Union senator proposes solar panels for dorms

November 30, 2007

In an effort to decrease non-renewable energy usage, Yuki Hasegawa, Senator for the Class of 2009, approached Union President Shreeya Sinha ’09 and Director of Union Affairs Jason Gray ‘10, to propose implementing solar panels on campus.

He said in his Nov. 18 Project Report, “I had a chat with all these individuals to discuss what exactly to do in proceeding with the Solar Panel implementation project. These people have generously volunteered to support me…it seems that it would be a much larger and more time-consuming project than was expected.”

For now, Hasegawa is looking into the new Ridgewood Residence Halls as a future location for the solar panels.

The Student Union approached SEA, asking if implementing solar panels seemed like a good solution, and if SEA was interested in working with the Student Union on having Brandeis buy solar panels. SEA co-presidents, Jamie Pottern ’09 and Stephanie Sofer ‘09 both are interested in the idea of solar panels but want to make sure that they are the most practical way of saving energy.

Pottern said, “we are working with the university on ways to conserve energy through using the Green fund. We are not sure yet of the feasibility of solar panels since the university already committed to purchasing renewable energies, and so the university does not necessarily support solar panels because they are not as cost effective as other features.”

Even so, solar panels are not completely ruled out as a possible renewable energy source that will be implemented on campus.

Sofer said, “Solar panels can be a positive solution to conserving energy on campus because they would be on site and owned by Brandeis.”

For both SEA and Student Union, the importance of the proposition is not the solar panels themselves, but students conserving energy. Pottern said, “The university spends millions on energy here as a result of the daily practice of students. The amount could be reduced if students on a daily basis viewed something to encourage their efforts.”

“Often times, people cannot see a need and so therefore they do not feel a need. Having a visual reminder of the importance of reducing energy consumption encourages and supports students in effecting change, especially for their environment,” Pottern said.

Lara Solinsky ’11 feels that regardless of having solar panels, the real importance in the proposition is in the students’ ability to affect change and to reduce energy consumption. “It amazes me how much we waste energy. To know that there are organizations on campus that are working to create a much more energy efficient campus and that our university is supporting students in their efforts to effect change makes me more aware of how I can effect change, just by unplugging electronics when they are not being used or making sure to turn the lights out when I leave the room”

She added, “renewable energy sources are a great way to reduce energy consumption but as students, we also have the ability to reduce it by making sure we do the seemingly insignificant tasks like turning off lights.”

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