Buildings are often the main consumers of energy and water, and they are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and waste on college campuses. By designing, constructing, and operating buildings sustainably, universities can use resources more efficiently while providing a safe and healthy environment for their community. Not only do sustainable buildings have environmental benefits, but they also often have lower operating costs due to their efficient use of resources. The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) currently utilizes a variety of fuel sources for energy generation, including low-sulfur coal, wind power, solar energy, landfill gas, natural gas, fuel oil, and hydropower.
The president of the Nebraska University System has mandated that all new construction and renovations must meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) is committed to using energy efficiently and is striving to ensure that the energy produced from renewable and carbon-neutral sources is equal to the amount consumed. Nebraska has some of the most powerful wind resources in the country, yet it has been slow to develop wind energy compared to its neighbors. This is due in part to the state's unique utility system.
However, there is now a push for renewable energy sources, as evidenced by increased spending on campaigns for the Nebraska Public Energy District board. Vineyard Wind recently signed a new agreement with GE Renewable Energy to supply wind turbines and needs time to review its plans to take into account equipment changes. The Energy & Policy Institute is one of the leading organizations monitoring the environment and assessing what utility companies are doing - or not doing - in terms of renewable energy sources.