Allegheny College Participates in Better Buildings Challenge — New Program Announced by President Obama

Dec. 2, 2011 — Allegheny College is among only seven colleges and universities nationwide to join the Better Buildings Challenge announced today by President Barack Obama.

Allegheny College joined other leaders in higher education, as well as more than 50 CEOs, mayors and labor leaders, in committing to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20 percent by 2020.

The challenge represents nearly $4 billion of investments in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next two years. These investments are designed to save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.

A widely acknowledged leader in sustainability, Allegheny College has committed to achieving climate neutrality by the year 2020. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Allegheny will reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020 in 1.3 million square feet of building space across their campus.

Allegheny’s Carr Hall, which will house the Richard J. Cook Center for Environmental Science when renovations are complete next summer, is the focus of the Better Buildings Challenge program at the college. The renovations to Carr Hall, which was built in 1964, include high-efficiency HVAC systems, daylighting and efficient lighting solutions, as well as glazing, shading, and a vestibule to increase the lobby’s energy efficiency.

“Allegheny is deeply honored by this recognition of our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Allegheny president James H. Mullen Jr. “This commitment is fundamental to our community of learning and to our strategic plan.”

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative that President Obama launched in February. Led by former President Bill Clinton, through the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, together with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the Better Buildings Challenge supports job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial building and industrial facility upgrades to save American businesses about $40 billion per year on their energy bills. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.

Better Building commitments were announced by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton along with representatives from the 60 participating organizations, which include school districts, city governments and private corporations. Dr. Herbert Niles, a prominent physician in the D.C. area and a longtime trustee of Allegheny College, represented Allegheny at the roundtable discussion that was held in conjunction with the challenge’s launch.

The roundtable discussion was hosted by Steven Chu, secretary of the Department of Energy; Gene Sperling, chair of the White House National Economic Council; and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president.

Allegheny College recently received a 2011 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

The college was one of only 10 organizations nationwide—out of nearly 1,300 Green Power Partners—to receive a Leadership Award in the category of green power purchase. The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves through purchases of green power from a utility green-pricing program, a competitive green marketer or a renewable energy certificate (REC) supplier.

Allegheny College was also one of the first colleges to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a national challenge to colleges and universities to develop a comprehensive action plan to reduce their global-warming emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.