For the first time, the Big Ten conference has surpassed the Ivy League conference as the top athletic conference in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) College and University Green Power Challenge. The University of Pennsylvania continues to be the top individual school in the challenge, beating out 68 other universities by purchasing more than 200 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of green power, or 47 percent of its power purchases.

The Big Ten had an annual green power usage of more than 256 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of more than 21,000 average American homes for one year, with Pennsylvania State University leading the conference. The Ivy League, followed by the University Athletic Association are in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.

This year’s challenge participation increased to 69 competing institutions, representing 31 different conferences nationwide. The challenge’s total annual green power usage of more than 1.5 billion kWh has the equivalent environmental impact of avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the annual electricity use of more than 132,000 homes.

The EPA ranks collegiate athletic conferences by the total amount of green power used by their member schools. To be eligible, each school in the conference has to qualify as an EPA Green Power Partner and each conference has to collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. The EPA’s Green Power Partnership encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with traditional fossil fuel-based electricity use. Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower.

The partnership includes a diverse set of organizations including Fortune 500 companies, small and medium businesses, government institutions, as well as a growing number of colleges and universities.

More information on the winners of EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge, visit www.epa.gov/greenpower/initiatives/cu_challenge.htm.