Santa Barbara City College has ongoing projects campus-wide which aim to decrease the college’s energy bill and its environmental impact. So far, the college has saved an annual 3.6 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and 25,000 therms (one therm is approximately the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet of natural gas), which has saved the college $650,000.
“Through these projects, we are serving as an example to the community that conservation is a viable energy strategy” says Julie Hendricks, SBCC Director of Facilities and Campus Development. Sustainability projects around the campus include an array of photovoltaic carports on West Campus and new energy-efficient stadium lights at La Playa Stadium, the implementation of which has saved the college over $100,000 over 12 months.
Photovoltaic Array: A major SBCC sustainability project includes the West Campus photovoltaic array covering three rows of parking spaces in the surface parking lots. Faculty, staff, and students drive around them on a daily basis, yet few realize the systems on top of the carports save the school a projected annual sum of $90,000. “The construction of the carports lasted only a summer, yet the energy value will last 25 to 30 years” says Julie Hendricks.
The SBCC Environmental Field Studies class (ENVS 111), taught by Dr. Adam Green, SBCC Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, examines sustainable projects around the campus as part of the introductory lab. “Students are taken around campus and shown existing and potential sustainable projects,” he said. “They are introduced to the solar panels and learn how one element can have many benefits at a college. The panels are an energy source, shade the cars (so drivers do not automatically turn on their air conditioning on a sunny afternoon), keep that side of campus cooler, show students a positive solution to both energy and environmental challenges and may increase our likelihood of attracting grants in the future.”
La Playa Stadium Lights: The La Playa Stadium lights have also been improved. “When there were issues with the old system, we found it was a good opportunity to update all of the lights to make them more energy efficient,” Ms. Hendricks said. The stadium lights are now automatic with security lights on from 5:45 a.m. to dawn and sunset to 10:15 p.m. The game lights are only on when game and classes are in progress, which ensures less energy consumption.
“As with all other aspects of what we do, SBCC is a leader in energy conservation,” said Dr. Andreea Serban, SBCC Superintendent/President. “We have taken a multi-prong approach including innovative projects throughout our campus, partnerships with the local and regional organizations, and courses and programs that teach our students about the core issues and the roles we can all play for a healthy and sustainable environment for the future.”