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Solar power is latest Eckerd College sustainability project

By Tom Scherberger
Published March 31, 2014
Categories: Academics, Sustainability

The latest Eckerd College sustainability project is tucked away on the roof of the Environmental Studies and Behavioral Sciences buildings.

It is Eckerd’s first foray into solar power. With 216 panels, the 50 kilowatt system has already saved the College nearly $3,000 in electrical costs since it went live in late October.

The $150,000 project recently qualified for an $80,000 rebate under Duke Energy’s SunSense program, cutting Eckerd’s upfront costs by more than half. The system is expected to pay for itself in eight to 10 years, said Evan Bollier, who oversees Eckerd’s sustainability efforts.

The system offsets 100 percent of the power needed for the two buildings, except for the power used for air conditioning, said Bill McKenna, Eckerd’s director of planning, development and construction.

The amount of electricity the system produces increases during the peak months of April, May and June. The system was built by SunQuest Energy in St. Petersburg.

“We are excited to be able to add solar power to our growing inventory of sustainability projects at Eckerd,’’ Bollier said.

Eckerd College is one of the 322 most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada, according to The Princeton Review. Other sustainability projects include:

  • Car sharing The U-Haul Car Share program allows members of the Eckerd community to reduce their carbon footprint by renting a Toyota Prius at flexible or flat rates. About 200 people are signed up for the program.
  • Composting program Students collect prep leftovers from the campus cafeterias for composting used in the campus community garden. More than 3,000 gallons of compost material was collected during the fall 2013 semester.
  • Recycling Students collect paper, aluminum and plastics from campus offices every day, sort them and send them off for recycling.
  • Carbon Offset Fund  A $5 to $10 fee assessed for study abroad trips is collected to pay for on campus sustainability projects chosen by students.
  • Water bottle filling stations Eight stations located around campus allow students to fill reusable water bottles to reduce the use of throw-away plastic bottles. Three of the stations were funded by the Carbon Offset Fund.
  • Yellow Bike program To promote the use of sustainable transportation on campus, free yellow bikes are available. Any Eckerd Community member can pick up a yellow bike that is not being used, ride it to where they need to go and leave it for the next person. In 2005, the National Wildlife Federation gave Eckerd a Campus Ecology Award of campus recognition for this program.

Read more about Eckerd’s commitment to sustainability.

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