As green campus guides and rating systems keep emerging, it seems safe to say that young adults are paying more attention to their school’s carbon footprint and factoring that in to their school selection. Subsequently, colleges are greening their campuses and their curriculum to attract new students, create the green workforce of tomorrow and save a bit on utilities in the meantime.
Trying to do all of the above, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., just added solar panels to the roofs of four campus buildings that will provide energy to heat water systems across campus along with keeping the campus pool nice and warm.
The installation was made possible courtesy of a secret green-admirer, who made an anonymous donation to the Campaign Gustavus program, without which the initial budget would have been sufficient. “It is hard to give thanks to someone unknown, but there is a deep appreciation for the donor,” Director of the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation and Professor of Environmental Studies James Dontje said.
The solar panel system is not only about reducing utility bills. The university also plans to make it a teaching opportunity for students. The panels sit on the Beck Academic Hall, and a power grid on the roof of Olin Hall lets students see different models of electricity, where energy is distributed around campus, and the benefits of the solar panels. Students can also get virtual access to the installation for projects in the teaching lab.
“Students are especially happy if they can go to an institution in which they can participate. There is a sense of pride and commitment. We hope this is the beginning of a long term process to be very efficient and sustainable,” Vice President for Institutional Advancement Tom Young explained.