Wind Energy Purchase

Bentley's Goals

As you read on the Climate Action page, Bentley has committed to specific goals for carbon emissions reductions.  President Gloria Larson signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) pledging that Bentley would eventually achieve carbon-neutrality by 2030.  As part of this commitment Bentley has been working hard to promote energy efficiency with significant success.  The next step in the process according to a 2010 carbon-mitigation cost-benefit analysis was to purchase renewable energy certificates (REC’s)

The Decision

Facilities Management saved just over $300,000 against the FY2012 budget as a result of energy efficiency projects. Cumulative savings from energy efficiency projects and energy management have totaled approximately $1M since FY2008. In July 1, 2012 Bentley reinvested just 14% of those savings in offsite renewable energy via the purchase of green-e certified renewable energy certificates (RECs). Each REC guarantees that 25 megawatts (the amount of electricity that Bentley uses per year on average) is generated by a domestic wind farm and placed on the U.S. electricity grid. This helps to increase the mix of renewable energy on the grid. Also, by making this investment Bentley gets to take the carbon footprint reduction benefits. Thus the wind power purchase helps Bentley achieve its 2015 carbon footprint reduction goal.

Other benefits of the REC purchase include:

  • Recognition by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership;
  • Education opportunities for our students as Bentley has joined the ranks of other universities and many top companies (including State Street, Raytheon and Sun Life) who have purchased RECs and joined EPA’s Green Power Partnership;
  • Encouraging further development of the domestic renewable energy market and renewable energy projects which increases energy security, promotes job creation and results in a cleaner electrical grid.

What is a renewable energy credit (REC)?

A renewable energy credit (sometimes referred to as a renewable energy certificate or "greentag") is an environmental commodity that represents the added value, environmental benefits and cost of renewable energy above conventional methods of producing electricity, namely burning coal and natural gas. RECs help wind farms and other renewable energy facilities grow by making them more financially viable, thereby incentivizing development.

How does the REC system work?

Renewable energy facilities (wind or solar farms) generate renewable energy credits (RECs) when they produce electricity. Purchasing these credits is one way to reduce the environmental footprint of your electricity consumption and help fund renewable energy development. Purchasing RECs at the same quantity as your electricity consumption guarantees that the energy you use is added to the power grid from a renewable energy facility and supports the further development of these facilities. Click here for more information.

On-Site renewables?

The 2010 carbon mitigation cost-benefit analysis identified off-site renewable energy purchases as the most valuable means to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint.  Due to space and siting constraints, on-site renewable energy projects are not as attractive.