By Ladislay Castillo
By now you may have noticed the installation of a multitude of solar panels on top of the Higher Education Center at the Riverside campus.
According to Peter Angstadt, President of Rogue Community College, “The solar panels were primarily an SOU project but when we initially heard about the project we thought it was a good idea.”
Southern Oregon University, who partners with RCC for use and maintenance of the HEC building, chose to take on this 55-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system because it wanted the building designated with a LEED Platinum Certification.
“The Higher Education Center was very close to achieving LEED Platinum Certification, the highest level of LEED Certification,” said Larry Blake, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability at Southern Oregon University.
LEED Platinum Certification is an international recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. SOU decided to use its share of the remaining funds form the HEC project budget to pay for the solar design. The project was awarded to Advanced Energy Systems of Eugene with a project budget of $411,000, according to Blake.
“Earlier this year, SOU was awarded a Congressionally-directed grant for $285,000 from the U.S. Department of Education for technology infrastructure and equipment acquisition,” Blake said.
Generally, solar photovoltaic systems have a long payback period. The solar PV system is now operating and providing a portion of the electricity consumed by the Higher Education Center. Solar power is an important alternative energy source and is part of the university’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality.
The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment pledges to aggressively pursue helpful solutions, where not only do we stop increasing the problems, but we start reducing them by tree planting, soil restoration, and other means.
One negative was that installation of the solar system required a number of penetrations through the roofing which will increase the cost of replacing the roofing membrane 20 years from now, according to Blake.
“I think the solar panels were a good idea because it saves energy and electricity, therefore making a contribution towards global warming,” said Amparo Rivera, a current student at RCC.
According to the ACUPCC, the consensus among the scientific community is that society must reduce the global emission of green house gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest, in order to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.