Sustainability at Etown

Etown’s solar field is the largest in Pennsylvania. The solar array accounts for 20% of the campus’s energy. Built with a half million dollar grant, the solar panels offer research and educational opportunities across campus.

Professor of Engineering and Physics, Dr. Kurt DeGoede, explains how Etown measures the panels’ energy production.

“On any given day, we’ve got weather report data in there and then also production in— I think it’s like in five minute intervals, so you can look at exactly what’s going on. A cloud goes by and you can see the effect on the array at any point.”

Professors and students are able to monitor live data about the solar fields. However, some students still wonder how effective they really are. Junior Andrew McGowan feels like the benefit of sustainable energy does not outweigh the cost.

“What we have does not power nearly enough to be worth what it cost to put in.”

However, Dr. DeGoede explains that our energy from solar panels can account for a larger percentage simply by conserving power. “Just by reducing the amount of electricity we use in a given year, right, then the percent that the array would offset of our energy use would go up without adding any sort of photovoltaic.”

Things like turning off lights, switching fluorescent bulbs out for LEDs, and unplugging electronics would give the solar panels a bigger role.

But Etown wastes more than just energy. Senior student David Callahan also suggests reducing paper. “I think we’re doing, like, a pretty good job, but also, I feel like we could use a lot less paper.”

While the solar fields are a step in the right direction, Elizabethtown still needs to make massive strides to become a truly sustainable campus. For the Beak, I’m Tara Siano.

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