Inside USD

Sustainability Advances Energize Campus

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Javvad Syed’s energy was on public display Tuesday at the University of San Diego.

“I love to dance and I’m not shy about it,” said the senior Industrial and Systems Engineering major, minutes after he led a choreographed dance routine alongside fellow USD students, staff and even President Mary E. Lyons. “It was an honor. Not many USD students can say they’ve danced with the president of their college.”

His enthusiasm echoed the reason for the dancing; it was part of an energized event called “Running on Sunshine” that celebrated USD’s status as a higher education leader in sustainability practices and to continue a commitment to environment education opportunities for students on and off campus.

Chief among the sustainability projects is solar panel installation. AMSOLAR, a Solana Beach-based company, installed 5,000 photovoltaic panels on 11 campus buildings that are expected to generate 1.23 megawatts of renewable energy. A 25-year power purchase agreement between USD and AMSOLAR will provide up to 15 percent of the university’s energy needs.

Completion of the solar project establishes USD as the second-largest solar energy producer among all private U.S. colleges and the 10th-largest solar facility on a university campus in the nation.

AMSOLAR also chose Tuesday’s event to present the university with a $100,000 gift toward USD’s future programs associated with renewable energy, awareness, education and exploration.

“This is a big step for USD,” said Syed, regarding USD’s increased environmental focus. “I remember working on small class projects my sophomore year and wondering what it would be like if USD were to invest in solar panels. It means a lot to me to see it happen now. It gives me a deeper connection to the school, knowing that as I’ve grown, so too has the university.”

Another major project was an $8.2 million partnership with Siemens Industry, Inc. regarding water and energy conservation projects dealing with heating, air conditioning, lighting and plumbing upgrades in nine campus buildings. The projects are expected to save the university more than $1 million annually, reduce total energy use by 20 percent and water consumption by 33 percent.

There’s also a $600,000 partnership with San Diego Gas and Electric that entails energy conservation and renewable energy education and outreach through the work of USD students in the local community.

On campus, university faculty have contributed mightily to USD’s sustainability efforts. The School of Business Administration is ranked fourth in the nation for incorporating sustainability into its classes and programs; faculty members have served on the USD Sustainability Task Force; they’ve done collaborative research projects with other faculty and students, and have secured funds through research grants. Marine Science and Environmental Studies Department Chair Michel Boudrias, for example, was the leader on a recent $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop climate change awareness programs.

Len Hering, USD’s vice president of business services and administration, said he’s excited about the many ways that USD students can be exposed to sustainability education resources and to help them develop the skills necessary in an emerging workforce that embraces green and clean technology knowledge.

“When our students finish here they’ll be the ones who go out into the world and create the opportunities and do the important research that will inspire our legislators,” he said.

Associated Students President Kelsey Chase expressed his support for what USD has done and believes students are eager to embrace their role. “I’m confident that Toreros are ready to power the sustainability movement.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Click on USD Flash Mob to see USD engineering student Javvad Syed lead a group of students, staff and administrators — including USD President Mary E. Lyons — in a dance during Tuesday’s “Running on Sunshine” event.

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