Energy Challenge Nets New Solar Panels for Another Campus Building

Dec. 13, 2011 – A new array of six solar panels has been installed on the roof of the Steffee Hall of Life Sciences on the Allegheny College campus. The panels were purchased and installed from the savings that students and staff helped the college achieve with an energy challenge during the past two Octobers.

The annual initiative challenges students and employees to conserve energy across campus. In October 2010, the challenge resulted in a 10.4 percent reduction in electricity consumption. In 2011 it was 9.8 percent. Those decreases in energy consumption for two months resulted in a savings of $12,000. A total of $8,400 purchased the solar array, with the remaining funds reserved for peripheral costs and educational tools such as the purchase of a touchscreen monitor to allow members of the campus community to see how much energy the array creates.

The panels, installed by Solar Revolution of Erie, will produce over 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year and will help Allegheny take another step toward the goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2020.

In addition to more standard ways of reducing energy consumption—turning out lights when leaving a room, shutting down computers at night—students organized a number of events to heighten awareness and lower the college’s electricity bill, including meditation exercises in the dark, an acoustic open mike night at the campus coffeehouse and an event offering smoothies made with a bicycle-powered blender.

The new array is the second solar installation on campus. Carlyn Johnson, who graduated from Allegheny in 2011, installed a two-panel solar array on the college’s Carr Hall last year as part of her senior comprehensive project.

Earlier in December, Allegheny College was among only seven colleges and universities nationwide to join the Better Buildings Challenge announced by President Barack Obama. Allegheny College joined other leaders in higher education, as well as more than 50 CEOs, mayors and labor leaders, in committing to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20 percent by 2020. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Allegheny will reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020 in 1.3 million square feet of building space across their campus.

In November Allegheny College received a 2011 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. The college was one of only 10 organizations nationwide—out of nearly 1,300 Green Power Partners—to receive a Leadership Award in the category of green power purchase.

Allegheny College was one of the first colleges to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a national challenge to colleges and universities to develop a comprehensive action plan to reduce their global-warming emissions and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.