Friday, October 21, 2016

Solar and Recycling for Sustainability

You may have noticed a new addition to the Wood Campus Center. Solar panels have been mounted on top of the physical plant cooling stations. It's a project sponsored by the Campus Sustainability Committee utilizing campus sustainability fees. The four panels can produce 1,124 kilowatt hours a year. It's projected that will save 1.4 barrels of oil each year. Plant Operations will be placing a marker so students and visitors can see the solar panel stats.The energy goes directly into the Wood Campus Center power grid. The panels cost $6,686.

The Sustainability Committee has been actively using the fee money for campus improvements for some time now. Funds have been used to install energy-efficient LED lighting in the Fox Building and on the Highland Crest campus. The committee welcomes suggestions.

"We just approved a request for up to ten hydration stations for the other campuses and for Gallatin campus buildings that don't have one yet," said committee chair Keith Bell.

Those hydration stations encourage the re-use of drinking containers. Plastic water bottles are considered one of the biggest challenges to waste disposal, as use has soared in recent years. Industry consultant R.W. Beck, Inc. estimates that 40 million water bottles are put into landfills each day.

If you do drink water from plastic containers on campus you can recycle them. The Committee paid for the new recycling bins.

"The receptacles are made out of recycled materials themselves," said Plant Operations senior director Will Newman. 

But the committee members stress that they need your help when it comes to recycling.

"We need people to put only clean recyclables in the containers," Bell said. "That's the biggest thing we need- for people to follow the guidelines." Clean means dumping out the last of the Mountain Dew before tossing the can in recycling or washing out a plastic food container.

Another big environmental measure for the college was taking the resource efficiency steps needed to make the SRB Humanities Building LEED Certified. Part of that project  is the electric vehicle charging station across from Wallace North near the Thigpen Library. There are two power cords available for recharging electric cars. It's free and anyone can use it. It's first come, first served.

Future possibilities include solar umbrellas that would provide cell phone and laptop charging stations for students working outside at picnic tables. If you have a suggestion for the committee you can contact Keith Bell at

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