The University of South Florida is doing its part to help protect the environment by creating the Student Green Energy Fund, which is used to pay for environmental projects and reduce energy costs around the Tampa campus.
To counter the threat of climate change, public universities nationwide are making environmental needs a priority by building solar panels to reduce energy consumption.
According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the institutional price drops for solar panels has caused installed energy capacity to grow 450 percent within the last three years.
With the help of the green energy fund, the Marshall Center now has solar panels on its roof. According to fund Manager Zaida Darley, the new canopy being built next to the Marshall Center will also consist of solar panels. The work should be finished by the end of the semester.
“The energy produced from the solar panels will go back into the Marshall Center, which will make the electricity cheaper and save the students money,” said Darley.
The green fund is also working on reconstructing the solar panels on the car port located by the Engineering Building that will charge the electric golf carts around campus. There will also be solar umbrellas outside Champion’s Choice Dining Hall by the gym where students can plug in their electronics.
Other Florida universities are enhancing their environmental resources by putting solar panels on their buildings. The University of Central Florida has five installations of solar panels around its campus.
David Norvell of the UCF Sustainability Department said, “Our installs range from 10 KW to more than 100 KW. They produce for about 5 hours a day. Therefore the energy output from these ranges from 50KWH to 500 KWH, each day, 7 days a week.”
University of Florida has one 75kW solar panel on its campus that has a resistance to heavy wind. However, the university is hoping to get more panels, but does not have enough funding.
“We will not give up because there are always new technologies becoming available, making renewable energy implementation more feasible,” UF’s Energy Efficiency Coordinator Dustin Stephany said, “A few other things are in the mix that will help us reach our future goals of being less dependent on fossil fuels however it takes a holistic approach and commitment on all levels.”
Florida State University has only a few solar panels that are used as experiments and has instead chosen different actions to improve the environment.
“The payback on the use of solar panels is around 40 years,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Dennis Bailey said, “We can find paybacks of less than seven years on other projects which allow us to do more for the same amount of money.”