Reducing Impact, Monitoring Solar Productivity – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reducing Impact, Monitoring Solar Productivity

The Office of Sustainability has focused their efforts on both reducing energy consumption on campus and monitoring the productivity of the Hobart and William Smith solar farms, which provide clean and renewable power to all campus facilities.


Hobart and William Smith are participants in the NYSEG Energy Efficiency Program, established by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to create an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard to reduce the state’s overall energy consumption and encourage wise energy use.

Over winter break, staff from Franklin Energy, a certified contractor with the NYSEG program, joined Residential Education and the Office of Sustainability to install upgrades in every student housing option on campus.

A total of 185 inefficient lightbulbs were removed and replaced with LEDs that consume only 9 watts of electricity. Nearly 200 showerheads were replaced with high efficiency options that consume just 1.5 gpm (gallons per minute). “This not only reduces our water consumption, but also reduces natural gas, as less hot water is needed for a shower,” says Sustainability Manager Michael Amadori.

Also, 472 bathroom sink aerators and 116 kitchen sink aerators were installed that only allow 1 gpm of water flow. The improvements will reduce the Colleges’ greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 20 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year. The improvements save an estimated $3,000 in utility costs per year. The program was implemented at no cost to the Colleges.


A screenshot of the digital kiosk shows data from the solar farm on Jan. 29, 2020. The data is updated every day.
A screenshot of the digital kiosk shows data from the solar farm on Jan. 29, 2020. The data is updated every day.

How does a solar panel work? And how much energy is harvested at the Colleges’ two solar farms? New kiosks have been placed outside the Colleges’ solar farm at Gates Road to provide information about the Colleges’ commitment to renewable energy. In addition, an online digital kiosk, created and maintained by the Office of Sustainability, is available to keep community members informed of the solar farms’ productivity. View the digital kiosk here.

The kiosks provide an overview of how the Colleges’ two solar farms, located in the Town of Geneva and the Town of Seneca, have helped the institution reach its sustainability and curricular goals. Additionally, information graphics explain how solar panels work. Data on the online kiosk illustrates how many Kilowatt Hours are generated by both farms each day, week, month and year. Visitors to the site can also check how much electricity the panels have generated since they were built in 2016.The Colleges’ solar farms, which together represent one of the largest solar installations at a higher education institution in New York State, deliver 50 percent of the Colleges’ electricity. The remaining 50 percent of electricity needed by the institution comes from wind energy.

Solar Kiosk
An outdoor kiosk has been installed at both solar farms.

The solar farms contain panels rated at 330W and each is 2.5 megawatts in size. At full sunlight, a panel can operate approximately 40 LED light bulbs. Generating electricity from the solar farms has kept more than 8,500 barrels of oil in the ground and prevented the release of nearly 14 million pounds of carbon dioxide.