“We’re honored and excited to invite the community to join us in celebrating this significant milestone toward environmental sustainability and our efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2025,” said President Mark D. Gearan, a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, prior to the event.
With the grand opening of the first of two major solar farms, the Colleges took an important step toward climate neutrality.
The two solar farms – together representing the largest solar installation at any institution of higher education in New York State – will deliver 50 percent of the Colleges’ power through renewable energy and will provide students with hands-on learning experiences. Generating five megawatts of power and covering the equivalent of 14.5 football fields, the projects will be one of the top 10 largest solar projects on college and university campuses in the United States, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
The Route 14 solar farm has more than 7,600 solar panels, each rated at 330W, or sufficient to operate up to 10 overhead fluorescent lights at full solar input.
The second array, located on Gates Road in the Town of Seneca, will have another 8,600 panels. Panels used in both projects are specially designed to accommodate snow.
At the Nov. 3 ribbon-cutting, guests included representatives from the Geneva Town Board, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the Pennsylvania-based solar firm Dynamic Energy. A grant from NYSERDA is helping to support the projects. Dynamic Energy is running the construction.
Also in attendance at the ceremony were students and faculty from the Colleges’ Sustainable Living and Learning Community (SLLC) program, a specialized First-Year Seminar focused on sustainability education and community building.
As a charter member of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the Colleges have committed to achieving climate neutrality (net zero emissions) by 2025. Currently, 100 percent of the Colleges’ electricity is from wind power. HWS became the first small liberal arts institution in New York to be powered solely by wind.
Eventually, the amount of energy generated by the projects will be displayed in real time on the HWS website.
The newly established solar projects are among the many sustainable and environmentally conscious initiatives taking place at HWS. Recently, the Colleges were again named to Sierra magazine’s annual list of the greenest colleges and universities, advancing more than 55 spots since first appearing on the list in 2009. HWS ranked No. 58 on Sierra‘s “Cool Schools” list, earning the highest possible rating in the category for innovation in sustainability. The Colleges’ leadership in sustainable and environmentally sound practices was also noted in the 2016 edition of the Princeton Review’s “Guide to 361 Green Colleges.” The Colleges have also been named a Tree Campus USA® by the Arbor Day Foundation for the fourth consecutive year.