posted 2012-03-07 18:52:40

Hunter Green Scene

An introduction to a greener college: Hunter’s new place in the sun

Kaitlin McKendry, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed purple and green paint together? If you have, I’m really sorry but I can’t help you, as color theory is not my forté. I can, however, tell you what happens when green ideas and Hunter purple get together. In fact, I will be doing so for the rest of the semester. I am Kaitlin and no, I don’t take cold showers, eat an all-organic diet, or remember to turn off the light every single time I leave a room. So, while I am not perfectly green, I do care about the environment a great deal and try my very best to lead a sustainable life – much like many of you.

This semester Hunter Green Scene is going to be your resource for all things green at Hunter. Here, you will have a view of Hunter through an environmental lens.

Now that we are on the same page, you must be wondering: what is the latest on the green frontier? If you haven’t heard already, solar power has officially come to Hunter College. This past Nov. 15 new (and very shiny!) solar panels were installed on the roof of the Hunter North Building.

The plan to bring solar power to Hunter was developed and led by members of the Hunter Sustainability Project (HSP), a student-run group that works to make Hunter a more environmentally sustainable institution.

Unveiled on Nov. 14th, after several weeks of installation, the 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system produces enough energy to power a small house. The system is classified as a demonstration system, meaning it only produces a small portion of the energy used at Hunter, plugging directly into the Hunter College electric grid. According to Professor Allan Frei, faculty advisor to the HSP, the system is equipped with aberrant technology that tracks the performance of each individual panel, rather than the system as a whole. Professor Frei noted that this tracking technology will allow students to study the panels in-depth and perform various experiments. I don’t know about you, but I have my lab coat ready to go.

If all goes as planned, the solar panel system will be incorporated into the curriculum of select environmental studies, geography and physics courses. If you don’t plan on taking a science course anytime soon, or if you prefer to stay as far away from them as possible, have no fear! Eventually, everyone in the Hunter College community will have access to free tours of the solar power system, led by trained student tour guides. Training for students interested in becoming tour guides is set to begin in the coming weeks.

The solar energy project began back in 2008 when Noah Ginsburg, a 2010 Hunter graduate, along with other students, went before the Hunter Administration in the hopes of receiving financial support. Backed with support from the Hunter College Sustainability Council, along with the guidance of Allan Frei, the group was able to raise $74,000, which was enough to fund the project. The Hunter Administration, USG, the CUNY Sustainability Initiative, and Wal-Mart (ironically enough) via the Clinton Global Initiative for educational programs provided financial support for the project.

With the inauguration of the panels has come a definite reduction in Hunter’s carbon footprint and energy costs. While there currently aren’t any plans to install more panels, according to Allan Frei, there is ample room to expand the solar energy project. The HSP will continue to encourage environmental sustainability throughout campus with new projects on the horizon.

Until next time, fellow students, stay green.