February 21, 2006
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Personal computers at Amherst College are now being powered by clean, wind-generated energy. Jim Brassord, director of facilities planning and management at Amherst, recently announced that the green power is being purchased to celebrate and reward participation in the Million Monitor Drive (MMD), which resulted in more than 1,700 students, faculty and staff pledging to let their computers “sleep” when idle.
As an incentive to the campus community Amherst College Physical Plant offered to purchase 175,000 kilowatt-hours of wind-powered Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also called Green Tags, through the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Purchasers consortium, for the students’ participation in the MMD. This zero-emissions wind energy is enough to power all the Amherst College computers, or light 140 homes, for a year.
By making this joint purchase with Smith and Mount Holyoke, Amherst joins other Massachusetts colleges and universities such as Harvard, UMass Lowell and Williams in purchasing electricity generated from renewable resources. This is the first purchase of renewable energy in the campus’ 185-year history.
“The purchase of wind power is an exciting move toward a sustainable campus. Small colleges like ours have the resources and capability to take these first important steps, setting the example for bigger entities, like large organizations, or even states and nations. We’re proud that the college is taking a leadership role in purchasing renewable power,” stated the Green Campus Advocates, a student environmental group at the college.
Making the green energy purchase contingent upon participation in the Million Monitor Drive demonstrated an important fact, says Brassord, “The environmental benefits from reducing the energy used by idle computers actually outweigh those from the green energy purchase,” he notes. Enabling the “sleep mode” will offset 150 tons per year of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Running all the computers on wind-generated renewable energy will save another 125 tons. The total carbon reductions are equivalent to planting 94 acres of trees, according to figures from the EPA.
Members of Amherst College’s Million Monitor Drive Coalition include the Physical Plant, the Department of Information Technology and MassPIRG.