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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New Gosman solar energy system to reduce CO2 emissions by 10 percent

Published: October 2, 2009
Section: Front Page

President Jehuda Reinharz, Professor Sabine Von Mering (GER) and Andy Hogan ‘11 announced Wednesday that the university will begin installing solar panels on top of the Gosman Athletic Center as early as Novemeber.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

President Jehuda Reinharz, Professor Sabine Von Mering (GER) and Andy Hogan ‘11 announced Wednesday that the university will begin installing solar panels on top of the Gosman Athletic Center as early as Novemeber.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

A 277 kilowatt solar energy system will be installed on the roof of the Gosman Athletic Center in order to provide the university with over 300,000 units of Kwatt energy per year in cooperation with Alteris Renewables, university President Jehuda Reinharz announced Wednesday evening.

The energy gained from the solar energy system will be the equivalent to ten percent of the athletic center’s needs. Over the next 25 years the solar energy system will prevent 11.6 million pounds of CO2 from entering the environment.

The solar panels will be financed by EOS Ventures, a renewable energy company, as part of a power purchase agreement. The agreement states that Brandeis will buy the energy from EOS instead of a standard energy company, saving the university close to a million dollars over the panels’ lifetime.

Preparation for the solar panels is expected to begin in November. The panels will be built by Alteris Renewables, the largest design-build energy company in the Northeast, and one of the top ten energy companies in the United States.

President Jehuda Reinharz announced the installation of the panels at an event discussing the new climate action plan, which was unveiled last week, in the new Shapiro Science Complex. He was joined by Chair of the Faculty Senate Professor Sabine Von Mering (GER) and Student Union President Andy Hogan ‘11.

Bill Kanzer, marketing director of Alteris, explained that, “EOS is going to own the panels but Brandeis is going to use all the energy they create.” According to Janna Cohen-Rosenthal, Brandeis sustainability coordinator, the solar energy system will have “1,385 high-efficiency photo-voltaic modules mounted on the southerly-facing roof surfaces of the field house.”

“It will be visible from the ground and serve as a bold statement of Brandeis’ commitment to reducing impact on global climate change,” Cohen-Rosenthal said.

<i>PHOTO COURTESY OF Alteris Renewables</i>

PHOTO COURTESY OF Alteris Renewables

The solar energy array will wire into Brandeis’ current electrical grid and convert into the standard type of electricity currently found in the university’s buildings. Once the project begins, a website will be designed to allow anyone to track the progress of the program. Once completed, the website will monitor and make available figures regarding how much energy is being created, how much we are using and how much CO2 is not being released into the environment, as well as any news or additions to the project.

The idea for the power purchase agreement was originally thought of by Students for Environmental Action (SEA), who decided to research solar energy options at the end of last summer as an addition to the university’s Climate Action Plan.

According to President of SEA Matt Schmidt ‘11, the students got the ball rolling after speaking to several renewable energy companies, and Cohen-Rosenthal worked to create the plans, which were finalized earlier this week. The Climate Action Plan was unveiled last week and commits Brandeis to being climate neutral by 2050 as well as reducing energy use by 15 percent in the next five years.

The idea to install solar energy on campus was thought of after SEA urged the university to sign the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment in the fall of 2007. Brandeis was one of the first 200 members to sign. The Commitment holds Brandeis and other universities to creating a Climate Action Plan within two years of signing, reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly and creating reports periodically that can be accessed by the public.

Von Mering explained in detail a new website called Brandeis Forum on Environmental Crisis. She also discussed the work of the steering committee who developed it. The website brings students, faculty and administration together in an effort to discuss and create plans to aid the university in becoming climate neutral. Von Mering explained, “this isn’t just a website to look up stuff, we want everyone to have a voice and put up stuff, so it may grow and the university can benefit.”

The main goal of the committee was to create and maintain the forum website. Members of the forum steering committee include Von Mering, Cohen-Rosenthal, Eric Olson, Senior Lecturer in Biology from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Laura Goldin, Associate Professor of the Practice in the Environmental Studies Program and Charlie Radin from the Office of Communications.