Solar panels installed atop Environmental Studies

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Western Today staff

A student-funded solar array is being installed atop the Environmental Studies Building at Western Washington University.

The $167,500 project, funded by the student Green Energy Fee and proposed by a team led by Matthew Moroney, is being installed on the building's south-facing roof. The 5-kilowatt array will be visible from the Academic Instructional Center skybridge, where students can view info station on the project and an interactive display of the array's power output.

The solar array is one of four projects being installed this year by the Green Energy Fee Grant Program.

The first of those projects -- installing water bottle refilling stations on the second floor of Old Main, on the first floor of Arntzen Hall and in the Wade King Student Recreation Center -- is intended to encourage students to bring reusable water bottles to campus rather than purchasing bottled water.

“The hassle of filling up a water bottle was the main reason people would just buy a bottle [of water],” said Anna Amundson, president of Students for Sustainable Water. “Now they don’t have a real reason not to bring reusable water bottles.”

The second project was completed in February when Facilities Management finished installing four high-speed Dyson Airblade hand dryers in the basement restrooms in Arntzen Hall.

The brainchild of Western sophomore Mike Gore, junior Bodie Cabiyo and senior Jordan Murphy, the project developed from an assignment in the students' campus sustainability planning class.

“The original project idea [we were given] was how to increase trash bins on campus,” Murphy said. “It ended up changing to how we could decrease paper towel usage on campus instead.”

The project goes hand-in-hand with the paper towel composting project, currently taking place in Haggard Hall, as a way for the university to gauge which is the better option for the university’s sustainability goals.

The fourth project, which is now ongoing, is the retrofitting of the C lot parking lights with LEDs. The $61,000 project replaces current lighting with energy-efficient light emitting diodes in the C lots across from the Wade King Student Recreation Center.

Created in 2010, the Green Energy Fee Grant Program puts to use student dollars collected in the quarterly Green Energy Fee and designated to the grant program. This year, that's some $300,000, said Kathryn Freeman, Green Energy Fee Grant Program Coordinator.