Reducing Southern’s carbon footprint one solar panel at a time


J’Mari HugesCopy Editor

In Southern’s continuous effort to reduce the university’s carbon footprint, solar panels have been added to the Fitch Street Garage.

The Sustainability Coordinator Suzanne Huminski said the panels, which are built over the garages, allow students and faculty to continue to occupy spaces and will produce electricity that does not create any adverse impact on climate.

Huminski said how the panels grant energy to the closest spots on campus that need it, but could also generate an overabundance which would be accessible elsewhere.

“We use so much electricity. We’ll always be using the electricity that the panels make,” said Huminski.

In a campus wide statement sent out by Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations, Robert Sheeley, said Southern has been working for years

to help reduce its carbon footprint and the panels, along with composting and food recovery, to improve energy efficiency and tree planting programs, are one of its many ways.

According to Sheeley, Southern has installed over 3,000 panels that reduce carbon emissions and provide clean energy.

In the statement it was stated that General Electric, a world energy company, will provide maintenance to Southern for the next 20 years. Due to there not being any cost to the university, Huminski said they will save Southern $60,000 a year.

Vice President of the Geography, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Club, Shayla Peterson, said she believes the panels are a huge step in the right direction. Peterson said it brings her great peace of mind that, as a community, Southern realizes the climate is changing and is taking action to mitigate their collective impact.

“Solar panels are a sustainable replacement for non-renewable energy sources, like the burning of fossil fuels and crude oils,” Peterson said. “Solar energy is captured by the panels and is converted to electricity, with no harm done.”

GEMS President Alina Tucker, said installing the panels is a great example of sustainable option and movement the club fully supports.

“Solar panels on campus establish Southern as a school not only concerned with making more sustainable choices, but actually taking action to provide a cleaner and greener environment for the community and future communities,” said Tucker.

Using pure sunlight to power peoples’ lives is a zero-emission alternative to atmosphere-degrading fuels, according to Peterson. The money they save, she said, could go towards

further sustainability projects or be donated to departments across Southern.

“This is the most effective way to combat climate change, especially for
a larger institution like SCSU,” said Peterson. “The solar panel project shows that Southern recognizes the climate crisis and is prepared to work hard towards a better future.”

The success of the panels, Sheeley said, has motivated the Office of Sustainability to pursue additional projects of similar nature.

“They save money, they’re clean, they’re reliable,” Huminski said. “This is an important
part of Southern’s sustainability commitment and it’s something that the university has worked on for the last five years to be able to build.”

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