Rising energy prices, environmental woes, and an uncertain economic future has led us all to one thing: the responsibility to take action, which is exactly what Santa Barbara City College is doing. SBCC enlisted Ojai Energy to install more than 1,300 solar panels, cleverly disguised as shade structures, in the West Campus parking lot. They will collect about 130 kilowatts of energy, which is about 30 percent of all energy needed to fuel the West Campus, the area where the Garvin Theater and Luria Library are housed, along with classrooms.
Not only that, but overheated car seats will now be a worry of the past due to these conveniently placed sun-soaking shades. Dr. Adam K. Green, the program director for the Center for Sustainability at SBCC, noted that one of the major benefits of constructing the solar panels above the parking lot, aside from, he said, making the lots a more aesthetically pleasing sight, is shade. Car owners won’t have to turn on their air conditioning right away, which could potentially be a real energy-saver. Green referred to the “heat island effect,” the accumulation of heat in areas with dark pavement-like asphalt parking lots-which leads to increased energy use.
Additionally, Dr. Green noted the campus’s need to remain a beacon of social and environmental responsibility, not simply for the attending students, but for the community and other campuses as well. Seeing the campus take the initiative to acknowledge the changing climate will hopefully assure dubious students that SBCC is taking charge, leading the way for a more environmentally friendly future. Perhaps the seaside school will someday inspire other like-minded ventures to convert to sounder energy policies.