Solar Energy

Sara-June Bouillon, Contributing Writer 

SUNY Oneonta needs our help to divest, or separate, from fossil fuel use.  Hannah Morgan, our sustainability coordinator, is working with other brilliant minds on campus to install green energy alternatives and other green projects in a campus wide effort to make SUNY Oneonta the staple of sustainability for higher education in New York.

Lately, there has been a lot of growth in sustainable initiatives on campus. Students, faculty and staff alike have been making progress towards one of SUNY Oneonta’s long term goals of becoming more sustainable.

I’d like to focus on how we can revert from fossil fuels by advocating for renewable energy use on campus. We all have an ecological footprint, or specific environmental impact on this planet. Students have the largest influence on SUNY Oneonta’s overall carbon footprint. This means that we have a large say in how energy is used on campus. We also have the power to encourage those with the authority to change our energy infrastructure, to commit to using more renewable energy sources.

SUNY Oneonta is already making progress towards renewable energy use. Morgan is working with SUNY Oneonta staff and faculty on a new solar energy project for the HIRC building. On November 3, solar panels will be installed on the roof of HIRC, which will generate one percent of the total energy used by campus. Below is a basic outline of the project:

The 200 kW system will be located on top of the IRC building.

This will save the campus $6,000 each year.

This will reduce the campus’ greenhouse gas emissions by 183,522 pounds per year.

This project is a good start to fossil fuel divestment. The ultimate goal though, is to completely refrain from fossil fuel use.

Here are several ways to start divesting from fossil fuels on a daily basis

1. Learn about consumer goods that require lots of fossil fuel resources, like plastic and meat, and reduce how many of these items you purchase/use on a daily basis.

2. Buy local produce/foods. This saves on fossil fuels used for the transportation of food.

3. Pick anything in nature, like a favorite landscape or animal, that you care for. Then think about how you would protect these sacred parts of nature from the effects of industrial pollution and global warming, which are caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Most individuals probably know that plastic bags are terrible for our environment, but many don’t know that leatherback sea turtles are dying because they mistake these plastic bags floating in the ocean for the jellyfish that they eat to survive. Removing plastic bags from Mills Marketplace has been an ongoing struggle for environmental activists because this ban hasn’t yet been widely accepted.

Divesting from fossil fuel use is as easy as refusing to use a plastic bag in Mills Marketplace;we just have to do it.  By making a conscious effort to learn why and how purchasing items like makeup, plastic wrapped sandwiches and morning cups of coffee directly affect our environment, we will subconsciously start forming new habits to use less and start conserving more.

The main takeaway is that we can help make the change to renewable energy use on campus, and we can encourage a campus wide divestment from fossil fuels.  We already have a good start with the solar energy project for HIRC!

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