The Public Honors College

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SMCM Clutches Capital Conference in EPA’s Ranking of College Green Power Purchasers

College Eliminates Carbon Level of 2000 Cars
April 21, 2010
Press Release #10-099


Throughout the 2009-10 academic year, Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Partnership tracked and recognized collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power purchases in the nation. St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) beat its conference rivals by purchasing more than 17,004,727 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power, representing 98 percent of the school's annual electricity usage, effectively removing the carbon dioxide of approximately 2,000 cars.

Acting President Larry Vote said, "The students of St. Mary's College of Maryland take the EPA's Green Power Partnership seriously. By a vote of 1,005-75, students endorsed a referendum to increase student activity fees by $25 per year in order for the college to purchase renewable energy.  The college offset roughly 12,000 metric tons of CO2, making St. Mary's College one of the largest purchasers of green power in the region."

On April 19, 2010, the EPA concluded the Green Power Challenge and recognized the largest single purchasers within each participating conference as 2009-10 EPA Green Power Challenge conference champions. Green power is generated from renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. By purchasing green energy, SMCM secured the Capital Conference title, beating out Gallaudet, Hood, Marymount, Mary Washington, Salisbury, Stevenson, Wesley, and York colleges.

Additional recent environmental programs undertaken by the college include electricity usage reduced by 16.5 percent, oil use by 23 percent, and water use by 34 percent, for a total savings of $350,000 a year. The SMCM grounds crew received the Audubon International Certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program last summer, the first college in Maryland to receive this certification. As the result of a student initiative, the cafeteria no longer offers trays, a practice that will contain the college's food expenditure, result in less water consumption, and reduce waste by 23 percent.  The school also expanded its recycling and composting programs, with student volunteers collecting the material from campus residences. Beginning in the 2010-2011 academic year, students plan on providing much of the produce served in the Raley Great Room from an organic five-acre college community farm.

EPA's Green Power Partnership encourages organizations to purchase green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. The Green Power Partnership currently has more than 1,000 partners voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, trade associations, as well as colleges and universities.  For additional information please visit

EPA ranks collegiate athletic conferences by the total amount of green power used by their member schools. To be eligible, each school in the conference has to qualify as an EPA Green Power Partner and each conference has to collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. Spread across 26 athletic conferences nationwide, 54 universities competed in this year's challenge. The challenge's total annual green power usage of more than 1 billion kWh has the equivalent environmental impact of avoiding the CO2 emissions of nearly 160,000 vehicles.

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.