Earlier this month, Knox College made the transition to renewable energy for all electricity on campus. The switch was made when this year’s energy contract ended, giving Knox the ability to change providers. The Presidential Task Force on Sustainability meets weekly, and was “tasked with the goal of creating and fostering a culture of sustainability at Knox,” Director of Campus Sustainability Initiatives Froggi VanRiper said.
The Task Force proposed to Director of Facilities Services Scott Maust that renewable energy should be the focus of the new contract.
VanRiper explained that renewable energy is anything with low-impact energy, such as solar panels or biogas generators. Companies are not allowed to sell more energy than they produce, forcing them to continually invest in producing low impact energy for sale.
“On a practical level, this means that our electricity consumption is no longer contributing to the primary sources of climate change,” VanRiper said. “I think that is very much in line with our [Knox’s] principles.”
The new renewable energy contract is in place for the next year, and the sustainability office hopes to renew it again the following year. The cost of this renewable energy contract spiked from the previous year, but VanRiper said it is a “very defensible expense, it wasn’t jaw-dropping.” She explained that the long-term profits of this type of energy outweigh the initial costs.
The transitions made on campus were minimal. The only difference in the new contract is the company Knox pays for their energy, which is now a renewable source.
This new step has been taken as a part of the process to sign the President’s Climate Commitment. The President’s Climate Commitment is the effort to address global climate change, which is undertaken by a network of colleges and universities. In order to sign this, Knox must fulfill certain requirements, renewable energy being one of them.
“What it says to the world is that we’ve made the switch to a future that is going to be healthy and sustainable for our graduates, for the offspring of our graduates, for everyone,” said VanRiper.
Knox must fulfill other short-term actions before being eligible to sign, but the sustainability office and the Presidential Task Force on Sustainability hope to gain eligibility in the near future.