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

In 2015, Vanderbilt University consumed over 375,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. That is the same amount of electricity consumed by approximately 24,000 homes in the Nashville area last year.

The Vanderbilt power plant produced 14% of the University’s electricity and 100% of our steam in 2015, servicing 12 million square feet of building space. This steam is then used for 90% of campus heating, sterilization, and 40% of campus cooling. In 2013, the Vanderbilt Board of Trust approved a large capital investment for converting the co-generation power plant from using coal and natural gas to using exclusively natural gas. Vanderbilt officially became coal free on November 19, 2014! More information about the power plant conversion can be found here

The remaining 86% 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 2015, the main source of power generation for TVA was coal–fired power plants (34%), followed by nuclear (34%), natural gas (11%), 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.

solar-installation-1Vanderbilt also has two solar installations on campus. A solar-powered hot water heating system is installed in the Currey Tennis Center. Solar panels installed on the roof collect the sun’s energy to heat the water for the building. A 20kW solar panel system is also installed on the roof of Currey Tennis Center. The solar panels generate electricity from the sun’s energy, which is fed into the Vanderbilt electricity grid. A dashboard of the solar panel system can be viewed online with the login: and password: VU*Tennis

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!