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Sarratt Student Center (Photo by Bruner/Cott Architects and Planners)

In 2012, Vanderbilt University consumed over 392,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. That is the same amount of electricity consumed by approximately 25,000 homes in the Nashville area last year. Vanderbilt spends approximately $37 million per year on energy consumption.

20% of this electricity is generated at the on-campus co-generation facility that burns coal and natural gas to produce electricity, steam and chilled water that is used in campus buildings. In 2013, the Vanderbilt Board of Trust approved a large capital investment in converting the co-generation power plant from using coal to being fueled entirely by natural gas.  Barring unforeseen construction or weather delays, Vanderbilt should become a coal-free campus by the end of calendar year 2014.  The entire power plant conversion project should reach completion sometime in 2015. More information about the power plant conversion can be found here

The remaining 80% of electricity consumed by Vanderbilt is purchased from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA generates power at coal–fired power plants, nuclear power plants, and at hydroelectric dams. In 2012, the main source of power generation for TVA is coal–fired power plants (41%), followed by nuclear (38%), natural gas (12%), and hydroelectric (9%). Approximately 0.9% of TVA’s power comes from other renewable energy resources. Vanderbilt purchases a small amount of this renewable energy through TVA’s Green Power Switch Program.

As a large energy consumer, the Vanderbilt community has a unique opportunity to lower our environmental impact (while saving money) through energy conserving actions.

The ThinkOne energy campaign aims to reduce energy consumption at Vanderbilt by 10% or more through individual energy-saving behaviors, feedback and peer education. Visit the ThinkOne website to learn how you can do your part to save energy!

Vanderbilt University is an Energy-Star Partner, an ACORE Founding 500 Member, and received the 2010 Energy Efficiency Leadership Award from the Summit for Campus Sustainability and the 2011 Energy Management Achievement award from the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers and the Center for Energy Efficiency at Middle Tennessee State University!