On-Campus Initiatives at BW Save Energy while Reducing University’s Carbon Footprint
Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio, April 15, 2015
Nearly a decade ago, Baldwin Wallace University in the Cleveland suburb of Berea, Ohio, became the first campus in that state to feature a student residence hall that exclusively used geothermal energy for heating and cooling. Since then, the university has moved forward with several other bold and successful energy saving initiatives—the latest of which harnesses the power of the sun to produce clean energy and cost savings on campus.
Workers from the Cleveland-based company Bold Alternatives Solar Energy recently installed 416 solar panels on top of the Center for Innovation & Growth (CIG) on campus. The addition of a large, rooftop solar array at one Baldwin Wallace University building will produce enough energy to power 20 homes and move the university closer to its institutional goal of featuring its first “carbon-free” building.
The latest solar-power installation will be followed by several more, including BW’s Hamilton House Apartment complex, to be completed by Bold Alternatives Solar Energy this summer. It is the just the latest of BW’s continuing efforts to advance campus sustainability, including energy conservation and conversion to clean energy sources. “Coupled with the building’s existing geothermal heating and cooling system, it should come close to producing a carbon-free building using no power from fossil fuel,” said Professor David Krueger, co-director of BW’s sustainability major and director of BW’s Institute for Sustainable Business Practice (ISBP).
BW’s Ernsthausen Hall was the first residence hall in Ohio to utilize the environmentally friendly GeoExchange heating and cooling technology, and BW is now converting all three freshman residence halls to geothermal, which will bring to nine the total number of campus buildings utilizing this ecofriendly climate control, according to Professor Krueger.
“All nine buildings are now fully or partially heated and cooled by geothermal energy,” says Krueger, who notes that even more efforts are underway to scale up solar energy on the private university campus, which was founded in 1845 and has a current enrollment of nearly 4,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students. “We’re doing a lot with geothermal and with solar,” he says, “though solar often gets a lot more interest on college campuses, perhaps because it’s more visible, but also because the cost of solar is dropping right now, and moving toward grid parity.”
“Stronger green building standards at BW are also another imperative,” Krueger says. The recently renovated Amelia Harding House for Sustainable Living, which houses 47 undergraduates, has the latest green technologies for sustainable living, including solar power, a vegetative roof, permeable pavers, rain gardens, and on-site food production. Harding utilizes a solar system that is similar to the CIG project, but on a much smaller scale, and along with the Durst Welcome Center is one of two buildings on campus to earn LEED certification.
Other recent initiatives at Baldwin Wallace include:
* A successful campaign that has resulted in a more than 40% reduction in campus paper consumption
* The installation of a wind turbine on campus
* Enhanced recycling systems that have increased recycling content at BW by 500% in two years
* The use of motion sensors and other energy conservation technologies to reduce electricity consumption on campus
A leader in sustainability programming as well, BW launched the Midwest’s first undergraduate major in sustainability in the fall of 2008 and now offers an MBA in sustainability, along with community consulting services through the Institute for Sustainable Business Practice (ISBP) and the Sustainability Clinic.
“As human society moves toward a climate-constrained future, it’s imperative that all social sectors make vigilant, concerted efforts to shrink our carbon footprints,” notes Professor Krueger, who says that in no sector is this more critical than in higher education. “We do this not only in the classroom, but perhaps even more importantly through the practices we model on our college campuses, and BW is proud to try to do our part.”