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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released the latest report in its DataTrends series. The series analyzes data collected through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to help inform and advance sustainability benchmarking efforts in commercial buildings.

The latest report focuses primarily on the use of on-site renewable energy systems, and particularly on solar and wind energy usage, in commercial buildings. While the K-12 sector tends to be a leader in this type of energy usage and featured one of the highest concentrations of on-site renewable energy usage of all the commercial building types analyzed, colleges and universities reported much lower instances of on-site renewable energy generation. While 2.4 percent of all K-12 schools included in the study featured on-site renewable energy systems, less than 1 percent of colleges and universities did. The dataset available from colleges and universities was also significantly smaller than that available from most other types of commercial buildings, highlighting a greater need for benchmarking efforts among higher education institutions.

Overall, the report found that on-site generation of renewable energy has increased nearly tenfold, and on-site renewables supply more than six times as much energy as they did in 2009. Despite this increase, fewer than 10 percent of buildings with on-site renew­able energy systems reported using the energy generated to meet 75 percent or more of their total electricity needs, and the majority used on-site renewable energy to meet a quarter or less of their electricity needs.

For more resources on how your campus can increase its sustainability efforts, visit NACUBO’s Facilities and Environmental Compliance page. We also encourage all NACUBO member institutions to take part in the ENERGY STAR Program’s latest higher education-specific benchmarking initiative to begin to create more comprehensive college and university datasets in this area.


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


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