On. With just the flip of a switch, the University of San Diego is set to become the second-largest solar energy producer of any private U.S. college and the nation’s ninth-largest solar facility on a university campus.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, USD will celebrate its move to becoming one of the leaders in solar powered energy. In partnership with AMSOLAR — who installed nearly 5,000 photovoltaic solar panels on top of 11 buildings throughout campus — the new solar energy system is expected to save the university more than 30 percent on energy purchased from the panels.
Tuesday’s event, “Running on Sunshine,” aims to draw the campus community to a celebration of the ways in which USD has become a leader in sustainability. A press conference is set for 11:30 a.m. in the Student Life Pavilion’s Plaza Mayor with USD President Dr. Mary Lyons, Joshua Weinstein of AMSOLAR, USD’s Director of Sustainability Michael Catanzaro and USD Associated Students President Kelsey Chase.
Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to gather in Plaza Mayor at 12:15 p.m. for a surprise event that will certainly be worth seeing. At 12:30 p.m., the bands Mayday Parade and Every Avenue will perform songs partially powered by solar energy. Free food and beverages will be provided.
Words such as sustainability, solar power, green and clean energy are the talk of not only the nation, but the world. USD’s “Running on Sunshine” event intends to showcase some of the things USD has done to be more than just talking the sustainability talk. In fact, USD is a sustainability doer.
- In 2010, USD committed to $8.2 million in energy and water conservation projects that will save the university over $1 million annually, 20 percent of its total energy use and 33 percent of its water consumption.
- USD received $600,000 through a partnership with San Diego Gas and Electric for energy conservation and renewable energy education and outreach.
- Tu Mercado is one of the nation’s first on-campus all natural and organic food markets and received a national award for incorporating sustainability into a campus convenience store.
- The Student Life Pavilion’s innovative and environmentally friendly features include a decomposition unit that breaks food waste into water, a tray-less dining system that has led to approximately $400,000 in savings on wasted food last year and a rooftop herb and vegetable garden that yields food for La Gran Terraza.
- By replacing nearly all of its plumbing fixtures and sprinklers on campus, USD will save one third of its total water consumption.
USD is working to do its part in becoming a leader in sustainability, and recognizes there are countless students who intend to do the same. Student groups such as The Green Team, Net Impact, as well as all Engineering senior projects have a sustainability theme. November 16 marks all that the USD community has done to continue on toward an even greener, cleaner future.
But for now, it’s time to celebrate how far we’ve already come.
— Kelly Machleit