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Towson University President Maravene Loeschke (second from left) and other school officials accept a check for $1.7 million from Calvin G. Butler, the CEO of BGE (left), to finance energy-efficient upgrades on-campus. (Photo courtesy of Towson University)

Towson unveils new sustainability efforts

Towson University isn’t messing around when it comes to the environment.

The university has several initiatives underway, and has just joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, the first higher-education institution in Maryland to do so, TU officials announced Thursday.

By signing up for the challenge, the university pledges to slash energy consumption by 20 percent within the next four years.

Officials also announced Thursday that TU has received $1.7 million from Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. in exchange for installing energy-efficient features in campus buildings and garages, including an overhaul of the university’s lighting systems.

That funding was earned through BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program, which provides financial incentives and technical assistance for customers to encourage efficiency upgrades.

The university rounded out Thursday’s enviro-news blitz with a third announcement: the “official” launch of 18 on-campus electric vehicle charging stations (several stations have been there for a while).

“We are proud to be at the forefront of initiatives that will positively impact our environment for years to come,” said TU President Maravene Loeschke in a statement.

Those initiatives have already delivered noticeable results — namely about $1.2 million in annual energy savings, Loeschke said as she stood in front of the LEED Gold-certified West Village Commons building.

TU officials said West Village Commons exemplifies the goals of the Better Buildings Challenge, which President Barack Obama launched in 2011.

As a participant in the program, Towson plans to scrutinize 3.4 million square feet of space in almost 50 campus buildings to look for ways to improve energy efficiency campus-wide.

The university has already made widespread changes. The school replaced or upgraded nearly 35,000 light fixtures and installed 10,000 occupancy sensors in 38 buildings, which officials said reduced electricity use from lights by 25 percent.

As for the electric-car charging stations, which are distributed across the campus, the university can thank the city of Baltimore, which donated them.

Towson also recently introduced this nifty device to make it easier for eco-minded students to study outside.