The University is taking one of its first tangible steps to be a carbon-neutral institution by installing solar thermal panels on three residence halls before the end of the academic year.
The University has set a goal to make GW a carbon-neutral institution by 2040 through the highly anticipated Climate Action Plan released last spring, which laid out the University’s plan to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the institution pumps into it.
The installation of solar thermal panels will reduce the production of greenhouse gases and generate renewable energy on campus.
The University will offset emissions by installing solar thermal panels to Building JJ, 1959 E Street and Ivory Tower on the Foggy Bottom Campus.
Sophie Waskow, the stakeholder engagement coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, said the panels would be the largest source of on-site solar power in D.C.
Waskow added that the panels are being installed by Skyline Innovations free of charge. In lieu of an installation fee, the University will pay the company for the hot water the system produces.
The Office of Sustainability is also launching a Green Office Program for all faculty and staff members, a program that promotes green practices in the offices of GW officials, administrators and professors.
“This program will greatly increase faculty and staff knowledge of reducing electricity usage and increasing personal sustainable efforts,” Waskow said.
Derek Malone-France, the executive director of the University’s Writing Center, said the Writing Center took note of the program, and is moving toward digitizing files to reduce waste and improve efficiency. A study by the outside research group the Education Advisory Board found that 25 percent of energy reductions could come from consumer-driven efforts to go green.
Waskow said further reducing carbon emissions hinges on the participation of GW students, faculty and staff members.
“This plan is not the CAP team’s plan, it is GW’s plan,” Waskow said. “These changes could include powering down individual lights and computers, as well as unplugging phantom energy users such as entertainment systems on standby or plugged-in phone or PDA chargers.”
This article appeared in the November 11, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.