As part of its master plan, Tarleton State University is taking numerous steps to transition to a more efficient and environmentally friendly campus.

Perhaps the biggest step toward a ‘greener' campus occurred recently when The Texas A&M University System signed a contract with TXU Energy to purchase a record amount of renewable energy-wind energy-over the next four years. As part of the A&M System, Tarleton is one of eight universities within the system to agree to purchase renewable energy each year. Four other A&M System agencies and Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches also agreed to the purchase.

“It was important that we were able to sign a contract for four years,” said Joe Standridge, Tarleton's associate vice president of physical facilities. “We were able to lock in a price, so we will save money when energy prices rise or are affected by hurricanes or other events.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership Program, this will be the largest purchase of renewable energy made by any institution of higher learning in Texas and seventh in the nation.

“This quantity of renewable energy represents 15 percent of the energy purchased in the contract,” said A&M System Chancellor Michael McKinney. “It places the A&M System and Stephen F. Austin State University at the forefront of fostering renewable energy in the state of Texas, and sends a message that we intend to help lead the way nationally.”

Those universities and agencies involved in the contract will purchase more than 22 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year.

“Our renewable energy purchase is very nearly equivalent to the total usage of any one of our four largest universities in the contract, at A&M-Commerce, A&M-Corpus Christi, A&M-Kingsville or Tarleton State University,” said. J. Crain, A&M System associate vice chancellor of budgets and accounting. “It also complements the Sustainable Campus Initiative at Texas A&M International University in Laredo.”

By purchasing this amount of renewable energy, those signing the contract will also be helping the environment and decreasing the amount of carbon monoxide released.

“According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on average using fossil fuels, every kilowatt-hour of energy used creates 1.55 pounds of carbon dioxide,” Standridge said. “Over the next four years, based on numbers from the system, we will prevent 35,445,400 pounds of carbon dioxide being released into the air. If you equate that to cars, it equals taking 766 cars off the road each year for the next four years.”

Tarleton's purchase of renewable energy will be 15 percent of the aggregate total purchased in the contract.

“Of course, we have to pay a premium for the renewable energy,” Standridge said. “The additional cost will be about $26,000 each year. But we are working on more energy reductions through energy conservation and other programs, so we should be able to stay within our budget for each year of the four-year contract.”

One of the major changes to reduce Tarleton's energy usage is the update to the university's central plant loop.

“By updating the central loop, we will be better able to regulate buildings' temperatures,” said Steve Bowman, Tarleton's Energy and Utility Operation Manager. “We're making modifications to how buildings operate, working on chillers, tuning up equipment and working to increase the chilled water and hot water flow efficiency used by the individual building air-handling equipment. We're also working on a lighting retrofit that will decrease kilowatt-hours used, provide better light and decrease the amount of AC used.”

In addition to these changes, Tarleton is also looking for input on how it can reduce energy consumption as part of its master plan through 2020.

“Tarleton does care about the environment and strives to be a good steward of the assets given to us by the state of Texas,” Standridge said. “We are always looking for more opportunities to make the campus greener.”