As government officials are pressured to craft more eco-friendly policies, Georgetown University could soon obtain federal funding to construct a renewable energy system in one or several on-campus buildings.

The newly revamped Green Energy D.C., a resource on environmental issues for D.C. residents, will now offer grants for as much as $33,000 to aid in the construction of renewable energy systems for private schools who apply. District residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations are also able to apply for these grants as a part of the Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which will offer rebates to eligible applicants in order to help them install solar photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, or a wind turbine renewable energy system.

“We’re looking to reduce the carbon impact of the electricity that’s used in the District of Columbia,” said Alan Haymann, public information director for the District Department of the Environment, which overlooks Green Energy D.C.

He added that in continuing the project, District Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office also hopes to make energy less expensive for D.C. residents, citing the cost efficiency of generating energy on site as opposed to importing fuel.

The program, sponsored by the DDOE, is the second version of a similar initiative that offered a total of $880,000 in grants from 2005 to 2008, which was divided among many applicants. The new version will offer up to $8 million in total over the next four years to be used to install the solar photovoltaic cells and wind turbine systems, according to Green Energy D.C.’s Web site.

Haymann said that as the cost of renewable energy decreases, the popularity of wind energy is expected to increase, rivaling that of solar energy.

According to Haymann, the mayor’s office is always looking for new ways to encourage the use of renewable energy both because it is cost-effective and because it has a positive effect on the local environment.

The College Sustainability Report Card, which analyzes the environmental efforts of hundreds of colleges in the U.S., gave Georgetown a “B-” rating for its commitment to eco-friendly policies in 2009 and only a “C” rating in the “climate change and energy” category. Despite the relatively low grades, the group gave the university a “B” rating in the “green building” category for its newly established campus construction policy, which mandates the installation of motion sensors, energy management controls and low-flow plumbing in all new facilities and significant renovations on campus.

As the report card notes, in recent years Georgetown has implemented a series of green initiatives, including the installation of 300-kilowatt solar photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Intercultural Center and the creation of an inter-dorm energy conservation competition.

Georgetown EcoAction Vice President Shea Kinser (COL ’09) encouraged Georgetown to apply to the Renewable Energy Incentive Program and get involved in other environmental initiatives.

“It is important for Georgetown to take swift action on environmental measures in order to engage in the most urgent issues of our generation: cutting greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb the effects of climate change and finding renewable energy to power our world to ensure the health and well-being of all citizens,” Kinser said in an e-mail.

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