Eastern’s campus is ever expanding causing the university’s electricity grid to grow. However, a recent donation has pushed EKU to a more environmentally friendly way to help save energy and money.
Recently Gary Booth, an EKU graduate and former vice president of Procter & Gamble, donated $25 thousand to the university for the purchase of solar panels. This donation was enough to fund the construction of 25 solar panels around the New Science Building’s Green House, said Judy Jenkins, associate professor in chemistry.
“Seven other solar panels were put onto the New Science Building’s roof in 2013,” Jenkins said.
These 25 solar panels are just the beginning, Jenkins said, as EKU hopes for alumni and others to donate to a fund so the campus can have even more solar panels.
“We could put at least 100 more panels over around the greenhouse and we have other places on campus picked out as well,” Jenkins said. “All we need is the funding.”
To spread the word about donations, the alumni relations office is planning on sending out newsletters to prospective alumni about the possibility of donating.
“Costs can vary but I would estimate that one panel could cost from around six to eight hundred dollars,” Jenkins said.
To be time efficient, EKU does not want to put the solar panels in one at a time, Jenkins said. Instead they will wait until they have enough funding for 25 or 50 or 100, and then set about installing them.
“Construction for the solar panels is pretty easy,” Jenkins said.
The building of these solar panels should not hinder any student from being able to attend class or from entering the greenhouse, Jenkins said.
Though the cost of the solar panels may seem high, the electricity saved and the drop in EKU’s electricity bill is substantial, Jenkins said.
“Campus only pays one single electricity bill,” Jenkins said. “All of our electricity is connected.”
Though the solar panels are only located around the New Science Building, the overall electricity bill will fall because of the electricity saved in that building alone, Jenkins said.
“For every 100 solar panels we will save about 41 thousand kilowatt hours,” Jenkins said. “That is enough to do 65 hundred loads of laundry or watch 2.5 million hours of television.”
Saving on electricity is not the only good reason for solar panels, Jenkins said. They also aid in EKU’s campus beoming carbon neutral.
“Anytime you have to burn something like coal or natural gas to get energy you generate carbon dioxide,” Jenkins said.
This release of greenhouse gas can be harmful to the environment but with the help of the energy saving solar panels EKU is hoping to release less, Jenkins said. Booth did not only donate money for the solar panels though, he also donated $5,000 towards the creation of the Photon Fellowship Scholarship.
“He wanted to help fund students to do more for the environment,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the scholarship is $1,000, and the recipient must have done something in the last year that contributes to sustainability or environmental responsibility.
“A student could have led a recycling drive, or written an article for a newspaper that encouraged people to do something environmentally responsible, and so on,” Jenkins said.
Applications for the scholarship can be found at solar. eku.edu. Deadling to apply is September 30. The scholarships will go forward using part of the money saved by the solar panels, Jenkins said.
“We plan to give out one $1,000 scholarship every year, but hope to get funding for more panels so that we could do even more scholarships a year,” Jenkins said. “I highly encourage any student to apply for the scholarship.”
Not only do the scholarship winners have access to these solar panels. Students today can walk up to the solar panels around the green house and watch them work, Jenkins said. Science classes, as well as other classes, will be able to use the data for energy conservation in a classroom setting.
“We really would like to thank Dr. Booth,” Jenkins said. “It is really wonderful that he is willing to lead this environmentally conscious effort and do it in a way that also funds scholarships.”