“America’s Greenest Campus” campaign was brought to many colleges and universities in April 2009 in which they competed against each other to reduce their carbon footprints. The campaign was initially created bySmart Power, a nonprofit clean energy marketing company, and Climate Culture, a clean energy networking site, and was funded by the Department of Energyand various other organizations. The campaign will award two schools $5,000 each to be put towards green initiates on their campus.
The ultimate goal of the program was to change consumer behavior among people ages 17-24. Brian Keane, president of Smart Power, explains why this specific age group was the target. “They are the biggest wasters of energy and the most motivated to do something about it. Our job is to get regular people who don’t care about the environment or energy issues to want to buy clean energy and want to be energy efficient.”
The main spokesperson for the “America’s Greenest Campaign” is Russell Simmons. He is the co-founder of Def Jam Records and one of hip-hop’s most influential figures. Simmons says, “It’s important that hip-hop play a fundamental role in this movement to change their behavior and reduce their carbon footprint. Whether it’s yellow diamonds or reducing a phantom load, hip-hop can make it cool.”
Participating schools were given computer software to report and monitor their carbon reductions. Although the official results of the campaign will be released later this month the campaign has proven to already be a success. NYTimes.comreports, “Schools saved a combined $4.5 million in energy costs and reduced their collective carbon output by 18.6 million pounds a number roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted by 1900 cars.” In addition, theUniversity of Marylandhad the most participants and theRio Salado Collegehad the highest average of carbon reduction per person.
Creators of “America’s Greenest Campus” hope to continue the campaign again next year to continue to spread awareness about the conservation of energy. Keane says, “We want to create an entire generation that is energy smart. If we can get them to turn off a light bulb today, they can turn off light bulbs for their entire lives.”