Sustainability sparked with solar energy

In an attempt to provide sustainable and renewable energy sources on campus, Temple will become the first college in Philadelphia to administer a building with green energy sources using the construction of multiple solar panels on the roof of Edberg-Olson Hall.

With a capital investment from Community Energy Inc. to fund the project, the university will construct the 63-kilowatt solar panel system on the roof of Edberg-Olson Hall. The building is the main facility for Temple’s football team, located at 10th and Diamond streets on Main Campus.

The project is expected to be completed in December. Not only will Temple’s football team play at  Lincoln Financial Field, a stadium that is fueled in part by solar energy, the team will now be able to practice in a facility that utilizes renewable energy sources.

“For some time now there has been a lot of interest from students and faculty about exploring alternative energy sources,” James Creedon, Temple’s senior vice president for construction, facilities and operations, said. “It’s important for Temple to take a hard look at solar energy. It generates electrical power that goes back into the grid. It’s a transfer of energy and electricity back and forth, which is a less traditional form of energy because we are putting alternative energy back into the system.”

“We are super excited about this project because it’s a great way for students to learn about renewable energy and to see their buildings as a learning tool,” Director of Sustainability Kathleen Grady said. “We see the value of this as taking the first step in introducing solar to our campus. From the sustainability perspective, we are excited about the renewable energy source because it allows students to learn new technologies and see the message it sends.”

The Office of Sustainability takes measures to encourage environmentally conscious behavior from students.

“The best thing we can do is reduce the amount of energy waste from our buildings, making sure they run efficiently so we don’t waste energy, and practice energy conservation,” Grady said. “We are looking at changing attitudes and the culture of Temple to be more sustainable.”

The project has an educational aspect and an operational aspect, Creedon said.

“We are going to evaluate how the project goes,” Creedon said. “If the marketplace changes, we are going to have a really good firsthand source of data. Temple is interested in alternative energy. It has a role and a future in the university’s energy portfolio. We are willing to take a look at new technology and have data available to students and faculty so they can do their research and look at real live data of this installation.”

Temple signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a climate action plan that set forth a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

“Some of the benefits of solar energy and renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels, are that it’s a clean energy source,” Grady said. “We don’t have greenhouse gas emissions associated with power production. Another benefit is that it’s a new industry, so in this installation we are also creating jobs in that industry and supporting the creation of green jobs.”

Solar panels can improve an area’s air quality as well, according to the Office of Sustainability. Despite the high cost of the project, Grady and Creedon agreed it will be an important step in not just providing renewable energy sources, but in educating students and faculty with data and information about sustainable alternatives.

Shayna Kleinberg can be reached at shayna.kleinberg@temple.edu.

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