Colleges and universities across the United States are leading the fight against global warming, but the residential campus in Hampshire has taken a step ahead and is designated as the first one in the country to go solar. The campus, which has about 1,400 students, situated in Western Massachusetts, now will have 100 percent solar electricity.
founded as a counterculture school in the 1960s, Hampshire has a strong environmental focus. the college recruited Lash, the former head of World Resources Institute, to be its president a few years ago. Lash’s tenure has witnessed numerous environment-friendly activities including the construction of everything from net zero energy buildings to the 19-acre solar power system.
The president is excited about his college’s achievement in the arena of renewable energy. He said that however there are a lot of universities and educational institutions who have opted for solar; Hampshire is the only one who has decided to go solar completely.
“This is a great story actually. Others have bigger systems than us, but we are happy that we have done this with our little resources,” the president said.
The system, which is consisted of about 15,000 solar panels, is expected to produce around 4.7 megawatts of power a year. The estimate is even more than the college’s annual use. The system is hooked up to the grid. Therefore, even in the dark of the night or middle of winter, power will still flow to all the students’ devices. It is expected that during the month of July, the college can produce ‘a lot more power ‘than they will use.
This solar project is a part of the school’s curriculum and is expected to save $8 to $10 million over the life of the solar system. From selecting the sites for the panels until the installation, students were deeply involved in the project.
As the much of the college’s 800-plus acre campus is agricultural land that it mows for hay and uses to grow vegetables, students chose this open land in order to avoid cutting down trees. The college along with a company named, SolarCity installed the panels. While SolarCity owns and operates the panels, Hampshire supplied the land.
A committee of students, faculty, and staff also worked with the neighbours of the college to ensure that fields of panels are well screened from the road and from nearby homes. The result is, if anyone looks down on it from the air, it would attract the attention. But strangely if you look over at it from next door, you wouldn't see it.
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