School of Public and Environmental Affairs buys energy credits, shows commitment to sustainability

  • April 18, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Responding to a student-led policy analysis, the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs is purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset its use of electricity from fossil fuels.

"This is a tangible way to demonstrate that we take seriously our obligation to be to good stewards of the environment," SPEA Dean John D. Graham said.

The purchase covers the school’s academic energy use -- including classrooms, laboratories and offices -- through May 2015. An event to mark the transaction will take place at SPEA in conjunction with Earth Day 2014 on April 22.

"Simply put, this commitment shows that SPEA doesn’t just talk the talk; it walks the walk," Mark Milby said. The 2013 SPEA graduate was part of a team of graduate students who helped research and complete the complicated transaction.

SPEA isn’t directly purchasing the renewable energy itself. Rather, it is ensuring that clean energy can enter the grid close to where it is produced, replacing conventional, greenhouse gas-intensive electricity sources. SPEA is purchasing the certificates from Sterling Planet, an Atlanta energy broker that markets renewable energy from the Hoosier Wind Project in Fowler, Ind., and other producers.

Sterling Planet estimates the SPEA purchase will offset about 7.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking about 700 cars off the road for a year, according to Milby and Michael Norbeck, another of the SPEA graduate students who proposed the transaction.

"This purchase not only sends the unequivocal signal that SPEA takes sustainability seriously, but it helps create the stable market and consistent price structure necessary for sustained expansion of renewable energy generation capacity nationwide," Norbeck said.

The purchase is one of several steps SPEA is taking to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability while enhancing its environmental education programs, including:

  • Launching a Master in Public Affairs concentration in energy that emphasizes the technological, economic, environmental, societal and political dimensions of the energy sector.
  • Sponsoring, along with the College of Arts and Sciences and other campus partners, the new Indiana University Integrated Program in the Environment.
  • Offering a cross-campus undergraduate degree program in environmental and sustainability studies through several partnerships.
  • Receiving "Sprout" certification from the IU Bloomington Office of Sustainability for its efforts to become a “green” building.

"We are an international leader in research synthesizing science and economics into sound policy," Graham said. "The purchase of the renewable energy certificates sends a modest but unmistakable signal that we take the responsibilities of leadership to heart."

About the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs

SPEA was founded in 1972 and is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2012 "Best Graduate Schools" by U.S. News & World Report, SPEA ranks second and is the nation's highest-ranked professional graduate program in public affairs at a public institution. Four of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings. SPEA's doctoral programs in public affairs and public policy are also ranked by the National Research Council as among the top two in the nation.

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Jim Hanchett

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Office 812-856-5490