WASHINGTON – Today, the Energy Department released its fourth video in the “Clean Energy in Our Community” video series, highlighting clean energy investments by Southern Oregon University (SOU). The school’s investments in renewable energy, sustainability, and purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are benefiting residents and workers across Ashland, a city of about 20,000 people. SOU is working to reduce its energy waste and deploy clean, renewable energy projects both on its campus and throughout the Ashland community.
“Southern Oregon University is a leading example of how local institutions and communities can help lead the way in making sure that America wins the global clean energy race, while creating good local jobs and protecting the environment,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
SOU is nationally recognized for its involvement in sustainability initiatives through its membership in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
The University is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. SOU students created a self-imposed fee to support SOU's continued commitment to power the campus with clean, renewable energy. Funds from the student fee may be used for on-site energy generation or to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). SOU has also committed to purchasing Water Restoration Certificates (WRCs), becoming the first university to restore 100 percent of the water used on campus to a critically dewatered stream in the nearby Klamath River Basin.
“SOU's location in a beautiful mountain town surrounded by national forests and clear whitewater rivers and streams inspires our community and reminds us daily of the importance of preserving our natural resources,” says SOU President Mary Cullinan. “Our faculty teach sustainable practices. Our students are actively engaged in sustainable projects. And our staff and administration are dedicated to sustainable operations.”
SOU is also producing its own renewable energy through the purchase of a 56-kW solar photovoltaic array in 200that produces more than 70,000 kWh per year. This array helped the University qualify for a LEED Platinum certification for the Higher Education Center in nearby Medford. The certification is the highest level of LEED certification in the Oregon University system.