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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 4:21 am | Overcast 53º


SBCC Taking Big Steps to Reduce Its Carbon Footprint

Photovoltaic array carports and improved lighting at La Playa Stadium have led to significant energy and money savings

SBCC has ongoing projects campuswide that aim to decrease the college’s energy bill and its environmental impact.

So far, the college has saved an annual 3.6 million kilowatt hours and 25,000 therms (one therm is about the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet of natural gas), which has saved the college $650,000.

“Through these projects, we are serving as an example to the community that conservation is a viable energy strategy,” said Julie Hendricks, SBCC director of facilities and campus development.

Sustainability projects around the campus include an array of photovoltaic carports on its West Campus and new energy-efficient stadium lights at La Playa Stadium, the implementation of which has saved the college more than $100,000 over 12 months.

Photovoltaic Array

A major SBCC sustainability project includes the West Campus photovoltaic array covering three rows of parking spaces in the surface parking lots. Faculty, staff and students drive around them on a daily basis, yet few realize that the systems on top of the carports save the school a projected annual sum of $90,000.

“The construction of the carports lasted only a summer, yet the energy value will last 25 to 30 years,” Hendricks said.

The SBCC environmental field studies class taught by Dr. Adam Green, SBCC assistant professor of biological sciences, examines sustainable projects around the campus as part of the introductory lab.

“Students are taken around campus and shown existing and potential sustainable projects,” he said. “They are introduced to the solar panels and learn how one element can have many benefits at a college. The panels are an energy source, shade the cars (so drivers do not automatically turn on their air conditioning on a sunny afternoon), keep that side of campus cooler, show students a positive solution to both energy and environmental challenges and may increase our likelihood of attracting grants in the future.”

La Playa Stadium Lights

The La Playa Stadium lights also have been improved.

“When there were issues with the old system, we found it was a good opportunity to update all of the lights to make them more energy efficient,” Hendricks said.

The stadium lights are now automatic with security lights on from 5:45 a.m. to dawn and sunset to 10:15 p.m. The game lights are on only when games and classes are in progress, which ensures less energy consumption.

“As with all other aspects of what we do, SBCC is a leader in energy conservation,” said Dr. Andreea Serban, SBCC superintendent/president “We have taken a multiprong approach including innovative projects throughout our campus, partnerships with the local and regional organizations, and courses and programs that teach our students about the core issues and the roles we can all play for a healthy and sustainable environment for the future.”

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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