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Environmental Action Committee: Let’s Talk About Solar Panels!

Alexa Carrera, contributor

Imagine this: The year is 2030 and Augsburg University becomes one of the few colleges in Minnesota to be carbon neutral. All of our lighting on campus comes from Light-emitting diodes (LEDs). We have solar panels on the roofs of Hagfors, the Ice Arena, Luther Hall, Anderson Hall, Si Melby Hall and Old Main. Aside from the solar panels, we also have community solar right by our garden, where local businesses and BIPOC communities surrounding Augsburg will have the opportunity to obtain solar energy. All Augsburg-owned vehicles are electrical, and Augsburg has installed an electric vehicle charging station on campus. 

Carbon neutrality is one of the many ambitious sustainability goals from Augsburg’s Environmental Action (EAC) and Environmental Stewardship Committees (ESC), and we aim to achieve it by 2030. Installing solar on campus is at the top of our priorities because not only do we care about where our energy comes from, but also because we want what’s more environmentally beneficial. Currently, Augsburg purchases some renewable energy from solar farms, but not all of our energy comes from there. Eventually we want to be able to have the solar panels right here on campus, and we want ALL, not just some, of the energy to come from these. 

The reason why having solar panels is so important is very straightforward – the buildings are already here! Solar farms are not necessarily bad, in fact they are a better option than continuing our current methods of burning fossil fuels for energy. However, buying solar energy from solar farms means that these farms have been cleared out for solar panels, and this might disrupt ecosystems and biodiversity. Having the panels installed on campus is a more sustainable approach because, if we install them, we will know exactly where our energy comes from, and have more awareness around our energy use. Solar panels on campus will provide learning and research opportunities and allow us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Finally, installing solar panels will allow Augsburg to be a trailblazer when it comes to carbon neutrality, setting an example for how other universities can do their part and be more sustainable.

EAC and ESC are currently working together to do research, contacting solar companies, getting in touch with Physics professors at Augsburg with great knowledge and experience on renewable energy, meeting with Augsburg’s authorities, and looking into grant applications and resources to make this project come true. 

If you want to help out with the carbon neutral project, you can join EAC! Joining EAC is the best way you can take action — not just for a project like this one, but for many other sustainability-related projects on campus and our surrounding communities. We always welcome new project ideas. It is also the best way to stay informed about the progress we are making. 

We know that our efforts will not go unnoticed. Small progress is still considered progress, and we are hopeful that we will see solar panels soon and continue to move closer to our 2030 carbon neutrality goals. Augsburg is doing great, but we can always do better.