for our campus community and set a strong example for how to care for our shared home, our planet. With this commitment, we aim to better protect our environment and improve quality of life in Middle Tennessee, and to be a proving ground for innovative technologies and strategies that ensure a more sustainable future for all.”
Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR), with the support of Environment America Research & Policy Center, led the effort in securing Vanderbilt’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. SPEAR mobilized thousands of students, worked closely with other student organizations throughout the year and passed a resolution through the Vanderbilt Student Government.
“Vanderbilt's commitment today to 100 percent renewable energy and carbon neutrality marks a culmination of work and passion from students, faculty and staff,” said Keegan Campanelli, a junior at Vanderbilt and SPEAR president. “This issue has been incredibly unifying for the Vanderbilt community. The proof comes from the more than 3,000 individuals and 76 organizations who joined with us in showing support for 100 percent renewable energy. I am excited to continue to work alongside Vanderbilt's students, faculty and administrators to ensure we make this commitment a reality and drive meaningful change in our community, region and country.”
Across the country, Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Student PIRGs are working with students on more than 50 campuses in 15 states to transition higher education to 100 percent renewable energy. Vanderbilt’s commitment comes on the heels of a commitment from the University of California, Berkeley, which was spurred in large part by CALPIRG Students in partnership with Environment America Research & Policy Center.
“Students will be the driving force behind future commitments to clean renewable energy that will lead us to a fossil fuel-free economy,” said Payne.
Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.