Finding the Green in Going Green

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Going green often results in saving green, as in money, for both large institutions and individual homeowners alike. Texas A&M was recently honored with the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Energy Star Award for its efforts to reduce energy consumption and find ways to boost energy efficiency on campus. While the campus grew by 20 percent in gross square feet from 2002 to 2012, its energy use dropped 40 percent, saving the university $140 million. Faculty, staff members and students have all pitched in to implement a plan developed by the college’s Utilities & Energy Services Team to generate electricity on site by recovering otherwise wasted heat, and reducing demand on existing transmission and distribution infrastructure. For six years, students competed in the Residence Hall Energy Challenge to see which building could reduce its energy consumption the most. Oklahoma’s electric and natural gas utilities recently rolled out a number of programs and installed Smart meters to help residents of that state go green. Rebates on energy efficient appliances, incentives to remodel homes using energy efficient materials and techniques, and information on ways to reduce energy bills all contributed to helping the state eliminate about 240 megawatts of generation demand. Utilities in Oklahoma have set a goal not to build any new fossil-fuel energy generation plants until at least 2020. And so far, they are sticking to that timeline. (


  • The two biggest sources of pollution remain coal-fired power plants and vehicular engines. Both of these can run on natural gas.  Natural gas can be produced synthetically from a variety of carbon sources: coal, biomass, and garbage. Methane can be produced biologically using digesters or microbes.  In addition, gas power plants are superior to coal plants because they run on a turbine, which is similar to a jet engine and very flexible to operate. The operational flexibility of gas power plants makes them complementary to wind and solar. (
  • Manufacturing is a dirty business. Industrial facilities in the United States generate 7.6 billion tons of nonhazardous waste annually, according the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of it ends up in landfills. (
  • While it may cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 to dispose of one ton of garbage, a well-managed recycling program can reduce costs by as much as 35%. (
  • Americans waste a huge amount of oil. It has recently been estimated that 350 million barrels of oil is wasted on food that is thrown out. American drivers waste an estimated 1.9 billion gallons of fuel (roughly equivalent to 45 million barrels of oil) in congested traffic every year. Simply making sure that all tires were properly inflated could save 1.2 billion gallons of fuel per year, another 28 million barrels. (
  • Six million Americans are using geothermal energy in their homes – three million receive electricity from geothermal power plants and another three million use geothermal heat pumps to heat & cool their homes; more than 100 new geothermal power projects now under development in 13 states will more than double the county’s geothermal capacity over the next five years. (

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