By Rachel Leber
WASHINGTON — Georgetown University in Washington has no shortage of honors associated with their green and sustainable efforts over the years — and yet another potential honor was bestowed upon them this year. Washington’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) nominated Georgetown University for its District Sustainability People’s Choice Award for most popular green business or organization on Feb. 14.
The DOEE nominates businesses, individuals and organizations each year for their accomplishments in sustainability. While the DOEE has been presenting sustainability awards every year since 2009, the People’s Choice Award was more recently introduced in 2016 — and this year is the first time that Georgetown has been a DOEE nominee. The voting process for the award will take place on the DOEE’s website and will be complete on March 16.
Georgetown has made many strides and accomplishments in the area of sustainability over the years. In addition, Georgetown has procured 100 percent Green-e certified renewable electricity since 2013 and was named one of four Green Power Partners of the Year in 2013 by the EPA.
Additionally, Georgetown was the first university in D.C. to be designated a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists in 2013. On Earth Day 2017, Georgetown made an announcement about a major new solar panel initiative that will mean a cleaner electric grid, will serve to reduce expenditures and will serve low-income residents in Washington. Amongst other efforts, the Office of Sustainability at Georgetown will continue working towards its pledge to cut carbon emissions in half by the year 2020, with programs such as Campus Energy Conservation and Green Offices.
All new buildings and major renovations at Georgetown have achieved LEED Silver or higher since 2008, achieving more than 1 million square feet of LEED green building space on campus. Most recently — and quite possibly the impetus for the recent DOEE People’s Choice Award Nomination — the Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Hall and the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletic Center have been certified LEED Gold (two of Georgetown’s most recent construction projects).
Prior to that, the School of Continuing Studies building downtown, Regents Hall and the Healey Family Student Center were also certified LEED Gold.
In September 2017, Georgetown and Miami-based Origis Energy USA announced a power purchase agreement to develop a 32.5-megawatt offsite solar power system that will provide almost 50 percent of campus electricity needs and help the university fulfill its sustainability mission, according to an announcement on Georgetown’s website.
Under the agreement, Origis will install 105,000 solar panels on a 518-acre property in La Plata, Md. The panels will be owned and operated by Origis and produce 75,000-megawatt hours of power each year. Construction on the upcoming project is expected to start in January 2019 after the company completes research and permitting. The system is expected to be fully operational six months later in summer 2019.
“Our team is humbled to support Georgetown University’s pursuit of environmental excellence and leadership,” said Johan Vanhee, managing director, Business Development at Origis Energy, in a recent statement. “We commend the university’s solar energy leadership in the nation’s capital and their mission to contribute to renewable energy intelligence globally.”