Solar array. Bike sharing. Zipcars. Chickens in the garden. Reusable to-go containers. Kill-a-watt meters. A green/ sustainability house. A mandatory fee for the renewable energy & sustainability fund. This semester Occidental College took some positive steps towards a greener campus. More >>>
The Trustees approved moving forward on a very large solar array (1 mW AC and 1.25 MW DC) located on an upper campus parking lot and hillside that will produce approximately 12 percent of energy used by the college and be one of the largest at any private college/university in the nation. The array had broad support among students (check out this youtube vid), staff, faculty, and administrators. It will also look cool, day and evening:
Students launched a bike sharing program using bikes that had been abandoned on campus or donated by alums. The bikes were fixed up and can be checked out from the library for 24 hours. This video explains how they can be checked out. We’ll also be loaning some bikes out long term over the summer to students staying on campus for research or jobs. Next semester the bike club hopes to offer bike repair services at the bike space in rangeview.
There will also be two Zipcars parked on campus starting Fall semester that Zipcar members (campus and community) will be able to rent. We hope that some students, faculty and staff will choose to not bring cars to campus because they will be able to use bikeshare bikes and/or zipcars if they need to go on an errand/excursion. Members of the Oxy community will able to join Zipcar at a special rate starting June 1.
There is a proposal into the administration to add additional garden space in the back yards of some college owned houses near Rangeview. The new garden space would be worked by residents in a new Green House that will provide students with an opportunity to live in a communal setting focused on green living.
Campus dining designed a program to test re-usable to-go containers so as to be able to reduce the more that 100,000 plastic to-go containers used/disposed each year. They will be recruiting 300 students for a pilot to start in the Fall. See how they work and how to be an environmentally responsible cafeteria customer.
There are ten kill-a-watt devices available for check out at the library to allow folks to test electronic equipment to see how much power the devices are using and hopefully identify power-draining items that can be eventually switched out for more energy efficient technology.
Finally, students voted to make the fee for the ASOC renewable energy & sustainability fund mandatory. The fund, managed by a committee of students, has helped support the FEAST club garden, bought new bike racks, funded the bike share program, paid for the reusable to-go container and kill-a-watt programs. With more money, hopefully it will be able to sponsor more and bigger campus greening projects. Applications for funding are here.
The college still has a long way to go to mainstream sustainability but it was gratifying to see recent progress. Thanks to everyone who contributed and to students in my UEP-247 class for making the films.
Addendum> I realize that I forgot two campus greening developments.
- The College is leaning towards getting the renovation of Swann Hall certified Silver under the LEED green building certification standards.
- Pilot projects of low-water/ native/ xeriscaple plantings have been installed near the biology building.